Reach Academy Feltham is an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ all-through school in London. The school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), Georgia Crew, offered the following top tips for safeguarding:
1. Recognise that safeguarding and learning go hand in hand
Safeguarding is about making sure that children are safe and secure at school and at home. It needs to be at the heart of everything schools do: if a child isn’t healthy and happy then they won’t be successful.
2. Involve all staff in safeguarding training
3. Provide regular opportunities for training and support
- Coordinating a weekly briefing where staff flag any vulnerable children so that everyone is aware. Note that specific information should only be shared on a need to know basis
- Holding meetings where the inclusion team get together and talk about cases. Georgia says this is helpful for getting a range of perspectives: the team discusses what’s going wrong and what can be done to help the families involved
- Offering CPD and INSET days so that staff learn about key priorities in the area. In addition to exploring safeguarding processes, staff look in-depth at specific safeguarding issues
- Circulating safeguarding briefings highlighting relevant news stories and changes in legislation/policy to keep staff up to date
4. Ensure staff understand that child abuse is a real problem
Georgia acknowledged that staff can take the attitude that child abuse doesn’t happen in their area, or to the pupils they teach. As part of training at Reach Academy, she makes sure staff understand that child abuse does happen and is happening. Georgia recommends using real case studies from the local area to encourage staff reflection. She notes that it’s important to anonymise these, unless they are published case studies available to the public.
5. Engage pupils and parents in safeguarding
To fully protect children, Georgia stresses the need to raise awareness across the whole community. Reach Academy Feltham holds ‘TeamReach’ days once a term where staff look at different aspects of safeguarding. For example, they recently focused on gendered violence. First, the school ran an INSET session on the topic. Then, pupils were taken off timetable for a day to be taught about the topic, including the implications of being in a violent relationship and how to spot the signs. Pupils applied their learning by making a video about the topic which was shared with parents and carers.
6. Safeguard your staff
Safeguarding is a difficult topic. At the start of any training, Gerogia reminds staff that there are always people to talk to and also offers the school counselling service if they need it. She said that facilitators should be aware that staff may disclose their own experiences of abuse, and it's important to ensure time and support is available in these instances.