Safeguarding is something we must get right; it should always be at the forefront of leaders’ and practitioners’ minds to ensure that children are protected and safe.
It begins right at the start of a member of staff’s journey into the setting. Do you cover information on safeguarding and child protection during induction? This helps embed the culture and outlines clear expectations of staff’s responsibilities, as well as understanding their competence in this area.
It’s important to ensure that there is a Designated Safeguarding Lead in the setting and that all the staff team have received safeguarding training and fully understand their responsibilities to protect children. Staff need to know exactly what to do in any situation that may pose a risk to children’s safety. They need to feel confident to report any concerns they might have and know the correct methods to report concerns to the relevant professionals. Remember, each borough has their own reporting procedures, so make sure you are aware of your specific procedures.
There are a variety of ways that you can support staff and ensure that safeguarding is embedded into the culture of the setting. Do you have a clear flow chart displayed detailing what action to take? Is there an up-to-date policy accessible to all staff with up-to-date contact information for external professionals? Ensuring staff are confident in their safeguarding knowledge is key. Holding regular discussions with them supports this. Is safeguarding a permanent topic of discussion in team meetings? Scenarios are a great way to test staff knowledge, as it is a real situation they may face. Supervisions are also an excellent way to check staff understanding, giving staff that space to discuss any concerns they may have and what they need to do if they have concerns.
Make sure all staff know what to do if they have a concern about a member of their team that is acting inappropriately. What would they do? Who would they report this to? Staff need to feel confident to go above their managers to report any concerns.
Leaders and staff must learn about local safeguarding trends that may be prevalent in the area. Once you have this information, share it…. with staff and parents. Leaflets in reception areas and discussions all help promote that awareness and potentially help someone identify signs and indicators in children at risk.
One recent local trend I came across was Infant Oral Mutilation…..have you heard of this? Do your staff know about this? Local and national developments are occurring all the time, so make it your responsibility to keep up to date.
Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility, no matter how small a concern; encourage staff to discuss it. Please give them the skills to identify signs and indicators and know how to report these concerns and work closely with other professionals to keep children safe from harm.