16th May 2017
What is the role of the Designated Teacher?
It is Foster Care Fortnight to help raise awareness of fostering and of children in foster care. I frequently deliver Safeguarding: Basic Awareness training for foster carers and have immense respect for their wisdom, humour and resilience. Children in Care are extremely vulnerable as most have faced abuse, trauma and/or neglect and the support they receive from services must therefore be well-informed, responsive and seamless. This is why the role of the Designated Teacher in schools is so important.
The Designated Teacher (DT) has a leadership role in promoting the educational achievement of Children in Care.The DT should make a positive difference by promoting a culture where the personalised learning needs of every child in Care matters and their personal, emotional and academic needs are prioritised. Broadly, the duties of a DT include:
- support staff to understand the things which can affect how Children in Care learn and achieve;
- contribute to the development and review of policies to ensure that they do not unintentionally put Children in Care at a disadvantage;
- make sure, in partnership with other staff, that there are effective and well understood procedures in place to support the learning of a child in Care;
- promote a culture in which Children in Care are able to discuss their progress and be involved in setting their own targets, have their views taken seriously, are supported to take responsibility for their own learning, and where they can succeed and aspire;
- make sure that Children in Care are prioritised in any selection of pupils who would benefit from one-to-one tuition and that they have access to academic focused study support;
- promote good home-school links through contact with the child’s carer;
- have lead responsibility for the development and implementation of the child’s Personal Education Plan.
For more information on the role of the Designated Teacher:
For more information on the support and resources available for Designated teachers in Bristol:
2nd May 2017
What do you need to know about Fabricated and Induced Illness syndrome?
My Safeguarding: Basic Awareness training is an opportunity to learn about and discuss a range different types of abuse with the aim of ensuring participants are better prepared to spot potential risks to children. One of the most challenging types of abuse in terms of understanding and awareness is Fabricated and Induced Illness Syndrome. Fabricated and Induced Illness Syndrome (FIIS), is a form of mental disorder in a parent or carer.
It covers a wide range of symptoms and behaviours involving seeking healthcare for a child, and ranges from extreme neglect to induced illness. Children affected by FIIS may be at risk of significant harm. FIIS used to be known as ‘Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy’ (not to be confused with Munchausen’s syndrome, where a person pretends to be ill or causes illness or injury to themselves).
In more than 90% of reported cases of FIIS, the child’s mother is responsible for the abuse. However, there have been cases where the father, foster parent, grandparent, guardian, or a healthcare or childcare professional was responsible.
FIIS can involve children of all ages, but the most severe cases are usually associated with children under five. Staff may be concerned that children may be at risk of FIIS if they observe these possible symptoms:
- discrepancies between reported and observed medical conditions, such as the incidence of fits;
- attendance at various hospitals, in different geographical areas;
- development of feeding / eating disorders, as a result of unpleasant feeding interactions;
- child developing abnormal attitudes to their own health;
- non organic failure to thrive – a child does not put on weight and grow and there is no underlying medical cause;
speech, language or motor developmental delays;
- dislike of close physical contact;
- attachment disorders;
- low self esteem;
- poor quality or no relationships with peers because social interactions are restricted;
- poor attendance at school and under-achievement;
- parent (likely to be the mother) who expresses an unnatural concern for the health or welfare of their child.
It’s difficult to estimate how widespread FIIS is because many cases may go unreported or undetected. One study published in 2000 estimated 89 cases of FIIS in a population of 100,000 over a two-year period. However, it’s likely that this figure underestimates the actual number of cases of FIIS. FIIS is difficult to spot because the perpetrator will usually appear concerned about the welfare of their child and may be determined to manipulate and deceive healthcare services.
The reasons why FIIS occurs aren’t fully understood. In cases where the mother is responsible, it could be that she craves the attention of playing the role of a “caring mother”. A large number of mothers involved in FIIS have borderline personality disorders characterised by emotional instability, impulsiveness and disturbed thinking. A proportion of these mothers also have Munchausen’s syndrome. Some carers have unresolved psychological and behavioural problems, such as a history of self-harming, or drug or alcohol misuse. Some have experienced the death of another child. There have also been several reported cases where illness was fabricated or induced for financial reasons – for example, to claim disability benefits.
If staff suspect that someone is fabricating or inducing illness in their child, they shouldn’t confront them directly. It’s unlikely to make the person admit to wrongdoing, and it may give them the opportunity to dispose of any evidence of abuse. The Designated Safeguarding Lead should contact the local safeguarding referral service.
28th March 2017
What safeguarding training is absolutely essential?
I am frequently asked exactly what safeguarding training is needed for staff who work with children in registered settings. Unfortunately this important information is not collated in one key document – instead it must be derived from a series of national and local guidance documents.
Another issue I am often asked about is the matter of ‘levels’ – people request training from me at Level 1 or 2 or 3 (or even higher!). In fact, there are no nationally agreed levels of safeguarding (apart from within the health services who have their own unique training programme) – so talk of levels is generally misleading and confusing. Safeguarding training should focus on content rather than levels.
And yet another important matter is the role of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, whose job it is to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training. In Bristol, trainers are ‘Verified’ by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board to ensure they are effective. Mandy Parry Training employs only locally Verified safeguarding trainers.
Anyway, here are just some of the key documents which contain information on essential safeguarding training:
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 (a)
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 (b)
Ofsted: Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings 2016 (c)
Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales 2015 (d)
Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) training requirements which are specific to each individual local authority
And this is the essential training staff should have:
1. Induction training
‘Governing Bodies and proprieties should ensure that all staff members undergo safeguarding and child protection training at induction. The training should be regularly updated. Induction and training should be in line with advice from the LSCB.’ (a)
‘…staff, leaders, governors and supervisory bodies (where appropriate) and volunteers receive appropriate training on safeguarding at induction, that is updated regularly.’ (c)
Excellent Safeguarding Induction training with input from Mandy Parry is available from Delegated Services.
2. Awareness training for all staff
‘In addition all staff members should receive regular safeguarding and child protection updates (for example , via email, e-bulletins, staff meetings) as required, but at least annually, to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively.’ (a)
‘Professionals working in universal services have a responsibility to identify the symptoms and triggers of abuse and neglect, to share that information and work together to provide children and young people with the help they need. Practitioners need to continue to develop their knowledge and skills in this area. They should have access to training to identify and respond early to abuse and neglect, and to the latest research showing which types of interventions are the most effective. … The training should cover how to identify and respond early to the needs of all vulnerable children, including: unborn children; babies; older children; young carers; disabled children; and those who are in secure settings (b)
‘…staff are supported to have a good awareness of the signs that a child or learner is being neglected or abused…There are clear and effective arrangements for staff development and training in respect of the protection and care of children and learners… safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the setting, backed up by training at every level.’ (c)
Excellent Safeguarding: Basic Awareness training for staff is offered in-house and through Open Courses by Mandy Parry Training. Mandy Parry also works in partnership with Delegated Services to deliver Safeguarding Basic Awareness training in-house.
3. Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) training
‘The designated safeguarding lead and any deputies should undergo training to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out the role. The training should be updated every two years…Any deputies should be trained to the same standard as the designated safeguarding lead.’ (a)
‘The designated safeguarding lead should undertake Prevent training.’ (a)
‘…there is a designated senior member of staff in charge of safeguarding arrangements who has been trained to the appropriate level and understands their responsibilities relating to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults and the safeguarding of all learners. Designated members of staff in schools and colleges should undertake safeguarding training every two years and their knowledge and skills should be refreshed at regular intervals, but at least annually.’ (c)
The Local Safeguarding Board should offer interagency training for DSLs and their deputies. Excellent Advanced Safeguarding training for DSLs by Mandy Parry is available from Delegated Services.
4. Safer Recruitment Training
‘The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 require governing bodies of maintained schools to ensure that at last one person on any appointment panel has undertaken safer recruitment training.’ (a)
Safer Recruitment training from a nationally accredited trainer are available In-house from Mandy Parry, and though Open courses from Delegated Services.
5. Training to prevent terrorism
‘The Prevent Guidance refers to the importance of Prevent awareness training to equip staff to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas…As a minimum, however…the designated safeguarding lead undertakes Prevent awareness training and is able to provide advice and support to staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalization.’ (d)
Excellent engaging and accessible Extremism and Radicalisation in-house training is delivered by Mandy Parry, and through open courses in partnership with Delegated Services.
6. FGM Training
‘…teachers understand their mandatory duty to report to police any case where an act of female genital mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.’ (c)
High quality training on FGM is offered by an extremely experienced former Safeguarding Nurse through Mandy Parry Training – in-house and open courses now available.
Other useful training:
Child Sexual Exploitation – Mandy Parry Training and Delegated Services
Supervision for staff – Mandy Parry Training and Delegated Services
eSafety – Mandy Parry Training and Delegated Services
Designated Teacher for Looked After Children – contact your local LSCB
Attachment & Trauma – Mandy Parry Training (see NICE guidelines re attachment training)
Governor or equivalent training – contact your local LSCB
To contact Delegated Services: email@example.com
To contact Mandy Parry training:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07811 101740
14th March 2017
New Safeguarding guidance in the Early Years Foundation Stage 2017
Some early years settings have recently made me aware of the new Early Years Foundation Stage 2017 – including some changes affecting safeguarding guidance.
The EYFS sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All Ofsted-registered early years providers in England must follow the EYFS, including: schools, childminders, preschools and nurseries. It aims to give professionals a set of common principles and commitments to deliver quality early education and childcare experiences to all children.
As well as being the core document for all professionals working in the foundation years, the EYFS framework gives parents and carers the confidence that regardless of where they choose for their child’s early education, they can be assured that the same statutory commitments and principles will underpin their child’s learning and development experience.
A large part of the EYFS is taken up with guidance concerning safeguarding children matters, including:
- child protection
- staff recruitment, qualifications and training
- key workers
- managing behaviour
- safety and suitability of premises, environment and equipment
- special educational needs
- information and record keeping.
The new revised EYFS was published on 3 March 2017 and will come into force on 3 April 2017, and has a number of updates regarding safeguarding that should be noted. Here are the major changes in the most recent EYFS:
- The need for staff training to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of female genital mutilation is clarified.
- There are references to new and updated statutory government advice and guidance (e.g. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015, and the Prevent Duty Guidance 2015), which were published since the EYFS was last updated in 2014.
- The booklet ‘What to do if you are worried a child is being abused’ March 2015 is cited as helpful.
- The document for schools ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ 2016 is now also deemed helpful for other early years practitioners outside of schools, including the information on safer recruitment, allegations and code of conduct for staff.
There is now a requirement that to count in the staff:child ratios at level 3, staff who hold an Early Years Educator qualification must also hold a level 2 English and mathematics qualification (English and Maths GCSEs at grade C or above or equivalent).
- There is a new paediatric first aid (PFA) training requirement which stipulates that all newly qualified entrants to the early years workforce with a level 2 or 3 qualification must also have either a full paediatric first aid or emergency PFA certificate within 3 months of starting work.
To read the new EYFS:
28th February 2017
Are you up to date with Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?
After a year of consultation, the government this week issued a standard definition of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). The new statutory definition is:
‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.’
The new definition clarifies that CSE is a form of sexual abuse, even though sometimes the sexual activity may appear consensual. As with all sexual abuse, CSE can include non-contact activities, and can be facilitated by the internet.
Children do not need to be using social media to fall into problems. Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old schoolboy, was lured to his death after being groomed online by Lewis Daynes in 2014. They had ‘met’ for a year previous to the murder whilst playing online games. Breck’s mother, Lorin LaFave, set up the Breck Foundation to raise awareness of grooming and sexual abuse by other children online whilst gaming. The BBC later broadcast a powerful documentary about Breck, and, although the full programme is no longer available, short clips and teacher resources are available on the BBC site ‘Murder Games’.
For more information about Child Sexual Exploitation:
For more information on the Breck Foundation:
7th February 2017
What do we mean by an Ongoing Culture of Vigilance?
In January 2011 a twenty-year-old man called Paul Wilson came to the attention of West Midlands Police as a result of an accusation by a 13-year-old girl of online grooming. Examination of his computer revealed many indecent images, including a serious assault of a toddler which he had recorded on his mobile phone. Wilson was working at the time at a small neighborhood nursery called Little Stars in Birmingham, and the little girl he filmed was one of the children attending the setting. He was jailed for life in July 2011 after pleading guilty to raping a child. He also admitted 47 counts of grooming of teenage girls over the internet.
Wilson was first taken on by the nursery as a student. It was Wilson’s second placement relating to the childcare course he was enrolled on. His first placement had taken place in a school and by all accounts it had gone well – when interviewed in prison he said he had not thought about abusing children in that setting as there were a number of rules there that would have made it difficult for abuse to take place.
Shortly after starting employment at the nursery, concerns began to be expressed amongst the staff team about the “special” relationship that Wilson had with the child who he went on to abuse. Students at the nursery commented to their college tutor that they had heard of a male member of staff at the nursery who had been taking children into the adult toilet on his own and sitting them on his lap. They weren’t taken seriously. Later an incident form was completed in the nursery recording that a member of staff had heard the toddler cry out when alone with Wilson in the sleep area. The records state that the child screamed and said “I want my mummy”. Nothing was done. Another worker had observed him cuddling the child, rocking her for hours at a time, wrapping her in a blanket and refusing to leave her, spending time with her to the exclusion of all others. The last was an anonymous referral to Ofsted and did not progress.
Wilson admitted that the abuse took place in the bathroom which was located off the room in which he worked. The children had been playing outside and he said the child had wanted to go to the toilet where the abuse later took place. Although mobile phones were not permitted in the nursery, they were kept in staff’s coat pockets which hung in the kitchen area. The room within which the Perpetrator worked was off the kitchen and it was relatively easy for him to retrieve his phone and use it to film the abuse.
This case raises a number of issues which I highlight during my training. I think a key point is that every setting must be proactively promoting an ongoing culture of vigilance. Wilson did not have a criminal record and no concerns had ever been expressed about him before his time at the nursery. Effective recruitment processes therefore need to move beyond a focus on DBS checks. Every setting needs to communicate to staff a deep commitment that abuse will not be tolerated and work towards creating environments where abusers cannot abuse.
On the Safer Recruitment training I attended recently delivered by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the features of a safe culture are:
- An open culture, no secrets
- A belief that it could happen here
- Clear procedures for reporting concerns, including whistleblowing
- Support for children and adult who raise concerns and commitment to take action
- A code of conduct that makes clear what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
- Policies and procedures that are put into practice
- Good induction and use of probationary periods
- A commitment to safeguarding and an ongoing culture of vigilance
For more information on this and other Serious Case Reviews, see:
24th January 2017
How are you marking Safer Internet Day on 7 February 2017?
Are you aware that Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday 7th February 2017? There is still plenty of time to plan what you can do to raise awareness of online safety in your setting in a fun and accessible way.
Safer Internet Day usually sees hundreds of organisations across the country get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. In the UK, the Safer Internet Centre – a partnership of three leading charities; Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation – are coordinating the event and providing resources for getting involved. Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries.
The theme this year is ‘Be the change: unite for a better internet’ and will focus on the power of image in digital youth culture. Schools, youth groups, support services and other settings all over the country will be engaging in awareness raising activities including:
- Whole school activities
- Youth photo campaign
- Social media campaign
- Thunderclap (online flashmob)
- Parent training
For tons of information and inspiration on what schools and other settings can do for the day, check out this site: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2017
Last year I was excited to start delivery of eSafety Information Evenings for parents in local schools in partnership with Delegated Services. While the internet and new technologies offer enormous educational opportunities to children, the associated safeguarding risks can seem overwhelming for professionals and parents. These risks include:
Grooming, pornography, revenge porn, sexting, cyberbullying, radicalisation, child sexual exploitation, trolling, hacking, hate crime, stalking, access to drugs, self-harm, pro-ana, loss of reputation and gaming addiction.
The training aims to help parents understand these risks more fully, and to help protect children from online risks by learning about available safety tools and by practicing conversations with children about staying safe online.
10th January 2017
What is the impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on children?
I have been delivering training on Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) for many years. It is a key issue regarding the Safeguarding of children and also in developing good Sexual Health outcomes with young people. My DVA training sessions are usually emotional and deeply affecting for participants, many of whom have been directly affected by DVA.
The statistics concerning children and DVA are alarming. DVA is extremely common in families. About 1 in 7 children are estimated to have witnessed it in their homes and experts believe that right now around 130,000 children are in situations considered to be high risk (CAADA 2014).
Children experience DVA in different ways. They can be physically present or overhear the violence, or ‘witness’ the outcome after the event (by seeing injuries on the victim or damage to their surroundings). It is estimated that 90% of children are in the same or next room when the abuse occurs. Over half of the children living with DVA may be directly physically, emotionally or sexually abused or neglected themselves. Children can be used by the perpetrator to intimidate or blackmail the victim by threatening to harm the child. Other children can be protective of the victim, and physically or verbally defend them. A minority of children may be drawn into violence towards the victim. Some children are exposed to other risks from their parents, like substance misuse and mental ill health. Almost all children affected by DVA are compelled to being complicit in keeping the ‘family secret’.
Safeguarding children affected by DVA is a key priority. 75% of children on Child Protection Plans live in families who have experienced domestic abuse, whilst at the same time it is thought that only half of children actually impacted by DVA are actually known to Social Care (CAADA). DVA is a factor in two thirds of Serious Case Reviews (Brandon et al 2010).
Professionals working with children should be aware of signs and symptoms of DVA and take every opportunity to enable victims to disclose to them. Concerns should be discussed with the Designated Safeguarding Lead of the setting and with the local referral agency, or with the Police in an emergency. All settings should be aware of and liaise with other relevant local and national support services to offer ongoing support.
For up to date information of DVA support services in the Bristol area and beyond check the following link:
6th December 2016
Why professionals working with vulnerable children need to know about attachment and trauma
Latest figures from research, recently published by Queen’s University Belfast, and focused on effectiveness of nurture groups, found that about 60% of all children experience some form of loss, neglect, abuse or separation. Many of these children will not relate to the world in typical ways and they spend their day trying to ‘survive’, rather than thrive in our present day education system. Their behaviours can be mystifying to those around them, and traditional disciplinary approaches which rely on rewards and sanctions (and form the basis of many a behaviour policy) simply do not work as they might with other children. They need something different.
In order to learn, children need to be able to engage the higher parts of their brain (accessing their logical, rational and emotional parts), but those who have experienced early neglect and/or repetitive trauma spend much time living in the primitive ‘survival’ part of their brain – of course this has played a key role in keeping them safe through tough times, but as a result they can become over-reliant on it. While outwardly they may appear the same as many of their peers, the intensity, duration and frequency of particular behaviours can signal difficulties; behaviours can also often be superficial, masking what’s really going on for them. Relationships are critical to improving learning outcomes for these children, and above all to help them feel safe. If a child does not feel safe, they will not be able to (cannot) learn.
Adoption UK has just launched a campaign (in association with the National Association of Headteachers) to encourage all schools to become attachment-aware, and suggest that schools might use some of their Pupil Premium (Plus) funding for staff to receive appropriate training. Of course, organisations other than schools also support children’s learning and social/emotional development and should consider staff training and development in this area.
Mandy Parry Training is pleased to be able to offer a half-day basic awareness course in attachment and trauma for education professionals working with vulnerable children. This will cover trauma, attachment, impact of early trauma and attachment on the brain, and recognising different attachment styles; it also aims to equip professionals with some simple, effective practical strategies to employ to better support children who have had adverse early experiences. Find out more.
In the meantime, if you would like to begin your journey to understanding more about dealing with the impact of attachment and trauma in the classroom we recommend the book ‘Inside I’m Hurting: Practical Strategies for supporting children with attachment difficulties in school’ by Louise Bomber (2007).
22nd November 2016
What has ‘Supervision’ got to do with Safeguarding?
I recently attended a conference entitled: ‘Reshaping Services for Children and Families’ in Bristol. Much of the conference focused on how to best support professionals who were themselves engaged with supporting the most troubled families in our society. The key note speakers talked about ways to promote resilience in staff teams, workforce development and service transformation to secure sustained change for all.
Dez Holmes, the Director of ‘Research in Practice’, said during her keynote speech that the closest thing to having a magic wand in helping staff to cope with the challenges of Safeguarding work with families was: Effective Supervision.
As a former teacher, I knew nothing about ‘Supervision’ in this context. At school, ‘supervision’ usually meant policing the corridors and the play areas at break times. In other work contexts, it could also mean something that could happen if your work wasn’t up to scratch and if you weren’t trusted to carry out the work unaided.
But when I first started working in a multi-agency team alongside social workers, I quickly learned what ‘Supervision’ meant in terms of safeguarding. Basically, in the culture of social care work, ‘Supervision’ is one-to-one support, given by managers or supervisors to all staff who are carrying out demanding work with children. Supervision should provide opportunities for staff to:
- discuss any issues – particularly concerning children’s development or well-being;
- identify solutions to address issues as they arise; and
- receive coaching to improve their personal effectiveness.
Professionally, staff Supervision has been a normal part of counselling, psychotherapy and social work and is increasingly to be found in related caring professions. At a time of heightened awareness of safeguarding issues, there is increasing recognition that working with children includes a high degree of outreach work and contact with families. Many professionals find themselves working in unfamiliar contexts and dealing with unpredictable and sometimes extreme issues. The need for keeping practice staff ‘safe’ is a priority. If the children’s workforce are to provide the kind of encouragement and support necessary for the support, development and challenge of the children and families, they need to be encouraged, supported and challenged as well.
Effective Supervision should therefore aim to:
- develop confidence, and increase skills, insight and courage when working with children, parents and communities
- establish and maintain a positive and co-operative working relationship between leaders and staff, built on trust, respect and a non-judgemental style
- provide a safe space that encourages reflection and dynamic interaction to address issues and dilemmas experienced by staff members in their work roles
- reduce stress-related absences, and increase confidence in dealing with complex safeguarding and other dilemmas
- ensure organisational and staff accountability and development, thereby promoting reflective, creative, ethical and safe practice
- ensure staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities, and that their practice is consistent with their setting’s values, policies, procedures and quality standards.
- monitor progress in relation to appraisal objectives
- identify and review personal development needs and activities for staff that relate to their roles and the needs of the setting
- model a preferred way of working, which can be transferred to other working relationships
- ensure that children are safeguarded effectively.
For more evidence concerning the need for Effective Supervision, sign up to this site:
8th November 2016
What all professionals need to know about ‘Grooming’
As a Safeguarding trainer I find that one of the most difficult things for people to grasp is the concept of ‘grooming’. Broadly speaking, the process of grooming entails building an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust in order to sexually abuse them. This means the abuser is ensured continued access to children as many don’t understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened is abuse. Grooming can sometimes take years, and can take place online, in person and by abusers of either gender and of any age.
But sexual abusers do not just abuse their victims. Sexual abusers can also groom adults to ensure that their activities are not recognised for what they are.
- In a recent TV programme, ‘Savile’, Louis Theroux revisited after fourteen years the subject of his earlier documentary – Jimmy Savile – with a new awareness that he had been in fact a prolific pedophile. Theroux was seen wrestling with the accusation by a victim that he had also been groomed in failing to recognise Savile’s menacing behaviour and comments at the time.
- In 2011, Nigel Leat, a primary school teacher from Weston-Super-Mare was convicted of sexually abusing a number of children in his class over a period of 15 years, despite there being over thirty written complaints about his behaviour. A Serious Case Review concluded that ‘Much of the behaviour exhibited by the teacher was typical of grooming activities pursued by adults intent on sexually abusing children. The failure of school managers to take action in response to the concerns raised was compounded by the failure of anyone in the school to recognise that the teacher’s behaviour might have constituted grooming for sexual abuse.’
- Jonathan Thomson-Glover, a House Master at Clifton College, was convicted of making, taking and possessing indecent images of children in his care. An internal report published in August 2016 concluded that: ‘throughout X’s career he displayed behaviour that could have indicated he was grooming groups of boys but, with the exception of the school’s education psychologist, no one recognised favouritism and the invitations for selected boys to go on trips as potential signs of grooming.’
People who wish to abuse children can sometimes seek to work in professions where they have continued access to them. It is therefore absolutely vital that all professionals who work with children need to be able to recognise the signs of grooming in colleagues. These include:
- Paying an excessive amount of attention to a child or groups of children, providing presents, money or having favourites
- Seeking out vulnerable children, e.g. disabled children
- Trying to spend time alone with a particular child or group of children on a regular basis
- Making inappropriate sexual comments
- Sharing inappropriate images
- Being vague about where they have worked or when they have been employed
- Encouraging secretiveness
Any concerns should be reported immediately to the Designated Safeguarding Lead of the setting, who should report all concerns to the Local Authority Designated Officer (in Bristol the DO is Nicola Laird, 0117 903 7795 or 07795 091020) – but anyone can make a referral directly to the DO.
12th October 2016
Is it illegal to hit or smack a child?
Last week I facilitated a great discussion on smacking which reminded me of how much confusion exists on this subject.
Currently the law in England and Wales stipulates that it is not illegal for a parent (or any person the parent has given their consent to discipline) to hit their child – as long as the action can be judged to be ‘reasonable chastisement’. The subjective term “reasonable”, however, has never been strictly defined, and this is where the confusion begins. Section 58 of The Children’s Act of 2004 sought to clarify the laws surrounding smacking, making it legal or ‘reasonable punishment’ as long as it does not cause visible bruises, grazes, scratches, swelling or cuts, or as long as the child is not hit with an implement such as a cane or a belt. So, whether a hit or smack amounts to reasonable punishment or not will depend on the circumstances of each case – taking into consideration factors like the age of the child and the nature of the smack.
As a Safeguarding trainer, I have become aware that there is widespread support for smacking. In 2006, in an anonymous survey for ITV’s programme ‘I Smack and I’m Proud’, 90% of the respondents said they believed in smacking, and 73% said that they believed that any ban would cause a sharp deterioration in children’s behaviour. Seven out of ten parents said they themselves use corporal punishment – but really worryingly, the youngest child parents admitted to hitting was 11 months old! And only 43% of those taking part in the survey were aware that if a child is hit hard enough to leave a mark, then the parent could face up to five years in prison. (Source: Guardian Wednesday 20 September 2006)
Of course, no staff or volunteer working in registered settings (which includes schools, colleges and childminders) are allowed to hit or smack children to impose discipline – or what might be termed ‘corporal punishment’ in this context. Corporal punishment was made illegal in UK state-run schools in 1986 and banned in private schools in England and Wales in 1998.
A member of staff can also use reasonable physical force to break up a fight between pupils or to stop pupils endangering themselves, other pupils or school property or to prevent a pupil from committing a criminal offence. Teachers also have the right to search children on school premises for anything banned by the school.
Recently, concerns have been raised that many children learning in non-registered settings are not protected by any legislation.
Interestingly, Scotland operates some smacking bans, and strict definitions of “reasonable” punishments. Northern Ireland and Wales are also seeking a full and outright ban on smacking children. The NSPCC, other children’s charities and all the UK Children’s Commissioners have strongly advocated for a total ban on smacking for a number of years. As a safeguarding trainer, I would also strongly argue that hitting or smacking violates the rights of children, and advocate enforcing discipline through the many other creative and innovative behavioural approaches open to professionals.
27th September 2016
Should reporting abuse be made mandatory?
Current statutory guidance defines abuse as: ‘a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.’ [my emphasis] – Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.
By this definition then, abusers are not just people who abuse children. Abusers also include those adults who are aware of the abuse, and who fail to stop it.
It has always been the moral and professional responsibility of adults who work with children to report abuse. But for a number of years, child protection organisations like the NSPCC have been campaigning for mandatory reporting to make it our legal responsibility, with legal sanctions in place if we fail in these responsibilities. The NSPCC have pointed out cases where people in leadership positions have taken ineffective action, failed to disclose allegations and/or allowed professionals to continue their activities and/or to move on to other institutions unchecked. Recent examples include:
- The Jimmy Savile scandal, where it has now emerged that he committed offences in a broad range of settings. A significant number of offences were committed at institutions including Duncroft School, Broadmoor Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Savile’s regular visits to these institutions allowed him to identify potential victims whom he went on to abuse.
- Allegations of sex abuse at Chetham’s and the Royal Northern College of Music, both in Manchester. The bulk of the offences are alleged to have taken place between 1970 and 1990, although incidents are alleged to have happened as late as 2010. The Greater Manchester Police investigation has been broadened to investigate incidents at other specialist music schools in the UK.
- Members of staff at more than 130 independent schools have been implicated in allegations of child abuse, with a significant surge in criminal prosecutions since 2012. There are approximately 300 institutions where inquiries are being made regarding allegations of abuse.
As a result of these recent concerns, in July 2016 the government launched a consultation: ‘Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect’. This consultation outlines options for reform of the child protection system in England, specifically in relation to mandatory reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect. There are two proposals:
- a mandatory reporting duty, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to report child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place; or
- a duty to act, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to take appropriate action (which could include reporting) in relation to child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place.
A breach of either could result in criminal sanctions at both individual and organisational levels and involve fines, or possible imprisonment for individual practitioners.
Click here to respond to the survey.
14th September 2016
What is sexting?
‘Sexting’ is the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet. Young people may also call it:
- sending a nudie, picture or selfie
- trading nudes
- pic for pic.
There are many reasons why a young person may want to send a naked or semi-naked picture, video or message to someone else. These reasons include:
- joining in because they think that ‘everyone is doing it’
- boosting their self-esteem
- flirting with others and testing their sexual identity
- exploring their sexual feelings
- to get attention and connect with new people on social media
- they may find it difficult to say no if somebody asks them for an explicit image, especially if the person asking is persistent
Sexting is often seen as flirting by children and young people who feel that it’s a part of normal life, but in fact it is a crime. The law in the UK currently states that the creating or sharing of explicit images of a child is illegal, even if the person doing it is a child.
I am hearing increasingly from settings that dealing with forms of cyber bullying, including sexting, is taking up an increasing proportion of professionals’ workload around safeguarding. In particular some professionals have struggled to balance the welfare considerations of sexting with their legal responsibilities, and these issues have been highlighted in national cases which have made the headlines.
As of January 2016, if a young person is found creating or sharing images, the police can choose to record that a crime has been committed but that taking formal action isn’t in the public interest. In addition crimes recorded this way are unlikely to appear on future records or checks, unless the young person has been involved in other similar activities which may indicate that they’re a risk.
And over the summer the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) published ‘Sexting in schools and colleges, responding to incidents and safeguarding young people’ 2016. Over 200 organisations have supported its creation, including the Home Office, DfE, police, children’s charities, UK Safer Internet Centre, CEOP and teachers’ groups. The guidance is non-statutory, but should be read alongside ‘Keeping children safe in education’ 2016.
The new guidance crucially takes a safeguarding focus, rather than a simple criminal response, and allows schools to sometimes deal with incidents without involving the police. The guidance says that professionals should:
- be guided by the ‘principle of proportionality’ and take a risk based approach
- use the phrase “youth-produced sexual imagery” rather than sexting
- understand that police involvement may not always be necessary and that images can be deleted and incident managed in school.
When assessing risk, professionals should ask the following questions:
- Has it been shared with the knowledge of the young person?
- Are adults involved in the sharing?
- Was there pressure to make the image?
- What is the impact on those involved?
- Does the child or children have additional vulnerabilities?
- Has the child taken part in producing sexual imagery before?
19th July 2016
Why do we need to learn about Disguised Compliance?
This week I was lucky enough to attend the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board Annual Conference. One of the guest speakers was Joanna Nicolas, a Child Protection Consultant & Trainer, who spoke about ‘Disguised Compliance’ and why it is an important concept for everyone who works with children to understand.
Disguised Compliance is defined by the NSPCC as “a parent or carer giving the appearance of co-operating with child welfare agencies to avoid raising suspicions, to allay professional concerns and ultimately to diffuse professional intervention.” Simply put, parents who display disguised compliance will distract, manipulate, lie to and groom other professionals to believe the falsehood that they are not abusing their children. As a result, children are not effectively safeguarded and the abuse continues.
Disguised Compliance has been a common theme in many high profile child abuse cases.
- Victoria Climbie’s social worker described being “set up” during home visits. Victoria was seen sat playing quietly with dolls while her abusive aunt complained about her housing needs – the reality was that her body had been so damaged that she could not stand properly and she was terrified to speak.
- Baby Abigail was admitted to hospital aged 3 unable to walk and with severe ulcerated nappy rash, anaemia, malnutrition, head lice infestation and weak bones. Afterwards an older sibling said that her parents would ‘lie all the time’. The mother would regularly throw lumps of nappy cream away, so professionals thought she was using it.
- In Bristol, Child T died from physical abuse from his father while his mother, a victim herself of domestic abuse, lied for five years that the father was not resident. The Serious Case Review stated: ‘We will never know how much of that time Mr Z was also living in the home, however Ms A says he was there most of the time. She described being unable to keep him away.’
Lord Laming, author of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, said that professionals could be over-optimistic when dealing with parents and carers, and that when safeguarding children we needed to exercise “respectful uncertainty”.
All professionals need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Disguised Compliance. These may include:
- Seeing no evidence of significant change in the child’s situation despite significant input from professionals.
- Parents agreeing with professionals regarding required changes but putting in little effort.
- Parents aligning themselves with certain professionals above others (possible grooming).
- A child’s report of matters conflicting with that of the parents.
If you suspect Disguised Compliance, take stock, speak to the child if possible and carefully weigh all the evidence, using the support of your Supervisor or Designated Safeguarding Lead. The key course of action is to speak with other professionals about your concerns and to always put the child’s welfare at the centre of your enquiry.
28th June 2016
New Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016
The Department for Education has published an updated version of the statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (2016), which revises and replaces the 2015 guidance. The guidance is currently in draft form but it will come into force on 5 September 2016. It sets out what registered nurseries, schools and colleges in England must do to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18.
Some highlights of the changes are as follows:
- Stresses the importance of acting in the best interests of the child, professionals working together to get a full picture of the child’s needs and the key role that schools in particular play in safeguarding children
- States that all staff must be made aware of the early help process, and the need for constant review and communication with children’s social care if the child’s welfare is not improving with early intervention
- New paragraph stating that in addition to all staff being required to attend safeguarding and child protection training it is recommended that staff should receive updates via email, staff meetings or e-bulletins to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. This is recommended at least annually
- States the mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation (FGM) by teachers
- States that staff should seek alternative sources of help outside the setting if they feel they cannot report a concern within their organisation (Whistleblowing)
- Talks explicitly of the dangers of on peer on peer abuse, child sexual exploitation, online abuse, sexting, gender based bullying
- Emphasises the importance of policies and procedures in ensuring that action is taken in a timely manner if concerns arise, and in involving staff with expertise in the writing of them
- Gives clarity that although safeguarding duties can be shared with other staff members, the lead responsibility for all safeguarding matters must remain with the designated safeguarding lead (DSL)
- The DSL should be a senior member of staff from the leadership team
- Schools can decide whether or not they appoint more than one deputy to the DSL. They must be trained up to the same standard
- States that data protection fears should not be a barrier to information sharing as the safety of the child should be of utmost importance.
For further details and to read the new guidance follow this link and click on the 2016 document:
7th June 2016
What are fundamental British values?
Last week I delivered Prevent awareness training and facilitated an interesting discussion on fundamental British values.
Since 2015 all schools and registered childcare providers must have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. The Prevent Duty Guidance (2015) says that they should also: ‘build resilience by promoting fundamental British values’.
But what are these fundamental British values? And how can schools and other settings promote them?
The answer to the first question may be not immediately obvious. The guidance says fundamental British values are:
‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.’
Unfortunately some websites and no doubt some settings are getting all this badly wrong. You don’t have to look far to come across fun ideas like eating roast beef or fish and chips, celebrating Guy Fawkes or St George’s Day, or dressing up like Kings and Queens or Winston Churchill etc. These ideas are missing the point rather badly. Promoting fundamental British values is not about replacing extremist ideas with nationalism or naïve patriotism.
Better suggestions would be:
- to debate the advantages and disadvantages of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain and in contrast to other forms of government in other countries;
- to ensure that all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened to;
- to promote democratic processes such as a school council whose members are voted for by the pupils;
- to use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections;
- to use teaching resources from a wide variety of sources to help pupils understand a range of faiths.
It will be useful to have this discussion in your setting – what could you do to promote values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs?
3rd May 2016
Why are we now talking about ‘Breast Ironing’?
Breast Ironing is the process whereby young girls’ breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects in order for the breasts to disappear, or delay their development.
The United Nations states that Breast Ironing affects around 3.8 million young women worldwide. It is widely spread in West African countries such as Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea-Conakry, but also occurs in some regions of East and Central Africa. In Cameroon, it is thought that up to 50% of girls as young as 10 years old undergo terribly painful breast ironing on a daily basis.
It is commonly performed by family members, most of the time by the mother. The abusers can think they are doing something good, by protecting the girl against sexual harassment and delaying the effects of puberty so that she can continue her education, rather than early forced marriage.
But in reality girls experiencing Breast Ironing are exposed to significant health risks including cancer, abscesses, infection, tissue damage and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts. The practice is also extremely psychologically damaging.
While there is no UK law specifically outlawing Breast Ironing, it is a form of physical abuse. If professionals are concerned a child may be at risk or suffering significant harm they must refer to their local safeguarding referral agency. Like FGM, the practice is happening in the UK, but due to the hidden nature of the act it is difficult to detect.
For more information check out: http://www.cawogido.co.uk/breastironing.php
When recognising Breast Ironing professionals need to be aware of the following:
- Young pubescent girls usually aged between 9 – 15 years old from practising communities are most at risk of breast ironing.
- The girl generally believes that the practice is being carried out for her own good and she will often remain silent. Often the father remains completely unaware.
- The girl may exhibit unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college including depression, anxiety, aggression, being withdrawn, reluctance in undergoing normal medical examinations, fear of changing for physical activities due to scars showing or bandages being visible.
- Some girls may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
19th April 2016
Do you know how to manage a direct disclosure of abuse?
I watched the moving BBC documentary ‘Abused’ last week. It highlighted for me the importance of correctly managing children’s direct disclosure of abuse. The programme followed a group of survivors of sexual abuse, and all had struggled painfully when talking about what had happened to them. Some had kept secrets for years. Some brave enough to disclose had not been taken seriously, and had been tragically and unforgivably sidelined.
Adults who make up the children’s workforce necessarily work towards forming positive and trusting relationships with the children in their care. At times this may mean that children feel they can confide about aspects of their life that may cause concern for their general welfare.
The disclosure may be that they are feeling unsafe or have been abused – or it may be that they feel vulnerable in other ways. Perhaps they tell you that they are being bullied – or experiencing homelessness – or racism – or perhaps they are worried that they are pregnant or ill. Effective safeguarding means that any welfare concern needs to be taken seriously and everyone has a role to play in this. Any disclosure concerning the welfare of a child should be recorded and reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead of the setting.
If the disclosure involves abuse, the matter is extremely serious and professionals must take the following action:
- Stay calm.
- Listen to what the child is actually saying.
- Reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you.
- Do not promise the child that this can be kept secret; explain that you must tell other people to keep them safe.
- Know that children rarely lie about abuse and indicate that that you are taking the matter extremely seriously.
- Reassure the child that the people who will be informed will be sensitive to their needs and will be looking to help protect them. Inform them that it will have to be passed on to the appropriate agencies.
- Do not interrogate the child, or push for more information. Ensure that any questions asked are open, not leading closed questions.
- Do not ask them to repeat what they have told you to another member of staff.
- Make a note of any conversations with the child, trying to make these as detailed as possible, including when and where the conversations took place.
- Report the disclosure to the Designated Safeguarding Lead of their setting as soon as possible – always on the same day. The person to whom the disclosure was made should ensure that the child is informed about what will happen next, so they can be reassured about what to expect.
22nd March 2016
Supporting establishments to comply with Radicalisation and Extremism responsibilities
From 1 July 2015 all schools, registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers are subject to a Duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
Since then, the children’s workforce has been racing to find out more about their Prevent Duties and the exact implications of the new legislation for their setting.
Mandy Parry Training is now offering a new course entitled: ‘Supporting Establishments to comply with Radicalisation and Extremism responsibilities’ which is designed to supplement and extend other training available in Bristol on radicalisation. The day allows for plenty of discussion, reflection and consideration for how the new Prevent Duty will practically impact on the work of each individual setting. Those who have already attended WRAP or other Prevent training will find it extremely useful.
The aim of the training is to help schools protect children and young people from radicalisation and extremism and support all staff to comply with the new duties imposed. After the course, delegates will have knowledge in the following areas:
- Understanding of the duties placed on establishment by the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015
- Development of knowledge of extremism in the context of current UK threats
- Identification of vulnerable and ‘at risk’ students
- How ‘Prevent’ strategies can be integrated within pre-existing safeguarding approaches
- How to write or revise relevant establishment policies
- How to demonstrate that the establishment is safe from the threat of extremism
- How to meet the new Ofsted Inspection requirements (including risk assessment)
- Preparation of an Action Plan to implement in your establishment
- Reporting concerns
This training is aimed at Headteachers, Designated Safeguarding Leads, Safeguarding Governors and other Business and Management staff within schools and other settings with children and young people.
It is being hosted in Bristol by Delegated Services, working in partnership with Mandy Parry Training.
The date of the training is Thursday 19 May 2016.
It costs £115 + VAT for Mandy Parry Training customers (this will apply if you have ever booked MPT for in-house training or consultancy), or £127.50 + VAT for non-customers.
To apply, email: email@example.com
8th March 2016
Have you come across this new way of recording safeguarding concerns?
Good, up to date record keeping of concerns and action taken is essential to help identify causes for concern at an early stage. Often it is only when a number of seemingly minor issues are taken as a whole that any general welfare or child protection concern becomes clear. Effective record keeping helps settings monitor and manage their safeguarding practices and in any inspection it is vital evidence of robust and effective safeguarding policy and practice.
As a trainer, I am often hearing about new innovations when it comes to safeguarding. Recently I have been hearing from a number of enthusiastic people about a new way of recording and reporting concerns using a new software system called ‘MyConcern’. It was developed a few years ago by software engineers in partnership with the Police and other safeguarding consultants in Dorset and users are apparently finding it extremely useful.
The idea is this: the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) has overall control of the software system and can receive an electronic update instantly at any time from any enabled device (laptop, mobile) which any staff member holds at any time. The DSL therefore holds all records confidentially online in one place, and it is easy and secure to share records with other staff, partners and referral organisations. The software was designed primarily for educational settings and is especially useful where staff work with children in a variety of locations.
For more information, follow this link:
More about effective safeguarding record keeping
However they are brought to the attention of DSL, all child safeguarding records should be:
- clear, straightforward and avoid jargon
- named in print and signed
- presented chronologically
- differentiate between facts, opinion, judgments and hypothesis
- written with a mind that the subject of a record does have the right in law to request access to them at any stage.
Any staff member or volunteer who has any kind of concern relating to the abuse of children must make an accurate record as soon as possible. The record should explain:
- What was seen: when and where (this includes a site map indicating the position of any bruises or marks seen on the child/young person, trying to indicate size, colour and shape)
- What was said: when, where and who to
- A note of any other people involved e.g as witnesses
- What was said to the staff member: when, where and who by
- What the staff member thought and why they thought it
- What the staff member did; and
- Any other relevant information
All child welfare records should be kept in one central and secure location separately from general information kept about the child. A discreet note should be made in the child’s general information file that there is confidential safeguarding information kept on file about them.
23rd February 2016
What exactly is Child Sexual Exploitation?
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a devastating form of child abuse, highlighted in recent years by several headline cases in Rotherham, Telford, Oldham, Derby, Oxford and in Bristol.
But up to now, different agencies have been using many different definitions of CSE. The Government has launched a consultation this month seeking views on a new definition of child sexual exploitation. It says that the number of definitions of child sexual exploitation in use has led to some confusion and inconsistencies in risk assessment and in data collection. The new proposed definition is intended to remove any ambiguity:
‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse. It occurs where anyone under the age of 18 is persuaded, coerced or forced into sexual activity in exchange for, amongst other things, money, drugs/alcohol, gifts, affection or status. Consent is irrelevant, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact and may occur online.’
The revised definition will be brought into effect on 1 April 2016 and included within the statutory guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’.
As a safeguarding and sexual health trainer, I believe that CSE can be effectively challenged by offering young people high quality relationships and sex education. Professionals can all have a role in helping young people to fully understand what real sexual consent is. Simply put, sexual consent means a person willingly agrees to have sex or engage in a sexual activity – and they are free and able to make their own decision. Sex without is consent is therefore rape or sexual assault. Young people need to know that the law also recognises that a person might not have sufficient capacity to give consent because of their age or because of a mental disorder. The amount someone has had to drink or the drugs they have taken may also affect their ability to consent. If someone repeatedly asks for consent and they are refused, this can count as sexual harassment.
Young people also need to know that the age of consent to any form of sexual activity is still 16 for both men and women (although the police are not likely to prosecute sexual activity of 13-15 year olds that are deemed consensual). There are specific laws in place to protect children under the age of 13 who cannot legally give their consent to any kind of sexual activity.
Very importantly, a person under the age of 18 cannot consent to sex if it is with a person who has a duty of care or is in a position of authority or trust, such as a teacher, carer or support worker.
Nothing is more important than safeguarding children. By fully understanding consent and abuse, we can raise awareness and make sure that we can provide the best protection for children and young people.
2nd February 2016
Are you referring children for Early Help?
Early Help is an essential aspect of effective Safeguarding. It has been defined as: ‘providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. Early Help can also prevent further problems arising, for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care’. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.
Children who are experiencing problems may not always reach Child Protection thresholds but still require vital support. It is important that children in need of this support receive it in a timely fashion to prevent escalation into abuse and to lessen the risk of harm or impairment.
Staff must record signs and symptoms and disclosures relating to children in need of Early Help, report to their Designated Safeguarding Lead, and discuss options with the family. Options could include: further discussion with parents/carers and devising and providing a plan for Early Help within the setting; and/or organising extra support with other professionals outside the setting.
In Bristol, if staff are clear that they have done all they can, but feel that problems are not being resolved and the child and parent/carers still need more help than they can provide, they can get the parents’/carers’ consent to contact the First Response Team to request multi-agency, targeted support from the local Early Help Team. The First Response Team will ask some simple questions to complete a Request for Help form.
Alternatively, when making a request for Early Help, it is possible for staff to fill in an online Request for Help form.
(Note: in contrast, Child Protection concerns must ALWAYS be phoned through to First Response on the same day).
If the child is deemed in need of Early Help by First Response, the Early Help Team in the area will oversee and coordinate a Single Assessment Framework (SAF) for the family which can give them access to extra services. Settings may be asked to fill in a SAF on behalf of the Early Help Team – and there is training available to support staff to do this.
15th January 2016
What is a Safeguarding Audit?
A Safeguarding Audit is a tool to help settings check that they are meeting statutory safeguarding duties. It helps to identify any gaps or weaknesses that need addressing.
A Safeguarding Audit can:
- ensure that you have clear policies, strategies and procedures in place to ensure safeguarding and welfare of children.
- ensure that your setting has clear evidence for Ofsted.
- be the focus of your next annual safeguarding report.
A Safeguarding Audit should:
- observe and experience safeguarding systems in place.
- assess the quality of the safeguarding policies in place (including specific information on Safer Recruitment, Managing Allegations, Escalation, Whistleblowing and other relevant policies).
- assess the skills and confidence of the staff members and management (including those who are the Designated Safeguarding Leads).
- assess the quality of record keeping and data management including the Central Record, child safeguarding files and all other relevant information.
It’s extremely useful if Safeguarding Audits are carried out by an external body who can apply some objectivity to the process. The audits can be formally recorded in committee or management meeting minutes so that they can evidence them as good practice.
1st December 2015
Spotting the Signs of Sexual Abuse
Last week the Office for the Children’s Commissioner published an important report on sexual abuse following a national inquiry using data contributed from every police force in England.
The report suggests:
As few as one in eight victims of child sexual abuse come to the attention of the authorities.
As many as 450,000 children had been sexually abused in the two years to March 2014 – far exceeding the 50,000 cases recorded by the police and local authorities.
Survivors of sexual abuse told the inquiry they did not know how to describe their experiences, that they did not know whether their experience constituted a healthy relationship or not, and that they were desperate for people to ask after their welfare.
It was therefore vital that professionals working with children were empowered to spot the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse to take action, rather than relying on children to come forward and reveal that they had been abused.
Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse can include:
- Bruises, scratches, burns or bites on body, particularly in the anal or genital regions
- Sexual knowledge inappropriate to the child’s age
- Frequent or public masturbation
- Attempts to involve other children in sexual activities
24th November 2015
How can you ensure your setting is using social media responsibly?
I recently successfully delivered training to a school that wanted to learn more about the importance of using the internet responsibly in regard to professional reputation and safeguarding in general. The workshop was delivered in a twilight session to the entire school community, including all staff, volunteers and governors.
The risks are huge when staff don’t use social media responsibly. At worst:
- Children are not safeguarded
- We leave ourselves vulnerable as professionals
- We harm relationships with our families and the community as a whole
- Changes in online technology increasingly mean that problems can quickly escalate and leave a permanent mark.
Staff should guard their professional reputation by posting information with care and sensitivity when using social media. They should check their privacy settings and always ensure that children and families are not on their ‘friends’ or contacts list. Likewise the professional integrity of other colleagues should be respected online. It is always a good idea for staff to check their digital footprint by putting in a search for their name – and their images – and seeing what comes up. Any incidence of cyber bullying or Hate Crime should be reported immediately.
The vast majority of adults who work with children do act professionally. Tensions and misunderstandings are inevitable and therefore our work is to aim to reduce risk, not to eliminate it altogether. It is impossible to create a checklist of every situation – and so every individual must be able to make their own professional judgements. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep up to date with new guidance and risks and to develop the values, information and skills to judge carefully.
More information on online safety and professional responsibilities can be found on childnet.com
17th November 2015
What Ofsted will want to know about your Safeguarding
An important part of an Ofsted inspection will be an inspection of a setting’s safeguarding arrangements.
Inspectors should look for evidence of the following:
- the extent to which leaders, governors and managers create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the setting, backed up by training at every level
- the application and effectiveness of safeguarding policies and safe recruitment and vetting processes
- the quality of safeguarding practice, including evidence that staff are aware of the signs that children or learners may be at risk of harm either within the setting or in the family or wider community outside the setting
- the timeliness of response to any safeguarding concerns that are raised
- the quality of work to support multi-agency plans around the child or learner.
For more information, see: Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings from September 2015
10th November 2015
Does your workplace have an up-to-date Safeguarding Code of Conduct?
New non-statutory guidance has recently been published which sets out clearly a Code of Conduct for those who work with children: ‘Guidance for safer working practice for those working with children and young people in education settings’ (October 2015).
The original guidance was developed by a DfES network in 2005, with revisions in 2009. This 2015 update has been produced in consultation with representatives from local authorities, CAPE and a number of NASS schools. All settings are advised to be aware of the guidance before developing their own code of conduct policy specific to their setting.
A workplace code of conduct establishes acceptable standards of behaviour for all employees The code of conduct should be shared during induction with new staff members and should be referred to if there is a need to address any cause for concern. When it comes to the matter of safeguarding, it is essential that everyone who works with children is clear about the expectations placed upon them right from the start.
A code of conduct in regard to safeguarding should answer these questions (which come up frequently during training!):
- When is it appropriate to have physical contact with children?
- Can we photograph our pupils?
- Can we ever be alone with our children?
- How should we dress?
- What about infatuations?
- How can we use social media safely with children and families?
- When is physical intervention appropriate?
- What needs to be taken into account when transporting pupils?
The answers to all these questions and many more can be found via the guidance on the Safer Recruitment Consortium website.
3rd November 2015
What you need to know about Safer Recruitment
Safeguarding experts have long since recognised that people who want to abuse children may seek access to them by working with them in a professional capacity. Safer Recruitment – ensuring that all staff are safe to work with children before they are actually appointed – is one of the most important things that all settings can do to ensure that they are safeguarding the children in their care.
The most up to date statutory guidance for schools and colleges, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ 2015, states clearly that ‘at least one member of every recruitment panel should be trained in safer recruitment.’
In 2014, the Department for Education invited a group of organisations (National Association of Special Schools, NSPCC, Child Protection in Education and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF)) to form the Safer Recruitment Consortium to develop a new national training programme. The Consortium has recently advised that:
- All Safer Recruitment trainers should be accredited and, if new to the role, trained by the LFF.
- Approved Safer Recruitment training should use the Consortium logo on the slides, workbooks, certificates; accredited trainers should be able to show you their Safer Recruitment Consortium ‘approved trainer’ certificate; trainers will also have signed a code of conduct which includes certain key standards (e.g. a minimum delivery time of 7 hours).
- As many people as possible involved in recruiting should complete Safer Recruitment training (the LFF say that ‘only one member of the panel suitably trained has never been considered best practice and doesn’t ensure that all aspects of safer recruitment from advert to ongoing vigilance is embedded in the school.’).
- Recruitment panel members who have already had Safer Recruitment training some time ago should consider a refresher course.
30 October 2015
Are You Fulfilling Your Prevent Duties?
From 1 July 2015 all schools, registered early years childcare providers and registered later years childcare providers are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This duty is known as the Prevent duty.
These duties should be part of the setting’s wider safeguarding policies and procedures.
Settings should be able to demonstrate that they are (amongst other things):
1. Identifying children who may be vulnerable to radicalization.
2. Aware of what to do when vulnerable children are identified.
3. Promoting fundamental British values and challenging extremist views.
4. Offering appropriate training and development for principals, governors, leaders and staff.
For more detailed information on the Prevent Duty read the statutory Department for Education (DfE) Guidance:
Useful complementary non-statutory DfE guidance can be found here:
21 September 2015
Are You Fully Prepared To Safeguard Children On Your Outings?
Outings can be wonderful opportunities for children and young people to learn and enjoy stimulating new environments – and are often the most memorable elements of the curriculum. But of course, schools and other settings must plan carefully to ensure that children are safeguarded during their time off site.
These are some key points that settings should consider when organising outings:
- A clear policy on outings should be in place, which sets out procedures that outline issues such as parental permission, staff responsibilities including those of the staff member taking the leading role off site, the need for risk assessments.
- Quality staff training on risk assessments, safeguarding, emergency first aid and other related policies.
- The specific visit should be carefully planned, usually involving a prior visit and a full risk assessment.
In the event of an incident, your setting will have to be confident on a number of issues: •Caring for both injured and non-injured children off site
- Contacting the setting and parents promptly and effectively
- Managing, as a setting, both the response of parents and media in relation to an accident
- Managing injury and notification of next of kin for members of staff.
14 July 2015
Bruising in Non-Mobile Babies – Know What To Do
All professionals need to vigilant to spot bruising in non-mobile babies. Accidental bruising in a baby who is not mobile (ie a baby who cannot crawl, pull to stand, ‘cruise’ around furniture, or walk) is very uncommon. The most likely cause of bruising in non-mobile babies will be abuse, or else a serious medical condition. Non-mobile babies with bruising need to be referred to outside agencies as soon as possible.
The research on this matter from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence on this matter is extremely clear. Infants under the age of one are more at risk of being killed at the hands of another person (usually the carer) than any other age group. Severe child abuse is 6 times more common in babies aged under 1 year then in older children. Non-mobile babies cannot cause injuries to themselves and therefore must be considered at significant risk of abuse. Staff should report bruising in non-mobile babies as soon as they can to the Designated Person in Charge of Safeguarding in their settings who should then follow the correct guidance.
For more information read:
Multi-Agency Guidance for Injuries in Non-Mobile Babies 2015 by Bristol Safeguarding Children’s Board and South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children’s Board.
24 June 2015
How Safe Are Our Children?
For the last three years, the NSPCC has published a ‘state of the nation’ report intended to give a robust and up-to-date overview of child protection in the UK.
This year’s report, ‘How Safe Are Our Children? 2015’ was published last week. It makes fascinating reading for anyone concerned with safeguarding children.
The main findings are:
- a steep increase in disclosures, especially in sexual abuse
- the number of children in the UK’s child protection systems has increased in all four nations since 2002
- neglect remains the most common form of child abuse across the UK
- numbers of recorded cruelty and neglect offences in England and Northern Ireland are now the highest they have been for a decade.
Given these findings, the NSPCC have said that there needs to be more support for victims, more evidence gathering in what works in combating neglect and more effective early intervention.
For more information on the NSPCC report click:
10 June 2015
Are You Using A Verified Safeguarding Trainer?
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) have a duty to develop policies and procedures for training in their local area. Schools and other settings can commission their own training providers if they so wish, as long as the training meets the standards set in the LSCB procedures.
All the Safeguarding Children Boards in the South West have clear procedures in place to assure the quality of safeguarding trainers so that settings can verify that training will be of an acceptable standard.
What makes a verified safeguarding trainer?
- Qualification in teaching or training
- Up to date training with local safeguarding board
- Accurate, up to date knowledge based on national & local guidelines
- Quality training materials
- Quality training delivery
Mandy Parry is now a verified safeguarding trainer with Bristol Safeguarding Children Board!
3 June 2015
Are You Safeguarding Your LGBT Children And Young People?
This week Mandy Parry Training delivered a great training session to Roweford school, Wiltshire on supporting the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils in their school. We were impressed by the committment and motivation of the staff to make a difference.
But according to Stonewall, the UK’s largest campaigning organisation for LGBT rights, in general schools are failing to protect some of their most vulnerable pupils:
- 55 % of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Britain’s secondary schools experience homophobic bullying
- 23 % of gay young people have attempted to take their own life
- 56 % deliberately harm themselves
- 99 % of gay young people hear homophobic language
- 25% of gay young people – rising to over a third in faith schools – report that teachers never challenge homophobic language
- In schools where teaching staff never challenge homophobic remarks, the rate of homophobic bullying is far higher than in schools where such language is always challenged (71 % compared to 43 %).
Source: University of Cambridge for Stonewall’s School Report 2012
But schools who fail to protect their pupils from discrimination and bullying could be seen as breaking the law. Schools have the duty to prevent and tackle all forms of bullying, including homophobic bullying and they cannot discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation against a student or teacher. The Equality Act 2010 means that schools have to be proactive in preventing homophobic bullying and make all children and young people feel included. It requires all public bodies, including schools and academies, to eradicate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations – this means preventing and tackling homophobic bullying and language and talking about different families in school.
What can schools do?
Here are some suggestions:
- Use posters and displays to communicate positive messages throughout your environments on equality and diversity for LGB and Trans people
- Stonewall has a useful website with access to free resources www.stonewall.org.uk or www.genderedintelligence.org.uk
- School Code of Conduct/Equalities statement
- Discuss LGBT relationships and people within the SRE curriculum
- Celebrate LGBT Events – LGBT History month, IDAHOT, World Aids day, Pride events
- Make referrals to supportive organisation
- Support LGBT staff
- Organise whole school LGBT awareness training
And if you are interested in LGBT awareness training taking place in your setting, please do contact me on 07811101740 or firstname.lastname@example.org – I will be pleased to help!
26th May 2015
Are You Listening To The Voice Of The Child When Safeguarding?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:
‘When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happened and have their opinion taken into account.’
But there have been many examples in the headlines in recent years where Child Protection has gone badly wrong – and many have revealed that, when it comes to safeguarding, some professionals have really failed to hear what children have to say and children have not been protected as a result.
Only too often, when things go wrong, evidence has shown that:
- children was not involved in proceedings, and were not asked their views and feelings about decisions that affected them;
- agencies were not listening to those adults who spoke on behalf of children;
- professionals had allowed parents and carers to prevent them access to the child;
- practitioners put their focus too much on parents and not the safety of the child;
- findings were not interpreted correctly and children were therefore not protected.
(The Voice of the Child: learning lessons from serious case reviews Ofsted 2011)
As a result, I have decided to offer training which will address this concern:
Title: Listening to the Voice of the Child in Safeguarding
Aim: To develop participants’ ability to effectively listen to the voice of the child in their safeguarding practice.
- appreciate the value of listening to the voice of the child in safeguarding
- learn the relevant rights and legal framework and guidance understand why and when professionals fail to listen and implications of this
- explore barriers to hearing and how these can be overcome
- practice useful skills to that will support them to listen effectively
- ensure that the setting develops policies, procedures and practices that ensure that it truly engaging in child centred practice.
If you are interested in this new course, please do contact me on 07811101740 or email@example.com – I will be pleased to help!
15th May 2015
Are You Aware That The National Safeguarding Guidance Has Recently Changed?
On the 26th March 2015, the government published ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015′. This is a revised version of the 2013 guidance. It is the key document that sets outs what local authorities and everyone else should do to safeguard children.
In the light of recent concerns, the new guidance says that there must be locally commissioned services for children who have been or may be sexually exploited, subject to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and radicalized. In addition, there is a clear stipulation for all organisations to have clear whistleblowing procedures to guard against institutional complacency in regard to this and other abuse.
LADOs (Local Authority Designated Officers), who investigate concerns around professionals working with children, should now be referred to as ‘Designated Officers’ and social work trained (unless they are already post holders).
Other changes can be found in the new document found here:
All settings should dispose of the previous guidance, update references to the old guidance their safeguarding policy and print off the new guidance for easy reference.
3rd April 2015
What Are The Most Important Features Of An Effective Child Protection Policy?
After delivering training on developing Child Protection (CP) policies for some time, it began to dawn on me what the most effective CP policy really consisted of. It wasn’t one that could be downloaded easily from the Internet from another organisation; it wasn’t one that contained the most references from statutory guidance; it wasn’t one that was the longest or even had the fewest spelling mistakes.
No, the best CP policy had two essential qualities: it was directly relevant to the particular setting it supported, and it was completely up to date.
If you feel that your CP policy is looking a bit dated and you feel you need an overhaul, consider booking an inhouse CP training day with Mandy Parry Training. The training could give all the staff in your setting the opportunity to take stock of current CP policies and procedures and the impetus to make necessary changes.