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AEGIS’ work with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton

By Aegis UK December 18, 2020

As many people will be aware, AEGIS has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the lack of regulations around educational guardianship and gaps in safeguarding at the highest levels for many years.  We recently shared case studies and insight with the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Office. Yesterday we received a copy of a letter that Dame Sara Thornton received from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education in response to the concerns she raised.  In the letter he wrote:

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of international students who choose to study in the UK is of huge importance not only to me and my department, but also to many other departments across Whitehall.
I note you have had positive engagement with a number of organisations in relation to international students and boarding arrangements, and that they have made you aware of a number of concerns, in particular, relating to the regulation of guardians.
As you will know, the government has prioritised a number of issues for safeguarding in education and revising the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools is one of these priorities.
As part of this work, we are proposing a new standard for boarding schools guardianship arrangements, which will require schools to take appropriate steps to ensure students are safe and the arrangements promote the physical and well-being of the student. Schools will also be required to report any concerns over these arrangements to the appropriate authorities. We continue to work with the Home Office on strengthening the system in this area.
We are also proposing a new standard for promoting good relationships, particularly with staff who should then be able to identify and protect students from harm, and we will continue to consider the safety of international students as we update our guidance on keeping children safe in education. The guidance is available at: tinyurl.com/P9cxb7e.
I also note there are concerns in relation to international students attending short-stay educational placements that are unregulated. In these circumstances, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) places requirements on the setting sponsoring the student, as part of their approval through UKVI as a trusted sponsor.
These requirements include reporting if a student fails to enrol, defers their studies after arrival in the UK or withdraws from their course before arriving in the UK. UKVI can apply sanctions and remove highly trusted sponsor status from schools that fail to comply with sponsorship arrangements.”
We are extremely grateful to Dame Sara Thornton for drawing attention to the subject.
In May 2020 Dame Sara Thornton wrote to the independent schools’ sector regarding the risks involved with fraudulent Tier 4 visas and the trafficking of vulnerable children: Dame-Sara-Thornton–Independent-Anti-Slavery-Commissioner DOWNLOAD
We were keen to offer training on this subject. AEGIS is delighted to be working with Every Child Protected Against Trafficking, ECPAT UK to deliver valuable training for guardians & schools on this highly important topic. ECPAT UK is the only organisation in the UK solely focusing on the issue of child trafficking, modern slavery and exploitation. It has been campaigning, producing research, working directly with victims of trafficking and training professionals for more than 20 years.

Child trafficking: visa fraud, international students and exploitation


Phil Spencer, the Training and Practice Officer for ECPAT UK, will be delivering the training. Phil has previously worked as a Child Protection and Youth Justice social worker in the UK for numerous years, as well as working for child exploitation and anti-trafficking organisations in India and Sri Lanka.
The webinar will be relevant to school and guardianship organisation staff.


The training will be delivered over two mornings: Tuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th January 2021, 9.30 – 13.00
This training will be provided online, live via Zoom, with an integrated platform which will ensure the training remains as interactive as possible.

What will the training cover?

Module 1: Introduction to Child Trafficking, Modern Slavery and Exploitation

This module will cover the definitions, legislation and trends of trafficking in the UK. The second half of the module will introduce the different types of trafficking that we encounter with children here in the UK, and as we cover each type then the dynamics and indicators which the participants may spot.

Module 2: Safeguarding and disruption

In this module we’ll cover the specific safeguarding framework around child victims of trafficking and the direct work specific to those trying to support children who have been trafficked, for example looking at specific challenges with trauma these children face. The session will finish with case studies and how to put training into practice.


Member: £160
Non Member: £190
Cost includes: A digital training pack for each participant and post-training case consultation for any participant who would like to access it.


We’d love to hear from you info@aegisuk.net