By Guest Blogger Linett Kamala
Teachers have a very large responsibility toward the children they care for and that is of safeguarding. This is especially important as children spend as much time, in some cases more time than, with their own family. Hence the safety and well-being of the students becomes paramount. This blog post highlights the safeguarding and child protection policy that should be part of the school policy.
Let’s begin with understanding what safeguarding actually is? It means to support the identification of children and young people who are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and take appropriate action with the aim of making sure they are kept safe.
There are a wide range of legislation and government guidance on the subject. These include OFSTED, Department of Education documents and legislation such as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on anyone who works or volunteers with children and young people.
When working in a school you should be made aware of their safeguarding or child protection policy. The document will usually cover the following areas which I call the five R’s:
You should look out for signs of abuse. These fall into four categories; physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
If a student wishes to disclose to you – listen carefully, but never guarantee confidentiality. Try to do this in a sensitive way, as they have chosen to tell you for a reason.
Also be aware that the conversation you have with a student may affect the evidence if there are subsequent proceedings.
Do not jump to conclusions.
Do not ask leading questions or put words in students’ mouth – instead use open questions.
Write down everything the student tells to you – verbatim (handwritten notes are okay).
Make sure your notes are clear, concise and legible.
Sign your notes with your full name, adding both the date and time.
Inform the Designated Senior Person as soon as possible, this is usually the Deputy Head or a Senior Teacher and give them your written notes.
Whenever possible try not to be alone in a room with a student, regardless of gender. If you are on your own with a student, leave the door open and inform a colleague if possible. Always keep a safe distance between you and the student.
Do not engage in conversations about your personal life with students. Keep boundaries clear between you and students, particularly if the conversation involves relationships, emotions, and sexual content. Avoid giving advice to students about their relationships.
If you teach small groups of students or individuals outside of normal lessons inform the Head of Department and always take a register.
Do not exchange mobile phone numbers with students. If possible do not have your mobile phone out when dealing with an individual student.
Do not accept invitations by students to be their friend on ‘Facebook’ and other social media. Also, protect your own ‘Facebook’, etc. from students by ensuring they cannot access personal information about you.
About the author: Linett Kamala has been a senior leader in a variety of secondary schools for over thirteen years. Her roles have included Head of School and Designated Senior Person for Safeguarding.
Learn about Pupil Safeguarding at Prospero.