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Safeguarding: one size doesn't fit all

Sam Preston, Safeguarding Director at SSS Learning, shares her advice about safeguarding to new academies

Posted by Lucinda Reid | June 05, 2018 | People, policy, politics

As the Department for Education’s revised Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance comes into force this September, Sam Preston, Safeguarding Director at SSS Learning discusses what new academies need to know.  

This revised statutory document sets out the legal duties all educational organisations must comply with and contains vital information on how they can keep children and staff safe.

Individual approach

One of the most significant directions is to academies. Under KCSIE 2018, all academies must develop individual safeguarding policies which includes child protection provision. Whether you’re starting out as a standalone academy or joining a multi-academy trust (MAT), it’s crucial that you develop your own bespoke safeguarding policy. This is to ensure that it meets the unique needs of your institution and pupils. Whilst MATs may have an overarching trust-wide policy, under the revised KCSIE, simply adopting this as your academy policy is no longer acceptable. Following the lead of the revised DFE statutory guidance, Ofsted inspectors will be reporting on whether arrangements for safeguarding children and learners are effective and will now expect to see a policy tailored to your bespoke setting.

When referring to your MAT-wide policy, you should question does this guidance meet the needs of your pupils, your local community priorities and issues. Consideration should be made to how applicable the overarching policy is for your staff, pupils and parents, and if it needs to be adapted to meet their specific needs. Imperative for best practice, you should also evaluate the skillset within your academy to deliver upon the policy effectively. This should be comprehensively stated in your policy i.e. how you will deliver upon desired objectives.

Taking the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enforced this May, as an example. Regardless of how thorough a MAT-wide policy might appear, it will not account for the all-important bespoke detail required of each setting; what data do you hold, how is it being used, how is it being managed and who has access to it? 

New staff

Under KCSIE, creating a culture of safe recruitment remains a strong focus, requiring academies to adopt recruitment procedures that help deter, reject or identify people who might place children at risk. Once selected, all staff members must complete a robust safeguarding and child protection induction, more than tick list briefings and cascaded information, to ensure a core foundation of learning has been completed prior to practice. This must be regularly updated during each year of employment. Recruitment is an ongoing process so how can academies meet this requirement and be confident that, at any given time, every single member of staff is sufficiently trained? The traditional methods of annual ‘all together’ sessional INSET is simply not effective and need to be restructured to protect children, inform and protect staff and their organisations. In the current financial climate, this presents a challenge however, quality high quality e-learning provides an effective solution. High quality e-learning should ensure content is written by subject experts, is updated live legislation / inspection requirements change, individual staff progress tracking is available and all participants achieve a 100% pass rate. Ofsted do not prescribe how you train your staff or specify the method of training undertaken however, they will examine if the quality of training learning outcomes is robust and if resulting knowledge levels meets the standards expected.

In addition, all staff members should receive safeguarding and child protection updates throughout the year to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively. It’s imperative that you work with a quality safeguarding partner who can alert you to changes in legislation, guidance, emerging patterns of safeguarding topics and research to provide you with updated resources and information to share with your staff.

Peer protection

The revised KCSIE guidance also provides additional direction to help your staff deal with allegations of child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment. From 3rd September, your policy must include procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse, how allegations will be investigated and dealt with, clear processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other child affected will be supported and a clear statement that this abuse will not be tolerated. If you offer boarding facilities, there are further requirements which should be incorporated. 

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