ISC respond to Times’ trafficking report

The association, which represents over 1,300 independent schools, said safeguarding is a ‘top priority’

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) has responded to an article in The Times that said private schools are being used by gangs to traffic Asian girls to Britain.

“Schools take the welfare of children very seriously and view safeguarding and child protection as the top priority issue,” said Robinson.

“Schools do everything they can to ensure children are safe and secure in their care. Our schools uphold the high standards set by the Home Office for being an immigration sponsor.

“A small number of criminals have sought to exploit the immigration system and the ISC has issued guidance to members advising extreme caution and vigilance when recruiting from Vietnam. In these instances, schools would follow proper procedures, reporting to the Home Office and police and working with all agencies to track down and secure the welfare of the pupils involved.

The ISC has issued guidance to members advising extreme caution and vigilance when recruiting from Vietnam

“As a sector we work in conjunction with Home Office officials to ensure the visa system is not exploited by criminals and immediately report any suspicion of foul play.”

Children thought to be as young as 15 are being brought to the UK through visas sponsored by private schools, The Times found. The students then often go missing within weeks of starting at the school. The investigation uncovered at least 21 Vietnamese children who have vanished from private schools in the past four years.

Robinson concludes: “We strongly condemn the trafficking of young people to the UK including via applications to member schools. To our knowledge these are relatively isolated incidents involving a small number of students from one country but every single child should be kept safe.”