Safeguarding at ABRSM
Our commitment and ways of working
ABRSM is committed to safeguarding and protecting the welfare of all candidates who take our exams. Underpinning this commitment is a robust system of governance, checks and controls and a culture of vigilance and professionalism, qualities we expect from all our staff, examiners and volunteers.
This page summarises elements of our approach to safeguarding and provide specific information for schools and organisations hosting exams as Private Visits.
ABRSM has been advised by its lawyers, specialist safeguarding experts and the NSPCC in the development of its policies and practice, and will continue to seek guidance in order to continue to meet best practice standards.
- A safer recruitment policy which requires all potential examiners to supply contact details of two referees who can comment on their suitability to work with children
- Examiners are required to provide evidence of an Enhanced DBS with Barred List check prior to appointment. We re-check their DBS certificate every three years (via Status Check if they are signed up to the DBS Update Service)
- The right to renew any check sooner if any information comes to light which might alter an individual’s DBS status
- Examiners are given regular safeguarding updates as part of their continuing professional development
- Examiners are required to confirm that they have read, understood and agree to abide by the Policy and Code of Practice.
- A Designated Safeguarding Person and two deputies, who are all members of the Safeguarding Review Committee, an internal group that is accountable through its Chair, the Chief Executive, to ABRSM’s Governing Body
- Annual safeguarding updates are given to our examiners and representatives.
ABRSM’s full Safeguarding Policy and Online Safeguarding Policy Statement is available at https://gb.abrsm.org/enpolicies/safeguarding-children-policy-procedures-and-code-of-practice
To minimise the risk of a safeguarding breach:
- examiners are not given contact details for candidates
- examiners often have only a very small amount of unsupervised contact with any one candidate, as accompanists or page-turners can also be in the exam room if required
- the only unsupervised contact in all exams is during delivery of tests containing confidential material (sight-reading and aural tests), scales or any unaccompanied pieces – often lasting only a few minutes, depending on the grade
- partial supervision is provided by the steward (appointed by the school/organisation holding a Private Visit ) who escorts candidates to and from the exam room
- we recommend that schools or organisations holding a Private Visit select a room with a window in the door for exam purposes, as this further safeguards examiner and candidate
- it is ABRSM policy to avoid sending examiners to assess the same candidates within two years, minimising the opportunity for examiners to recognise or get to know candidates
- examiners have no control over which venues or areas of the country they visit; this is decided by ABRSM
From 2020, examiners will use a bespoke ABRSM app to deliver and mark practical exams. This will allow us to issue results more quickly and automatically audio record all exams. During the exam, examiners will use ABRSM supplied iPads that:
- are asset tagged to be identifiable as ABRSM property
- are only loaded with the app needed for examining, with all other functionality removed
- are loaded with bespoke exam marking software that cannot be downloaded onto personal devices
- have no data package; the bespoke app for examining is designed to work offline
- have the camera disabled
We know that schools and organisations holding Private Visits need to verify the identity of visiting examiners and confirm that they have been recruited and checked in accordance with ABRSM’s Safeguarding policy. We issue all examiners with ABRSM photo ID cards and it is a requirement that they carry this whenever they are working on behalf of ABRSM. We only issue ID cards to examiners who have gone through ABRSM’s safer recruitment processes and appropriate DBS checks.
To make the ABRSM ID card a more robust form of ID, we are in the process of re-designing it. We aim to issue the new cards to examiners ahead of Session 1 in the UK and Ireland next year (February/March 2021). These new ID cards will be re-issued every three years in line with the renewal of DBS checks and printed with a ‘watermark’ feature, to make them harder to duplicate - an example is given below.
They will always contain the following information:
- recent photo of the examiner
- examiner name
- examiner code
- date of most recent check/re-check (valid from)
- DBS certificate number
We are very grateful to the NSPCC for working with us to create our policy and for being a constant source of information and support, including a review of our full safeguarding policy in 2017.
The NSPCC has a wide range of information and support services available to both children and organisations about safeguarding: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection
They also have a team of information specialists that can be contacted for further advice or support: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/services/information-service
ABRSM’s Safeguarding Policy and Code of Practice has also been influenced by government guidance:
Keeping children safe in education
Statutory guidance for schools and colleges - September 2019
Working Together to Safeguard Children
A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children - July 2018
Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers - July 2018
Advice on eligibility for DBS checks, the Update Service and Code of Practice
If you have any queries about ABRSM’s Safeguarding Policy or provision, you can contact us at: [email protected]