Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Coventry Schools have contacted me

A number of Coventry schools have contacted me following publication here of the list of safeguarding scores.

Some have asked which points they missed out on and what they need to do to make their policies better. Some have asked me to re-score them on the basis of additional information and/or updated policies they have provided. It is my intention to publish a revised list taking into account new information provided by schools. I will make special mention of any additional schools which score 10 after reviewing the new information.

One recurring theme is that some schools have their safeguarding procedures scattered amongst a number of documents - variously "Safeguarding Policy", "Child Protection Polcy", "Child Protection Procedures" and so on. I think this is very poor practice. For something as vitally important as safeguarding, all the key information should really all be in a single document which can easily be referenced.

In addition, I would recommend that the document is laid out in a logical fashion. With regard to arrangements for reporting abuse, I suggest you organise the document in this order.
  1. Name and briefly describe the categories of abuse that need to be reported.
  2. Describe symptoms or indications that staff should be on the lookout for.
  3. Describe the procedure for reporting a child protection concern to the designated teacher, whether it is an observed physical injury, a disclosure by a child, or some other indication.
  4. Describe the procedure to be followed by the designated teacher on receiving a report from another member of staff.
This way, when a member of staff or a parent first reads through the document, they are taken through the process in the order in which things happen - possible abuse is recognised, it is reported internally, the report is passed on to the authorities. It becomes much easier to remember what to do, and much easier to refer to the policy to check it out when a staff member needs to consult it.

Remember that safeguarding policies in schools need to be operated by people whose primary job is teaching, not social work. Make the layout and language simple and don't load it down with jargon.

Finally, I strongly recommend that your safeguarding policy is put up on the school website so that parents can see and read the policy. When I obtained the policies for the survey, only about a third of schools published their policies online. If you wan the confidence of parents, let them see your new policy and what you are doing to protect their children.

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