Avoiding Burnout as a Designated Safeguarding Lead 

The Designated Safeguarding Lead plays an incredibly valuable role in school, but it is not without its challenges. Learn how to avoid burnout and continue to achieve the best possible outcomes for your pupils in this blog.
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The role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead is one of high stress that can be overwhelming, all-consuming, and one that may eventually, without the proper support, lead to burnout.  

It is a role which sometimes feels like you are required to be everything to everyone – risk-manager, trauma-specialist, record-keeper, negotiator, peacekeeper and mediator to name a few. This, compounded by the day-to-day requirements of the role, can lead to feelings of isolation and feeling overwhelmed. We often overthink and over-analyse our daily events and experiences, which can be difficult to move on from even as the school day draws to a close. DSLs must also have uncomfortable and difficult conversations which may result in hostility and anger from parents. Furthermore, there is the expectation to challenge colleagues and mutli-agency professionals when outcomes are not satisfactory. Finally, there is the trauma and disclosures that DSLs hear and respond to, that never really leave us.  

How do we avoid becoming overwhelmed, stressed and eventually burnout?

  • Remember you are part of a Team 

You are not alone in your role as DSL or Deputy DSL – there is a community of staff within a school who all hold responsibility to support a child and their family. The senior leadership team should promote a culture of support, and where schools are part of a wider multi-academy trust, there may also be other colleagues available as part of this wider team. 

  • Remember you do not need to have all the answers 

Outside of the school itself, there are a wealth of exceptional support agencies and organisations who are more than happy to offer support and facilitate training to ensure that you are making the right decisions and providing the right support to pupils and their families. 

Speak to those around you – tap into the knowledge and support of your colleagues. Both formal planning sessions and ad-hoc conversations can lead to ideas and actions outside the box for those cases you are struggling with.   

  • Identify your triggers for stress and find healthy coping mechanisms  

Write down and reflect upon what it is that is making you feel overwhelmed and identify what you can do to alleviate those feelings of stress & possible anxiety.  

Mediation, yoga, baking or even boxing may provide an outlet for what sometimes feels like unending pressure. Choose whatever it is that supports your wellbeing and assists in making your day manageable.  

  • Talk with line-managers about workload and seek help with complex families, children and young people  

A DSL or Deputy DSL should have regular line-management meetings and ideally, external supervision. These discussions should provide a safe space where workloads and caseloads should be discussed to ensure that a staff member is not overloaded. It’s important to raise any concerns or issues so that you can continue to fulfil your role effectively. 

  • Remember to keep talking  

Talking with a qualified professional whether that is through safeguarding or child protection supervision or with a counsellor or therapist is always helpful. Both provide a confidential, supportive, judgement-free and safe space within which the demands of the role can be discussed and reflected upon. Supervision allows the processing of complex emotions for the DSL. It may also highlight where more in-depth and therapeutic interventions are needed.  

Please contact One Education Education Welfare & Safeguarding Team to discuss whether Safeguarding Supervision may be helpful to you and your staff.

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