Preparing for a safeguarding inspection

A checklist of ideas from member senior leaders

How do I prepare for a safeguarding inspection?

In many ways this is the wrong question – safeguarding is always about children and young people and with inspection as with any other process we need to keep our focus on our students and do what is best by them. Effective practice, based on the legislation and guidance, a good understanding of safeguarding particularly in the local context, and knowing your children all are essentials in safeguarding and are the best preparation for inspection.

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  • Training resources for Safeguarding Leads to use in team meetings;
  • Reference documents for additional information;
  • Handouts for school staff summarising each topic;
  • Quizzes to test staff understanding.



We’ve spent some time talking to DSLs, heads, former inspectors and our own team to devise the following areas to prompt thinking…

  1. Listen to your children – it’s their experience that matters most . How do they see your school? How safe do they feel with one another? How would you judge their ability to keep themselves safe
  2. Listen to your staff – they follow your lead and should have faith in your setting’s approach. Can you see and hear the impact of your approach in their interactions with students, the curriculum, their response to concerns?
  3. Think of key questions and take a fair view about the evidence you have to challenge or support this. Our enhanced members began this year with how they can recognise their ‘culture of vigilance’, tests of how they resource safeguarding and the close relationship between attendance and safeguarding
  4. Have a focus on Sexual Harassment & Sexual Violence – this was a key finding in summer 2021 and remains a focus both in inspection and young people’s experience. How do young people experience your setting, what is the evidence of a healthy culture, how is this incorporated into the curriculum. Our members can access a valuable audit tool.
  5. Students with SEND are almost four times as vulnerable to abuse and neglect and warrant extra attention. This year it will have even greater focus in the wake of the national Child Safeguarding Panel Review. How does your setting promote inclusivity, how are their voices heard in your school community, what proactive action is in place with families, peers and your staff team.
  6. Absence is a huge focus area at present with a 134% increase in persistent absence. Our latest enhanced tool focuses on how you promote attendance, how you respond to absence and tactics for addressing persistent absence? Note also the links to missing from school and check your missing policy is robust and effective.
  7. Online safety is another priority – our Safeguarding Governor materials include a governor pack to help them discharge their abilities. SWGfL and LGfL both have robust and free tools to self assess your settings
  8. Review your approach to safer recruitment – Your Single Central Record is a critical document with lots of data references so lots of opportunity for error. Ask someone to review the work and ensure your process and procedures are up to date with latest DBS practice. How can you evidence safe recruitment from start to finish. Try following the recruitment ‘trail’ of a recent appointment from advert through short-listing, online checks, interview questions, references, offer letter, pre-reading, medical checks and induction. Does every stage evidence a strong culture of vigilance? Does your organisation take an ‘it could happen here’ approach?
  9. Know what’s going on locally… how are your students safe in the community. It’s good to have an eye on the national picture (for example the review of Prevent or the impact of Incel) and link this to values, ideas and attitudes discussed in the classroom, in the community or with parents and show you can see the world through your students eyes and are providing that steadying hand
  10. …and recognise the impact it has. Be clear about the impact of County Lines and child exploitation in your communities, recognise the surge in mental health issues for our children and young people, and explain how you have ensured that your students know you are there for them, that your staff team recognise adverse behaviour as communication from students (in line with the behaviour guidance) and that they are attuned to the social, emotional presentation of children as key signs and indicators
  11. Look at the link between practice, procedure and recording? Do staff record effectively in line with your expectations? Have they had sufficient training in listening to students and responding to concerns they may raise? How do they pass the information on? Are they clear in their duty to take action, and keep taking action until they are confident the child is safe? Do they know how to contact ther local authority, or how to escalate if they disagree with school leadership?
  12. It’s all about working together… how do you evidence your relationship with the local authority, including the virtual school, and more widely with partners in other agencies. In an era when children’s services are stretched how do you ensure vulnerable families get the support they need? Do you know which children have previously had a social worker? Are you monitoring their progress?
  13. Safeguarding is always about leadership. How do you evidence the golden thread through policy, your governing body, your school leaders, staff teams and the lived experience of your students. Do governors both support and challenge your senior leadership team. How do they hear from children and young people about their experiences in your setting. We provide governors with learning walk materials with things to look for in conversation with students, staff and the DSL.
  14. Look after yourself and recognise that involves helping people to look after you. None of us stand alone yet often the pressures focus in on leaders. Think family and friends, think colleagues and governors, build in strong cultural structures like supervision and distributed leadership to share the load and enable you to do the best you can for young people.

Don’t forget…

Safeguarding Network is there for you. Whether it’s checking out some of the guidance, accessing the training packs for your staff team or completing a school audit we’ve a whole host of materials to support you on your safeguarding journey. Sound safeguarding is the accumulation of the work you’ve put into your setting over the years – our structured support helps to build confidence in safeguarding so that inspection is just another milestone.

Good luck!


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  • Training resources for Safeguarding Leads to use in team meetings;
  • Reference documents for additional information;
  • Handouts for school staff summarising each topic;
  • Quizzes to test staff understanding.
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