4 Safeguarding tips
Safeguarding is a critical part of what we do as teachers. It is the responsibility of every member of staff in school to report safeguarding concerns (teacher or not).
Safeguarding is an aspect of the job that can frighten new teachers in particular, as we worry about it from a number of angles. Here are some examples of concerns about safeguarding that new teachers have raised with me over the years:
- What If I miss something about a child in my tutor group?
- Do I report everything that makes me stop and think ‘Oh that’s not right?!’
- Can I get into trouble for reporting something that turns out not to have been a big deal after all?
With these, and more, concerns in mind, here are 4 tips to help you understand, and be more confident with, your safeguarding responsibilities (this is not a complete list – just my 4 top tips).
Know your responsibility
1. Read and know your schools Safeguarding policy! This is the one document in your staff handbook I absolutely stress you must read and even attack with a highlighter! Know the processes in your school you should follow if you have a concern to raise. Clarify the policy with your line manager so that you are completely confident that you understand your role and responsibility towards safeguarding. (2018 DFE update)
Designated Safeguarding Leader
2. Know who your DSL is (Designated Safeguarding Leader) and keep their name/photo/email address in your planner or on your own notice board so that it is quickly to hand, should you have a worry/concern you wish to report or seek advice on.
Raise all concerns – no matter how small you think they are
3. There is no ‘small’ safeguarding concern; nothing is ‘too small to share’. I explain safeguarding to trainees and NQTs like this: Each student is a jigsaw puzzle and each teacher only sees some of the pieces. The more pieces you see, the more of that child’s picture you begin to understand. That little concern you have, the conversation you heard that gave you reason to pause, might just be the piece of the jigsaw that your DSL needs to understand an individual child’s bigger picture and take some action to better support and safeguard them. REPORT ANY CONCERN and allow your DSL to judge its level of importance, but believe me, everything you know about a child is important to some degree in understanding and supporting them.
4. “Once I’ve passed it on is that my responsibility over?” Legally the answer might be yes but many teachers tell me they stay awake at night worrying about concerns they’ve raised because they do not know what has happened as a result of them passing the information along. My advice is always to follow up any reported concerns a few days later with your DSL. They may be unable to tell you exact actions that have been taken but they will be able to set your mind at ease that your information has proved useful and that steps have been taken to support that student.
Safeguarding is a statutory requirement – if you’re unsure about your school’s policy, find it and read it today!