Top Tips when Preparing for Inspections

Our recent Safeguarding Spotlight webinar saw our safeguarding panel discuss how best to prepare for inspections. In this blog, we discuss different inspection scenarios and present some top tips on how best to ensure everyone is prepared for an inspection at your school.

On our recent Safeguarding Spotlight webinar, we were joined by three experienced Safeguardians as we discussed how to best prepare for an inspection. In this blog, we summarise the advice that was shared about the different inspection scenarios.   

For the webinar, our Head of Community Relations, Vikkey Chaffe, had developed three different scenarios relating to inspections which the safeguarding panellists responded to. The safeguarding panel included:  

  • Sue Bailey, Safeguarding Lead at Arthur Terry Learning Partnership 
  • Luke Ramsden, Senior Deputy Headteacher and Safeguarding Lead for St Benedict’s Independent School  
  • Lisa Atack, Headteacher of Greenfields Specialist School for Communication 

Before we look at each scenario in detail, Luke Ramsden, Deputy Head and DSL, shared one very useful piece of overarching advice; “make sure that your organisation doesn’t make the inspectors search for answers about how you handle safeguarding, pastoral or wellbeing concerns.  Instead show them how, through analysing data and proactive planning, you and your staff work hard to protect the children and young adults in your care.”  We couldn’t agree more with this and would advise any safeguarding lead, whatever the type of organisation, to take this approach. 

Posted Date

10th December 2021

Scenario 1: Inspectors have arrived and are observing people arriving and entering the premises. The fire alarm goes off during this observation period. As Safeguarding Lead what do you do?

Lisa believes all safeguarding leads should act with confidence during all aspects of the inspection, including unexpected events. She stresses that in an unexpected circumstance, such as a fire alarm, the inspector may ask you what you may have done differently or quiz you on your procedures and policies.  

Luke sees any incidences during an inspection as an opportunity to show how you and your staff operate during times of stress. You should prepare for the worst-case scenario and the staff’s response in these situations should convey how your processes help keep the children in your care safe even during unexpected situations. 

Sue adds that schools (and other organisations) should have established and practiced routines when it comes to evacuations, so you are not caught unaware if something happens during an inspection. Keeping a log of previous incidents and meeting with the safeguarding team to discuss what went well and what could be improved shows inspectors that you and your staff are continuing to develop and improve your processes.


Scenario 2: Inspectors have come in and have asked you for more information about how the school has dealt with the peer-on-peer abuse concerns raised by anonymous website Everyone’s Invited?

Peer-on-Peer abuse is a relevant topic that many inspections have been focused on; Ofsted even changed the frameworks of their inspection policy due to the impact of Peer-on-Peer abuse. Luke stresses the importance of categorising concerns, something that MyConcern has really helped him and his team achieve. By categorising concerns, he can analyse the data and formalise a plan to lessen and prevent issues like this from happening. This is an excellent way to show inspectors a proactive approach to safeguarding and pastoral concerns. 

Lisa added that the sections and categories in MyConcern are vital to contextual safeguarding. School is only one location where children are affected, things that happen in their homes or out in the community can also influence the total safeguarding story.  

Sue and her safeguarding team look at recent cases that have been well-managed in order to show inspectors the work that is being done within the school to provide a big picture of the concerns and issues the team deal with. She also ensures the trust is creating opportunities for children to disclose their concerns within the school. 

Scenario 3: You have just had the call and you have informed your safeguarding governor that they will be needed to speak to the inspectors. How would you support your governor about what will be expected of them??

Sue knows first-hand how invaluable support from your school’s governor can be for any safeguarding lead. Effective safeguarding is underpinned by strong leadership and strong governance. Long before you get the call you should have met with your governor, and they should have a strong idea about the safeguarding practice within the organisation.  

Luke stresses that this relationship needs to be continued throughout the entire year, as a safeguarding lead you should be discussing safeguarding with your governor regularly. When an inspection happens you should be confident that your Governor will support you because they know exactly what is happening within the school and together you are using the data to strategically safeguard and prevent such events from occurring again ensuring safeguarding is effective within the school. 

Lisa added that a safeguarding audit with the governor is useful and should be shared with all governors. This is a fantastic opportunity to drill down to find places where more resources or training are needed. A close working relationship with your governor also gives you a safeguarding advocate on the governing board.

Audience Question: How do you ensure your staff are supported in understanding key policies and documents?

Luke believes in a drip-feeding approach, to have meetings and training at the start of each term on relevant safeguarding topics and follow-ups when needed. He also encourages learning walks, dropping in to speak to teachers so they know that their safeguarding lead is there to speak to if they have any concerns.   

At the Greenfields Specialist School for Communication Lisa believes that the topic of safeguarding and pastoral care needs to be a continuous conversation. That way it is always at the front of mind for staff and so that staff will hold themselves and each other accountable.  

Sue agrees that staff need to think about safeguarding first, this can be done by drip-feeding safeguarding scenarios and training throughout the year, so people understand it in practice, and it is always at the front of their mind. Another way to keep safeguarding at front of mind is to have safeguarding posters and resources available within the school.  

We have developed a series of safeguarding posters not just for staff but also for parents and children, so everyone feels comfortable disclosing concerns to the safeguarding lead.  

Audience Question: How have you helped your staff understand low-level concerns and self-referring?

At the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, Sue ensured that the topic of low-level concerns was covered in September and  has been revisited several times. Sue is running additional training for all headteachers to ensure everyone is on the same page.  

A key thing for Luke, when it comes to low-level concerns, is reassurance for his staff. The idea of self-referrals and reflecting on situations that could be interpreted as inappropriate is hugely important. It is vital that staff feel comfortable coming to the Head to disclose potential issues which has had a positive response because the staff feel supported. 

Lisa encourages her staff to never leave the building with any worries and to always communicate with your Head which encourages an honest and transparent safeguarding culture within the organisation for staff and students alike. 

At The Safeguarding Company, we have developed resources to help safeguarding leads inform their colleagues on low-level concerns. You can download our low-level concerns leaflet HERE. We also compiled all 2021 Keeping Children Safe in Education updates and changes into 3 separate resources: one for all staff, one for safeguarding leads, and another for Governors. We hope these resources will help inform you of all KCSIE changes and provide information on how our safeguarding solutions can help you.  

Available On-Demand

Watch the Webinar

Part 1 of our Safeguarding Spotlight Series focused on preparing for upcoming inspections. We discussed how best to prepare for an inspection and Sue Bailey shared her thoughts based on her experience with an Ofsted Inspection. Our other panellists Luke Ramsden and Lisa Atack also shared their thoughts on how best to prepare for inspections and creating a safeguarding culture within your school.

Preparing for Inspections

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