Safeguarding adviser, Lucie Welch, discusses how to hit the ground running this September with regards to safeguarding.
The start of the Autumn term is a chance to analyse, refresh and update your safeguarding systems to ensure your practice is the most effective it can be at keeping the children in your setting safe.
As a DSL, whether new to the role or a seasoned veteran, it can be daunting starting a new academic year as there’s always so much to tackle to get your ducks in a row.
This blog is written to support you in organising yourself and your Safeguarding team to make 2023/2024 the most effective year for safeguarding yet!
1. Policies, processes and procedures:
Creating and regularly updating a comprehensive Safeguarding and Child Protection policy is key in education settings.
This document sets out your aims for keeping children safe and shares with staff, visitors and parents the processes you have in place to ensure this.
There are many model policies available, which are great in helping you structure your policy- but they must be changed to reflect your setting and your own children. No two schools are alike, so your policy should be personalised, detailing your commitment to safeguarding children.
Whilst having a robust policy is very important, the real difference comes from sharing with staff and other stakeholders, ensuring that everyone has an understanding of the role they play in safeguarding. This cannot be only done on the first day of the year, but should be an ongoing tool for training and referred back to throughout the year. Staff need to be regularly refreshed and reminded of your school’s approach as a method to ensure consistency across the setting.
- Is everyone in your setting clear on the general, setting-wide procedures?
- What about for key children who may be on Child Protection plans or are looked after?
- How might procedures differ for them and how is this shared with staff who need to know?
2. Stay ahead of the trends:
To stay ahead of the trends, DSLs need to encourage a school wide culture of vigilance. With all staff understanding the importance of sharing small concerns, up to date information or trends on the rise, actions can be quickly implemented, and impact can be minimised.
Regular analysis of your online safeguarding system allows the DSL and safeguarding team to spot patterns in a proactive manner, rather than firefighting after the fact. Accurate use of categorisation will allow safeguarding staff to better understand your demographic, your community and the issues faced by your children- which can then be used to inform your curriculum planning, staff training and what is shared with parents.
Staying up to date with what is happening online is also vital for effective safeguarding. Ask staff and children to share new apps or social media platforms as they become popular. It is helpful to understand how they work and what children use them for, as being a technophobe cannot be an excuse for staying the dark.
3. Staff Training:
Your safeguarding provision will only ever be as strong as your weakest link, therefore it is essential that all staff receive regularly and high-quality training, no matter their role with your setting.
Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe- but do all staff truly understand what this entails?
From your kitchen staff to maintenance crew, to your bursar and beyond- how do you ensure consistency in knowledge of both safeguarding issues and your settings policies and procedures?
Training should never be a tick box activity but an ongoing programme of professional development.
Regular, effective and impactful training all contribute to staff understanding and equip them with the skills to recognise signs of abuse, respond quickly and appropriately and create the safest possible environments for your pupils.
Some questions to ask yourself…
- How is safeguarding integrated into your setting’s CPD calendar?
- How do you ensure consistency or training, no matter the role of staff members?
- What about staff who have been off on long term sick or maternity or work part time?
- What issues are most prevalent in your immediate area? The city as a whole? And nationwide?
4. Key Partnerships
Collaboration is an essential part of safeguarding- not only with your team and your setting, but with parents, the community and external agencies as well.
Ensure that names and numbers are up to date particularly for social workers or outside agencies- taking time to do at the start of term, can save time down the line.
Depending on your location, seek out community support such as a locality hub or other local initiatives. These can be a wealth of knowledge and help signpost you and your families to help in the local area.
Building relationships with parents and your community can support safeguarding within your setting and increase your understanding of the contextual issues within your area.
Look for ways in which you can include all stakeholders in decision making and forward planning, this will not only improve relationships but provide a sense of control and ownership, which can be hugely beneficial should a safeguarding situation arise.
Identify those families who might be harder to reach- what can you do to support them and build those relationships?
5. Regular Reviews
Safeguarding can never be ‘completed’, there will always be something to do, something to improve or something to update. By regularly reviewing your safeguarding procedures and processes, you can develop, strengthen and improve what you have to offer.
As part of this process, be sure to elicit the voice of your pupils, your staff and your families. This will enable you to create a bigger picture of what you have to offer and find ways in which you can make safeguarding in your setting even stronger.
Being a DSL or member of the Safeguarding team can be overwhelming, especially after a long break from school, so being organised, practical and proactive will help you to take stock, make improvements and prepare best for the year ahead. Understanding your current position and creating a detailed, achievable action plan will ensure the best outcomes for your pupils.
If you would like support with any element of Safeguarding, including staff training, bespoke consultancy or safeguarding audits, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Services For Education, we understand how tough the role can be, so allow our expert staff to support you- every step of the way.
At Services For Education, we help equip schools and colleges with the necessary resources and learning programmes that can help them manage safeguarding and emotional health and wellbeing issues within their settings.
If you would like further staff training on this or any other safeguarding topic, please contact us at email@example.com
About the Adviser
Lucie Welch – Adviser, Services For Education
Lucie Welch taught in primary schools for over 13 years, holding the roles of Assistant Head of School, Designated Safeguarding Lead, Designated Teacher for Looked After Children, Attendance Lead as well as many subject lead roles.
Through the role of DSL, Lucie has garnered huge experience and knowledge of safeguarding which she is passionate about sharing with schools both across Birmingham and nationwide. With a strong understanding of policies and procedures, as well as safeguarding in schools at a day-to-day operational level, Lucie can provide bespoke consultancy and training on a host of safeguarding related topics.
Lucie also leads on PSHE and RSE and has a focused interest in children's emotional health and wellbeing, understanding how trauma and adverse childhood experiences can impact children, as well as educating staff and pupils on Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment and Harmful Sexual Behaviour in schools.
Lucie is also a part of our Health for Life team and helps deliver the Early Career Framework on behalf of the Best Practice Network.
NEED SAFEGUARDING SUPPORT?
Our expert advisers can provide in-school visits to deliver sessions on any specific safeguarding issues that are relevant to your setting. We also offer consultancy and a detailed safeguarding audit. We will work with you to understand your exact requirements.
Get in touch with us today if you’d like to discuss bespoke Safeguarding training for your school.find out more