What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding means protecting an individual’s health, wellbeing and human rights. An individual being safeguarded would allow them to live without harm, neglect, and abuse. Safeguarding ensures safe and effective care for all individuals. Safeguarding protects a child, a young person under the age of 18 or an adult at risk who is over the age of 18.

All professionals have a duty to safeguard and so it is important to understand how to spot signs of abuse and neglect and how to report any concerns. There are 4 main categories of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. There are many signs which could indicate that abuse is taking place, examples of these would include – a child becoming withdrawn, a lack of personal hygiene and unexplained changes in behaviour or personality.

What is Safeguarding in Schools? How do we keep children safe?

What is safeguarding in schools?

Within a school setting it is the responsibility of staff and governing bodies to protect children within their school from harm. Each school has a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), who staff members will report to with any concerns.

Six principles of Safeguarding as outlined within the Care Act

There are 6 principles of safeguarding outlined within the Care Act that are reflected within schools.

The six principles are:

  • empowerment
  • prevention
  • protection
  • proportionality
  • partnership
  • accountability

These principles are important as they outline a clear set of priorities that professionals within a school should establish to keep people safe from harm.

How does the Government ensure the safeguarding of children in schools? 

The Department for Education provides detailed, statutory guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education, which all schools and colleges must follow to ensure the safeguarding of children and safer recruitment.

The Department for Education updates ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ annually. This is a compulsory annual read for all persons who work in a school setting.  

Recent changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education included:

  • Filtering and Monitoring roles,
  • Ensuring the process of escalating concerns is clear for staff and is set out by the DSL,
  • Children Missing in Education, the response of the school being integrated with the warning signs of abuse,
  • Pre-recruitment Checks, introducing a new standard check of completing online searches for staff and any discoveries to be discussed at the interview stage,
  • Forced Marriage, making it a crime to carry out the solemnization of a marriage before the 18th birthday of a child,
  • Organizations or individuals using school premises, allegations related to individuals or organizations using the school premise for running activities for children should be addressed the same way as an allegation made in a school.

Each School has their own Safeguarding Policy

Each school has a safeguarding policy which all staff would be familiar with. It is a staff member’s duty on their first day of work to familiarize themselves with the school’s policy and who the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) at the school is.

What is Whistleblowing in a school?

What is Whistleblowing?

Within a school setting, members of staff are often the first to realise that there is something seriously wrong; or to see the signs of conduct or practice which is potentially illegal, corrupt, improper, unsafe or unethical or which amounts to malpractice; or to perceive that things are not as they should be. Reporting these concerns through relevant channels, is known as whistleblowing.

The governing body of a school should establish a whistleblowing procedure to ensure that members of staff are aware of the appropriate channels to raise a concern; should give members of staff and others working within the school an assurance that they can raise such concerns without fear of reprisal; and wherever possible, to ensure that the procedure is confidential, although governing bodies should recognise that some members of staff may wish to give their name.

If you are concerned about the behaviour of a school staff member you should report your concerns through the relevant channels that are set out in the school’s whistleblowing policy.

It is recognised however, that under some circumstances members of staff or others working within the school, may feel unable to express their concerns within the school. Staff are firstly encouraged to approach an appropriate person in the school; where they feel unable to do so, it is open to them to approach other organisations outside of the school setting with their concerns.

For more information and advice including which organisations you can contact outside of a school setting to share your concerns, please contact the UK whistleblowing charity: Protect or speak to your trade union.

Whose responsibility is it to report a safeguarding concern?

Every person has a responsibility to protect children from harm. When reporting a concern, it is essential to ensure that the approach is child centred, meaning the child is the focus in each decision made. 

It is everyone’s responsibility to report a safeguarding concern.

Click here to find out more about what to do, if you spot a safeguarding concern.