Safeguarding essentials: advice and resources for staff
Although every school will appoint a designated safeguarding lead (DSL) to oversee child protection and safeguarding matters, all staff have an equal responsibility to:
- uphold the school's policy for child protection and safeguarding
- set a good example by conducting themselves appropriately
- be alert to any indications that a child is at risk of harm
- provide a safe and supportive environment for pupils.
One of the DSL's primary responsibilities is to make sure that all staff receive appropriate and timely safeguarding and child protection updates, so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to keep children safe.
Explain your policy
Whether you're training a new or more experienced member of staff, the first step is to make sure that they understand what is set out in the school's child protection and safeguarding policy, and can access a copy.
Download our model policy template and use the corresponding quiz to test your colleagues' understanding.
Recognising peer-on-peer abuse
All staff have a role to play in responding to allegations of peer-on-peer abuse. Children are capable of being the perpetrators and victims of abuse, so nothing should be dismissed as 'banter' or 'a part of growing up' without proper investigation.
Use our examples to make sure that all members of staff are confident in identifying signs of abuse, and responding to any disclosures a pupil may come forward to make.
Child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) occurs when a young person is coerced, manipulated or deceived into sexual activity in exchange for a reward. CSE can affect any child or young person under the age of 18 years, and can still be abuse even if the sexual activity appears consensual.
Child criminal exploitation (CCE), sometimes known as 'county lines' activity, is an emerging trend whereby children are used to smuggle drugs and money from one area to another. The warning signs can be similar to other forms of abuse and exploitation, and is often accompanied by violence or threats of violence.
In our article on identifying child sexual exploitation, Abi Clay provides some hypothetical examples, questions to prompt and important things to remember.
The updated version of 'Keeping children safe in education' includes the following information on contextual safeguarding.
'All staff, but especially the designated safeguarding lead (and deputies) should be considering the context within which such incidents and/or behaviours occur. This is known as contextual safeguarding, which simply means assessments of children should consider whether wider environmental factors are present in a child’s life that are a threat to their safety and/or welfare.'
In practice, this means that your system of identification, assessment and intervention should always take into account the interplay of contextual factors (e.g. the home/family, peer groups, the school and the community) and their relevant weight of influence.
Keeping children safe from harm has become increasing difficult in a digital age, but all staff should be expected to know how the school promotes online safety as part of its broader safeguarding ethos.
If you are looking to disseminate important updates on the latest digital trends, our online safety staff briefing provides an example for you to adapt.
You can also refer to our guide to the legal implications of sexting to make sure that all staff are confident in getting the message across.
Recording and reporting concerns
A school must have clear procedures in place for recording, reporting and responding to child protection concerns. All members of staff should know how to report concerns about a pupil, to whom, what to write down and who else to notify.
Unit 3 of our Safeguarding Whole-School Update training course focuses on effective reporting, recording and sharing, and is available for group or self study.
Staff should also be aware of how the school can refer a child protection concern to children's social care services. Share our prompt sheet to make sure that you gather all the important information, and refer to our advice for making an effective referral.
Safeguarding and religious/cultural differences
Being a DSL requires bravery and resilience even at the best of times, but safeguarding children and young people whose families observe especially different cultural and religious practices is often no mean feat.
When acting on concerns, it's vital that the DSL prioritise their duty to keep children and young people safe.
- Never allow any form of abuse to take place in the guise of religious or cultural practice.
- Never allow families to pressure or intimidate you into abandoning your safeguarding policies and procedures.
- If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, remember that colleagues are there to support you.
Our advice to the DSL includes a case study concerning the use of 'prayer ties'.