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Latest DFE guidance re safeguarding and COVID-19
New guidance on safeguarding during COVID-19 was issued by the Department for Education on the 27th March 2020 to support the new ways of working and provision of childcare for the most vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.
All schools are required to have a written Child Protection policy (or joint Safeguarding & Child Protection policy) as a statutory requirement, however the latest guidance states that it is “likely” existing policies “will not accurately reflect new arrangements in response to COVID-19”.
The guidance states that educational settings should review their current policies to ensure they reflect how safeguarding and child protection arrangements will be implemented during the current arrangements. The guidance also states that policies should be kept “under review as circumstances continue to evolve” and recognises that in some cases, an annex or addendum on COVID-19 “might be more effective” than re-writing and re-issuing the whole policy.
Whether rewriting or adding information to policy, the guidance highlights that “It is important that all staff and volunteers are aware of the new policy and are kept up to date as it is revised. The revised policy should continue to be made available publicly.”
Although having a trained Designated Safeguarding Leads (or deputies) available on site is the “optimal scenario”, HM Government has accepted that this “may not be possible” at all times. If a DSL isn’t available, schools could consider either having their trained DSL or deputy available by phone or online video, or sharing DSLs or deputies with other schools and colleges, who would be available by phone or video.
In situations where a trained DSL or deputy is not on site, in addition to one of the above options, the DfE also recommend a senior leader takes responsibility for co-ordinating safeguarding on site. This role may include updating and managing access to child protection files, liaising with the offsite DSL (or deputy) and as required liaising with children’s social workers where they require access to children in need and/or to carry out statutory assessments at the educational setting.
It is vital that all staff and volunteers know “on any given day” who their available DSL or deputy is, and how to speak to them.
Although HM Government have clarified that DSLs or deputies who have been trained will continue to be classed as a trained DSL (or deputy) even if they miss their refresher training, users of our training suite will be able to keep their qualification up-to-date using our DSL Refresher course.
Additionally our service can be used to train new DSLs.
The guidance makes it clear that any educational setting whose children are attending a different setting should do “whatever they reasonably can” to provide the new setting with “any relevant welfare and child protection information”. Changes for Looked-After children should be led and managed by the Local Authority Virtual School Head who has responsibility for the child.
The guidance states that “As a minimum the receiving institution should, as appropriate, have access to a vulnerable child’s EHC plan, child in need plan, child protection plan or, for looked-after children, their personal education plan and know who the child’s social worker (and, for looked-after children, who the responsible virtual school head is). This should ideally happen before a child arrives and, where that is not possible as soon as reasonably practicable.”
The guidance is relevant to all schools, whether maintained, non-maintained or independent (including academies, academy trusts, free schools and alternative provision academies), maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units.
Where the guidance refers to ‘colleges’ this includes all of the following:
- further education colleges
- sixth-form colleges
- institutions designated as being in the further education sector
- other further education providers, funded by the Education and Skills
Funding Agency, such as 16 to 19 academies and independent learning providers, including special post-16 institutions.
Please keep safe, we will continue to provide you with information on any further interim guidance issued.
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