Fortnightly Safeguarding Briefing

17th June 2019

Safeguarding Network - Confidence in safeguarding

Welcome to your latest safeguarding briefing

With a lot going on in the world it can sometimes be difficult to identify the important things.  In this bulletin one of the areas that we focus on is child mental health and self-harm, however it is important that we look after our own mental health.  Where do you get support from?  Who do you offload to? Often being a DSL means that you are the one everyone expects to have answers, but where do you go for those cases where you just don't know?  Support networks are important both professionally and personally, and it is important that they are used - if you don't have professional support available who can you raise this with? It is important you get the support you need.

In this briefing:

  • New inspection framework and governors
  • DSL tips
  • Child mental health and self-harm
  • Organisational safeguarding culture

New inspection framework and governors

As we highlighted in our last briefing, last month Ofsted released a revised inspection framework, part of which updated their arrangements for inspecting safeguarding.  Whilst there are those with the view that there needs to be radical reform including the scrapping of Ofsted, at present it is the system that we work within.  The role of governors in schools is hugely important, providing a level of strategic oversight and challenge that does not necessarily exist, holding SLT and the head teacher to account.

In relation to safeguarding, whilst every governing body should have a lead governor, it remains the responsibility of the whole governing body to ensure safeguarding procedures are being properly followed.  As set out by Amanda Spielman in her speech to the National Governance Association on the 8th June 2019, the focus is not necessarily on individual matters, but the overarching culture and ensuring that that is right.

How can DSLs support governors in this task? As with other areas of governance it is about ensuring that governors are supported to check all levels of the system, for example:

  • Do the children and young people feel safe in school?
  • Do parents consider their children are safe at school?  Do they know what to do if they have a concern about a member of staff?  If the concern is about the head, do they know how to contact the chair of governors without having to tell someone why they want the contact details?
  • Do staff feel confident and supported in dealing with safeguarding matters?  Where does the DSL go for support, both emotional and practical?
  • Does the DSL and SLT have adequate training to provide advice and support to staff?  Where are areas of competence and areas where additional support or training may need to be sourced?
  • Do they recognise the links between safeguarding and looked after children.

The Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings guidance has a specific section about the areas that inspectors will look at when considering how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture - have you talked this through with your governing body?

Looking forward to the next academic year, Safeguarding Network want to develop resources to support governors with key questions and considerations.  If you have any suggestions, requests, or want to be involved, let us know.

DSL Tips

Twitter has lots on the #safeguarding and some on the #childprotection tags, and there’s a real community of safeguarding leads who are happy to share advice or just sympathy to both new and experienced DSLs, deputies and others in a #pastoral role.

We have been working on curating content from Twitter about the role of Designated Safeguarding Leads and hints and tips from others.  See our summary of the advice and support on our DSL Tips page, and join the debate. Tweet us @safernetwork and include the hashtags #dsltips and #safeguarding.

Female sad

Child mental health and self-harm

We last covered child mental health in a briefing in January, however it is once again in the forefront of our minds, with the Lancet Psychiatry Journal reporting on research that suggests that one in five girls and young women in England aged 16-24 have cut, burned or poisoned themselves (see coverage by the Guardian).  The same Guardian report cites YoungMinds as attributing poverty, neglect, abuse, exam pressures, bullying and concerns over body images as driving up rates of self-harm.  Looked after children are at increased risk of self harm, with this podcast looking at the factors behind this.

Only this morning, Theresa May has announced that she is unveiling a plan for every new teacher in England to be trained in how to spot early warning signs of mental illness and to be able to address issues such as self-harm.

Recognising this as an increasing issue, Safeguarding Network have developed a resource page on child mental health and how it links with safeguarding, with links to other useful sites and more information. Our safeguarding insights section has a more in-depth article about children's mental health, what needs to be done to reduce stigma and respond appropriately within school - all of which is free to access. Safeguarding Network members also have access to our staff update package which can be used to develop staff knowledge of child mental health and links with safeguarding.

Road safety lanterns

Organisational safeguarding culture

In the last briefing we covered the safer working practice guidance available on the Safer Recruitment Consortium Website.  Whilst covering a wide range of issues that should be addressed in a code of conduct or equivalent, there is a wider issue that we need to be aware of around the organisational culture. A recent news article also shows how Ofsted will look to establish the presence of a safeguarding culture in organisations (educational or otherwise), and how if they cannot identify such a culture as being present this can have a significant impact on the outcome of any inspection.

Safeguarding culture is not just about making sure that your staff are trained in all the areas of KCSiE, but also about attitudes and value bases.  We explore safeguarding culture further in the first of several articles published in a collaboration with innovate journal (the article is in the latest edition which is due to be published imminently) - a copy of the article can also be found on our website.

Safeguarding Network have resources available aimed at developing a culture of safeguarding within organisations, including for example a page about how to act to keep children and young people safe where there are concerns about a colleague or another person in a position of trust.  Safeguarding Network members can access our update packages for delivering to staff groups, along with discounted e-learning.

Who are we?

Safeguarding Network recognise that the demands on schools are increasing from every aspect. Safeguarding is no exception. Using our front-line safeguarding experience and knowledge we develop resources to help schools meet their safeguarding requirements with the aim of helping lighten the load.

Visit https://safeguarding.network/subscribe for more information.

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