Attending a safeguarding course with Dr Neil Macey and Mike McGivern, and numerous teachers and teaching assistant, I started my role at Simply Education.
Temporary cover and supply teachers can be a conduit to help students. They can be a face that isn’t feared or one that carries a stigma. They can act as a post-it note, relaying a suddenly released message from an unsuspecting student that may be suffering abuse to a newly trusted face. Or not. Either way, it is everyone’s responsibility.
A whistle-blowing policy sounds medieval and part of espionage but is essential to all involved in education. The ability to be a quiet snitch and allow vital information to protect a minor is an important tool to end suffering and a serious crime. On a personal level, I wouldn’t hesitate to shop an adult abusing a minor. It is a pathetic and callous crime. Those who do it deserve the book (and some) thrown at them.
Any employee, teacher, parent, stakeholders, and those in education have a duty of care to their students and minors. It is law and policy that every school has to prevent abuse and ensure all students can live and study in a safe and caring environment. But, once the kid leaves the teacher of employee of the school’s sight, then that duty of care terminates. The safe-guarder is a reporter and not an investigator. Wherever possible, those extra eyes could matter. A multi-agency hub and the police make up the investigation wing. The initial reporter could be a simple supply cover teacher.
Abusers are hidden from plain sight, and most evade authority and some brainwash their kids or the affected children. Since the end of World War II, one or two children have been killed every week. About 44% are killed by parents. Someone within the community around them will likely be involved. Rarely is it random, and all of these should have been prevented. Stranger danger accounts for a fifth of all recorded cases. How many cases go missed? Statistics can only tell you so much, which is exactly why safeguarding is so important.
Some people will not see signs of domestic abuse but may spot an effect on a student. Abusive signs may be visible and appear unlike a scraped knee or a fall. These alarm bells need to be sounded.
The tragic death of Victoria Climbié led to new laws and networking to allow the sharing of information. Data protection laws aren’t a wall, but the proper channels are needed. We must be open and honest to record our concerns whilst ensuring no details are leaked. Other improvements have been made. Safe working practices involve no one to one situations. They are not allowed. More open areas and open-plan schools help protect students and adults from accusations.
The modern teacher or assistant has to move with the times. No unsupervised closed environment with access to technology devices. Screens must be visible. Some whizkids are fast and know how to bypass controls. They may see controlled virtual spaces as a challenge. It is imperative to ensure these loophole realms aren’t possible for kids.
A teacher must evolve their privacy too. Don’t disclose or drop easy to track personal information. Update and improve your online presence. Reduce the ability for students to find you, or even your employer. Certainly, don’t criticise schools. The internet has a memory.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Personal awareness and safety.
How people react.
Where we are solid, then we don’t need to worry about our own behaviours.
For further information, see the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or visit: http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk
I had to wait for my own enhanced noncriminal disclosure and supply a certificate from working overseas before being considered for a job in education. These necessary steps ensure a safe working and learning environment. However, regular reflection and review ensure we’re all up to speed with the latest developments and demands. Reducing crime towards minors is essential.