Frequently Asked Questions

Safeguarding Children and Young People

We've collated some of our most frequently asked questions below to provide an overview of safeguarding and the protection of children and young people.

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to specific concerns about a child.

Safeguarding or Child Protection?

While safeguarding refers to the action we take to prevent harm to children and young people and to promote overall wellbeing, child protection focuses on protecting those individuals identified (often via safeguarding processes) to be suffering from harm, or those who are considered likely to suffer significant harm.

Although sometimes used synonymously, safeguarding is a larger, more holistic process that aims to prevent and if necessary spot small issues and intervene before larger, more serious concerns develop. Safeguarding concerns could include mental health, bullying or other 'pastoral' issues. Some describe safeguarding as a set of preventative measures, whereas Child Protection is the way in which we respond to harm. 

Why is Safeguarding Important?

Safeguarding is essential as it prevents harm to children and young people, allowing schools, colleges, sports teams and other organisations to intervene before a crisis point is reached and improve outcomes for those involved. It also provides robust evidence which can support legal proceedings in finding survivors of abuse justice.

Without safeguarding processes in place, children and young people face serious risk with serious, long-term implications.

What is Contextual Safeguarding?

'Contextual Safeguarding’ is the approach used to understand and respond to young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. This approach is significant as it recognises relationships that young people form in their local area, in schools and also online, which may expose them to violence and abuse. In these settings, parents and carers carry very little influence and children and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.

Therefore, safeguarding practitioners in schools and other organisations need to engage with individuals and sectors who do have influence within extra-familial contexts. Effective safeguarding recognises that assessment and intervention of the risks in these spaces and situations are critical to keeping children and young people safe.

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Who is responsible for Safeguarding?

In most settings, there is at least one person who carries the responsibility for overseeing the wellbeing and safety of the organisation's members. For some, it is a role carried out alongside other duties, for example, a Deputy Head Teacher, in other settings it may be the full-time work of an individual such as 'Head of Safeguarding' for a sports team.

Safeguarding in UK Schools

In UK schools, this role usually carries the title of Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), or Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) in Wales. In independent schools this role is usually owned by the Deputy Head (pastoral) and in other education settings this may be the Headteacher or another senior member of staff.

In the UK, schools have a statutory duty to protect their students from harm. School staff are often the first to notice when children and young people are experiencing issues, it is essential for schools to have robust safeguarding processes in place to record, report and manage these issues.

Schools must also follow Safer Recruitment processes for the recruitment of teaching staff, support staff, governors, volunteers, and contractors, to ensure that their pupils are kept safe from those who wish to do them harm.

Safeguarding in non-school settings

In other settings such as sports clubs, charities and religious organisations, designated people and/or departments are responsible for keeping their service users safe from harm. Titles responsible for safeguarding can include (but are not limited to) ‘Safeguarding Lead’, ‘Safeguarding Officer’ or ‘Child Protection Officer’. 

Providers of community activities, tuition, after-school clubs and sports training can be referred to as 'Out-of-School Settings' (OOSS). OOSS providers, staff, and volunteers also have a duty of care toward the children that they work with. 

For more information on the requirements of OOSS see: Keeping children safe during community activities, after-school clubs, and tuition; non-statutory guidance for providers running out-of-school settings

Safeguarding in International Schools

Safeguarding in International Schools can be complex with schools juggling the legislative requirements of the country in which they are based, the advice, recommendations or guidance of their 'home' country and/or curriculum, and the best interests of their pupils. 

Around the world, there are countries that don't yet recognise the need for robust safeguarding legislation or where the focus remains on child protection and identifying only the most serious cases of abuse and harm. The guidance from the UK's Department of Education (DfE) is widely seen as the most comprehensive of its kind and is often used by international schools as a point of reference when developing their own policies and procedures.

Many of the recommendations made in the DfE's 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' are also mirrored in the safeguarding standards set out by international school membership organisations such as BSME, ECIS, COBIS and others.  

The people responsible for safeguarding and/or child protection within International Schools hold a wide variety of job titles from 'Designated Safeguarding Lead' (DSL) which is commonly found in British International schools to 'Pastoral Lead', 'Head of Wellbeing', 'School Counsellor', 'Guidance Counsellor', 'Dean of Student's or simply the Assistant or Deputy Head.     


Why Choose Safeguarding Software?

Many organisations are choosing to move their safeguarding processes online, using digital systems for electronic record keeping, designed specifically for safeguarding. This process is much more secure and reliable, not to mention more time-efficient for all staff.

Safeguarding software helps schools' colleges and other organisations to keep an accurate record of all their concerns which can be relied upon for evidence in court proceedings, even years into the future. Unlike paper records, safeguarding software also facilitates secure information sharing, while enabling an organisation to remain compliant with data protection regulations. Safeguarding software records are also protected from risks associated with paper files: fire, theft and flood.

There are also other tangible benefits of using a digital system and the data that results, to learn more read our blog 7 Ways Digital Insights Can Improve Pastoral Care

Additional FAQs

These are some of the other questions we are asked, we update this list with new topics in response to the queries we recieve.

Do I need Safeguarding Training?

It is essential for school staff to have up-to-date, reliable safeguarding training in order to support them in keeping students safe from harm. Safeguarding Leads are required to update this training at least every two years and other school staff should receive safeguarding updates at least annually. 

We have a range of CPD accredited training suitable for teaching staff, support staff and governors.

Organisations such as FIFA and the NSPCC also offer training for individuals working in out-of-school settings. 

What is the difference between safeguarding and wellbeing?

Safeguarding is the moral and statutory responsibility placed on organisations such as schools and colleges to promote the welfare of all those who use their service (e.g. students). This involves providing a safe and welcoming environment where children are respected and valued, being alert to the signs of abuse and neglect and following procedures to ensure that children receive effective support, protection and justice.

Wellbeing is a very broad term, which covers various safeguarding issues such as physical and mental health, living conditions and protection from abuse/neglect.

What does MASH stand for and what is it?

MASH stands for Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub. 

According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence, a multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) is a structure which has been developed to facilitate information-sharing and decision-making on a multi-agency basis. This is often established by co-locating staff from the local authority, health agencies and the police. When working effectively, these hubs can prevent abuse, spot patterns of abuse and identify repeat offenders through sharing information

What is the Safeguarding Legislation that schools must follow?

Each country within the UK has its own set of specific guidance that applies to schools and education providers. Often this specific safeguarding legislation is expected to work alongside other guidance and legislation.  

In England, schools follow the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance to inform their safeguarding policies and procedures which is updated annually. There is also DfE produced Guidance for Independent Schools

In Wales, schools follow Keeping Learners Safe in Education. This was last updated in 2021 and you can access our free handbook to manage these changes here.

In Scotland, schools must follow the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland. Whereas in Northern Ireland the guidance is set out in Safeguarding and Child Protection in Schools

For International Schools, the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) offers a wealth of resources and advice. Those schools that are members of COBIS, BSME or other organisations should also refer to their respective safeguarding policies.  The Council of International Schools (CoIS) and the International Task Force on Child Protection have an agreed set of standards for international schools to which ECIS, NEASC, COBIS and others have signed up to. CoIS also provides a recommended checklist for Safer Recruitment in international settings

Other related legislation and useful sources of information can be found at:

How is Safer Recruitment linked to Safeguarding?

We believe that effective safeguarding starts with safer recruitment - with ensuring you have only the most suitable people representing your organisation and working with your children, young people or vulnerable adults. 

The KCSIE guidance explains that safe recruitment is an important first step to ‘help deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children and is a crucial part of the safeguarding process'. Safer Recruitment covers everything from writing the job description, shortlisting and checks, to references, interviewing, and using induction, training, and probation periods to ensure the right person is hired. 

Read more about Safer Recruitment

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