Why is safeguarding important in schools? (Know your responsibilities)

It is no surprise that safeguarding and schools go hand in hand.

Under 18s are certainly vulnerable to mistreatment, neglect or trauma and it is essential that people working in schools commit themselves to making sure that the place of education is a safe space for students.

It is important to ensure that dangerous people and situations are averted.

Dangerous people could be those in the school or outsiders and dangerous situations can come in many forms. Through methods like creating equality in schools, securing schools from intruders and ensuring that any school staff are fit to work with children, these jeopardies can be monitored and hopefully, avoided.

Who needs to be safeguarded in schools?

Every child needs appropriate care and should be safeguarded. However, there are certain types of children who need a little extra consideration. These include:

  • Disabled children with additional needs
  • Children with special education needs
  • Young carers
  • Children who are at risk of performing criminal behaviour
  • Children who are significantly anti-social
  • Children who have previously gone missing
  • Any child at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
  • Children who are at risk of being radicalised or exploited
  • Children in unstable family situations
  • Children misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Children in care or who have previously been in care.

This list is not exhaustive, but these are some examples particularly vulnerable children who should be monitored. However, it is very important to establish that any under 18 is considered vulnerable.

What Schools Need to Do

High Speed Training states that “anybody who works in an education setting has a duty to protect the welfare of children who attend”.

This means that whether you’re a teacher, a classroom assistant, dinner staff or a caretaker, you should always be looking out for ways to safeguard the children in your care.

The safeguarding in schools definition can range from keeping an open and honest environment, to monitoring individual children’s behaviour.

Here is a safeguarding in schools checklist to make sure that your team is covering the essentials.

  • Identify children at risk of abuse, neglect or harm.
  • Keep schools secure to prevent dangerous individuals from entering.
  • Educate children to avoid dangerous people outside of school – especially on the walk to school.
  • Ensure that no member of staff poses a risk to children.
  • Prevent radicalisation.
  • Tackle bullying and peer-on-peer abuse.
  • Prevent self-harm and self-neglect.

We’ll take this list one by one and delve into some deeper ways that school staff can safeguard their children.

Identify children at risk of abuse, neglect or harm

Keeping Schools Secure

Possibly the most common worry amongst parents is that an intruder will somehow get into their child’s school and kidnap or otherwise cause harm to them. This is a scary worry, indeed, but not a likely scenario. While intruders in schools used to be a big problem – BBC mentions how fatal school attacks in 1994, 1995 and 1996 all involved intruders, security measures are nowadays a lot higher.

The BBC article states that “most schools now have better fences, more secure entrances, security cameras and intruder alarms”, making it much more difficult for strangers to enter schools. Reporting safeguarding issues in school is important, so if any of these methods do not seem secure, it is a staff member’s duty to let the head teacher know.

Guests are also required to sign in and to wear a lanyard, a badge or other form of recognition. Teachers are thus expected to look out for any non-staff adults in school without a lanyard or badge and ask them to state who they are.

Educate Children to Avoid Dangerous People or Situations Outside of School

The Walk to School

Teachers should ensure that children are safe on their walks to and from school. They can ask children who walk alone how long their walk is and whether they walk with another student to vet their safety, and suggest that they join a walking school bus if there is one at the school or use this tool to get the council’s advice about the safest possible route.

Teachers should also encourage students to report any people with strange behaviour, no matter how small it seems. This might be something as seemingly insignificant as the same van parked near the school every day for a week, or something immediately threatening like a person approaching a solo child or group of children.

Prevent Radicalisation

Tackle Bullying

Conclusion

The examples of safeguarding in schools detailed above are very important for keeping children safe both in school and outside the classroom. Teachers and other school staff are a crucial connection that children have with the outside world and are often the people that they admire and will speak to first.

By keeping a close eye on children in your care, you can help with any situations that come up and make a real difference in the first two decades of a person’s life.

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