What is Safeguarding in Schools?
One of the most important topics to know about when thinking of working in schools is Safeguarding. This key word will form part of any school interview you go for no matter what the job is and it is important to be up to speed with the responsibilities in keeping children safe at all times. Safeguarding will also form a huge part of any Ofsted inspection.
Safeguarding is vital when it comes to recognising potential warning signs of harm, abuse or neglect and liaising effectively and efficiently with the relevant authorities and designated safeguarding leads in order to support, and help those who may be victims of abuse. The aim is to provide a safe and secure environment where children can learn, grow, and develop.
UK schools have a legal obligation to protect children and take appropriate action to minimise risks and prevent harm.
All staff members including Teachers, Support Staff and Volunteers must be trained on child protections procedures and be able to recognise and respond accordingly to any signs of abuse or neglect as well as ensuring that the child will not cause harm to others too.
Another aspect of Safeguarding in education is Health & Safety. This involves ensuring that all equipment, resources, the environment and planned activities are safe for children and that measures are in place to minimise the risk of accidents or injuries. Regular health & safety checks are essential in this area as well as having emergency contingency plans in place should an issue arise.
As part of the curriculum, schools have a responsibility to make sure that children are taught about healthy relationships, boundaries and what to do if they feel threatened or unsafe. This should allow the children to make informed decisions as well as giving them confidence in in being able to protect themselves.
On-line safety is also becoming more and more essential in schools, especially in todays digital age that we live in. It is essential that students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate and use technology safely. This includes promoting responsible behaviour online, preventing exposure to inappropriate content, protecting children against cyber bullying as well as safeguarding the personal information of students both inside and outside of the school environment.
Safeguarding Children With SEN
A common concern regarding children with SEND is that their condition may be seen as the reason for certain/different behaviours, rather than the possibility that abuse could be causing them to act differently to usual.
If the child’s behaviour isn’t typical of how they usually present themselves, (stressed/withdrawn/anxious), then staff need to think about the possible reasons for this.
Every school safeguarding policy should include the following considerations for children with SEND:
Be aware that behaviour, demeanour, or injury may be because of abuse, not necessarily their SEND.
- Can often struggle with communication.
- Often more likely to be isolated by their peers.
- Schools are encouraged to provide a greater degree of pastoral support for children with SEND.
How to Report Safeguarding Concerns.
Anyone working in a school environment who is concerned about a child’s safety and wellbeing must report it as a possible safeguarding concern.
The following are key points to remember:
- Report the details of your concern to your school’s Designated Safeguarding Officer, or if unavailable, one of the Deputy Safeguarding Leads.
- Many schools now use the online system ‘My Concern’ to report a safeguarding issue. This way, all relevant parties are constantly aware of any developments and details regarding the case.
As safeguarding has such a huge focus nowadays, every safeguarding policy in schools should have solid guidelines in place, as well as specially trained staff to help you through any concerns you may have.
Finally, always remember that no matter how small the concern may seem, it is essential to report it to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). It is never a wrong decision to report a concern you may have.