Safeguarding

Keeping Learners Safe Legislation and Guidance

On December 2021, a new version of the statutory guidance ‘Keeping Learners Safe’ came into effect. This guidance is intended for all those in Wales, working with children and young people in an education setting or related agency who would benefit from understanding the process and expectations for safeguarding in schools, and the wider system.

We have separated the updates to the guidance into 13 parts

  1. About Safeguarding in Wales 
  2. Inspections
  3. Safeguarding Roles and Responsibilities 
  4. Governing Bodies 
  5. Head Teachers, Principals and Leaders
  6. Designated Safeguarding Person
  7. Initial Teacher Education Partnerships 
  8. Responding to Concerns 
  9. Listening to the Child
  10. Domestic Abuse, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence and Harmful Cultural Practices 
  11. Keeping Children safe Online
  12. Community Cohesion 
  13. Safer Recruitment

You can read the full guidance HERE

Keeping Learners Safe

Safeguarding in Wales

All education settings must:  

  • reduce risks
  • take the right actions to keep children safe
  • follow the law
  • follow all national and local policies, guidance and procedures
  • have their own policies and procedures
  • know about safeguarding needs in their area.

Single Point of Contact 

Each local authority must have a safeguarding single point of contact for people working with children. This helps everyone know where to go if they think a child is at risk.  

Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP)  

Each school or college must have a DSP. Everyone working in the school and college should:  

  • know who their local authority contact is
  • know their DSP.

Safeguarding Children Boards  

Each local authority is a member of a Safeguarding Children Board. This Board works across different services, including education. Local authorities must make sure the Director of Education is a member of the Board and attends meetings. 

Inspections 

All schools and colleges are inspected by Estyn, and sometimes the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Inspectors look at how they keep children safe and check their safeguarding policy. 

We also keep children safe through:  

  • The Wales Safeguarding Procedures 2019. These help services understand their roles and responsibilities: safeguarding.wales.
  • The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This law sets out how schools and colleges should step in early when they think a child is at risk and keep them safe.
  • The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. This law has a Duty to Report. Schools and colleges must tell the local authority when they believe a child is at risk.
  • The Equality Act 2010. Local authorities, schools and colleges must be fair places that treat everyone equally.
Safeguarding roles and Responsibilities 

Local Authorities 

Every local authority is responsible for protecting children. They must have a designated lead officer of safeguarding for education 

The local authority should make sure:  

  • their senior education officers are on the SCB
  • they support services to work together
  • they work with other partners like the police and health services
  • all education settings have all the resources they need to keep children safe
  • they work with independent, voluntary-aided and foundation schools
  • all schools are following this guidance
  • teachers and school governors have all the training, support and advice they need
  • all staff have up-to-date safeguarding training
  • they know and support each school’s DSP and designated governor
  • all schools have policies and steps for dealing with issues, including allegations against staff
  • schools do the right employment checks, including DBS checks.

Local authorities are responsible for the safety of children who are waiting for a school place, in a pupil referral unit or who are home tutored. 

Local Authorities have Three Different Responsibility Levels:  

  • strategic responsibilities — to make sure their plans, resources and systems keep all children safe
  • support responsibilities — to make sure they support all education settings in the right ways
  • operational responsibilities — to make sure all their day-to-day working and actions keep all children safe.
Governing Bodies 

Governing bodies must: make sure the school or college has safeguarding protection policies and procedures, carry out the right checks for new staff and volunteers including DBS checks, make sure all head teachers, teachers and other staff have up-to-date training, make sure clear guidance is given to temporary staff, make sure the DSP, the designated governor and the chair of governors work with the Safeguarding Children’s Board and other services. 

Schools and colleges should have a designated governor for safeguarding. They take responsibility for child protection. All members of governing bodies should:  

  • have safeguarding and child protection training in their first term
  • complete the Keeping Learners Safe modules.
Head Teachers, Principals and Leaders 

Head teachers, principals and leaders must make sure all teachers, staff and volunteers:  

  • follow the safeguarding protection policies and procedures
  • have the resources they need to keep children safe
  • have time to train and take part in meetings
  • know how to raise concerns about a child in the right ways
  • know who the schools DSP is and how to contact them.

They should:  

  • promote open communication between staff and pupils
  • have more than one DSP if their school size needs it
  • make sure the DSP has all the resources and support they need
  • give the DSP time to take part in safeguarding meetings and help other services assess a child’s needs.
Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) 

Their role is not to investigate allegations or claims of abuse. 

The DSP must:  

  • be a senior member of staff, able to make decisions or take action
  • have training in safeguarding
  • be available to discuss any concerns
  • know how to recognise the signs of abuse, neglect and harm, including online abuse
  • know how to report concerns to the local authority or the police
  • keep the head teacher up to date with all child protection concerns.

They should:  

  • communicate with learners and staff
  • be up to date with ongoing cases or concerns
  • have support from leadership
  • have at least one deputy to help them
  • work with other services so they know about risks in their area
  • check policy and practice at the school or college at least once a year
  • make sure staff, learners and their families have all the information they need, in ways they can understand.
Initial Teacher Education Partnerships 

Some schools and colleges partner with Universities and have student teachers. They must make sure all student teachers are safe to work with children in schools. They should make sure student teachers: have support for their well-being, develop good working practices around safeguarding, know about all the law and guidance about safeguarding. 

Owners of Independent Schools 

If the owner of the school isn’t the head teacher, they must: communicate regularly with the head teacher, keep up to date and with all the safeguarding issues. If a school provides accommodation for children, they must register with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). These schools are inspected by CIW and Estyn. 

Work-Based Learning Providers 

The provider must make sure children are safe. They should: check all staff are safe to work with children, give guidance on safeguarding, have a designated safeguarding lead officer, train and support all staff on safeguarding. 

Contractors 

Any contractor working at the school or college must have had a DBS check.  

They can use the: ● DBS eligibility tool  

Responding to Concerns 

All schools and colleges should: work with local authorities, the police, health services and other services, build relationships with other services, have clear steps for making referrals and sharing information, make referrals quickly so children and families get the support they need when they need it. 

The DSP should make sure everyone is aware of the Wales Safeguarding Procedures: safeguarding.wales. 

Schools and colleges must share and explain all policies and procedures as part of the staff induction process. During induction, staff must be given information about the DSP and how to contact them. All staff should: 

  • be aware of the signs of abuse, neglect and other kinds of harm  
  • be aware that abuse, neglect and harm can affect anyone  
  • speak to the DSP if they have concerns  
  • know they can contact the local authority children’s social services team if they need to  
  • always act in the best interests of the child. 

The Right Response to Safeguarding Concerns 

Anyone who expresses concerns about a child to the school or college must never be asked to make a self-report to social services or the police. Their concerns must be shared with the DSP. Concerns must be shared with social services in a report. This doesn’t always lead to further action, but it helps build a picture so families get the support they need quickly. 

All information and reports must : be accurate, concise and clear and be kept confidential and only shared in the right ways. 

Getting Advice 

Every school and college must have a suitable system in place for staff to get advice and collect information. If staff have concerns, they must talk to the DSP. 

Investigations 

Schools and colleges must not carry out their own investigations. If the concern is about a member of staff, schools and colleges must report it to the local authority or the police. 

Listening to the Child - Part 1

All schools and colleges should be a safe place for children to talk about things that affect them. Staff should:  

  • encourage children to speak out about concerns
  • share clear information about helplines and peer support schemes.

Children will talk about their concerns and problems with people they feel they can trust and are comfortable with. This may not be a teacher or the DSP. If a child talks to a member of staff, they must:

  • write a full record of the conversation as soon as possible stating the time, full date, place, the circumstance of the meeting, who was present  
  • be clear about facts, observations, allegations and opinions
  • note any action taken or comments/advice given
  • sign, time and date it
  • contact the DSP.

Welsh Language 

All schools and colleges should: make the active offer of the Welsh language part of all their work, and be sensitive to other language and cultural needs when talking about sensitive issues. 

Involving Parents or Carers 

The child’s safety must come first. If it’s safe, discuss any concerns about a child’s well-being with their family. If it’s not safe, contact the DSP. The DSP will work with other services and the police to decide what happens next. 

Reporting Concerns to Social Services or the Police 

The DSP must decide whether to report to social services and/or the police. The report must: be in writing, have all the basic information including cause for concern and be sent within 24 hours.  

If a report is made in person or by telephone, it must be confirmed in writing within 24 hours. Outside of office hours, reports must be made to the social services emergency duty service or to the police.  

The DSP should: share the report with the staff member involved and the headteacher or principal and explain what is happening, who is taking the actions and why. 

Listening to the Child - Part 2

Additional Learning Needs 

All schools and colleges should:  

  • understand that children with additional learning needs may be at increased risk of abuse, neglect and harm
  • understand the barriers they may face (especially around communication)
  • provide any additional safeguards needed to protect them.

Culture and Beliefs 

All schools and colleges should:  

  • get to know the culture and beliefs of families in their community
  • deal with sensitive issues like female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

Information-Sharing 

Information needs to be shared in the right ways. The DSP should make decisions about what information to share. The Safeguarding Children’s Board should make sure all schools and colleges know how to share information safely. 

Duty of Confidentiality 

There are times, when it’s in the best interest of a child, that confidential information needs to be shared. If this needs to happen the school or college should:  

  • support the child
  • tell the child, unless it puts them at further risk
  • make sure any decision is recorded.

Record-Keeping 

The DSP must:  

  • keep detailed and accurate written records of safeguarding concerns in a secure place
  • keep these records confidential and separate from other learner records
  • send a copy to a child’s new school or college when they move
  • understand how long records should be kept once the child has left your environment.

Safeguarding in Specific Circumstances 

Teachers, staff and volunteers should know the signs of a child at risk of harm, neglect and abuse so they can raise their concerns and safeguard children. 

All Wales Practice Guides:  

Listening to the Child - Part 3

Peer-on-Peer Abuse and Harmful Sexual Behaviour 

The DSP should have training to understand and recognise this type of abuse. Schools and colleges should use:  

Child Abuse Images and the Internet 

Schools and colleges should use the guidance, training and support from:  

Children Missing from Home or Care 

Schools and colleges should:  

  • use their attendance records to spot patterns of absences
  • stay in contact with parents and carers
  • follow up quickly to make sure a child is safe. Attendance records can highlight concerns and prevent abuse.

If a child is missing, schools and colleges should refer to:  

Bullying 

We have guidance for governing bodies and local authorities to help prevent bullying: ‘Rights, respect, equality’. 

Schools and colleges must take steps to stop bullying and keep all children safe. There are toolkits on the Hwb.  

Hate Crime 

We have funded: a children and young person’s helpline at MEIC Cymru a National Hate Crimes and Incidents Centre at Victim Support Cymru 

Inclusion and Pupil Support 

The Inclusion and pupil support guidance helps schools and colleges understand their responsibilities. 

Children Missing Education  

We have guidance to help prevent children and young people from missing education. It includes a toolkit.  

Looked-After Children  

Every governing body must have a designated member for children who are looked after. If there is a concern, this governor must:  

Substance Misuse 

School and community-based counselling services can provide support. There is guidance and advice at:

Suicide and Self-Harm 

We have produced guidance: Responding to issues of self-harm and thoughts of suicide in young people. 

Physical Contact with Pupils, Including Restraint 

A teacher or member of staff may have to use reasonable force to stop a child from hurting themselves or someone else. There is guidance and advice at:  

Domestic Abuse, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence and Harmful Cultural Practices 

Domestic Abuse  

We have a National Strategy and Cross-Government Delivery Framework.  

But there is also:  

Talking about these issues helps children recognise inappropriate behaviour. Operation Encompass supports children experiencing domestic abuse. This is being rolled out across Wales. 

If teachers or school staff have a concern, they should tell the DSP. There is advice and guidance at: gov.wales/live-fear-free. 

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 

 Teachers and staff should:  

  • be aware that girls may be taken abroad for FGM
  • know the signs of FGM.

There is guidance at:  

Forced Marriage 

 Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage has step-by-step advice. 

Keeping Children Safe Online 

Keeping safe online area of Hwb has online tools and resources to help schools and colleges keep children and young people safe online.  

Live-Streaming Lessons 

Protection of children and young people is essential when live-streaming lessons. There is advice and guidance for schools and colleges at:  

Sharing Images 

Sharing images can expose people to embarrassment, bullying and exploitation. There is guidance and advice at:  

Childline has developed a report and remove tool which allows young people to report an image and get it removed from the internet. 

Community Cohesion 

Stopping Radicalisation  

There are many factors that influence a vulnerable child’s interests. Schools and colleges should be aware of changes in behaviours, and consider factors contributing to the behaviour and interest such as personal inabilities, isolation etc. Where ideologies are apparent the DSP should be contacted.  

Schools’ and colleges’ safeguarding procedures must cover radicalisation and extremism. There is guidance and advice at: 

The Referral Form 

If the DSP thinks a child is at risk of radicalisation, they should use the All Wales Partners Prevent Referral Form. 

Prevent Duty Training

At The Safeguarding Company, we offer Prevent Duty Training to give you the skills and knowledge to protect those vulnerable from radicalisation. Book your training HERE

Safer Staff Recruitment Practice 

All teaching and support staff must be registered with the Education Workforce Council (EWC) if they are in one of the registration categories. Schools and colleges must check the register before they employ anyone.  

The EWC has:  

Supply Cover  

There are different ways to find teaching cover:  

Both the agency and the school or college must check the DBS status of supply teachers. Neither should presume the check has been done. Supply staff must also be registered with the EWC. 

Whistleblowing 

Governing bodies should have a whistleblowing procedure. There is guidance and advice at: 

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