The importance of safeguarding in schools

Depending on your school, your role can include anything from budget and procurement to press, recruitment and the management of non-teaching staff – or all of the above! Regardless of where your responsibilities lie, one topic is ‘poker-hot’ this year: safeguarding.

Jagriti Patwari, director of Online DBS Checks, shares her insight.

Two key pieces of government policy and regulation have come into effect over the past year which have put a spotlight on safeguarding; schools and early years practitioners now have to do more than they ever have before to ensure they’re safeguarding children to the highest standards. And who is the gatekeeper of safeguarding best practice in most schools? SBMs, of course.

2018/19 – the year of safeguarding

You’re no doubt well familiar with both pieces of policy and regulation; the first is The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into effect in May 2018 to provide stronger rights for individuals when dealing with organisations that hold their data. This regulation has an impact on safeguarding policies in schools because it affects the way student data – on everything from bullying to child safety – is handled.

The second policy is the government’s Keeping Children Safe in Education guide which was re-published in September, updating an existing policy that was originally rolled out in 2015.

The safeguarding tick list for SBMs

If safeguarding sits within your remit, or you’ve been tasked assessing how these policies could affect your school, here are a list of questions to ask yourself – a ‘tick list’ to ensure your school is adhering to best practice.

  1. Has our entire leadership team gone through enhanced DBS checks?

The original Keeping Children Safe in Education guide of 2015 specified the following: ‘It is vital that schools and colleges create a culture of safe recruitment. Governing bodies and proprietors must act reasonably in making decisions about the suitability of the prospective employee based on checks and evidence, including criminal record checks (Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks), barred list checks and prohibition checks, together with references and interview information.’

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However, the updated policy moves the goalposts a little, suggesting that ALL members of the senior leadership team – including governors and trustees – should undergo enhanced DBS checks.

  1. Do staff understand how to balance the requirements of GDPR with those of safeguarding?

While GDPR puts the onus on organisations to protect private data and details of the people that belong to them, the updated Keeping Children Safe in Education hammers it home that data protection should NOT be implemented to the detriment to child safety.

It says: ‘If in any doubt about sharing information, staff should speak to the designated safeguarding lead or a deputy. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare, and protect the safety, of children.’

  1. Has a regular staff training programme on safeguarding been put in place?

The updated Keeping Children Safe in Education document suggests, ‘Governing bodies should ensure that all staff undergo safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction. The training should be regularly updated.’

To ensure your school is meeting this standard you can put in place regular emails, e-bulletins and staff meetings which keep staff up-to-date on the issue.

In summary

  • Safeguarding has never been such a wide-reaching issue for schools as it is today.
  • In many cases, SBMs will take a leading role when it comes to safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • To comply with new guidance, SBMs should:
  • ensure the entire senior management team – including governors/trustees – has undergone enhanced DBS checks;
  • train staff on balancing GDPR rules with child safety;
  • implement a regular training programme to keep staff refreshed on safeguarding best practice.

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