Social Care Institute for Excellence Audit
8th-10th February 2022
For general Safeguarding information, please click here
The report undertaken by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) following their safeguarding audit of Wells Cathedral is published today, 31 May 2022. To view the report, Click here.
The Action Plan is also available. To view the Action Plan, click here.
The audit recognised areas of good practice in terms of safeguarding procedures such as a range of safely managed provision for children at the Cathedral stating, ‘Much good work has taken place within the choirs in recent years to strengthen and reinforce its safeguarding efforts and there is a clear priority placed on the welfare of choristers. Links with the school are excellent.’ It also notes, ‘There is a positive recognition of the needs of visitors to the Cathedral and support is available and well managed. Volunteers who become vulnerable by virtue of age or illness are recognised and supported.’
However, the report also shared concerns of some staff and volunteers who felt that potential vulnerabilities which have arisen from the culture and management of the Cathedral have not always been recognised. It reports that ‘perhaps excellence has become tainted by perfectionism and standards that are too high to be maintained one hundred per cent of the time, leaving too many people with a constant fear of failure.’
Chapter, the governing body of Wells Cathedral, says, “In the full report, you will see the good practice, and the strengths in what we do, but also the areas of concern. Members of the Chapter have been very saddened to learn of some of the feelings expressed and deeply sorry to hear of the unhappiness and anxiety felt. We have committed to listen and learn, and to take the concerns extremely seriously.”
The SCIE is an independent organisation which has been commissioned by the Church of England to undertaken independent Safeguarding audits of all Cathedrals. The audit of Wells Cathedral took the views expressed in pre-audit questionnaires sent to all involved in the daily life of the Cathedral and also visited to observe its practices and speak to staff, volunteers and others directly involved in both operational and strategic safeguarding. An initial draft report was completed in late February 2022 and finalised in mid-May 2022.
SCIE reports do not make recommendations, rather they request that Chapter consider the questions asked. This approach encourages ‘Learning Together’ and allows for improvements that are not prescriptive, but which can be adapted to suit the context of the Cathedral concerned.
Work to develop an action plan began on receipt of the draft report and the main focus of the resulting plan is to hear, listen and identify what action is needed to address the concerns expressed to the SCIE auditors. The Cathedral also asked the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Acting Bishop of Bath and Wells to liaise with SCIE and the Church of England National Safeguarding team. At the Chapter’s request she is helping to address the questions raised by the audit and recommend changes to be made to ensure a safer, healthier and more welcoming culture for all.
Bishop Ruth says, “While it is never easy to hear that there are aspects of our life together that fall short of the vision of God’s love and grace, reviews such as that provided by SCIE offer us vital truths and present us with opportunities to address concerns. It is clear that there are wounds to be healed but also that there is a commitment to a healing process and I will be doing all I can to support that.”
The Cathedral Action Plan will be subject to regular review and Chapter has committed to provide regular updates and opportunities for feedback.
On Friday 18 March 2022 an article was published in the Church Times and what follows is a statement from the Cathedral Chapter:
“The National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England has commissioned the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to undertake independent Safeguarding audits of all Cathedrals, and these have been happening since 2018. Wells Cathedral’s audit took place between 8 and 10 February 2022 and was welcomed by the Chapter of Wells Cathedral. It recognises that it will benefit from external scrutiny by measuring itself against current best safeguarding practice: wanting to understand what the Cathedral does well, and where the focus of attention and resource needs to be to improve and develop what is done.
While the audit report, which is only a draft at this stage, recognises many strengths in our safeguarding practices, the Cathedral Chapter (the governing body of the Cathedral) was nonetheless shocked and very saddened to learn of some of the feelings expressed. As a body, we are deeply sorry to hear of this unhappiness and anxiety. We want to listen and learn and take the concerns extremely seriously. We have already started to consider the helpful questions raised by the SCIE auditors in the full report.
While we strive for happy excellence with faith at the heart of everything we do at the Cathedral, we need to do so within a caring and supportive environment and the wellbeing of all staff and volunteers is of the utmost importance. Wells Cathedral seeks to be a centre of welcome and well-being, where all can be embraced by the forgiving love and grace of God.
When the report is finalised, it will be made available on our website with the action plan we are undertaking to create a healthy culture of care.”
Between 8-10 February 2022, leading improvement agency the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) conducted an independent audit of the Cathedral’s safeguarding arrangements. As well as reviewing cases, policies and practice, the audit team met with the Cathedral team who look after all aspects of safeguarding, key members of Chapter, including the Dean, and a wide variety of others from across the Cathedral community.
The Chapter believes the Cathedral benefits from external scrutiny by measuring itself against current best practice in this vital area, to understand what it does well, and where it needs to focus attention and resource to improve and develop.
A copy of the SCIE report is now published on the website, as is a copy of the Action Plan following the Audit. The Action Plan will be updated regularly so progress is visible.
A copy of the SCIE Privacy Notice may be found here.
Anyone who is affected by any safeguarding issue can speak in confidence to the Cathedral Safeguarding Lead or any of those listed below.
If you have any queries, comments or concerns regarding the audit process or safeguarding in general, please contact the Cathedral Safeguarding Lead or the Cathedral Safeguarding Adviser.
Mrs Jackie Croft
T: 01749 832 218 or 07799 644 589
The Revd Canon Nicholas Jepson-Biddle
T: 01749 674 483
T: 01749 685 135 or 07834 514 842
E: Ben. Goodhind@bathwells.anglican.org
T: 01749 685 135 or 07736 903 855