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Educators: the unsung heroes of International Women’s Day

Posted by Sam Preston

To mark International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate those who work tirelessly every, single, day, with thousands of girls and young women to protect them from abuse and neglect and make determined steps towards gender equality and parity. This is a time to celebrate achievements; to look at how far we've come, how far we must go, and what we've learned along the way.

Let’s celebrate those that take safeguarding as seriously as teaching the curriculum, those that strive to learn all they can about abusive behaviour and how to spot it, and those that are an ear, sometimes the only safe person a child can confide in.

Whilst the UK has made huge strides in industry to support women’s talent; engineering and construction are just two that stand out to me, the state of the nation is, if we do not stamp out violence against women, equality and parity will never be achieved. And it’s the tireless work of our education staff, GPs, nurses and voluntary workers that puts us in the strongest position to do this.

Yes, there’s always lots more to be done to stop British girls falling victim to abusive behaviours – Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, child sexual exploitation, breast ironing, need I go on? But, in our education system, we must recognise our educators are spectacular people, who really care and are doing their utmost to take abuse out of the equation for every child.

Immersed in school safeguarding training every day, I can hand on heart say, there is not a strong enough push from Government or regulatory bodies to ensure that high quality safeguarding training is effective and completed regularly enough to make this difference just yet. There are a myriad of different forms of abuse, regulations, advice and strategies out there, and it’s complex. Changes in an abused child’s behaviour or attitude can be so subtle, it could easily be missed, yet under the Duty of Care, frontline professionals must be equipped to spot them. This takes some serious training, and I don’t mean sat in a room with 10 other teaching colleagues listening to a PowerPoint presentation. I mean individually assessed, quality training on each and every abuse subject, to be absolutely sure our frontline professionals have the tools to protect our children.

We’re already working with over 175,000 people to protect children and young people from abuse and in the next 12 months we aim to add thousands to this number so that by International Women’s Day 2019, thousands more girls are protected, enabling them to achieve their full potential unhindered by abuse.

So, in the spirit of celebration, here are just some the safeguarding campaigners, specialists and heroes from across the industry SSS Learning is keen to commend on International Women’s Day (and a handy list of their Twitter handles!):

Ceri Stokes (@CeriStokes) – Assistant Head Designated Safeguarding Lead and Boarding Housemistress interested in all safeguarding issues and PSHE topics @UKPastoralChat lead.

Paul Murphy (@e21cTrust) – CEO of E21C Bromley’s Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) and Headteacher of @RavensbourneSch.

Claire Lotriet (@OhLottie) – Assistant head. SLE: maths, computing, KS2. Author: @SwitchedOnComp Learn to Code. @TES columnist. @NAACE Award Winner. @proudofmyselfie creator. Google Cert.

Hibo Wardere (@HiboWardere) – Anti-FGM campaigner, author, global & public speaker. Survivor of FGM.

Charlotte Avery (@headmistresssmc) – Headmistress of St Mary’s School, Cambridge @StMarysSch | Vice President of The Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) @GSAUK.

Amanda Spielman (@amanda_spielman) – Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted.

Jim Gamble (@JimGamble_INEQE) – Safeguarding, Social Networks, Criminal Justice & Media commentator.

Prof Kalwant Bhopal (@KalwantBhopal) – Professor of Education and Social Justice, University of Birmingham. Interests: Race, Racism, Gender, Class, Inequalities, Social Justice, Equity.

Keziah Featherstone (@keziah70) Co-founder & National Leader of #WomenEd. Member of #HTRT. School Leader. Mum. Writer of stuff. Currently being 10% braver.

Bruce Adamson (@Bruce_Adamson) – Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland - promoting and safeguarding children’s rights.

Maria O’Neill (@DaringOptimist) – Passionate about CPD, Founder of @UKPastoralChat.

Anne Longfield (@ChildrensComm) – Children’s Commissioner for England - she promotes and protects children’s rights.

Adi Bloom (@adibloom_tes) – Journalist at @tes, and author of The Tes Little Book of Grammar.

Ann Mroz (@AnnMroz) – Editor and Digital Publishing Director, Tes (Times Educational Supplement).

Sarah Champion (@SarahChampionMP) – Labour member of parliament for Rotherham.