Safety standard for children in out-of-school settings

by Mark Rowe

BSI (British Standards) has brought out guidelines designed to protect the safety of children in out-of-school settings.

The free document, PAS 5222:2024, is applicable to all who provide activities for children in out-of-school settings, according to the standards body. It offers a framework for safeguarding measures into a school’s governance, policies and procedural operations. This includes activities that are provided free of charge or at cost, by paid staff or by volunteers.

The standard was proposed by Mark Bramah, a former 30-year police officer with expertise in the investigation of child abuse. Its publication follows the 2022 Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), where concerns were raised that some out-of-school settings were putting children at risk by failing to adhere to basic child protection standards. The report recommended that those who come into contact with children should follow child protection standards and have suitable policies and procedures in place and that safeguarding policies should be clear and easy to follow and apply.

Child safeguarding – Provisions for out-of-school settings – Specification (PAS 5222:2024), sponsored by recruitment, safeguarding and HR provider, Bramah HR, with funding from Lady Edwina Grosvenor, is aimed at any gap not covered by statutory guidance or where ambiguity regarding safe practice exists. This includes out-of-school activities such as sports, community service, arts, music, hobbies and employment, as well as business, hospitality and retail settings.

The standard’s developers stress PAS 5222 also supports organizations and individuals to make measures in a cost-effective way. While intended for use in the UK, it may be used on the Continent and is relevant to UK-based providers taking children abroad and international providers bringing children to the UK, BSIA adds.

Anne Hayes, Director of Sectors, BSI said: “Prioritizing safeguards for children, among society’s most vulnerable, can ensure a safe environment in which they can flourish and develop in their formative years. This new standard is intended to address the lack of statutory guidance and processes for organizations and individuals responsible for the care of children in non-educational settings.

“The guidance is designed to empower organizations, parents and carers alike to have confidence about care being given to children, whether that’s at an after-school sports club or when pupils are taken on a foreign experience.”

Mark Bramah said: “I am delighted that we have been able to deliver on this much needed specification. I hope that this will be embraced by organizations and that children will be protected as a result of its implementation.”

Out-of-school activities defined

Activities include those that are supervised by parents or carers, where one or more child/ren is not their own child or under their guardianship but are not schools, colleges, education settings providing alternative provision, 16–19 academies, settings registered with Ofsted or a childminder agency. Areas of focus of PAS 5222 include:

Governance, accountability and responsibility;
Developing a safeguarding and child protection policy;
Assessing risks (including identifying, assessing relevance, determining risk appetite, monitoring, mitigation, recording and documenting);
Documenting safeguarding measures;
Employment checks;
Inducting new personnel;
Safeguarding training;
Record-keeping; and
Safeguarding incident response plans and reviews.

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