Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding children and young people, but with children spending such a large part of their lives in schools, education professionals take on an extra duty of care.
Teachers are in a good position to be able to spot when things might be going wrong for the children in their care. Triggers such as a change in behaviour or attendance, medical or dietary issues, misuse of IT and unkempt appearance could all be early indicators for concern.
Back in July 2015, changes came into effect to the Ofsted framework around an increased emphasis on safeguarding children and young people. This means schools and academies are required to clearly evidence the impact of their safeguarding and welfare responses for individual pupils and at risk groups. In December 2015 the DfE also produced guidance for schools on dealing with pupils with medical conditions.
Schools need to be aware of the guidance in place and to embrace a culture of safeguarding among all staff at your school. With the right tools in place, schools can quickly identify any safeguarding issues and make the appropriate interventions.
Communicate with parents
A report from the Children’s Commissioner revealed some useful safeguarding practices that schools were implementing, as well as advice on best practice. The report highlighted the importance of schools being more proactive in engaging with parents.
Some schools recognised particular times of stress for families and sought to address these before issues arose. For example, one school had offered parents a support group during their child’s transition from Year 6 to Year 7. By building that relationship and having parents who are confident and comfortable with talking to schools, schools can make interventions earlier and work together with parents to improve pupil outcomes.
It’s just as important to be communicating with parents to give them the peace of mind that their children are safe, and notifying them if there are any issues or concerns. For example, SIMS InTouch allows schools to immediately send parents a message if their child hasn’t arrived at school while SIMS Learning Gateway (SLG) gives parents the ability to go online and check that their child has arrived safely. Schools can also choose to share other information with parents using SLG, including assessment marks, behaviour and reports. Some schools record attendance at parents’ evenings and follow up with those who are unable to attend to keep lines of communication open.
Monitor vulnerable pupils
Another key safeguarding issue for schools is recording and monitoring anti-bullying incidents to meet Ofsted’s requirements. With over 16,000 children absent from school at any one time as a result of bullying, it’s important that schools create an environment that is a safe place for children.
Schools need the right tools in place to identify any concerns and SIMS can provide the tools to help you manage and reduce bullying in your school. With SIMS Discover, you can monitor vulnerable pupils and combat persistent absenteeism by analysing student data, which help you to spot when things might be going wrong for pupils and if needed, put early interventions in place.
Extra-curricular activities are a great way to enthuse pupils and an opportunity for them to take part in something that they are passionate about, whether it’s a music lesson, sports match or homework club. But as schools run more and more extra-curricular activities, they face additional safeguarding pressures. There is also the further pressure on schools to manage the attendance of pupils to ensure their safety and to inform parents if necessary. Often schools aren’t set up to be able to take the register for their extra-curricular activities. If a parent were to call your school asking where their child was at that point in time, would you be able to tell them?
Our new product, SIMS Activities, launched at Bett 2016, helps schools to manage their extra-curricular activities and strengthen their safeguarding arrangements in the process. With electronic registration, staff will have a greater visibility of where pupils are, helping to manage attendance and provide instant reporting to parents to improve safeguarding.
The tools for effective safeguarding practices
With the right tools in place, schools can quickly identify patterns or changes in their pupils’ attendance, achievement or behaviour that could indicate a problem needs addressing. By being able to clearly evidence and assess the impact of your intervention strategy, schools can help keep pupils safe and provide a positive learning environment.