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What I've learned about Supply Teachers & Safeguarding

22/11/16

Safeguarding within an educational setting is vital and in this blog Jen gives you important links to help you stay informed and up to date with safeguarding guidelines.

 

Safeguarding, as a supply, can be a minefield. When you visit a new school 5 days a week, with an endless cycle of 30 different children, sometimes 3 different classes within a day, the faces of individuals can blur into one. You do not know these children, you do not know their background or the struggles they face on a daily basis. So how then can you make the relevant judgements needed to keep the children you are working with safe?

The first thing you need to remember is that there are very few people who truly have a full, all round view of a child’s circumstances. This is mainly because information held in safeguarding files is held on a ‘need to know’ basis. Which means that even colleagues working directly with a child may not know all of the details of their circumstance.

Therefore it is imperative that ANY concerns you may have are passed onto the Designated Safeguard Lead within minutes of them arising. They can see the full picture - you cannot. Your insight may well be the piece of evidence that enables authorities to take action.

Many full time teachers rely on the trust that has been built up since the first day in September. As a full time teacher, children will disclose information because they know that their adult is there to protect them. However, this is not always the case. I have had more children disclose distressing information to me while on supply, than I have ever had in 5 full time classes.

Put yourself in the shoes of a child in distress. Your teacher sees and talks to your carers every day - if I disclose something to my teacher, will they simply tell my parents? Will I get into trouble? What will happen if my parents get into trouble?

Now when a supply teacher comes in - someone you’ve never met before and you may not ever see again, something about this dynamic dulls the panic and worry. They assume you do not know the rules of the school or won’t speak to their parents or even know how to fix the situation. Sometimes, just telling someone, just saying the words out loud is the relief and comfort they need.

To protect yourself and the children in your care, ensure that you log everything - when you arrive at a school the first thing you need to know is; where are the safeguarding forms kept? Who is your Designated Safeguarding Lead? Where is their office/classroom? If the school cannot provide you with this information (which is highly unlikely) then speak to your agent at Protocol. I have in the past, even raised a safeguarding worry when I have got home after sitting down and absorbing the day’s events. Remember, schools will usually support you with any concerns that you have, however if you still feel that a safeguarding issue has not been recorded or resolved properly then you can always telephone NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

As a supply you MUST take charge of updating your own training. With brand new safeguarding legislation brought in this year it is paramount that you stay informed - particularly as some aspects of safeguarding now require the person who raised the concern to call the police themselves. If your training has not included FGM, Forced Marriage, Honour-Based Violence or Ritual Abuse contact Protocol on 020 3219 7700, email at info@protocol-education.com or you can book a course online here.

Do not underestimate how beneficial you are as supply teacher, safeguarding is the responsibility of all. Stay vigilant, you never know when you could make a difference.


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