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5 ways to create a culture of safeguarding in your school

Sep 27, 2021

5 ways to create a culture of
safeguarding in your school

Guest blog by Vikkey Chaffe, The Safeguarding Company

 

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. In this blog, I will share five of the most important components I’ve found that can help towards creating a sustainable culture of safeguarding in schools.

Drip feeding

Often, one of the biggest downfalls with school safeguarding practice in schools is 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 or put -up 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 5 minute slot in your staff meeting to focus on safeguarding, you can also use it to update staff on what the emerging issues have been over the past 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.

Work 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, they need to have adequate training, not just about their role, but about what and how you use your systems in your school. Safeguarding governors should be a support to you, 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.

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 like to reflect back on difficult situations, especially when we could have done things differently, but this 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 this 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.

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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 teachers 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 school, 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.

Work with external partners

This is much more of a longer term goal but can really change the way you look at proactive safeguarding. “The best offense is a good defense” – we have heard this before but how on earth does this apply to safeguarding, which has long been seen as a reactive measure? It isn’t as hard as you may think if you widen your search to outside your school. Attendance, assessment and concerns will all provide you with information about what issues may be happening in your school, but to have a much more proactive stance, you also need to think about what’s happening outside of the school gates.

Getting in touch with your local safeguarding police team is a helpful way to understand what call outs they have had most frequently (they won’t give specifics but they will give you more general information). This information will allow you to plan your safeguarding training for your staff over the term, allow for conversation to happen more naturally in staff meetings and give you time to plan for any schemes of learning you might want to do with the children to make them less vulnerable. This could involve looking at more positive relationships with pupils for example, if there has been an increase of Child Sexual Exploitation in your area.

Of course, this is not an extensive list by any means but should give you a good place to start. The work you do is of the utmost importance and it’s crucial to make sure that you have everything in place to get it right!

About the author

Vikkey Chaffe is the Head of Community Relations at The Safeguarding Company. As an experienced DSL and working with local authorities on their safeguarding practices in schools, she has extensive experience in safeguarding.

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