Martin Baker is the Managing Director of One Team Logic.
Whenever we talk about safeguarding in education, it’s important to focus on the ‘big picture’. Schools play an essential role in keeping children safe in education, but the impact of safeguarding practice doesn’t just affect learning in the classroom – there is clear evidence, both internationally and across the UK, to suggest that providing learners with the right support, at the right time, can have a life-long impact, significantly increasing the probability of successful adult lives.
However, the safeguarding responsibilities within education are substantial and there are consequences for everyone involved. So how can your school successfully manage safeguarding and improve outcomes?
Key areas of focus
With my background working across five UK police forces, as well as being a school governor in both primary and senior settings, I’ve long been involved in both child and adult safeguarding. I’ve seen how the challenge of safeguarding has grown and, sadly, I’ve also seen the consequences when things have gone wrong, resulting in court cases and, tragically, inquests.
Safeguarding is something I feel very strongly about and there are some key areas that schools can focus on to enhance their safeguarding strategy:
- Create a safeguarding culture: Successful safeguarding relies on senior leadership and involves having processes in place to help staff to manage safeguarding effectively. Staff need to be clear about how to report any concerns and who to. There is also a need to encourage a really strong learning culture where good practice becomes second nature and staff are aware of the importance of taking all concerns seriously and recording them promptly.
- Understand the nature of safeguarding issues: The overarching objective of any safeguarding strategy is to prevent harm (or, where harm does occur, to prevent it from getting any worse). To be able to achieve this, it is vital to understand the exact nature of the problem. It is crucial to quickly identify and get to the root cause of any safeguarding issues that are affecting your school, so communication and collaboration with staff is clearly key. This is especially important as safeguarding is front and centre of all Ofsted inspections, as schools must pass the safeguarding element if they are to be rated good or outstanding.
- A planned approach: There are many tactical responses available to tackle safeguarding and wider pastoral issues, but these are much more likely to be effective if they are part of a comprehensive safeguarding development plan, with planned actions and measurable outcomes. This can provide clear evidence of progress to governing bodies and Ofsted inspectors, as well as to parents and carers.
How can technology help?
Safeguarding is not solely about form filling (although proper record keeping is important), it’s about providing a happy and safe environment that enables children to thrive. Yet many schools will be able to relate to being steeped in paperwork as they make sure every incident is documented, with information on how it has been managed and resolved, creating a significant administrative burden in the process.
Safeguarding is an activity that not only requires teamwork and great communication; it also needs a structured approach to case management and the ability to produce evidence when it’s needed. Thankfully, we’re now seeing the role that technology can play in helping schools reduce the workload required to perform a multitude of tasks and safeguarding is no exception.
In 2014, following a review of relevant legislation, statutory guidance and serious case reviews, we designed a model for integrated safeguarding in education. That led us to develop MyConcern to help reduce those barriers for staff and to help keep children and young people safe in schools.
MyConcern is our simple to use, secure safeguarding software solution which integrates with SIMS to record and manage all safeguarding concerns. Once the information is recorded, you’ll be able to see the nature of the problem, quickly identify any trends and risks that are starting to emerge and confidentially communicate with relevant staff members and trusted external agencies such as social care.
As we see schools taking on more and more responsibility for a wider range of issues, it’s important that all school staff have the right tools available to them to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities.