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.
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.
Posted by Sam Preston
Data is powerful. Modern technologies, ‘big data’ and the Internet of Things (IoT) are revolutionising the way we as educators are tackling major issues facing schools and academies today, from improving attainment and progress monitoring, safeguarding staff & pupils, vetting & barring, improving teacher recruitment and retention to ways of stretching budgets further.
But, and it’s a ‘big’ but…..with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force this May, there are considerable implications and modifications that must be made by schools and academies to ensure that compliance with European standards.
Firstly, to clarify, the aim of GDPR is to have international consistency around data protection laws and rights and to protect an individual’s personal data across Europe. As schools and academies generate and retain a significant amount of sensitive personal data, it is essential GDPR compliance requirements are met and embedded throughout all existing policies, procedures and practice. Whilst there are similarities with the existing UK Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), this new legal framework updates requirements introducing clear laws with safeguards in place for the growing reliance on digital mediums.
Over the past six months, I have spent considerable time with schools and academies, working closely with leadership to develop a new SSS training course to help support that journey towards GDPR compliance.
Here are the top 10 questions I’m asked, and some basic pointers to think about.....
1. How important is it that we comply by the deadline?
Critical - there are higher penalties for non-compliance than ever before. Under the GDPR, the amount the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can fine has increased from £500,000 to £17 million, or four per cent of global turnover (whichever is greater). In addition, the reputational damage could have a significant impact too if your school or academy creates a breach!
2. So, where do we start?
The best place to start is to implement an information audit. The information audit will provide you with a comprehensive picture of what data is held by your institution, where it comes from and in what form, who it is shared with, how it is stored and how it is deleted. Completing this audit will help ensure robust procedures are in place to detect, report and investigate a data breach.
3. Do we need a bespoke GDPR policy?
Yes! Ratified by governance, this policy should as a minimum requirement include the following; an explanation of your legal basis for processing data, your school or academy data retention periods, who will act as the data controller or data protection officer, how your school or academy will seek, obtain and record consent, arrangements for data sharing with 3rd parties, school or academy procedures for the main rights of individuals, how individuals can raise a complaint with the ICO if required, measures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach and annual GDPR audit arrangements. Transparency is key. In addition to publishing your GDPR policy, make your bespoke Data Privacy Notice freely available.
4. How do we make sure all our staff are compliant?
It is crucial that comprehensive training is provided to every member of staff who comes into contact with personal data. In a school or academy, the reality is that all staff and contracted enhanced provision e.g. clubs, will collect and manage personal data. It is also critical that they are individually assessed to ensure comprehension.
Governance should also make their GDPR policy available and ensure staff understand the procedures bespoke to their institution. This should also extend to anyone responsible for data input e.g. supply staff, volunteers and extra-curricular activity contractors.
5. What should we do about old computer equipment?
Under GDPR, it is illegal not to have a formal contract e.g. Service Level Agreement in place with whoever is responsible for recycling or disposing of school or academy IT equipment. The contractor must be able to demonstrate competencies and accreditations for IT asset disposal. I’d also recommend obtaining their GDPR policy and Data Privacy Notice.
6. What does the GDPR mean for child protection?
Under the GDPR, children are afforded specific protection with regard to their personal data, as they may be less aware of the risks, consequences and safeguards concerns and their rights in relation to the processing of personal data. The GDPR raises the age at which a child can give their own consent from 12 to 16 years-old. An example of where this changes things in the school environment; where in the past, 12 to 15-year-olds could give consent to download an app onto their personal device, schools will now need to seek parental approval. The most important take-away is that any information given to, or communication with, a child must be in “such a clear and plain language that the child can easily understand”.
7. What documents might we hold at school that fall under GDPR?
Personal data, both current and historic, is any information, paper documents, digital records, photos or video footage, from which individuals can be identified. This includes pupil data, HR, CPD and performance management data, parent/carer and staff contact details and SLAs. Under GDPR, the definition of personal data is more detailed and includes a wider range of personal identifiers which constitute personal data, reflecting the changes in technology since the last standard in 1998.
8. Have we appointed a Data Controller?
As the legal body which determines the purpose and means of the processing of personal data, the Data Controller is legally required under GDPR. In real terms, this is the responsibility of the Governing Body or Trust, with overseeing and coordinating duties delegated to a governor or director. They are responsible for and must be able to fully demonstrate compliance with the principles of the GDPR.
9. What is a Data Processor and how many do we have?
A data processor is anyone who processes data on behalf of the Controller. In practice, this means anyone responsible for data management, processing and/or who has access to pupil or staff data falls under this remit. As said before, the likelihood is, that at some point, everyone within a school or academy will be a processor so it’s essential that they understand and adhere to the wishes of the Controller.
10. What is consent all about?
Under GDPR there is a far greater focus on personal consent and the ‘right to be forgotten’. The ICO has a useful checklist, ‘Asking for Consent’ which is worth checking out. GDPR also changes the rules for dealing with Subject Access Requests (SARs). The timescale for complying for instance, has been reduced from 40 days to one month. In most cases, a charge cannot be made for complying with a request, unless this involves excessive requirements.
The ICO has a useful portal updated regularly which can be accessed here.
Disclaimer: The information presented above is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. You should seek professional legal counsel before taking any action.
Posted by Sam Preston
Not my words but those of Amanda Spielman, reflecting on her own induction into the role of HM Chief Inspector—Ofsted at today’s Education Select Committee meeting. A view which is also reflected in the recent revisions to safeguarding training, where schools and academies now are required to evidence ongoing training and updates throughout the academic year.Spielman also went on to comment “I don’t think you should ever say the induction period is completely finished, there’s always more to learn”. As a specialist and advocate of promoting best practice, music to my ears. So why are so many education settings still operating on a model of annual one-off training? In conversations with school and academy staff we are still hearing phrases like “we’ve done this year’s training” or “we’ve had training and are covered”. So, it begs the question that, given the chief inspector’s views, just how will such opinions fare in the inspection process.
As I’ve said before, given the range and complexity of the safeguarding remit, it is impossible to achieve best practice standards using a one off training method and snippets at staff briefings as such a model cannot possibly offer the depth of subject knowledge, assessment of learning and evaluation of practice standards. In my view, training models without such triangulation not only fail to adequately equip frontline staff but should also open up a key line of enquiry re leadership and management.
So what should a good training model look like and how can you be sure of it’s effectiveness? I’d advocate applying similar broad principals we apply to curriculum delivery:
Whilst I echo Spielman’s ethos of ongoing continued professional development as essential, it’s the quality of such learning which lies at the heart of best practice. If we make this our focus for the safeguarding remit, standards can only improve and we may finally see the demise of the tick list approach!
Posted by SSS
This International Women’s Day (8th March 2017) we’re celebrating a woman’s right to choose and raising awareness of Forced Marriage; an extreme violation of human rights taking place to women and girls in Britain.
The 1,220 possible cases reported in 2015 indicate a downward trend continues, however, authorities say the real number of this ‘hidden’ abuse is to likely be higher. In light of this let’s lift the lid on some of the disturbing facts, warning signs and legal implications related to this form of child abuse, in a bid to demonstrate a greater need for investment in education and training and a more proactive approach to prevent it happening to more girls.
The physical and emotional scars girls experience in a Forced Marriage last a lifetime, and as with all safeguarding issues, prevention is by far the most effective strategy.
A criminal offence in England and Wales since June 2014, forced marriage is the process of using violence, threats, or any other form of coercion to force another into marriage. Often confused with Arranged Marriage, whereby both spouses consent to their marriage, Forced Marriage is a hidden practice and many cases are unreported. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison. The civil law in England and Wales was also strengthened in 2014 by making the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order a criminal offence.
Women, men and children are at risk of Forced Marriage regardless of age or background. Research reflects that there is no predisposed group at risk, however often lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender people may be forced into marriage to protect family honour. Also persons with a learning or physical disability are also at risk by being forced into a marriage in order to provide them with a carer.
The motives for Forced Marriage are vast, transcending race, religion, communities and cultures. As the practice is so hidden (almost 80% of incidents reported in 2015 were from professionals, colleagues, friends or family, and only a small proportion from victims themselves), often victims come to the attention of multi-agency professionals in other ways, so it is imperative that all professionals working within statutory agencies are made aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across potential or actual Forced Marriage cases. One example is the “one chance” rule. The “one chance” rule highlights the urgent need to offer support on first contact with a potential or actual victim to safeguard them from harm or life threatening scenarios.
Here are just some of the potential indicators of risk:
If a frontline professional suspects or knows someone may or has been taken abroad to be forced into marriage they should contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as a matter of urgency. For victims taken abroad, HM Government has made a welcomed move this year to support under 18s who get into difficulty abroad, abolishing the requirement for them to pay for, or seek a loan to cover their repatriation. British 16 and 17 year-olds who get into difficulty abroad will no longer have to reimburse the government the costs of their journey home, it has been announced. The department announced it would be reviewing this policy after the Guardian detailed the case of a 17-year-old British girl who arrived at the UK embassy in Islamabad in 2014, seeking help to escape a Forced Marriage. At SSS Learning, we would implore the Foreign Office to cover repatriation of British women of any age who are escaping Forced Marriage.
Victims who have fled a Forced Marriage remain vulnerable. When supporting victims, sharing information and record keeping, multi-agency professionals should be keenly aware of preserving confidentiality and be aware of the lengths families will go to trace the victim. If a family manages to trace a victim, they often subject them to violence and abuse and in some cases resort to murder under the claim of so called Honour Killing.
Information on Forced Marriage is becoming more widely available, however, multi-agency training is vital to ensure that it remains firmly on the safeguarding radar.
Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into: firstname.lastname@example.org / Telephone: 020 7008 0151 / From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151.
Posted by SSS
Sam Preston, safeguarding specialist, urges government to focus on CPD and reformed systems to enable teaching professionals to protect Britain’s children and young people from abuse.
Failed succession planning and increased workloads have led to ongoing depleting skill sets now at a critical level. As the recent HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Commons Select Committee reports evidence, we are losing vital skills and expertise from two of Britain’s most important safeguarding bodies at a rapid rate, negatively impacting on service provision. Our protectors; teachers and the police are stretched to capacity, resulting in greater safeguarding risks than ever before. Today’s HMIC official warning states that a third of police services are rationing services, resulting in too long response rates for high risk calls including domestic violence and where children are at risk. Shortages of detectives in forces, 700 in the Met alone, mean that a detective has to manage in excess of 20 cases at any one time, an unacceptable workload, resulting in ill health and many experienced colleagues leaving the service. Despite the contraindicators of evidenced based research, officers are carrying out investigations without having completed specialist training. This includes rape and complex crime cases.
The recent report from the Commons Education Select Committee, evidences how HM Government has not only missed recruitment targets for five years in a row, but further suggests that recruitment of new teachers to address shortages will not address the need for improvement in service delivery. There has been little focus on retaining teachers with the skills and expertise, also essential to solve shortages, whose experience is critical if we are to effectively safeguarding children. Child protection, Child Sexual Exploitation, FGM, Prevent Duty, ‘Forced Marriage’; the safeguarding arena is vast and complex. We need policy to support the retention of experienced teachers who can utilise and extend their safeguarding expertise through ongoing CPD.
“Government must focus on the development and CPD needs of existing teachers, and invest in their careers. Safeguarding is a complex subject area, and relies upon continuous CPD and training to ensure schools understanding modern day safeguarding issues and comply with Department for Education and Ofsted Common Inspection requirements.”
Neil Carmichael echoes this sentiment in his recent post for the Times Educational Supplement CPD can power respect for the whole profession. The Education Committee Chair implores government to give teachers access to high-quality development throughout their careers to solve Britain’s recruitment and retention crisis. Recruitment may fill positions however, inexperience increases the risk of child abuse being undetected and impacts on the effectiveness of our educational system to prevent, intervene and support victims. If we lose experienced teachers, we lose not only the CPD investment schools and academies have made, but also damage our defences against child abuse.
One area that is particularly concerning, is the traditional model of training used by schools and academies. As Keeping Children Safe in Education (2016) evidences, to create a robust and efficient approach to safeguarding, all staff must be sufficiently trained and equipped in an ongoing basis with the latest knowledge and legislation. As schools and academies now recruit throughout the academic year, how can they meet this requirement and be confident that, at any given time, every single member of staff is sufficiently trained? Annual ‘all together’ sessional INSET just isn’t going to suffice, and this is where cracks in best practice can appear. Newly qualified teachers represent the next generation of teaching in our society. There is no doubt that they are enthusiastic, eager and committed, however, child protection skills are developed by both training and practice experience. Therefore, it is questionable to place this grave responsibility on them with little more than access to policy, briefings and limited mentoring of more experienced staff. Training models, including induction processes, urgently need to be restructured not only to protect children but to protect staff and their organisations. Put simply, if we are to learn lessons from serious case reviews, doing what we‘ve always done does not lead to improvement.
As we have seen over the last 20 years, the safeguarding remit is extending and is likely to become more challenging than ever. As former Chief Constable for Northumbria Sue Sim stated we cannot afford to continue working in “splendid isolation”. Now is the time to take on board these external findings, rethink the functionality of systems within all our professional organisations and boldly consider change.Fewer teachers and police officers increasing workloads mean that the ever-increasing safeguarding remit is likely to become more challenging than ever. We must focus investment on new models to support professionals or we run the risk of a practice lottery. A lottery that could cost children their lives.
Posted by SSS
“If we can stamp out childhood abuse and neglect, we give young people a greater chance of cutting the cycle of self-harm and injury and give them a voice”, says safeguarding specialist Sam Preston this Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day…
The link between abuse and neglect during childhood and self-harming behaviour as an adult has long been researched and founded. However, just last year, the number of children in England and Wales being hospitalised due to self-harm has risen sharply, highlighting a serious need for early intervention. This Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day, we ask the big question: who will speak up for children and young people silenced by abuse?
Nearly 19,000 children were treated in hospital for self-harm last year, representing a 14 percent increase in cases over the past three years. Those aged between 13 and 17 were identified as highest risk by the NSPCC. Whilst different issues have linked to this rise, including social pressures and the rise of social network usage, the fundamental issue of abuse, whether that be bullying by peers, through to serious child protection issues, is still a large influence in those that go on to self-harm. The fact that we are seeing children as young as 12 taking such violent and drastic steps to alleviate their emotional pain and suffering is an urgent call to action.
One area that we deal with in our training courses, is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); a practice which leaves far more than physical scars on its victims. Girls as young as three years-old are subjected to this brutal practice and thus, there are strong links to a multitude of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Sadly, for some, self-harm is the release they use to deal with this drastic form of child abuse. As FGM is a cultural issue, it is not typically viewed as an abuse issue by the victim’s family, so it really is down to frontline professionals in our schools, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals to identify and report it.
Children and adults alike, often try to keep self-harm a secret because of shame or fear of discovery and typically, it is often down to close family and friends to notice it and open discussion. However, for many children who have gone on to self-harm due to abuse, it could be family or a friend that’s still responsible for that abuse. So, what more can be done to help those silenced by abuse to find their voice and open up about self-harm? This is where frontline professionals play an increasingly important role. Doctors, nurses, teachers together with voluntary workers are now legally bound to support, intervene and report suspected cases of abuse in the UK. In many cases, it’s their vigilance that is helping to protect so many children and young people, and for some, to cut the cycle of self-harm by helping them to open up about the problem.
To support young people, we must acknowledge that self-harm is a symptom rather than the core problem. It masks underlying emotional and psychological trauma and our strategies must take this into account. Effective safeguarding practice across the public sector is central to this strategy. A greater investment in quality, individual training for front-line professionals across all modern-day safeguarding issues which may be impacting upon a person’s mental health and wellbeing is critical. The deeper we can understand abuse and neglect cases and intervene early, the greater chance we have of reducing levels of self-harm amongst young people.
This Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day we commend the thousands of frontline professionals working tirelessly to protect children and young people in Britain in a bid to provide a voice for those that are silenced.
Posted by Sam Preston
The safety and welfare of British children could become high risk, as SENCos, amongst many vital support staff roles are axed in a bid to batten down the hatches. According to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the recent freeze on school funding has led to more than a quarter of the 1300 schools it surveyed being prepared to make cuts in teachers and support staff.
In a time of austerity, where schools are losing vital safeguarding expertise with, in some cases, even part-time support staff are being drafted in, the question is what can be done to ensure that the remaining staff are proficiently trained in child protection?
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Dave Hill, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services for 2016-17, shared his hope for the care system in 2017, quoting a much needed shift in how we invest our money, with an even stronger emphasis placed on early help. He went on to highlight how, in some councils, out of necessity, limited resources are used on high-end services – “firefighting&rdquot; rather than investing in preventative services. Frontline professionals in schools have a vital role to play here, with secondary school students spending over 700 hours each year under their care.
Now, for those teachers and support staff that do weather the storm, workload is inevitably going to rise. Safeguarding relies upon extreme vigilance and regular communication between staff and agencies and as resource pressures set in, where is this going to come from? Just this week, BBC News reported that support staff in Scotland’s schools are feeling exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to Unison. The trade union said over 1800 jobs supporting teachers in schools had gone since 2010 which is having a direct impact on the workload of those remaining in post.
And finally, to the Department for Education, where the answer to the budget cut conundrum is to cut mainstream school “workforces” by £1.7bn over the next three years, I ask this: Where is the time and money going to come from to ensure the stalwarts still in post are properly trained and have the expertise to protect Britain’s children?
Posted by SSS
Schools and nurseries can now deliver the highest quality safeguarding training to meet statutory and Ofsted inspection requirements, whilst making vast cost savings with SSS Learning’s new e-learning courses, debuting at the Education Show 2017 (stand H81).
Developed as a ‘much needed’ catalyst for change in safeguarding training, the concise courses are fully CPD-accredited and certify individual educators, replacing ‘often insufficient or costly’ traditional group training methods.
Already used by over 60,000 frontline professionals to help protect children and young people from a broad spectrum of issues, the courses cover a broad spectrum of issues; from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to forced marriage and honour based violence, prevent duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The updated DFE (2016) Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance emphasises the importance of regular updates and annual Safeguarding / Child Protection training. Under the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, safeguarding remains a limiting judgement. SSS Learning's secure online CPD accredited safeguarding courses enable schools and academies to meet this remit.
Sam Preston, eLearning and Training Director, SSS Learning said: “Our individual, online courses can be completed anytime, anywhere. All you need is an internet connection, enabling staff to fit training in around their busy schedules. Each engaging training video can be viewed individually, or even as a group during INSET and then every participant must log-on and complete the assessment. This ensures that every single member of staff is individually certified. Historically, most tutor-led, group training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is can be problematic. Fixed session INSET relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, individual learning outcomes cannot be not fully evaluated and those absent or staff recruited post INSET have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later.
“As the courses are delivered online, SSS Learning has achieved significant cost savings for schools. The organisation utilises the very latest e-Learning technologies and techniques, using combined animation and video to produce high-quality online training courses engaging every learner. Individual progress can be monitored through the administration portal enabling leaders to monitor and ensure learning is secure.”
For further information, please visit the team on stand H81 at the Education Show (16th – 18th March 2017, NEC Birmingham), visit the web site at www.ssslearning.co.uk or call 029 2059 7000. You can also follow us on Twitter (@SSSLearning), Facebook (facebook.com/SSSLearning) or connect with us on LinkedIn.