The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, welcomed today’s statement from the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly, that anyone convicted of a sexual offence against children will be banned from teaching.
Mr Williams said the Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons highlighted the need to make sure that everything that can be done must be done to stop anyone unsuitable working, or volunteering to work with children.
The Commissioner said it was another important step in protecting children.
“Last year I produced recommendations to the Secretary of State as a result of my review of vetting in Northern Ireland,” said the Commissioner. “I hope that with Ms Kelly’s comments and the statement from the Northern Ireland Minister for Education Angela Smith, my recommendations will be implemented as a matter of urgency, and all proposed legislation for England and Wales will apply in Northern Ireland.
“I will be monitoring the Department of Education’s progress and the progress of all departments in Northern Ireland to make sure that children are protected as far as possible.
“But I also want everyone to remember that it is not just about processes and systems. It is about making sure that in schools there is a culture where children are listened to and taken seriously.”
Notes for Editors
- The Commissioner’s recommendations to improve vetting were published and given to the Secretary of State, Peter Hain MP in June 2004. The Commissioner’s recommendations and links to the report ‘A Right to Protection- A Review of Vetting in Northern Ireland can be found here.