Schoolzone blog: Witchcraft: look beyond the nonsense

Witchcraft: look beyond the nonsense


9 Oct 2014


New guidance is being issued to professionals who work with children on how to recognise if a child may be suffering from abuse linked to witchcraft.

It may just be the press having fun (if that's not too inappropriate a term) with the fact that Halloween falls this month, but the mention of witchcraft, in relation to child abuse, is sure to engender a range of responses.

Many us find it hard to believe that there is a serious threat from witchcraft in our schools and that this guidance can be safely ignored. Those who remember the Orkneys case in the early nineties, where over-zealous social workers were blamed for false accusations of witchcraft-related child abuse, may well adopt a cry-wolf response this time too.

But before you do that, remember Kirsty Bamu or Victoria Climbié - in both cases, teachers (among others obviously) failed to spot the signs. The Met police say they have received 27 witchcraft-related allegations this year - hence the new guidance.

This is a safeguarding issue and, like all such issues, needs to be take seriously, regardless of previous cases - true or false. You might think, too, that your school safeguarding policy and practices are up to date, or that the review cycle will take care of it, if not. However, be warned: Ofsted will inspect you if this policy is not up to scratch. The statutory guidance was reviewed last term - if you haven't updated your policy since then, you could be in trouble.

Your policy doesn't need to mention witchcraft specifically, but this new guidance (a training film) is worth referring to, since teachers need to be on the lookout for some of the less obvious signs.

We have prepared an update to guide schools in meeting the new requirements (in Word format so that you can use it more easily) - download it here.

Feedback from heads about this Schoolzone guide:

"Thank you for the ‘heads up’ about safeguarding. We implemented a new policy straight away" Headteacher, Lincolnshire

"Thank you very much for your help. I have altered my safeguarding policy in accordance to your advice" Headteacher, Doncaster

"I wanted to say thank you for drawing our attention this.  The advice you have provided is really helpful.  We really appreciate it" Headteacher, Stockport

"It is refreshing to have a colleague from the sharp end sharing such good advice" Headteacher, Lincolnshire





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