9th May 2022

BBC Uncovers Allegations of Safeguarding Failures in After-School Clubs

The Investigation

An investigation by the BBC has revealed that in the last five years, 84 referrals have been made about extra-curricular clubs hosted by schools in England and Wales. Many parents rely on breakfast and after-school clubs to provide childcare outside of school hours; however a number of these clubs are not regulated as providers in England do not need to register with Ofsted unless they offer childcare for more than two hours. Registration is purely voluntary. 10% are inspected a year, meaning they may not be inspected for nearly a decade. Among the 84 referrals was an allegation of sexual abuse potentially involving multiple children at an after-school club in Devon and separate allegations of neglect, physical harm and unexplained bruising elsewhere. One child was found to have been dragged across a room by a staff member in Southampton.

A Shocking Case

One shocking case involved an eight-year-old black boy who was forced to clean his five-year-old sister who has special educational needs, after she soiled herself at Greenleaf After School Club in Walthamstow, North London. The boy told his mother he was made to do this against his wishes and in front of other pupils despite toilets being located nearby. According to the boy’s mother a staff member said: "I am not cleaning her, she is your sister, you clean her." The girl was left with excrement on her leg and without underwear or tights when she was picked up in near freezing conditions in November 2020. Her mother said, "I don't allow my child to see his sister's genitals, how on earth do they think that is acceptable? They would never possibly ask a white child to do that." She added that the incident "humiliated" her children and has badly affected their relationship. An investigation by the local authority and a review by an independent safeguarding consultant both substantiated the incident. The consultant told the mother the incident was "unacceptable" and concluded that the care received by the two children "fell far below" expectations.

The School Responds

BBC News has also learned that another child was left for an hour in a chair after also soiling themselves at the club and was found with excrement on their hands. The school responsible for the club, Greenleaf Primary School, said: "We have apologised unreservedly to the parent of the children involved and more widely to all users of the Greenleaf After School Club. This incident should not have happened, and we are determined to learn the lessons as we continue to provide our young people with the best start in life.” It added that staff had been provided with further training after the incident and that the two members of staff involved were "removed from dealing with the affected children".

Department for Education Statement

A Department for Education spokesperson said in a statement: "Every child should feel safe in education, including at after-school clubs. That's why local agencies can use a range of legislative powers - including safeguarding, health and safety, and premises regulations powers - to protect children from harm."