Happy New Year. I know it has been a rocky start, but here’s hoping for a better year overall!
Looking back, I see that I seem to get the January blog spot every year (here is last year’s entry)!
Many of the things I talked about in that blog are still true, even though we do find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic.
- We certainly still need to eat healthily – the cookathon recipes and videos are still available and we are still planning on another cookathon this year if your school is interested.
- And the fundamental importance of exercise, for emotional wellbeing as well as physical health, has been shown time and time again.
- Finding something, a hobby perhaps, that helps us to get through these troubling times is once again a major priority.
We must take the right steps at the right time to look after ourselves and our loved ones.
Now doing the right things at the right time is actually something that feeds into our professional safeguarding work.
So to kick start January – here are 4 safeguarding changes you may or may not know about, and some actions you should be taking this year.
1. Working Together to Safeguard Children has been updated.
The changes are minor and some are more about tidying up the document to bring it in line with later legislation. What is irritating is that the only way you will know if you’ve got the updated version is by checking the copyright date on the back cover (which is now 2020 instead of 2018) as the front cover will still say July 2018.
Here are the changes you need to know about:
a) The definition of safeguarding has been changed to children’s mental and physical health (as in KCSIE 2020). And includes a paragraph (7) on schools and mental health.
b) Information sharing has been updated with reference to GDPR. It also strengthens the advice that you [schools] do not need consent to share personal information…provided that there is a lawful basis to process any personal information required (see page 106).
c) In the section on identifying children who may benefit from early help WT has now included children who have a parent/carer in custody.
d) Homelessness duty – seems be a new section paragraphs 29-34 – and is particularly relevant for people working with 16 and 17 year olds and how we need to work together to prevent homelessness.
e) Domestic abuse and its impact upon children is referenced far more now throughout the document. The major change is the inclusion of coercive behaviour and control and the impact that has on children. There are also references to the draft Domestic Abuse Statutory Guidance Framework.
- Update policy and CPD around Information Sharing changes
- Update policy and CPD about domestic abuse, particularly about coercive control
2. Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 is out for consultation.
The link to respond to the consultation is here and the deadline is 4th Mar 2021.
Many of the changes are to improve readability and to ensure that this guidance is in line with other statutory documents but aspects you might want to focus on and think about a bit more are:
a) Introducing a new condensed annex that schools may decide to use with staff who do not work ‘directly with children’, instead of them reading and understanding Part One.
b) Peer on peer abuse and specifically Part 5 on Sexual violence and harassment. This section has its own separate consultation but the main changes are:
i) To strengthen the understanding of staff (including a clear definition)
ii) Information on barriers children face to disclosing
iii) Recognition of sexual violence and harassment within intimate relationships
iv) Improved practical advice and support when dealing with such situations
c) The role of the DSL. This has been expanded (and moved to Annex C) to include reference to the role of the DSL in promoting the educational outcomes particularly of children in need and those with a social worker. There is also now a deadline of 5 days for the transfer of the CP file between settings.
Some of the more minor or ‘tidying-up’ type of changes are:
d) Making the links between safeguarding and the behaviour management section of the Teacher Standards to ‘ensure a good and safe educational environment’ and including cyberbullying in the behaviour policy
e) Changes in safer recruitment
f) Including ‘child abduction and community safety incidents’ in the potential harms section
g) Addition of an explicit statement that the role of education staff includes promoting the child’s welfare
h) Making the section on information sharing much clearer, for example, stating that ‘schools and colleges have clear powers to share, hold and use information for [identifying and tackling all forms of abuse and neglect, and in promoting children’s welfare, including their educational outcomes]’
One aspect that I think is glaring in its omission is any reference to the need for adequate or effective supervision for DSLs – something you might want to think about and possibly comment on in the consultation.
3. Changes to Safer Recruitment.
Some legal changes came into force on the 28th November 2020 to take into account a judgement by the Supreme Court.
These changes are:
- Cautions given to under 18s are no longer legally disclosed
- The multiple conviction rule has been removed so that each offence should be considered individually
- Applicants must be told how to get independent, confidential advice on which cautions or convictions they must disclose and be given time to obtain advice
It is also worth bearing in mind that there are proposed changed to safer recruitment in KCSIE 2021.
These will make the safer recruitment process more explicit and it emphasises that all those involved in employment of staff have received the appropriate safer recruitment training.
Whilst there aren’t major changes in the statutory requirements there is a change needed in organisations’ culture and ethos so that schools and colleges have in place an ongoing culture of vigilance.
This is also aligned to changes needed to ensure that unsuitable people are not working with children.
If you need to get staff trained in safer recruitment we have moved our course online.
4. Change to the Safeguarding Subscription.
Many of you have asked me about the safeguarding subscription for Birmingham which has now changed from being run by the LA to one that Services For Education will deliver.
The subscription – which is digital – has been designed to support all schools and education settings.
We have developed the content based on many conversations with colleagues – either DSLs, headteachers, governors – and have produced something that we are sure will match your expectations.
Your school can sign up now for a year and get access to the content immediately.
There are pre-recorded webinars that will help you deliver that safeguarding CPD programme to your staff – and uniquely, we have recorded webinars on how to include some of these sensitive topics within the curriculum – so for example, how do you teach about FGM, or domestic abuse?
We have webinars for staff training – and as well as webinars for all staff and for governors and we have recorded one specifically for office/admin staff as their role is quite different.
We have dedicated quite a bit of time and resources to helping the DSL – as KCSIE shows us – the role just keeps on expanding. So how do you know how to start on some of the requirements? We’ve got a series of very short (5-15 minute) webinars on lots of different operational aspects of being the DSL.
That’s my New Year resolution – to embrace change – started. Wonder how long it will continue?
I am very aware that once again, we are in uncertain and stressful times. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for all of your hard work over the last year and throughout the pandemic. It is really appreciated!
I hope that this blog and some of the other resources we have put out for you will help you to keep on track during this time. But if you need any more advice on safeguarding in particular, please feel free to email the safeguarding team at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, here is a reminder of some of the resources we’ve put together for you:
- Resources for Teachers – this page has heaps of information and free resources that teachers can use throughout the pandemic, including important updates about assessment and opportunities for online CPD.
- Resources for Parents – feel free to direct parents to this page which has hundreds of great (free) resources and activities for children to do at home.
- Our Blog for Schools – if you don’t already, it’s worth keeping an eye out on our blog where we will share a range of articles with advice for settings and schools from EYFS upwards.
Here’s hoping this year will be better than last.