“If you think you know everything you become a dangerous person”…

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:

  1. Use great content produced by experts in the particular topics and avoid cascaded models of training, which dilute expert experience and quality of learning;
  2. Ensure the content is accessible, engaging and most importantly current. The best systems offer immediate updates as legislation, statutory guidance and inspection requirements change.
  3. Provide training that all staff, regardless of their ability level, experience and language requirements, will understand with access to revision of training at the point of need, not when you can fit it into staff training sessions. (E-learning can be a valuable tool to achieve this).
  4. Use a system where individual tracking and assessment can be fully monitored. This is invaluable for leaders to not only track progress but assess comprehension. Something you can’t achieve in the traditional seminar style delivery.
  5. Avoid training where assessment pass rates are below 100%. I’m often asked why our pass rates aren’t lower than 100% and my response is always the same – “tell me what part of the safeguarding remit its okay not to understand”.

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!

Why e-Learning should be the obvious choice for safeguarding training, but is often overlooked…

E-Learning should be the clear number 1 choice when considering staff safeguarding training and compliance with requirements. On every level it makes total sense, whether it’s cost or effectiveness of learning.

With training updated as requirements change and courses accessible 24/7/365 on any PC, Mac, Tablet or Smartphone, why would you look anywhere other than the e-Learning sector?

The answer is simple – there is e-Learning and then there’s e-Learning, and here’s the big issue and where the doubt creeps in. How can you tell the difference between one company’s service and the next, and be sure you comply with requirements?

These are the fear factors which lead schools/academies to rely on external trainers, cascaded training or sending staff out on training courses. But we know these traditional methods are problematic. How can you be sure external training meets latest standards? The expertise is often lost in cascaded training, often diluted through the process of delivery, and offers little scope for differentiation to meet the participants needs. Change is sometimes hard to face, even if it will make things better again both in terms of cost and effectiveness of learning!

So here are some tips:

  1. Always ask your potential supplier to take you step-by-step through their system. Is it complex in terms of setup and administration? It shouldn’t be!
  2. Take a look at the quality and sophistication of the presentation. If it doesn’t engage you, it won’t engage your staff!
  3. Make sure you get access to the whole system for as long as you need, don’t be guided just to what companies want to show you (their best bits).
  4. Ask how often the content is updated and how you will know if there have been changes. The best systems offer immediate updates as legislation, statutory guidance and inspection requirements change.
  5. Remember, poorly designed and overly complex system architecture and content often leaves users disappointed, disillusioned and most importantly, inadequately trained. This problem starts with the system interface and user account setup but is an unnecessary issue as good system design can overcome this problem and help, not hinder the user.
  6. Next, the user needs to be fully engaged with the particular training course. This can only be achieved by gathering content from key experienced practitioners from the education sector combined with engaging written content and digital media that only the best providers achieve effectively.
  7. Does the content offer a solution that all your staff, regardless of their ability level, experience and language requirements, will understand?
  8. Engagement is everything. The last thing users want to see is static content that they could have produced themselves. Engaged learners learn and poor content and system design will disengage the user in seconds!

In a recent piece of feedback regarding our Safeguarding Suite, one of our customers emailed simply:

“Thank you for making my job easier.”

I loved it. There really is no better place to be than that. We have a great product that is protecting children and making practitioners’ lives easier and less stressful.

At SSS we pride ourselves on providing a service to our customers, who can be safe in the knowledge that we are looking after the training that they are required to complete.

This is what great e-learning can deliver.

Take great care when interpreting child protection data trends

This month’s BBC Panorama episode “Children Abusing Children” revealed a steep rise in peer on peer abuse in the UK. A shocking statistic – yes, however, whilst these figures are alarming, we do need to carefully consider how to accurately define what they actually indicate.

As a result of freedom of information requests, latest statistics evidence a 71 per cent rise in reports of peer on peer abuse from 2013, 4,603 reports, to 7,866 in 2016. According to figures obtained by BBC Panorama, 74 per cent of these reports resulted in no further action being taken. All forms of child sexual exploitation are abhorrent but what is particularly worrying is that during the same period there have been 2,625 reported sexual offences, including 225 cases of rape, alleged to have taken place on primary and secondary school premises.

As with all areas of child protection, great care must be taken when interpreting data trends. New areas of data capture, for example online sexual offences, not previously included in categories, which may present a skewed representation of increase. Additionally, where an increase in offences is shown this may not necessarily mean this activity is becoming more prevalent, it may reflect improvement in detection rates.

What the data across the UK does indicate is that allowing for new types / methods of sexual abuse, there is a pattern of increase in detection and offence rates. As at 31st March, in England reports of sexual offences against children have increased sharply by 19%.

Children aged 16 and 17 are to a great extent not included in this statistic as the data on crimes such as rape and sexual assault is grouped with adult statistics. Due to this method of data collection, the true scale of sexual offending against all children under 18 cannot be analysed.

In Scotland, in 2016 reports of sexual offences against children under the age of 16 have increased sharply by 7% and over the past decade, sexual offences against this age group have increased by 68%. 2016 data shows that in Northern Ireland, reports of sexual offences against children have increased with a 26% increase in offences of sexual assaults and 24% increase in offences involving sexual activity. There were 46 offences of sexual grooming recorded compared to 4 in the previous year.

As the case studies featured in the programme demonstrate, despite the increase in legislation and statutory guidance and inspection requirements to demonstrate the prevention and management of peer on peer abuse, best practice models are not being robustly implemented. This indicates a need to refocus our best practice models, ensure all staff in schools and academies are equipped to recognise and support potential and actual victims of this type of abuse together with appropriate action for the perpetrators. The need for high quality training and individual assessment of staff knowledge to ensure best practice is absolutely essential, otherwise more children will be failed as those featured in the BBC programme.

Knowledge saves lives National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day 2017

This National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, SSS Learning is raising awareness of the many types of child sexual exploitation (CSE) uncovered and investigated every day in the UK. We urge government and the public sector to make stronger recommendations concerning the depth and frequency of safeguarding training for frontline professionals tasked with protecting children and young people.

Our big message on this important day, is this: “knowledge is power – frontline professionals need better access to training and resources to stay on top of the latest legislation updates, support and intervention techniques.”

CSE is a type of sexual abuse, which can be a violent as well as degrading experience, requiring sound knowledge and expertise by professionals to identify those at risk and/or support victims.

In the case of sexting and use of modern technology, CSE does not always involve physical contact. According to figures released by the Labour Party, sexting; sharing of sexually explicit images, photos or messages by under 16s, rose by an astonishing 1204% in two years. Whilst much is being done in schools to empower young people to keep themselves safe and develop proficient ICT and mobile phone usage policies, staff must also be trained to spot signs of certain behaviours to identify children at risk of this form of abuse outside the school gates. New sexting guidance for schools was released by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety last September to support educators.

Witnessing high profile CSE cases such as former Crewe Alex youth coach Barry Bennell, now charged with 20 counts of suspected abuse, and former independent school teacher Patrick Marshall, it is clear that child abuse is very much part of the national consciousness and public debate in Britain right now. To stop this legacy continuing, more must be done to ensure that teachers, doctors, nurses and voluntary workers clearly understand their legal responsibility and acquire the expertise to deliver appropriate services.

The world of legislative protection for young people is continuously evolving in line with case learnings and outcomes. For example, the Department for Education has released updates to its ‘Working together to safeguard children (Sep 2016)’ statutory guidance and “Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners” (Feb 2017) which impacts upon the CSE legal requirements placed upon schools. It is essential that any frontline professional trained before these dates, understand the latest requirements they are required toembed in everyday safeguarding practice.

The more we learn from cases; historic and current, the stronger the case becomes for safeguarding to be firmly embedded in CPD. Whilst public sector officials are wrestling with budget uncertainties and pressure to cut training reserves, the fact that over 57,000 children are currently identified as needing protection from abuse in the UK, is a stark reminder of the situation we are dealing with. Furthermore, it is estimated that, for every child identified as needing protection from abuse, another eight are suffering abuse.

In the current financial climate, ensuring your staff are one hundred percent up-to-date might feel daunting, however by changing our approach to safeguarding training and using modern approaches it is achievable. Supported by a quality safeguarding partner, you will be alerted to changes in legislation and guidance and provided with updated resources to share with staff.

Here’s a useful checklist for senior frontline professionals tasked with procuring CSE training. The content should:

  1. Comprehensively define Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE);
  2. Provide a comprehensive understanding of legislation and statutory requirements within educational settings;
  3. Enable staff to recognise the key CSE risk indicators;
  4. Include the role of school or academy governance regarding CSE;
  5. Identify individual staff roles in protecting pupils from / responding to incidents of CSE;
  6. Provide details on when and how to refer children and young people.

During National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day we’ll be sharing the great work being done to promote awareness. Please let us know what you’re doing to mark this important initiative via Twitter, or Facebook.

Here are just some of the great campaigns running:
Enfield residents urged to spot signs of child sexual exploitation (via Enfield Today)
Councillors in South Tyneside backing campaign to raise awareness of child exploitation (via ITV.com)
Isle of White Local Safeguarding Children’s Board joins the fight against child sexual exploitation (via On the Wight)

“One chance” to protect Britain’s child brides

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:

  • physical and or emotional distress;
  • girls / women having undergone Female Genital Mutilation prior to a marriage;
  • depression;
  • self-harming;
  • being withdrawn from education, which impacts on educational, personal and social development;
  • enforced lifestyle restrictions;
  • financial difficulties through dependence on another person or, if a person does not have leave to remain in the UK, and have no recourse to public funds.

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: fmu@fco.gov.uk / Telephone: 020 7008 0151 / From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151.

Invest in society’s protectors to protect Britain’s children and young people

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.

Speak up for those that are silenced: Self-Injury/Harm Awareness Day


“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.

SSS Learning earns BESA trade association seal of approval

SSS Learning’s safeguarding services and expertise have received a new industry accolade – approval from the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the trade association for the world’s leading educational suppliers.

Working with over 100,000 frontline professionals to safeguard children and young people, SSS Learning meets the stringent business criteria and BESA Code of Practice to ensure that school and academy buyers have complete confidence in the goods and services they purchase.

In a time of budget uncertainty across the public sector, it is vital that schools and academies are working with assured suppliers. BESA represents members from across the UK educational suppliers sector, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, ICT hardware and EdTech to the education market.

Jon Case, CEO of SSS Learning said: “As an organisation serving the education sector, we deliver upon the core business principles of safety, reliability and value for money. Becoming a BESA member provides added security and peace of mind to customers and will enable us to broaden our services to help teachers protect many thousands more children and young people from abuse and neglect.”

SSS Learning delivers high quality, individual online safeguarding training covering a broad spectrum of issues, from child protection and child sexual exploitation (CSE), to Prevent Duty (radicalisation and extremism) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). For more information, please visit www.ssscpd.co.uk/education. You can also follow the SSS Learning community on Twitter and Facebook.

FGM: Is it a British priority?

On International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 2017, we ask the big question: is this really a British priority?

Over 130 million girls and women globally have experienced some form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); an extreme type of child abuse affecting girls as young as three years-old. But, as estimated statistics show, it mostly happens to girls outside the UK, so should this be a British priority?


“You wouldn’t look the other way at knife or gun crime, and FGM is no different. It’s a violent crime, an abuse and defilement of human rights resulting in long standing physical and emotional difficulties. Shockingly, an estimated 5,700 UK resident girls and young women have been cut so clearly FGM remains a British safeguarding priority”

– Sam Preston, e-learning & training director, SSS Learning Ltd.


Classed as an honour-based crime, whereby acts of violence are committed to protect the perceived reputation and / or beliefs of the family or community, FGM isn’t right and certainly isn’t legal. Violence against women committed in the name of “honour” is a growing problem in Britain with UK police forces reporting 11,744 honour based crimes between 2010 and 2014. These figures include FGM abuse.

In most European countries, HBV is almost entirely associated with immigrant communities maintaining the tribal or cultural values of the country of origin. Research indicates that HBV is more prevalent in first-generation immigrant populations, which highlights the importance of greater integration of minority communities as key to reducing this violence.

From a child protection perspective, the known statistics are largely unhelpful; every girl living in the UK should be protected from abuse. As frontline professionals, it’s our legal duty to report all suspected cases to the police.

Amongst the vast research and projects being conducted globally, it is encouraging to see fantastic new work being done in the UK and Ireland. Just this month, ActionAid Ireland has launched new research as part of its its AFTER (Against Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting Through Empowerment and Rejection) project to empower women in Ireland to reject FGM, whilst rights-based group Oxford Against Cutting is releasing its ‘Are You Ready to Know?’ film, documenting the impact of FGM on our women. Great things are also happening across Europe as we saw BanFGM take place in Rome last week. The conference drew together campaign groups, United Nations (UN) officials and government ministers to discuss how to end the practice and called for attention to be focused beyond Africa.

What is the challenge in Britain?

Whilst work around the world focuses on discouragement of FGM in practicising communities, the challenge in the UK is altogether different. Here, we must focus efforts on training our frontline professionals to proficiently spot the warning signs and intervene early, before British girls undergo FGM. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for daughters to report their families to the authorities, this is something that will just never happen.


“If FGM practitioners and communities are to be brought to prosecution under UK child protection law, we must arm teachers, doctors, nurses and voluntary sector workers with the right training to embed this concern in the child protection remit.”

– Sam Preston, e-learning & training director, SSS Learning Ltd.


FGM is ILLEGAL in Britain and has been since 1985 – that’s the bottom line. Interestingly, during ActionAid Ireland’s AFTER research last year, it was discovered that less than 1 in 5 women’s health service providers were aware that FGM is also illegal in Ireland and less than 30% of the participants had received some training on FGM as part of general trainings on violence against women.

So, what can be done in times of austerity and budget uncertainty here in the UK? If the latest news is anything to go by, then reform is much needed – just this month we’ve witnessed the closure of a top London FGM clinic, with Ealing Council citing budget constraints as the key deciding factor. The Acton African Well Woman Centre has helped over 1000 women deal with the trauma of FGM.

We believe that high quality e-learning is an effective solution, replacing cost prohibitive face-to-face training and embedding informed practice across the public sector. Our online training courses alone have already helped over 100,000 frontline professionals to become individually certified in the latest child protection issues. In addition, where prevention is too late, our training also ensures professionals are properly equipped to support FGM victims. A key point addressed in the Government’s ‘Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 – 2020’ is that, in order to tackle violence against women and girls, it must be everybody’s business. From health providers to law enforcement, educationalists, employers, friends and family we all need to be equipped to play our part.

UNICEF says that as many as 30 million girls could be cut in the next decade – let’s work together to address this and do our part in ensuring British women do not contribute to this figure!

What is Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting?

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting or FGM/C refers to all procedures that involve partial or total destruction of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In some countries around the world, mainly in Africa, FGM/C is a harmful cultural practice and an extreme form of sanctioned violence and discrimination against women.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our FGM course click here

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Early intervention at risk by budget cuts

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?

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here