Safer Working Practices

All organisations employing staff and/or volunteers to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults need to ensure that safeguarding is inherent throughout their organisation and schools are no exception.

Keeping children safe requires all organisations to have a culture of safeguarding and vigilance. Working with children, young people and their families also comes with risks for us, both physically and emotionally. In order to be an effective practitioner, you need to feel safe, secure and supported by your organisation, but also know that your organisation prioritises keeping everyone safe.

All organisations employing staff and/or volunteers to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults need to ensure that safeguarding is inherent throughout their organisation. What does your setting do to ensure everyone is safe, for example, does your setting have a safe care policy? How would your setting prevent abuse such as that perpetrated by Nigel Leat (abused children in a primary school over a number of years) or Jimmy Savile (found to have sexually abused many children and young people)?

How does your setting keep everyone safe?

As an educational professional, do you know:

  • how to contact your headteacher, principal, setting manager about a concern?
  • what to do out of hours?
  • how to record your concerns?
  • about the LADO and how to contact them?
  • accept the principal that ‘it could happen here’?
  • where you can find a copy of your staff code of conduct and what it says?
  • what your professional standards are if you are a member of a registered body?
  • what the process is for whistle-blowing if you feel your concerns are not being addressed?
  • how to identify visitors to the school and whether they should be escorted whilst on school premises?
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Low-level concerns

What would you do if you had/if someone came to you with a low-level concern? Would it even be identified in this way? Often, people will have “niggles” or a “gut-feeling” that something is not right but not know what to do about it because they don’t have evidence that they would consider substantial.

This guidance suggests that where an individual is setting out to abuse children they will look to erode boundaries and test out how far they can go.  These tests may not necessarily being linked to safeguarding boundaries but more about seeing what sort of culture the school has. This testing of boundaries can then also become part of the grooming process, allowing the perpetrator to understand the way in which colleagues and the senior leadership team respond.

  • How would your school deal with low-level concerns?
  • Is there a culture of openness where staff feel able to approach senior leaders with “niggles”?

What is the setting's safeguarding culture?

Does your setting:

  • have a clear managing allegations policy?
  • have a code of conduct that is regularly updated?
  • ensure that everyone working with children is aware of the requirements of the code of conduct and the reasons for these?
  • have a whistle-blowing policy that is up to date?
  • have a safer recruitment policy that starts with at the point the advert is placed and is inherent throughout the whole recruitment process, regardless of the role?
  • have a culture where staff accept that ‘it could happen here’?
  • have an open culture where any concerns (low-level or otherwise) can be reported and followed up as required?
  • run regular exercises to check staff understanding?
  • have clear expectations on visitors and contractors about their conduct whilst in school?
  • ensure that the children and young people are able to identify who is a member of staff, who is a visitor, who is governor, etc?

Remember, children in education settings are indoctrinated to have the view that any adult in school is safe. We must make sure that all adults, regardless of whether they are staff or there to fix the air conditioning, are safe to approach. If not, then either they are escorted at all times or not allowed on the premises.

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More resources when you subscribe to Safeguarding Network

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Join Safeguarding Network for more information and resources, for example:

  • Training resources for designated safeguarding leads to use in team meetings.
  • Reference documents for additional information.
  • Handouts for staff summarising each topic.
  • Quizzes to test staff understanding.
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