In May 2016 the DfE published Keeping Children Safe in Education: Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges. The guidance will commence from the 5 September 2016 and until that time the previous version of the document continues to apply. Summarised below are some key actions for leadership to consider in relation to staff understanding and knowledge of safeguarding in schools.
School leaders need to ensure that all staff know the systems within their school that support safeguarding and these should be explained to them, as a part of staff induction. These should include but are not limited to:
- the child protection policy;
- the staff behaviour policy (sometimes called a code of conduct); and
- the role of the designated safeguarding lead.
Copies of the above policies and a copy of Part One of Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2016 should be provided to new staff at their induction and should also be available to all staff to access. From both a safeguarding and HR perspective it would be prudent to ensure that all staff sign to confirm they have read and understood the school’s processes and procedures relating to safeguarding and that appropriate training related to the documentation is carried out for staff at all levels, and clarification sought to confirm their understanding.
All staff members should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training which is regularly updated. In addition, all staff members should receive safeguarding and child protection updates (for example, via email, e-bulletins and staff meetings), as required, but at least annually, to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively.
Early Help Process
All staff should be aware of the early help process, and understand their role in it. This includes identifying emerging problems, liaising with the designated safeguarding lead, sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment and, in some cases, acting as the lead professional in undertaking an early help assessment.
All staff should be aware of the process for making referrals to children’s social care and for statutory assessments under the Children Act that may follow a referral, along with the role they might be expected to play in such assessments.
All staff should know what to do if a child tells them he/she is being abused or neglected. Staff should know how to manage the requirement to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality whilst at the same time liaising with relevant professionals, such as the designated safeguarding lead and children’s social care. Staff should never promise a child that they will not tell anyone about an allegation- as this may ultimately not be in the best interests of the child.
The question for school leadership is how do you know that ALL staff know the correct answer to the above if a safeguarding issue or incident arises …… or if asked by an Ofsted inspector!
Maybe the Summer break is an opportunity to prepare for the introduction of the new statutory guidance.
If you need help or support to review your safeguarding arrangements and training please do not hesitate to speak to our sister company FusionHR on 01924 827869.