Safe Guarding Primary School Children

Safe Guarding Primary School Children

Safe guarding is an umbrella term for protecting children. The obvious one we are safeguarding children from is abuse from adults and also other children while they are at school but also recognising if a child is being abused at home or in another place as well. Abuse can be hard to define and comes under four different categories:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Neglect

Children fall over all the time, they play roughly with other children and to see bruises on children is not uncommon. However, when changing for P.E, swimming or other school activities and you notice bruising on a child’s body where it can be hidden or on the back of a child e.g. the backs of children’s legs, then this should be a cause for concern and should be followed up. You could simply ask the child where they got the bruise from. If the child thinks of an answer for a long time then this should also be concerning as they may be trying to come up with a cover story to hide what really happened. However if the child says they fell over backwards in a natural manner then this should be logged but is not necessarily a sign of physical abuse. However, we should look out for more bruising in the same place on another occasion.

Sexual abuse in primary school children is thankfully rare, however it is usually carried out by a close family member or family friend. This is hard to spot and is usually not found unless a child talks to you about it.

Emotional abuse is also hard to spot and it is also hard to prove in a court of law. Emotional abuse can consist of bullying by a family member or friend. It can also be blackmail in exchange for feeling loved. Again this is hard to spot unless a child talks to you about it.

Neglect can mean not being washed, not having clean clothes to wear or food to eat. It can mean not having a bed to sleep in, or toys to play with. Neglect can also mean not giving the child the emotional support needed or the attention at home. Neglect is becoming more widespread as more families are forced below the poverty line. If caught early, social services can help families who find themselves below the poverty line and can help parents meet the needs of their children. Although social services have had some bad press over the years, they are still a very good organisation to help families who need additional support in meeting their childrens needs.

As primary school teachers we are on the front line for being able to help safeguard children from abuse if we spot it or if a child talks to us about it. It is a legal requirement for schools to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under the Education Act 2002, S.157, 175. It is also part of the Teachers Standards to safeguard and promote welfare of all the children in the school, not just in your class. As a teacher, a child may feel they are able to trust us enough to be able to tell us if anything is happening to them at home or even at school as it could be abuse from another child. Primary schools will have a policy in place when these things do happen and this is to protect and support the child but also to help protect and support the teachers as well to deal with these revelations. It is therefore important to know your schools safeguarding policy because if a child does report something to you then you know what to do in order to help that child as quickly as possible.

In the school I am at, they’re safeguarding policy is very thorough and is as much about helping the child as it is about helping the member of staff who is made aware of something harming that child. My school also made it clear that safeguarding may start with the teacher but after something is reported it is then a multi agency response to help that child. These include social services, police and local authorities.

However, safeguarding children is not just about spotting or reporting abuse to a child. Safeguarding is also about things such as inclusion at school for children who don’t have English as their first language, children who have disabilities or special needs. Schools will usually have speech and language support, reading and writing groups, spelling groups and even policies to help children make friends in the playground. Schools may even have psychologists working with them to help children who need support or counselling. All of these come under safeguarding children and promoting their welfare while at school.

Ofsted take safeguarding very seriously and have their own policy on it based on the Children’s Act 2004. Ofsted describe safeguarding as:

  • protecting children and learners from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s and learners’ health or development
  • ensuring that children and learners are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • undertaking that role so as to enable those children and learners to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully.

The Ofsted policy is a wide ranging policy and is very helpful for schools to use to shape their own safeguarding policies. However, Ofsted have noted that only 19% of schools inspected had an outstanding safeguarding policy which clearly shows safeguarding in schools is an on going activity and policies need to be constantly reviewed as does training for all teachers and other staff.



Children are using the internet more these days and many of them are on social media sites such as facebook although you have to be 14 in order to use it. Therefore we need to make sure we are aware of the sites children are using both in school and at home. If children talk about using facebook or other social networking sites then this needs to be reported to parents so they can monitor who they are talking to online as children will not be able to tell who they are actually talking to behind the pictures. There is not a lot we can do from a teachers perspective in regard to sites they use at home and in school we only use approved school sites however, if we hear a child is having problems on social media from other children then we can address this. The national curriculum does state we teach e-safety and educate children on the dangers of using the internet and to not give out any information to people you can not see. We can also warn children of the dangers of some site such as pornography sites, pop ups and other sites such as anorexic sites or sites about unhealthy obsessions. The more we educate our children about using the internet, hopefully the safer they will be.



Behaviour Management in Primary Schools

Having recently had a lecture focusing on ‘Behaving / Behaviour Management’ within primary schools, it exposed me to a variety of good and bad ways that behaviour can be managed within the classroom. This area is of particular interest to me as whilst I was gaining my initial pre-course classroom experience I found it difficult to assert my authority, because I had little experience of handling certain situations when they arose. I have also found it challenging during the first few days of my school based training, however, the lecture has brought to light ways in which I can bridge the gaps and to develop them further as I progress.

The aspects of the lecture that really stuck with me are not to ‘react on your own emotions.’ I must admit that this notion at times is easier said than done, but on reflection it is important to remember that you are the adult figure in the classroom. Another effective way to approach behaviour management is to make sure that for every sanction/confrontation you face, you deliver your message calmly. Your ability to do this will help promote consistency within the classroom, which is a vital component when addressing behaviour on all levels.

A very simple, but altogether effective aspect of controlling behaviour is for the teachers to welcome their children into the school/classroom in the morning, at lunchtimes and to be visible in the playground as the children leave for the day. I was surprised that such a simple act could in fact be so significant towards children’s behaviour and it prompted me to research this and I found through an online article by John E. Mayer, ‘Creating a Safe and Welcoming School’ that “If a school is not inviting, students will feel anxious and will not fully participate in their education, no matter how vigorous a school is in trying to reach them.” (John E. Mayer 6) The article goes on to mention that the consequences of a non-inviting school can result in vandalism to the school, negative behaviour towards the teachers and also conflict between other students.

I also discovered another online article by Charlie Taylor, ‘Getting the Simple things right: Behaviour Checklist (2011). The article immediately addresses a selection of schools that have a high proportion of deprived pupils, but were actually in some of the outstanding performing schools regarding behaviour. This came as a particular shock to me initially, as I would personally think the complete opposite and has since encouraged me to not pass judgement based on what might seem obvious at a first glance. The reasons for why these schools had outstanding behaviour was shared by the head teachers of the schools and showed that they all had a common connection. Many of them emphasised the simplicity of their approach, but they agreed that most important of all is consistency.’ (Charlie Taylor, 2011. pg.2) To further support points made earlier, “Where there is inconsistency in schools, children are more likely to push the boundaries.” (Charlie Taylor, 2011. pg.2)

Charlie Taylor took the idea of developing a checklist with the aim to help schools improve behaviour. The concept was for schools to identify priority areas in behaviour they felt needed improving and to then pick five to ten essential actions from the list to promote good behaviour. This would result in the school staff having a bespoke checklist for behaviour and It serves as a reminder of what needs to be done and ensures consistency across the school.” (Charlie Taylor, 2011. pg.2).

I to have witnessed the way some teachers control behaviour within their classrooms. I have observed children’s names being written on the white board when they have miss-behaved or been disruptive. I’ve seen teachers use empty large jars with marked lines on them, whereby the class’s behaviour as a whole is measured and at the end of each day if the behaviour standards have been met, a child is chosen by the teacher to fill the jar with pasta shells to a specific mark on the jar. The idea is to fill the jar with pasta to the top mark by Friday so that the whole class can enjoy Golden playtime. This encourages teamwork and is a constant visual reminder for all children to see the behaviour of the class. The jar is then emptied and the process is repeated the following week.

In conclusion, I think that it is vital that all teachers know the behaviour management policies within their schools. Making sure they abide by the schools policy, along with all teaching staff so there is a consistency throughout the school. Teachers must start by doing the simple things right and building upon these as well as making clear relations/connections with the pupils and parents. This will help children develop self-discipline, trust and respect, making them feel safe within the school and participate in their education.




John E. Mayer (2007), Creating a Safe and Welcoming School, Educational Practices Series 16, pg 6-8. Viewed 30th September 2014.

Charlie Taylor (2011), Getting the simple things right: Charlie Taylor’s behaviour checklist, pg 2-3. Viewed 30th September 2014.

Learning Theories

During a lecture we watched a video in which two groups of children, of different year groups, were allowed to build a bridge from a variety of wooden planks and ramps. The teacher stepped away from this learning situation and allowed the pupils to organise and carry out the task with no interruptions or input. Was this effective teaching? As a first response to this question, I felt it was obvious to say, no. There was no engagement by the teacher, no questioning or pointing in the right direction. The pupils were left to themselves, and gradually, through trial and improvement, they built a bridge, admittedly with varying degrees of success; the older students building something far more practical than the bridge of the younger students. Yet both groups did come to an end result, and were able to organise themselves effectively with a pragmatic approach. It was in fact the space that the teacher had afforded them that enabled them to build their bridges, and this learning experience seemed as effective as one where a teacher tells a class what to do. The pupils are able to explore their own motivation, and build their own understanding of why they want to learn, an important life lesson, as well as being able to learn by doing, which is an important life skill again, as they trial and improve (Phil Race, Making Learning Happen, p.30). From looking at this example I was prompted to look at a couple of other theories of teaching and learning, in order to get an overview in some of the most popular hypotheses, in particular innate and observational learning.

The first to spring to mind was that of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. Also known as the observation theory, it is comprised of three influencing factors: person, behaviour, and environment (Boyce, T. Applying Social Learning Theory). This is where subjects will imitate the behaviour of someone, in our case a teacher, because they see this as correct practice. The teacher’s behaviour should set an example to pupils’ of what is expected of them, and what is deemed normal behaviour, and this is anything from the attitude towards their work, they way they speak to one another, how they behave in class, and many more.

Attached is a short clip showing the aggression model of Bandura’s theory, and children’s reaction to a doll after seeing an adult play with it. The results are eye opening and frankly, slightly disturbing.

In the video we watched in the lecture we did not see whether the teacher gave a demonstration of how they wanted the bridges to built, however, the initial chaotic lack of organisation, and absence of direction by the key stage one students, would suggest there was not. Bandura’s theory only posits that leaving pupils to themselves may be even more dangerous due to the behaviour of peers (Boyce, T. Applying Social Learning Theory); if a more dominant child starts behaving in a particular way, according to Bandura, others would follow suit.

Another popular thesis is that of Vygostky’s Zone of Proximal Development, or ZPD for short. This theory, often likened to scaffolding, is when a teacher supports “buds of development” that a pupil is in the process of learning to use but are already in an embryonic state (Vygotsky, p.42, 1935). In essence, what the pupil can do before being helped by the teacher, and what they are able to do following intervention. Vygotsky’s theory, although preceding Bandura’s, is complimentary, in that it  believes that mental processes have to be put where the majority of learning happens, in the context of social relationships (Gray, D. Griffin, C. Nasta, T. Training to Teach in Further and Adult Education, p.30).

Both of these theories deem that social relationships are important, and despite how refreshing it was to see pupils work out problems by themselves, for them to reach their full potential it seems clear that assistance by teachers is essential.


In this diagram we can see, in the dark grey circle, the level the student is currently at, and the black line surrounding it is the maximum level they are able to attain without assistance. Outside of this we see the Zone of Proximal Development. A vast area where the student can reach if they are assisted by a teacher, and beyond this, in white, is an area that is unattainable no matter what. This theory, therefore, conflicts with the original video clip we watched in the lecture, where the teacher allowed the pupils to work with no interruptions. Certainly, particularly with the older pupils, they may well have been able to reach the black circle, their maximum individual potential, but this diagram highlights the disservice to the pupils’ potential the teacher is committing by not intervening and helping the pupils build bridges. Particularly in the first clip where we saw key stage one children struggle to build an effective bridge, where intervention would have improved the learning vastly.

Boyce, T. Applying Social Learning Theory, 2011

Gray, D. Griffin, C. Nasta, T. Training to Teach in Further and Adult Education, p.30, 2005

Phil Race, Making Learning Happen, p.30, 2005

Vygotsky, L. Mind in Society, The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, pp. 33–52. 1935