Many school leaders will have begun 2018 by ensuring that their staff have received a safeguarding update, be it through training, bulletins or resources. Any new members of staff will likely have had safeguarding inductions too.
Yet staff aren’t the only members of the school’s community with a role to play in safeguarding. You can promote a culture of keeping children safe that involves parents too.
Keep parents in the know
One of our experts at The Key, a former headteacher now working with LAs to produce school guidance, says that communications with parents and carers about safeguarding should be simple and clear. It’s important that parents know what safeguarding is, what schools are expected to do and what safeguarding in school actually looks like.
Parents need to know who they and their child should raise any concerns with. Parents of pupils with SEND will additionally have to be aware of what arrangements the school has in place to safeguard their children and how these will be carried out – with respect to intimate care procedures, for example.
We also received some suggestions from a designated safeguarding lead at an all-through academy in Greater London. Whenever a new child starts at her school, the academy sees to it that a home-school agreement is set up and signed by parents and pupils.
The contract contains a line that states, ‘We will do whatever it takes to ensure children live happy, healthy and successful lives’. This demonstrates to parents and pupils that safeguarding is treated as a priority right from the start of the child’s school career.
You could also make use of your school website when communicating with parents on safeguarding issues. In addition to their safeguarding policy, many schools add details of key staff members and the first steps parents should take if they have any worries concerning their child. Safeguarding letters and pamphlets can be another useful way of updating parents on issues appropriate to their context, such as the risks relating to child sexual exploitation or online bullying.
Some schools run workshops for parents throughout the year to support their understanding of safeguarding issues. You could cover topics such as online grooming, and perhaps send parents informational video clips on various other issues throughout the year to encourage greater participation.
Pupils can also help. One school we spoke to holds training days once a term in which staff look at different aspects of safeguarding. First, the school runs an INSET session on the topic. Pupils are then taken off timetable for a day to be taught about the subject, and apply their learning by making a video that’s then shared with parents and carers.
Whether you’re looking to make your current safeguarding systems more accessible and transparent to parents, or you’re seeking the views and participation of parents in building your safeguarding community further, an inclusive approach to understanding safeguarding can make all the difference in keeping your pupils safe and happy.
Laura Ralph is a specialist content editor at The Key, which provides impartial leadership and management support to almost half the schools in England; The Key’s Safeguarding Training Centre can help schools meet their statutory training requirements – for more details, visit: safeguarding.thekeysupport.com.