Since April 2007, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has been responsible for inspecting boarding in both independent and state schools. So important is the welfare of children that boarding inspections take place every three years, with reports published on the Ofsted website (www.ofsted.gov.uk). Inspections are organised according to the National Minimum Standards. These Standards, covering the range of welfare, health and policy issues appropriate for boarding schools, are used by Ofsted as the basis of what are now called welfare inspections in boarding schools.
Inspectors will talk to children and, increasingly, seek their views as primary consumers of the service offered by schools. Any concern raised by a child will be rigorously pursued, as will any suspicion of child abuse. Race and gender equality policies are carefully inspected and there is a clear expectation that schools educating pupils from overseas pay due regard to all the needs of those pupils, just as parents would wish.
All schools will have firm policies to deal effectively with bullying. Staff are scrupulous about taking action to deal with situations as they arise and before they become serious. Schools are accountable to pupils themselves, to parents who have entrusted them with their child, and to the inspectors who watch over their proceedings. With boarding staff increasingly availing themselves of the university-accredited training offered by the Boarding Schools’ Association, schools are safer, more secure and more aware of pupils’ needs than ever before.