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.

 

E-Safety

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.

 

References:

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2 thoughts on “Safe Guarding Primary School Children

  1. Safeguarding within schools is a very important aspect to all that are involved in teaching. As Helen mentioned in her blog, teachers need to understand the safeguarding policy their school has in place and know who the recognised individuals are to whom they would liaise with if there was ever any need to. Following on from this, it is important to develop a combination of formal and informal communication systems that all staff are aware of and that staff are regularly updated when there is ever a change to the legislation and child protection guidance.
    According to a report by the NSPCC in 2012, schools that were described as ‘outstanding’ in relation to safeguarding it’s children have a dynamic leadership style, commitment, flexibility in responding to circumstances, reflective practice, shared responsibility, adaptable training for staff, approachable and accessible staff. These were seen as key aspects when dealing with good practice in child protection.
    In my first school based training, I have experienced the school undertaking their anti-bullying week where the children learn in assembly what to do if they are faced with a difficult situation. The teachers all share the responsibility to help promote the anti-bullying week, which really sends a strong message to their pupils and what is expected of them. Other safeguarding practices the school takes is through effective staff meetings, where the teachers are given the opportunity to raise any individual child concerns that they feel need further investigation. These meetings are very important, because if there are any issues with a particular child then the teachers can share their concerns and ideas so that everyone is aware and can help monitor the issue. Especially if the parents have a concern and have spoken directly to the class teacher, the awareness and commitment of the staff as a whole can really support safeguarding in schools and their input as a team is vital for its consistency.
    An area of school that has increased importance when it comes to safeguarding children is e-safety. With many children already familiar with social networking, I-pads and various search engines it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent over exposure through inappropriate content whilst at school. Although ICT lessons at school are seen by the children as fun and exciting, certain restrictions and rules need to be in place, especially regarding online searches. Within my school the computers are all safeguarded so that any inappropriate/accidental occurrence whilst searching will be immediately blocked. This is a great safeguarding implementation as it allows the teacher to manage the class efficiently with little or no need for concern, whilst being able to maximise the children’s learning.
    The children in the school need to be engaged and empowered in order for safeguarding to work at its best. Children should be given every opportunity to be a part of the school policy and its development. Allowing all children this access or inclusion can promote values such as respect for oneself, for peers and adults, for the environment, both globally and locally. Children’s participation and appreciation in schools safeguarding policies contribute to the children having a sense of personal and psychological safety. As long as teachers demonstrate and affirm that the school/classroom will be a secure place then the children have a solid base to work from.

    References.

    Pollard A. (2014), Reflective teaching in schools, 4th edition, 150.

    Alexander R. (2010), Children, their World, their Education, Final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review, Routledge,285.

    O’Connell S. (2012), http://www.optimus-education.com/having-someone-trust-outstanding-safeguarding-primary-schools . Accessed on 14/11/14.

  2. Safeguarding children, as Helen points out, is a term that would often be used in relation to the abuse from adults towards children. According to Safenetwork, a website dedicated to the safeguarding of the UK’s children, one in five children in the UK having experienced physical, sexual or physical or emotional neglect at some stage. That is a deeply worrying statistic that just reinforces the importance of this issue. And there is no doubting that this a major concern when addressing safeguarding children. However, particularly with more children becoming fluent in using the internet, there are also other points of concern that have never been greater.

    Helen discusses, the key telling signs to look out for with children who are suffering abuse. Something that must be noted is how important it is that teachers follow correct protocol when it comes to this, as well as knowing the correct staff to address. It is likely all schools with have very similar process, albeit with a few minor differences, however, with anything, let alone concerns regarding the abuse of children, said concerns must be handled incredibly careful; for the sake of all parties involved. Ofsted’s view of schools that are well equipped for safeguarding is that the staff of a given school need to have a clear understanding of all causes of possibly neglect, abuse and harm as well as knowing the procedures any safeguarding claim would go through internally in regards to the school, as well as externally. And it’s not just teacher’s who need to know who to talk to, but children and parents too; a culture of “transparency” when it comes to safeguarding will allow these issues to be dealt with more effectively and efficiently.

    One thing that particularly stood out for me was Helen’s thoughts on safeguarding those children with SEN and EAL. It is so important to ensure that protocol is in place in order to deal with these two categories, as both will find it harder to express themselves, in regards to confidence, the English language and a number of possible other factors, in order to alert the school to a safeguarding issue.

    In regards to the internet more and more is being done at primary school level to ensure pupils are aware of its dangers. I myself have had to take a lesson in my short time on teacher placement which was based around my pupils understanding the importance of a password and the reasons why we need to keep this password safe. Upon discussing these reasons with my class they were able to see that keeping a password safe is just the tip of the iceberg, and having valuable personal information in the hands of others is very dangerous. E-safety is something that, despite the internet’s proliferation for decades, is only really being dealt with properly now. An increase in the amount of computing lessons primary school children are having is not only causing an increasing importance in e-safety, but it will conversely increase the understanding of it too, both with teachers and students.

    Resources

    • Ofsted, Safeguarding in Schools: Best Practice, 2011.

    http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/surveys-and-good-practice/s/Safeguarding%20in%20schools.pdf

    • Safenetwork, What is Safeguarding and Why Does it Matter to my Organisation?, 2013.

    http://www.safenetwork.org.uk/getting_started/Pages/Why_does_safeguarding_matter.aspx

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