How to Create a Culture of Safeguarding in your School

In this blog, Vikkey Chaffe, our Head of Community Relations, shares with us six of the most important components that go towards creating a sustainable safeguarding culture in schools.

During my time as a DSL working across several schools and regional areas, I realised pretty quickly that there is no one way to create a culture of safeguarding. The only thing that is consistent, however, is the importance of doing what is right for you, your school and your pupils.  

Pupils 

You can’t have a safeguarding culture in our school if you only work reactively with safeguarding. It is important to equip children with the tools to enable them to protect themselves; being proactive with safeguarding in this way would hopefully mean becoming less reactive.  

Pupils need to understand what is unacceptable and how they can disclose this information to us, even if the disclosure isn’t about them. This will really support you with the new KCSIE guidance surrounding Peer-on-Peer abuse and online safety.   

Working Closely with your Safeguarding 

Governor 

There is more to your school than just the staff that you work with daily. Governors need to be on board too and for this to happen you need an advocate in your corner. Working with your Safeguarding Governor can be incredibly fruitful for the school. Firstly, Governors need to have adequate training, not just about their role, but about what and how you use your systems in your school. 

At The Safeguarding Company, we offer Governor training that will strengthen a Governor's knowledge of safeguarding issues and procedures. They will learn how to effectively work with the senior leadership team whilst developing competence and confidence in carrying out their role. This course also covers child protection policies, procedures, principles and practice. 

Safeguarding governors should be a support to their staff and safeguarding leads, they can champion your needs personally to the other governors in the school. Be open and honest with them about the barriers to creating a safeguarding culture in your school and what you need them to do to support you. 

 

 

Working with Parents and Carers 

To be able to create a full picture of the children in your care, you must know what is happening outside school too, as this helps with your safeguarding context, but remain mindful that the parents of students may know little about safeguarding as a concept and usually even less about your policies and processes. 

You need to give your parents and carers the tools to not only support their own children but to help you in your role as DSL. Make sure that they are not only aware of what safeguarding is, but show them how they can report concerns to you. Ensure that the parents of your students know that you are always there to hear their concerns and that their concerns will always be confidential.  

Drip Feeding 

Often, one of the biggest downfalls with safeguarding practice in schools is just making it a focus in September alone. Safeguarding should be a daily conversation with staff. There are different ways you can do this, but one of the best ways is to give staff regular practical exercises to think about to keep safeguarding front of mind. For example, you could write and display a different scenario in the staff room each week and ask staff to comment underneath with the possible concern it raises and what they would do about it.  

It is important to have a weekly five-minute slot in your staff meeting to focus on safeguarding, where you can use the time to update staff on what the emerging issues have been over the previous week and what they could be watching out for.  A good example of this in practice would be; Over the past week, we have had 6 concerns over possible neglect and 4 over potential physical abuse.  What signs do we need to be watching out for? What is happening locally that we all might need to know?  
Asking staff who live locally to the school of their knowledge of local issues is vital for every member of staff to stay abreast of important information. 

We also have a variety of resources you can share with your colleagues including rules of information sharing, a Peer-on-Peer abuse staff briefing and techniques to help with stress management in the workplace. 

View our range of resources HERE.

Be Honest and Reflect on your own Practice 

This can seem like the easiest thing to do but it can be the most difficult to achieve. It is the easiest because it is a simple thing to do, but it is the hardest because none of us likes to reflect on difficult situations, especially when we could have done things differently.  However, it is an absolute must. It's important to address when processes or practices have not gone well, in order to put in possible changes or solutions for the future.  

Serious case reviews move safeguarding forward in terms of a local authority, but everyone needs to play their part - what could have been done differently? What can be changed to make sure the incident or situation doesn’t happen again? This is not about attributing blame to a single person, of course, but instead identifying where your safeguarding practices need improving. 

 

 

Having a System where Concerns can be Reported Immediately  

We all know how important it is to have concerns reported to the DSL immediately, and so having a clear system in place to make sure this can happen, and not left on a teacher’s table until they have time to come and find you, is vital.  

There are lots of reasons why speed is of the essence.  

Firstly, you may need to alert external services, and if you do, this needs to be done immediately. However, this can take time and if you don’t have a concern from the morning reported to you until lunchtime, this can drastically affect outcomes.  

Secondly, you may need to put multiple actions into place, from investigating to speaking to parents before they come to collect at the end of the school day, which all takes time. It could also be an important issue that needs raising at a Case Conference, which you could be on your way to attend that day, so you need to be armed quickly with the latest information. You should highlight the importance of immediate action at your weekly staff meeting slots, each time elaborating on an anonymised situation like those described above that didn’t go according to plan because you didn’t have the concern as soon as it was recognised.  

There are also benefits to have a digital recording system like MyConcern, a secure digital platform that enables staff or other members of your organisation (such as volunteers) to record their safeguarding concerns quickly and easily. There is also a companion app so that staff can record their concerns on the go and offsite, for example, at school trips, during sporting events or training. 

Recording safeguarding concerns in a carefully structured and consistent way supports highly effective case management and data analysis. It also allows you to share important information with external partners when appropriate and to respond positively to scrutiny and inspections. 

Find out more about MyConcern HERE.

 

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a good starting point. Every setting will have different needs and they are unique to you. The work you do is of the utmost importance, and it is critical that your safeguarding culture makes your role easier and ultimately makes your children safer. 

Author
Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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