29 Apr 2021

Lessons will be learned: Transforming safeguarding in education

Written by Martin Baker and Mike Glanville
Lessons will be learned: Transforming safeguarding in education

One Team Logic join us on the hub to discuss their new book which sets out how school and college staff can manage complex safeguarding responsibilities.

We’ve been directly involved with safeguarding for much of our professional lives, not least in our former roles as police officers. During our police service, we each had personal responsibility for child and adult safeguarding in a variety of contexts, and we each have roles in education governance today. This has given us both a passion and commitment to the transformation of safeguarding in schools and colleges, and to support all staff, particularly safeguarding leads, to succeed in their roles.

We know that being a safeguarding lead is a huge responsibility.  You have a duty of care not only towards the children for whom you’re responsible but also to the parents and caregivers who’ve put their trust in you.  It’s so easy to forget what good safeguarding means but it can make the difference between misery and happiness, harm and safety, achievement and failure, even life and death.  The impact on children of Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACEs – is life-long and life limiting, with enormous consequences for the health and wellbeing of children as they progress into adulthood.  And that is why effective safeguarding in education is so vitally important.

The responsibility for staff in schools and colleges – and particularly for safeguarding leads – can feel overwhelming.  You have a duty to protect the children in your care, and if you fail in that duty the consequences can be huge, both for children and for you.  We also live in an increasingly complex world that doesn’t always have children’s best interests at heart, and sometimes even sets out to harm them. Safeguarding in schools and colleges has never been more complex, nor the legal duties on staff and governors more stringent.  Furthermore, the range of safeguarding concerns now being managed by school and college staff has never been greater and over the past decade this has grown exponentially to include issues such as child sexual exploitation, ‘County Lines’, female genital mutilation, radicalisation, online safety and peer-on-peer sexual abuse.  There has also been a significant increase in the number of young people experiencing complex mental health issues, with self-harm a common problem.

Add to this the health risks created by COVID-19; the social, cultural and financial impact of the disease; the differential effect of the pandemic on the health of black and minority ethnic communities; the impact on the low paid, the unemployed and families already living in poverty; the effect on learners and staff of lockdowns and fractured educations; and the frightening challenges encountered by those managing Covid-19 and other health or social risks; and you have probably the most challenging safeguarding landscape in our lifetime.  As a safeguarding lead you couldn’t be doing a more important job, and yet it’s unlikely that you have all the support you need.

Which is why we set out to write a book for safeguarding leads to support them in their professional safeguarding practice.  Incredibly, no such book existed – until now.  At the core of the book are eight principles that combine to create a strategic approach to safeguarding in education.  This will enable you to spot problems before they arise, deal with them more effectively when they do, and build a network of support both within and outside your organisation, so that you can protect both your learners and your staff and let them both get on with the real work of education.  

If you have had the opportunity to look at the proposed revisions to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), which will come into effect in September this year, you might have noticed that the number of pages setting duties of the designated safeguarding lead have nearly doubled compared to the current version of KCSIE!  There is also an important new duty on safeguarding leads to “promote educational outcomes by knowing the welfare, safeguarding and child protection issues that children in need are experiencing, or have experienced, and is therefore best placed to identify the impact that these issues might be having on children’s attendance, engagement and achievement at school. Working with the headteacher and other staff, the designated safeguarding lead should take lead responsibility for:

  • ensuring that the school or college knows who its cohort of children who currently need a social worker are, understanding their academic progress and attainment, and maintaining a culture of high aspirations for this cohort; and,
  • support teaching staff to feel confident to provide additional academic support or reasonable adjustments to help children who need or have needed a social worker reach their potential, recognising that even when statutory social care intervention has ended, there is still a lasting impact on children’s educational outcomes.”

The new draft guidance also puts significantly more emphasis on the role of school and colleges in managing allegations against staff, adding yet more responsibilities to the safeguarding workload.  Furthermore, the horrendous cases of rape and sexual abuse between peers in educational settings, not least those reported through the recently launched ‘everyonesinvited’ website, brings into sharp focus how serious and complex safeguarding in education has become.  In our book we examine all of these issues in detail and set out some of the ways that school and college staff can manage these very challenging responsibilities.

We want to say directly to safeguarding leads that you have our unbounded admiration for your incredible dedication, resilience, and commitment to the wellbeing of children. ‘Above and beyond’ is what you were doing prior to the pandemic; there are no words sufficient to thank you or to praise you highly enough for the personal sacrifices you have made during the pandemic to support families and to protect children from harm. If anyone ever deserved a round of applause during the pandemic (and, more importantly, much more support) it’s you. We’re with you for the long run.

Martin Baker QPM is the CEO of One Team Logic, the makers of the Queen’s Award-winning safeguarding software, MyConcern®.  Martin is a former Chief Constable of Dorset and during his policing career he served in five police forces across England and Wales.  He is an experienced school governor and is currently a director of a Multi-Academy Trust.

Mike Glanville is the Chief Safeguarding Officer at One Team Logic.  He also had a varied career in policing, ultimately as a chief police officer.  Mike is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences and events to share his safeguarding expertise. He too is an experienced school governor and has been a Chair of Governors for over 10 years.

Lessons Will Be Learned, Transforming safeguarding in education, written by Martin Baker and Mike Glanville, will be published by Practical Inspiration Publishing on 25 May 2021.

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