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Keeping Children Safe in Education: What is Safeguarding?

Hadley Webster
16 Jun 2019
4 min read
Keeping Children Safe in Education: What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is a top priority for us at Zen Educate and it is important that all educators clearly understand the processes that are part of it. Read below for a general overview of what safeguarding is and how we incorporate the information into our interviews.

What is safeguarding

Safeguarding refers to the processes and policies in place used to protect children from abuse, including physical, mental, neglect, and bullying. It is designed in the best interest of the child in order to promote their own health and safety. As educators, it is imperative to understand how to handle a potential crisis situation and be able to offer the right kind of help.

The government issued documents, Keeping Children Safe in Education, details their safeguarding guidance:

Keeping children safe in education — short version (pdf)

Keeping children safe in education — full version (pdf)

"Children are best protected when professionals are clear about what is required of them individually, and how they need to work together."

— Department of Education

You may be aware of safeguarding - what it is, why it is significant, and how to implement it. However, some of your ideas may be outdated and it is important to be familiar with the latest guidance regardless of prior knowledge. Safeguarding is crucial to securing a safe environment for children, and knowing what to do if you are made aware of child abuse will help best serve them. Although we strongly advise you to read through Keeping children safe in education, these key steps may act as guidelines for a situation which mandates safeguarding.

If a child informs you that they have been abused...

Let the child know you must disclose the information to a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO). Keeping the information a secret will put the child in an even more harmful scenario, regardless of whether or not they asked you not to tell anyone.

On your first day try to identify who the DSO at the school is. This person may also be referred to as the safeguarding lead or safeguarding officer. It is important to note that this person is not necessarily the classroom teacher; often times, it is someone else. Depending on the size of the school, there may be more than one person assigned to this role and if you have trouble figuring out who the DSO is, ask the headteacher or deputy for information. It is better to be unsure and ask, rather than incorrectly assume.

Report to a DSO using the system in place. A school may request a written report, a report via email, or a different type of report not mentioned. The child’s words should be recorded as accurately as possible in writing.

As educators, it is natural to want to comfort a child when they are upset or hurt. However, merely comforting is not enough. Any signs or stories of abuse should immediately be reported and teachers should follow safeguarding protocol.

Although you may have the best interest of the child at heart, it is not acceptable to ask leading questions when a child has told you about a time they have been abused. This is to ensure that no person influences what a child may say.

1 in 5 children in the UK have experienced severe maltreatment (NSPCC). Know how you can help in an appropriate and constructive way.

Vetting teachers/TAs

If you're looking to work in schools you'll have to demonstrate your safeguarding knowledge. At Zen we assess all the candidates who work through us on their safeguarding knowledge as part of the 30–45 min interview with one of our team.

How do we ensure candidates are aware of the safeguarding process?

Prior to the interview, all candidates are sent Keeping children safe in education to read over. During the interview we will check to see whether you know correct reporting and the methods used to identify children in danger.

What happens if a candidate does not demonstrate substantial knowledge about safeguarding?

Candidates who do not demonstrate a considerable amount of knowledge regarding safeguarding fail the interview process. In some cases, candidates may be offered another chance to read through the safeguarding document and schedule another interview where they have the opportunity to show their knowledge.

How do we properly vet candidates?

All candidates must supply a valid form of identification, right to work, teaching qualification, two references and an enhanced DBS certificate. Candidates who have lived abroad for six months or more within the last five years may also be required to provide an Overseas Police Check.

Safeguarding is a top priority for the education system and we want to make sure you are aware of the processes involved so that you can have the best possible impact on children's lives.

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