Governor Safeguarding Training: Key Takeaways

Read ahead to find a recap of our latest governor training session, covering everything you need to know about your role as a school governor to safeguard children and keep them protected from harm.
Teachers meeting at Webster Primary School Manchester
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One Education Governor Support has developed a programme of training, networks and CPD to meet the growing expectations of governors and trustees to effectively fulfil their role. Read ahead to find a recap of our latest governor training session, covering everything you need to know about your role as a school governor to safeguard children and keep them protected from harm.

School Governance and Safeguarding: What do you need to know?

Everyone on the board should know about their duties relating to safeguarding. Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. This means protecting children from abuse and maltreatment; preventing harm to children’s health or development; ensuring children grow up with provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children and young people to achieve the best outcomes.  

Statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 (KCSIE) states that all school governors and trustees should receive appropriate safeguarding training and child protection training at induction. This should equip them with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge to test and assure themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools and colleges are effective and support the delivery of a robust whole school approach to safeguarding. This training should be regularly updated. 

Our governor training is designed to ensure that school and trust governors can achieve the following: 

  • Understand the statutory requirements and legislation in place with regards to safeguarding 
  • Learn more about the role of the governing body in relation to the management of safeguarding in schools 
  • Identify lessons from Serious Case Reviews and Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews 
  • Understand how safeguarding is reviewed in line with the Ofsted Inspection Framework 

What did we learn?

  • Policies and procedures 

Policies and procedures must be effective, up to date with current legislation, and translated into practice that reflects the communities they serve.  

Remember that recording and reporting is crucial for all staff, whether it’s teachers, lunchtime organisers, admin officers or the pastoral team, to ensure timely intervention and support for pupils and their families.  

  • Attendance 

Attendance and persistent absenteeism continues to be a major issue for schools across the country. Governors should analyse their school data and identify pupils with any vulnerabilities, such as those on child protection plans, EHCPs, looked-after children, and pupils with English as an additional language. Consider how to communicate effectively with parents in order to emphasise the importance of attendance and children’s right to a full-time education.  

  • Mental health 

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on mental health and its impact upon pupil attendance and welfare. Children’s mental health services are struggling to meet demand, which places a greater pressure on schools. As governors, you should ask questions surrounding the capacity, resources, and support that is available both from external and internal sources. 

Concern for mental health should also be extended to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). Governors should be aware of the DSL’s caseload and how this might affect their capacity and the impact on their wellbeing. It’s important to ensure they receive support and the space and opportunity for reflection. 

  • SEND 

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are particularly vulnerable to safeguarding issues, being 3.7 times more likely to be victims of exploitation, abuse or neglect. Governors should therefore be aware of vulnerable groups within the school, ensuring collaboration between the DSL and SENDCo, and considering the involvement of other relevant agencies.  

  • Protecting children from abuse  

Following the recent Ofsted inquiry into sexual abuse in school and colleges, there has been an overhaul of relationships and sex education. As a result, staff must receive training to teach safeguarding and respond to potential disclosures of abuse. 

Protection from child-on-child abuse, formerly known as peer-on-peer abuse, requires robust policies and procedures in schools. Cases of child-on-child abuse should be reported to governors within the headteacher’s report in order to ensure risk assessments are put in place and interventions are provided.  

Online safety has also become an increasingly important issue since the pandemic. Web filtering and monitoring systems should be reviewed and staff should be educated to understand how these systems work to keep pupils safe.    

  • Awareness of exploitation 

Governors should ensure that school staff know how to spot the signs that children are at risk of exploitation, or have previously been exploited. Victims of both criminal and sexual exploitation are of increasingly younger ages, so it’s important for primaries as well as secondaries to increase awareness and stay informed about local community contexts.  

Similarly, all school staff and governors should be aware of the Prevent duty. Governors should ensure that staff receive updates to any changes within the guidance and consider how school policy reflects this.  

  • Building a culture of safeguarding  

Professional curiosity should be part of everyone’s toolkit in schools. Governors should be prepared to ask questions about any information provided by school leaders or DSLs in order to thoroughly understand the context. This curiosity should extend to interactions with other safeguarding partners, such as healthcare professionals and social workers. 

It’s also important to understand safeguarding risks that may emerge beyond the school environment, whether in the local neighbourhood, religious communities, social media, etc. Ensure that you are engaging with multi-agency partners to gain access to information and share this with parents so they also understand the risks to children in different contexts.  

When an issue is identified, Early Help is crucial to prevent problems from escalating. This is not always about referring families to hubs, as schools can offer various forms of support internally, such as breakfast clubs, recycled uniforms, etc. Think about what this looks like in your setting and the impact on school capacity and resources.  

Ultimately, the voice of the child is the most powerful tool you have to engage with other multi-agency professionals and resolve a safeguarding concern. Governors should therefore consider different strategies to capture the voice of the child.  

Through strategic direction and appropriate challenge, governors play a pivotal role in creating a safe and positive learning environment in which children can learn, grow, and achieve their full potential.  

Join our next training session to dive deeper into these critical topics and keep up to date with emerging issues, trends, and guidance.  

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