This time of year is the start of work for many new members of staff across the children’s workforce. Along with entrance codes, photocopying keys and how the tea and coffee supplies are organised, there is also the need to ensure that every induction should include training on safeguarding for each new staff member.
Induction training in safeguarding is so crucial, the government has set out minimum standards in statutory guidance that every setting must adhere to.
Induction is a key time for all new staff where they may have the capacity and the clear motivation to take in key information about the setting. Settings have the opportunity to convey to new staff their serious commitment to safeguarding children right from the start of their employment. No member of staff should ever work with children without knowing their welfare is absolutely paramount, and what to do if they have any concerns in regard to any concerns.
Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019) says all new staff need to be aware of the following at Induction:
- The Child Protection policy
- Staff Behaviour policy (or Code of Conduct) which includes acceptable use of technologies, staff/children relationships, and communications including the use of social media.
- Responses to children missing in education
- Part 1 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019) – Safeguarding Information for All Staff
- Information of the identity and role of the Designation Safeguarding Lead in the setting(see paragraph 57, KCSE (1019))
But the guidance also makes clear that this is not an exhaustive list. I would advise that each new member of staff also receives the following:
- A meeting with the Designated Safeguarding Lead and any deputies to talk through their questions on safeguarding process within the setting, and to make clear their availability to talk about any safeguarding concerns they might have.
- A meeting with the Manager or Headteacher to make sure they know how to report any concerns they may have concerning allegations of any staff or volunteers.
- An initial supervision session, where a supervision contract is agreed between the member of staff and the supervisor, which will include the need to raise safeguarding issues within each session as a standing agenda item and why that is essential.
- Training in the correct recording of any safeguarding concerns.
- Awareness of related safeguarding policies, which may include:
- Health and safety, including fire and lockdown procedures, lone working and First Aid
- Behaviour management, including positive handling
- Equal Opportunities
- Arrivals, departures and uncollected children
- Staff Supervision
- Looked after children
- Curriculum (which includes the requirement to promote fundamental British values, healthy relationships and sex education, and keeping safe)
- Information about the required probation period. A probation period for new staff reinforces the necessity of an ongoing culture of vigilance for all staff, including those who are unfamiliar to the setting.
- Signing Acceptable Use of Internet, Social Media, Photography and any other Code of Conduct agreements that may exist in the setting, and making sure they are completely understood.
- A discussion of any safeguarding training they have undertaken in their previous post. Ideally training in safeguarding should take place in most settings on an annual basis, but if the new staff member has never undertaken safeguarding training there may be a need for them to this within the first three months of starting work.
- An Induction quiz can work well to check understanding of the key points of safeguarding in the setting.
Be aware that Induction is NOT a time to ask for references, proof of identity, certificates regarding qualifications and health checks. These checks should all have been carried out thoroughly at interview to ensure any queries or concerns were raised directly with the candidate by the recruitment panel. If any candidate will be taking up a position with you within 3 months of leaving their old post, they will not need a new DBS certificate and this can also be checked at interview. Also at interview, every candidate without a DBS certificate can be asked to declare any criminal conviction or history before the check is carried out. If the candidate fails to declare a criminal conviction or other concern that appears subsequently on their DBS check, this may be grounds for instant dismissal.
Remember that ‘staff’ should include every adult working in your setting, including unsupervised volunteers, students, part time staff, supply staff and fixed term staff. Governors, Trustees, or management committee members should also have their own form of Induction.
Finally, I usually say on my training that every new member of staff has a unique quality that they bring in regard to one essential aspect of safeguarding that older, more experienced staff may not. Unsafe practices or behaviours, or even institutional abuse that existing staff may have become desensitized to, may be clearly unacceptable for new staff who will offer fresh eyes to the situation.
The staff most likely to employ the setting’s Whistleblowing policy are therefore the newest. I have met several remarkable individuals during the course my work who have challenged their settings’ safeguarding culture within the first few weeks of their employment to great effect. I feel this is a great resource that new staff bring that must be acknowledged, welcomed and respected by all.
New staff may also find useful a wide range of safeguarding training that MPT is offering in partnership with Delegated Services over the next few weeks. Open courses give new staff a chance to meet up with other professionals to reflect on safeguarding in their settings and to learn new safeguarding skills.
Good luck to all new staff and the setting they work in at the start of this new academic year!