The Challenges of the Safeguarding Governor

Vikkey Chaffe, Head of Community Relations at The Safeguarding Company, explains her experiences as a safeguarding governor as well as some of the challenges associated with being a safeguarding governor.

When I became a governor, I had already been a member of the senior leadership team for a Primary School for over a decade. However, shifting from the operational to the strategic really took some getting used to. Even more so when it came to being the Safeguarding Link Governor. There were many challenges and confusion along the way. Once these were overcome, we had a more robust system in place which meant the whole governing body because much more proactive when it came to safeguarding  

Training - The Governors 

One of the biggest challenges facing the Safeguarding Link Governor is the lack of training and understanding by the rest of the board. That isn’t to say that safeguarding isn’t a priority, it is just that they don’t have the training to understand what a big part safeguarding plays in schools and in children’s futures.  

When I took over as Safeguarding Link Governor (SLG) I made it a priority to ensure that our governors had full safeguarding training. I took a more pragmatic approach when it came to looking at more specialised training for the governing body. I worked with the lead DSL and we went through the data of safeguarding concerns for the last academic year and identified which were our main areas for concern. We used this information not only to use as the basis for the CPD program for the school staff but also for the governors.  

Our biggest areas for concern were:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Online safety
    • Especially Child Sexual Exploitation and general grooming

We set out the training for the staff and invited governors to join, if they couldn’t join, I did a mopping-up session in the evening. We then decided we wanted to make sure that the training was at the forefront of everyone's mind, so we created half-termly quizzes for staff and governors. 


My school was in the top 10% of socially deprived areas in England. This did mean that our pastoral team and lead DSL were working on safeguarding cases and concerns constantly. This not only led to a huge strain on their workload but it took a massive toll on their mental health and wellbeing. The mental strain that comes with this role is enormous, not only with the heavy decisions that have to be made but the constant worry and concern for their pupils never ceases.

Unfortunately, in education, there is no statutory guidance that our DSLs MUST have supervision, a service which enables our safeguarding leads to discuss cases confidentially and offer support to ensure that their mental health is looked after. Every other service that deals with safeguarding, like the police, social workers and even counsellors must have supervision, so it has always been madness to me that our DSLs don’t have supervision!  

This had to change in my school. I brought this to the attention of the governing board and that we needed to ringfence money in the budget to ensure that all our safeguards had regular supervision and this must be timetabled. This wasn’t a hard sell because the governors knew how important it was to have our leads at their best in order to properly support our families. This wouldn’t have been the case if I hadn’t put such rigorous training in place. 

Auditing and Challenging 

This was a challenge even for someone who had had vast experience in safeguarding because it is a real shift from operational to strategic. You don’t need to know details of cases or the ins and outs of who is involved in what, you literally just need to ensure that the correct processes and policies are in place and that they are working and, above all, fit for purpose. 

You have statutory documents, policies and processes that need to be checked periodically, such as the Single Central Record (SCR) however there are many processes and policies that must be checked in order to have a frictionless process for your safeguarding process. These can include speaking to your teachers to make sure that they fully understand the safeguarding process and know the importance of sharing concerns. This will not only highlight if there is a break in the chain but also help your DSL learn if the process needs to be tightened up. 

Have regular meetings with your DSL and listen to what they feel is and isn’t working as part of the safeguarding process. This will also give them an opportunity to be heard and feel supported by the governors. This can be written into a report and shared with all the board. 

Working with the DSL 

To be the best safeguarding governor that you can be you must, above all, have a really strong and open relationship with your DSL. They are the one who knows if processes are working or what would really help/support them in their safeguarding of children.  

You have to be receptive to listen to everything, even if sometimes it isn’t what you want to hear. You also have to be open to ever-changing processes and policies, just because it has worked in the past doesn’t mean that it will or can work now. Guidance is an ever-changing beast and being up to date with this can be quite difficult. Work with your DSL and ask them to keep you updated on any change in Government Guidance as they update their pastoral team and staff. 

Support your DSL in their training ambitions and encourage them to go to other settings and see how their processes work and champion any changes they make to provide a more frictionless process when reporting safeguarding concerns. 

Above all, try and move to a more proactive approach when it comes to safeguarding and allow the DSL time to think about how this can work in your setting. 

Posted Date

3rd October 2022

Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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