We all need to work together to safeguard children, by ensuring that there is a robust and effective safeguarding culture. Safeguarding has a wide remit and goes beyond the boundaries of the nursery, school and college gates. Safeguarding in a school environment means that we are:
- protecting children and young people from any kind of maltreatment
- preventing the impairment of a child or young person’s mental health, physical health or development
- ensuring that children and young people grow up in circumstances which are consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
- taking action at the right time to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes
Those in governance have a pivotal and strategic role to play in ensuring that there is an ethos of effective safeguarding and a whole school approach. Governors, just as for all staff must understand and follow the concept of ‘it could happen here’.
Essential reading, key guidance and helpful websites
When the word ‘must’ is used it means this is a statutory requirement, when the word ‘should’ is used, governing boards (proprietor for academies and independent schools) ‘must’ have regard for statutory guidance. The statutory guidance for schools and colleges (and maintained nurseries) that must be adhered to is Keeping Children Safe in Education which is normally updated annually and the multi-agency guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.
Keeping Children Safe in Education
All governors and trustees must have read and understood in full the statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) and all revisions. KCSIE informs school policies and procedures and must be at the heart of safeguarding practices in schools. KCSIE should be read alongside Working Together to Safeguard Children and departmental advisory documents:
- What to do if you are Worried a Child is Being Abused – Advice for Practitioners; and
- Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges
Governance is strategic, not operational, however, it is important that those responsible for leading schools and colleges have full regard for their statutory duties relating to the governance of safeguarding. It is important to remember that governors have no right or remit to know about individual cases of concern.
Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there policies and procedures in place in order for appropriate action to be taken in a timely manner to safeguard and promote children’s welfare (KCSIE). Safeguarding policies should be reviewed annually and be publicly available find out more here, a model Norfolk safeguarding policy is available here.
Designated Safeguarding Lead
Safeguarding Link Governor
arrangements (and the Prevent duty should be seen as part of the wider safeguarding obligation). It is important that this governor or academy trustee receives appropriate safeguarding training to undertake this role. However, it is best practice if everyone on the board has training about safeguarding, to make sure they have the knowledge and information needed to perform their functions, understand their responsibilities and assure themselves that their own organisation’s safeguarding arrangements are robust. (Governance Handbook).
Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP)
There are three statutory safeguarding partners: Local Authority, Police and Clinical Commissioning Group. The three safeguarding partners should agree on ways to co-ordinate their safeguarding services; act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and implement local and national learning including from serious child safeguarding incidents. Read more about NSCP here.
Child Protection vs Safeguarding
Safeguarding is the policies and practices in place to keep children safe whereas child protection encompasses the practices that are there to protect children who are suffering from or are likely to suffer significant harm.
Governing boards must ensure that at least one board member has undertaken safer recruitment training. A robust recruitment and DBS checks policies should be in place with strong practices in place to deter and prevent people unsuitable of working or volunteering with children.
Single Central Record (SCR)
The Single Central Record must be maintained and must be accurate, checked and monitored. The latest format must also be used. Safeguarding link governors in Norfolk are expected to actively check the accuracy of the SCR. SCR monitoring should be part of the safeguarding link role.
Peer on peer abuse
Peer on peer or child on child abuse can happen at any age or sex, in and out of school and also online. This can include bullying; physical; abuse in personal relationships and initiation or hazing violence or rituals.
Sexual violence and sexual harassment
Peer on peer or child on child abuse also includes sexual violence and harassment and it can happen at any age or sex, in and out of school and also online. This can include bullying; physical; abuse in personal relationships. Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools showed how prevalent the issue is.
Online or e-safety should safeguard children from four areas of risk: content – exposure to illegal, inappropriate or harmful content; contact – harmful online interactions; conduct – personal online behaviour that increases or causes harm; commerce – online gambling, phishing, financial scams and inappropriate advertising. An annual review of the approach to online safety is recommended.
Allegations made against staff
Schools and colleges should have their own procedures for dealing with concerns and/or allegations against those working in or on behalf of schools and colleges (KCSIE). This is combined within the NCC model safeguarding policy.
Family Support Process (FSP)
Schools have an important role in assessment to help a child and their family. This is a child-centred approach to Working Together to Safeguard Children, however there must be consent from the family. The FSP process then involves the early help process, which encompasses a wide range of additional services to support a child at risk of poor outcomes.
Record keeping and Chronology
Record keeping for all concerns should be recorded, many schools use digital record keeping software such as CPOMS and My Concern. Records should include a clear summary, details of the concern and any actions, decisions and follow ups. This should be kept in chronological order to support safeguarding and any future concerns.
Norfolk schools should update their Safeguarding Self Evaluation which is available via the My School portal. The self review tool allows the assessment of the effectiveness of current safeguarding and child protection practices. Norfolk Safeguarding provide learning via MI sheets about SEF audits.
Where to find more information…
My governance journey started in 2016, up until 2019 I had not ventured much into the world of safeguarding, it felt too big, too weighty and beyond my skills. The more I have researched, learnt and worked as a safeguarding governor, the more I have realised that it is essential for all governors.