Safeguarding during the Coronavirus crisis: Your questions answered
As schools continue to manage safeguarding remotely, we asked our safeguarding partner, Ann Marie Christian, to answer some key questions asked by schools and colleges during our recent webinar.
- The information given is accurate at the time or writing
- If you have a query about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to schools and other educational establishments in England, contact the DfE coronavirus helpline on 0800 046 8687. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and weekends 10am to 4pm. If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.
How to manage safeguarding during lockdown
Your questions answered
Q: I'm the chair of governors for the school. I’m safeguarding trained. Can I step in if there is a problem with safeguarding staffing?
A: It depends what you mean by 'safeguarding trained'. Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) trained means you will know the role of the DSL and understand the challenges. You can not be the DSL as you are a volunteer, governor and not SLT. Most often, safeguarding trained means you know how to recognise and report abuse.
You can not have access to confidential information about the families so you can not step in but can support the safeguarding team if they want a listening ear to talk about their challenges etc.
The optimal scenario for any school or college providing care for children is to have a trained DSL or deputy available on site. It is recognised this may not be possible, and where this is the case there are 2 options to consider:
- a trained DSL or deputy from the school or college can be available to be contacted via phone or online video - for example working from home
- sharing trained DSLs or deputies with other schools or colleges (who should be available to be contacted via phone or online video)
Q: How are we going to support our pupils after lockdown? Any Tips? Or will schools have guidance from DfE?
A: Supporting children will be important when schools return to some kind of normality. The government has given guidance throughout this period and we would think that this will continue. It is worth looking at the excellent advice given by charities already. For example, Young Minds, Childnet and Winstons Wish who will be presenting webinars with EduCare during the Coronavirus lockdown.
We have to mindful that some children did not have positive experiences in their family homes during this time and therefore may need extra support and understanding of their behaviour. All staff should be reminded about the role in keeping children safe and reporting concerns or worries about children.
Q: If you report a vulnerable (SEN) child to social care and they do not take an action where else can you access support?
A: Local safeguarding partners. NSPCC, Early help support via your Local Authority
Q: During COVID-19 how often should social workers be doing home visits?
A: It depends on the risk in the case. Child Protection Plan cases - minimum of two visits a month, one announced and one unannounced. Child in Need cases monthly visits. Child Protection Investigations with 24 hours from receiving the referral the child must be seen preferably alone.
Q: Can you tell us what training resources are available for teachers and trainee teachers working online with students and working with students in school under distancing regimes?
A: Our colleagues at Tes have a bank of information available in their Coronavirus hub.
Q: Can I ask what is being done with 18+ learners in terms of safeguarding responsibility, and what other colleges are doing if they can’t contact an 18+ learner?
A: If the 18+ is deemed as vulnerable.i.e. Care Leaver, SEN, etc then supported is extended over the age of 18 up to the age of 25. Support can be offered by Adult Social Care in the Local Authority.
Q: What about children in primary schools? We speak to parents of vulnerable children but should we speak to the child too?
A: If you have worries yes. Sell it as a supportive package to the parent, make it clear from the start that you are worried about how the child will cope and because the school have an established relationship with the child they will make contact with the child via the parent and explain how often. Speaking to both child and parent where possible would be advised
Q: If a vulnerable child is not attending school, how frequently should school staff be contacting the family to enquire about their general wellbeing/welfare etc?
A: As often as the schools see necessary as this will be different for each case
Q: Should we be doing an appendix to our existing safeguarding policies on Covid-19 - would we actually call it 'Covid-19 Safeguarding'?
A: The government advises in some cases a COVID-19 annex/addendum that summaries any key COVID-19 related changes might be more effective that re-writing and re-issuing the whole policy.
Q: Thank you would like one about teenagers running away from home during current situation of lockdown
A: Please register to join our webinar with NWG on exploitation during the crisis.
Q: I work in a specialist provision, so students will struggle to report concerns themselves. What extra controls can we put into place other than regular phone calls?
A: Making students know they can contact a named person from the school via email, telephone number, text (school mobile). Signposting them to NSPCC, local children social care.
Q: What good practice do you recommend for children to report concerns. So those we are concerned about & our vulnerable concerns we are calling and talking to parents. Is it the parents we should be talking to or the child?
A: Schools and colleges should also follow up with any parent or carer who has arranged care for their children and the children subsequently do not attend. To support the above, schools and colleges should take the opportunity when communicating with parents and carers to confirm emergency contact numbers are correct and ask for any additional emergency contact numbers where they are available. In all circumstances where a vulnerable child does not take up their place at school or college, or discontinues, the school or college should notify their social worker.
Q: My concern is for students with SEND and some non-verbal is that we are talking to parents and basing our risk assessment on parents' view of the wellbeing of a child. Is there any advice on how to safeguard nonverbal students?
A: Use the same methods of communication you would use in the school. Have they got a keyworker? Social worker in the children with disabilities team? Mash team? Research the local support for SEND and some non-verbal and make enquiries about how they can support.
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