Fortnightly Safeguarding Briefing

24th February 2020

Safeguarding Network - Confidence in safeguarding

Welcome ...

For those of you who have had half-term, we hope that you had a good break.  For those of you just off on half-term, or enjoying a second week, we hope it is relaxing (whatever that looks like for you).

In this briefing:

  • Child mental health
  • Supervision
  • Safe working practices
Children's Mental Health Week 2020

Child mental health

The beginning of the month saw a focus on children's mental health with a dedicated mental health week.  Throughout the course of the month there have then been several pieces of research looking at children's mental health.

The Headstart Programme reported that the prevalence of mental health problems in children and young people is increasing, identifying that the experience of mental ill health is also different between boys and girls.  The report notes that boys are "more likely to experience behavioural difficulties and girls more likely to experience emotional difficulties", therefore meaning that girls are more likely to internalise their difficulties.  The report also identifies that mental health issues are starting earlier, with the point of transition between primary and secondary school being seen as an important period where prevention and early intervention can prevent an escalation of problems.

The Children's Commissioner positively reported that children are "now more aware of their own mental health, and much more prepared to discuss it."  However the Commissioner warns that accessing help is still very difficult, with the perception among young people being that they are "not ill enough" to get help, or that all they will be eligible for is advice.

Finally the BBC cover research published in the Lancet that finds that "children who spend lots of time sitting still are more likely to develop depression by the age of 18".  The study suggests that those who did an additional hour of light activity every day (this including walking or doing chores) had fewer depressive symptoms when they reached adulthood.

As always, it is important that we, along with our staff groups, feel able to have conversations with children and young people about their mental health and that there is a culture within your organisation that supports openness without fear of ridicule or labelling.  For more information (and an update package for subscribers when logged in), see Safeguarding Network's child mental health page.  This culture can be organisation wide, as shown by research funded by the DfE. This demonstrates that introduction of formal peer support mechanisms can have a positive effect, not just in relation to discussing mental health, but also enabling children and young people to discuss other issues affecting them, thereby promoting a culture of openness.

Emotional and mental health support for school staff

In conjunction with the recent emphasis on children and young people's mental health, Barnardo's Scotland report on their survey finding that supervision in education would help to reduce levels of stress amongst staff.  The report identifies that allowing staff time and space to reflect on their work in the same way as other professions would result in safer practice, better outcomes for pupils and mean staff were able to process the competing emotional demands in an increasingly complex working environment.

Safeguarding Network recognise and support the need for supervision in schools.  We are currently supporting a number of schools across the country in looking at supervision, what this means and how to introduce this within the school environment.  In support of this work, we have produced a resource page with more information about safeguarding supervision.  If you would like to know more  about safeguarding supervision or how we can support your organisation, contact us.

Safer Recruitment Training

Safeguarding Network is currently running Safer Recruitment training through our sister company, dialogue ltd.  The next course is on the 6th March in London.  For more information about the course see the dedicated course page.

Existing Safeguarding Network members, along with new subscribers will receive a 50% discount on each place booked.

Cover image of policy

Safe working practices

We have already seen in this briefing the importance of a culture of openness in relation to promoting good mental health in children and young people.  A culture of openness is also important when looking to ensure that children and young people are safe in your organisation.

Legal firm, Farrer & Co. have published a guide to developing and implementing a low-level concerns policy.  This follows a previous 2017 briefing from the firm which looked at how in many cases where there have been abuses of positions of trust, there were a number of low level concerns that were reported prior to the significant incident.

These can be seen as the offender "testing the boundaries" to establish what they can and cannot get away with, and the suggestion is that each time the boundary will be pushed a little further.  Farrer & Co. therefore suggest that organisational culture includes allowing people to voice concerns, no matter how small, without fear of retribution, as in some cases these may mean a wider picture is gained.

Safeguarding Network have a resource page looking at safe working practices, along with update materials for subscribing schools (when logged in).  We also have an online course which looks at managing allegations and considers the issue of low level concerns - this can be accessed for just £9 per person for subscribing organisations (accessed through your DSL menu) and £27 per person for non-subscribing organisations.  If you are not a subscribing organisation and would like to know more, please contact us.

Who are we?

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

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

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