Redbridge Council keeping no log of racist or sexual abuse in schools nor of pay-outs for schoolyard accidents
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:58 09 August 2019
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Redbridge Council does not keep track of incidents of racism or sexual harassment in its schools, nor does it know how much it pays out each year in claims for accidents on school grounds, the Recorder can reveal.
On Tuesday, August 6, the Recorder filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request regarding the number of incidents of racism and sexual misconduct or harassment in the borough's schools, both primary and secondary, in each of the past five years.
It also asked for the number of public liability cases settled - cases where payouts are made - following compensation claims made for children injured or involved in accidents on school premises for the same period.
A response was received less than a day later.
It read: "I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by the London Borough of Redbridge.
"The local authority does not gather or hold this information. This would be held by individual schools."
In response to the Recorder querying the response to the FOI request, a Redbridge Council spokeswoman said: "Maintained schools are under the direct control of the headteacher and board of governors.
"Given their autonomy and self-managing status they have direct responsibility for reporting these kinds of incidents but we all know that children and young people learn best in an environment where they feel safe and respected and we therefore encourage all schools to report serious incidents.
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"Schools are also responsible for ensuring they have appropriate insurance arrangements in place.
"They procure insurance cover from a range of providers and accidents on school sites are a matter between them and their insurers."
The Department for Education does annually publish data surrounding the number of exclusions made in school and records reasons for that exclusion - including both racist abuse and sexual misconduct - but does not release figures for cases involving resolutions that aren't exclusions.
Redbridge Conservative councillor Paul Canal told the Recorder the council should almost certainly be keeping a log of pay-outs made as a result of incidents in maintained schools to provide to insurers as proof of their liability long-term.
He said: "Redbridge Council is a £1billion turnover organisation.
"For it not to know how much it is paying out as a result of public liability claims in the schools it looks after beggars belief.
"Either the administration is being grossly incompetent or it is being deliberately evasive - neither of which casts Redbridge Council in a particularly good light."
Cllr Canal also revealed he would be raising the matter with the borough's director of finance.
And Ilford South MP Mike Gapes told the Recorder he was "very surprised" to find out the council was not keeping track of the figures centrally.
Mr Gapes offered to raise the matter directly with the secretary of state for education upon his return to Parliament.