Safeguarding - responsibilities for education staff

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
There are various different pieces of legislation that set out the roles and responsibilities for the welfare of children, and these are summarised below for schools and FE colleges (statutory responsibilities for safeguarding and child protection only apply to students under 18 years of age).

Keeping Children Safe in Education was published in April 2014 as statutory guidance, covering all areas of safeguarding including recruitment and selection of staff.

Governing bodies

Governing bodies should ensure the school or FE college:

  • has a child protection policy in place
  • operates a safe recruitment procedure
  • has a procedure for dealing with allegations of abuse against staff
  • has a senior member of the school's leadership team designated to take lead responsibility for dealing with child protection issues (with a deputy ideally)
  • appoints a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are looked-after and ensures this person has appropriate training
  • provides appropriate training to all staff (which is kept updated) and provides additional training to the designated person
  • remedies, without delay, any deficiencies in regard to child protection arrangements
  • nominates a member of the governing body (usually the chair) to liaise with the local authority and/or partner agencies in the event of allegations being made against the headteacher/principal
  • reviews their policies and procedures on an annual basis.

The governing bodies of independent schools, academies and free schools have the same responsibilities but cannot rely on local authorities to automatically provide advice and support in the same way as they do for maintained schools.

Headteachers and principals

Headteachers and college principals should ensure that:

  • polices and procedures are fully implemented and followed by all staff
  • sufficient time and resources are allocated to enable the designated person and other staff to discharge their responsibilities
  • all staff and volunteers feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice with regard to children, and such concerns are addressed sensitively and effectively in a timely manner in accordance with agreed whistle-blowing policies, where appropriate.

The role of the designated safeguarding lead

Each school or college must have a designated safeguarding lead who provides support to staff members in carrying out their safeguarding duties and who liaises with other services, including children's social care and the police. This should be a senior member of staff who has the necessary status and authority to carry out the duties of the post.

Annex B of the Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance sets out the broad areas of responsibility for the role which includes:

  • managing referrals
  • training (the designated safeguarding lead should receive appropriate and specialist training at least every 2 years)
  • encouraging a culture of listening to children
  • being alert to the specific needs of children in need (defined as children unlikely to receive a reasonable standard of health and development without local authority services, children whose health and development is likely to be significantly impaired without the provision of such services, or disabled children), those with special educational needs and young carers
  • raising awareness
  • ensuring the child protection policy is kept under review annually and is publically available.

Individual staff responsibility

All members of staff will have regular contact with children and therefore are highly likely to notice a change in behaviour suggesting the child is unhappy or troubled. They could be the person that the child chooses to confide in, and it may be the only chance a child gets to tell someone what is happening or has happened to them.

It is, therefore, essential that the school or college has clear and accessible guidance and policies so that a member of staff who has concerns or has been spoken to knows what to do and who to speak to. All staff who work with children need to have basic child protection training that equips them to recognise and respond to child welfare concerns. This training should be refreshed on a regular basis.

When staff with designated lead responsibility for child protection take up that role, they should receive training in multi-agency procedures to enable them to work in partnership with other agencies, and that gives them the skills and experience to fulfil their responsibilities.

Educating children

It is also important that children and young people are made aware of the types of behaviour they may experience which are unacceptable, and be given guidance on how they can help to keep themselves safe.

It is important that children understand it is okay to talk about their own problems, and they should be signposted to sources of help.

Teachers who teach PSHE/SRE are most likely to cover these areas and need to be fully prepared for children bringing up personal problems and concerns. It is important that the school ensures anyone teaching this subject has high quality, specialist training.

ATL believes that best practice should be for all staff to receive training to cover these issues. It may well be that there is just one opportunity to help a child.