Safer working practices

Safeguarding Network

February 2024 - 6 minute read

Loved 0 times


Working together to safeguard children requires all organisations to have a culture of safeguarding and vigilance. It is your duty to keep the children in your care safe, but physical and emotional risks are also part of the job for those working with children, young people and their families. To be an effective practitioner, you need to feel safe, secure and supported by your organisation, and know that your organisation prioritises keeping everyone safe.

What does your setting do to ensure everyone is safe? Does your setting have a staff self-care policy and/or provision? How would your setting prevent abuse such as that perpetrated by Nigel Leat (abused children in a primary school for over 14 years) or Jimmy Savile (found to have sexually abused many children and young people in NHS hospitals)?

Need more?

Thank you for visiting our resources pages. These are free to everyone as is our fortnightly safeguarding bulletin – general safeguarding information is too important to restrict. Become a member to access lots more, including training materials for you to deliver in-house on each topic in Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Sign up for FREE fortnightly bulletin.

What about training?

We can deliver training for your setting on this and other subjects via online platforms, or face-to-face in certain areas. Just get in touch to discuss your requirements.

How does your organisation keep children safe?

For example, as someone who works with children, do you know:

  • how to contact the headteacher, principal, setting manager or designated person about a concern?
  • who to contact out of hours?
  • how to record your concerns?
  • about the LADO and how to contact them if necessary?
  • and accept the principle that ‘it could happen here’?
  • where you can find a copy of your staff code of conduct and understand what it means?
  • what your professional standards are if you are a member of a registered body?
  • what the process is for whistleblowing if you feel your concerns are not being addressed?
  • how to identify visitors to the organisation, whether they should be escorted whilst on the premises, and how to challenge them if necessary?

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 information that they would consider substantial.

Developing and implementing a low-level concerns policy: a guide for organisations which work with children 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 be linked to safeguarding boundaries but more about seeing what sort of culture the school has. This testing of boundaries can then become part of the grooming process, allowing the perpetrator to understand how colleagues and the senior leadership team respond.

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

How does your setting keep workers safe?

For example, does your organisation:

  • ensure everyone who works with children receives appropriate training so they know their responsibilities, know and understand the policies and procedures in place to keep everyone safe, has the confidence to speak out when they have concerns and know they will be addressed appropriately?
  • ensure leaders communicate with staff and encourage reflective feedback regarding safeguarding for everyone?
  • ensure staff are not subjected to bullying, prejudice and harassment?
  • provide guidance for safer working practices, have policies and procedures in place regarding the safety of all those working with children and a point of contact for them to seek help and support when needed?
  • promote a non-hierarchical culture and establish clear standards of professional behaviour which everyone supports and works towards?
  • promote and protect the mental health and well-being of everyone and provide guidance and support?
  • provide a supportive and protective culture for all workers?

What is the setting's safeguarding culture?

For example, does your organisation:

  • have effective policies, procedures and risk assessments in place that are updated regularly? (For example, depending on your organisation, are there effective policies and procedures for intimate care, lone working, behaviour management or use of reasonable force?)
  • ensure everyone is aware of the organisations policies and procedures at induction, via supervision and through regular training, know their responsibilities and what to do if they have concerns about the safety of anyone in the organisation, or if they believe someone’s conduct does not meet the expected professional standards?
  • have a staff code of conduct that is regularly updated, ensuring awareness of its requirements and the reasons for these?
  • have a whistleblowing policy that is up to date?
  • have an effective safer recruitment policy that is implemented from the point the advert is placed and is inherent throughout the whole recruitment process regardless of the role?
  • promote a culture where staff accept that ‘it could happen here’?
  • create safe spaces where children and young people feel they can raise any concerns they have at or outside the organisation?
  • have an open culture where any concerns (low-level or otherwise) can be reported and followed up as required?
  • work openly and transparently, share information with others and seek expert advice when required to ensure all safeguarding decisions are accessible for appropriate scrutiny?
  • ensure it is receptive to challenge and reflective of its practices and that safeguarding policies, systems and processes are kept under continuous review?
  • run regular exercises to check staff understanding?
  • have clear expectations on visitors and contractors about their conduct whilst on your premises?
  • ensure that the children and young people, as well as staff, can identify who is a member of staff, who is a visitor, who is governor, etc?

Remember, children tend to have the view that any adult in a position of trust is safe. We must ensure that all adults who have contact with children and young people, regardless of whether they are staff or there to fix the air conditioning, are identifiable, have the required checks, and where necessary, are escorted/supervised at all times.

Top tips for safer working practices

Ensure everyone at the organisation:

  • understands that they have a duty to keep the children and young people in their care safe and it is everyone’s priority;
  • knows and understands the policies and procedures in place to keep everyone in the organisation safe;
  • knows that they are responsible for their actions and should not behave in a way that may bring their conduct into question;
  • works, and is seen to work, openly and transparently;
  • works towards the same professional standards and boundaries;
  • knows who to speak to if they have any concerns about the behaviour of a colleague;
  • is familiar with local child protection arrangements;
  • receives regular training so they understand their responsibilities and know what to do if they believe a child or young person is at risk of harm.

For more information about safer working practices in education settings, and to download their handy ‘Guidance for Safer Working Practice for professionals working in education settings’ document, visit the Safer Recruitment Consortium.

If your education setting would like help and support to provide a safeguarding culture, Safeguarding Network offers a range of membership levels to meet your needs.

With Essential membership, you will receive monthly bitesize training packs following our calendar of various safeguarding topics, which include presentations, handouts for staff and scenarios to run with your team.

Our Enhanced membership also includes interactive tools to reflect on your safeguarding culture and Enhanced Plus membership allows access to a dedicated safeguarding consultant to help support your review process.

All memberships include discounts on our training and e-learning courses.

Click here for more information about our membership offer.

Save time and improve your safeguarding approach…

Bite-size training materials to share with your staff every month.

Support to explore and develop your safeguarding culture.

A huge array of resources and professional experience at your fingertips.

Get in touch now for a personal tour of the site and details of membership benefits.

Memberships start at just £99+VAT a term.

We look forward to working with you.