Serious Incident Reporting in Independent Schools


The Charity Commission has published guidance for charity trustees on how to spot serious incidents and how to report them. This will be applicable to independent schools which are charities with an income over £25,000.

In this article, we explain how a ‘serious incident’ is defined, when and what to report and useful links for accompanying documents.

What is a serious incident?

The Charity Commission describes a serious incident as an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:

  • Harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work
  • Loss of your charity’s money or assets
  • Damage to your charity’s property
  • Harm to your charity’s work or reputation

When to report a serious incident?

The Charity Commission explains that trustees should report incidents promptly. If you are an employee of a charity (a teacher) and you suspect serious wrongdoing within the organisation, for example criminal offences, malpractice/misconduct or health and safety breaches, you should usually raise this with your school first, following the charity’s whistleblowing policy if it has one.

If the charity fails to deal with your concerns appropriately or you continue to suspect serious wrongdoing, you can report this to the Commission, including anonymously if you wish to do so. We have published another article which looks at the procedures of how to whistleblow in school.

What do we need to report?

The Charity Commission explains the main categories of reportable incident are:

  • Protecting people and safeguarding incidents – incidents that have resulted in or risk significant harm to beneficiaries and other people who come into contact with the charity through its work
  • Financial crimes – fraud, theft, cyber-crime and money laundering
  • Large donations from an unknown or unverifiable source, or suspicious financial activity using the charity’s funds
  • Other significant financial loss
  • Links to terrorism or extremism, including ‘proscribed’ (or banned) organisations, individuals subject to an asset freeze, or kidnapping of staff
  • Other significant incidents, such as – insolvency, forced withdrawal of banking services without an alternative, significant data breaches/losses or incidents involving partners that materially affect the charity

It is the responsibility of the charity trustees to decide whether an incident is significant and should be reported.

Further guidance

You can use the report a serious incident online form to report serious incidents to the Commission,

The Charity Commission has also produced the following documents for assistance:

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