Safeguarding children is the responsibility of all professionals who work with them. Children and young people spend a large portion of their time in education settings so it is additionally important that appropriate safeguarding is in place to enable their protection and support their welfare.
The Department for Education (DfE) provide guidance for schools and colleges to support safeguarding of pupils (see link below).
This guidance is currently under review and a public consultation being held between 14 December 2017 and 18 February 2018. Information on the proposed revisions and consultation can be viewed here. Following this consultation, the government are also proposing to revise the advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between pupils.
Child Protection Policies
All schools and colleges, with reference to the above statutory guidance, will have their own Child Protection Policy. This is usually made available to parents and carers on the schools website, and via School Reception. If you are not familiar with your child’s schools policy, do ask to see a copy. It should reference safe working practices, including safer recruitment, how child protection referrals are made, what safeguarding training staff are expected to have, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and which of the School Governors has lead responsibility for safeguarding.
How to raise a concern at school
If you need to raise a safeguarding concern with a school in relation to your child or another child, in the first instance contact the DSL and follow the guidance in the Child Protection Policy. If you do not receive a response, or have outstanding concerns, these can be escalated via the schools complaints policy to the Head Teacher and the School Governing Body.
One of the key areas that schools and colleges are inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), is that of safeguarding. When choosing a school for your child, do look at the latest Ofsted report to see what judgement the inspectors have made about safeguarding and any recommendations. If you have a raised a concern, and despite escalation, you still do not feel that it has been responded to adequately, as a parent or carer you can make a complaint to Ofsted. It is important, however, that before taking that step you have made every effort to engage with the school and have exhausted their internal complaints process and have also lodged a concern with the DfE. Further guidance is available here.