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Best practice in safeguarding

Your organisation should develop safe ways of working where safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare is embedded into all you do.

This means:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring children enjoy the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best chances.

Good and effective relationships with children, parents / carers and other professionals are at the heart of effective safeguarding practice. Deliberately prioritising the building and maintaining of relationships with families and other professionals is fundamental to keeping children safe. When there is disharmony with other people, children are less safe – whether this is because of professional difference in opinion or whether it is a breakdown in relationship with the family. A good question to always ask is, “Is this child more or less safe because of what is happening?”

Best practice in safeguarding is about being informed, knowing where to access helpful resources, guidance and tools to support good and effective decision making. Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 is helpful to all those working with children and families as it has a whole range of links to resources with help practice be effective.

Creating a safeguarding culture means embedding safeguarding into everything an organisation does.  A safegaurding culture is about embodying the principles, values and practices of safeguarding children. A culture in an organisation exists whether it is intentionally designed or not – developing a safeguarding culture has to be by design, it is an explicit way of working. Culture by design is led by the organisational leadership team with clear messages about “how we do safeguarding around here” because “It could happen here”.

Embedding safeguarding into the organisation’s culture starts at the very top of the organisation with the senior managers pledging absolute commitment and support, including ensuring the resources are available to make it happen. This commitment cascades through to the staff who know that abuse can and does happen and are prepared to take action if the need arises.

When safeguarding is built-in to all functions and regularly evaluated for effectiveness, both staff and young people fully understand the arrangements that are in place to protect them and feel uninhibited about using them should the need arise. In promoting this culture young people will understand they will be listened to, supported and know action will be taken on their behalf.

This article is particularly useful for schools and will support other organisations to think through what a safeguarding culture looks like.

Bond has designed a tool to help leaders assess their organisational culture in relation to safeguarding and develop clear actions.

Most organisations have policies and procedures to safeguard children, but they are worthless if staff do not fully understand and follow them. To ensure that your policies and procedures are rooted in all the organisation does, you should:

  • include safeguarding training as part of the induction of all new staff and volunteers
  • provide regular, up-to-date safeguarding training for all staff to develop and maintain their overall awareness
  • provide training specifically on the organisation’s own safeguarding policy and procedures to ensure that staff understand what to do in their own organisation
  • make safeguarding a standing agenda item at staff meetings
  • include articles in newsletters for staff and parents
  • have an area devoted to safeguarding on your website
  • conduct regular supervision and monitoring of staff to ensure they are clear about their roles, responsibilities and boundaries
  • develop an ethos in which staff feel confident about discussing with the safeguarding lead concerns about a child or young person, or a colleague’s behaviour
  • help children to understand what acceptable behaviour is, how they can stay safe from harm and how to speak up if they have worries
  • ensure staff understand what acceptable behaviour is and the types of behaviour that will make them vulnerable to allegations
  • always report an allegation against a staff member, parent or anyone else who has contact with children
  • ensure all staff, parents and children know who the designated/named/lead safeguarding person is and their role.

Be CHILD focussed – Ask yourself what is it like for this child living in this house/family? What is the ‘lived experience’ of this child?

Always be CURIOUS – In challenging times when everyone is trying to do more with less. If we are overwhelmed or weary it is often our curiosity that waivers. Take action: talk with your supervisor or a colleague. If we lack curiosity children are less safe.

COMMUNICATE well – Effective communication helps keep children safe. Ensure your communication with your safeguarding lead, with colleagues, with families, and with children is effective. Poor communication within and between agencies is a red flag/danger zone.

Know your CONTEXT – Adhere to, and regularly review, the safeguarding policies and procedures for your setting.

Be CLEAR about the child’s status – Local reviews have highlighted how not knowing the status of a child has resulted in avoidable mistakes with extremely serious consequences. Be clear: is this child already receiving Early Help, are they a Child in Need or on a child protection plan? Ensure there is clear and timely communication with those already involved.

Be CIVIL to others – Research demonstrates that incivility hinders communication. Civility contributes to more timely and effective
decision making.

To download this information please see the 6Cs poster

Information sharing is crucial for effective safeguarding of children and essential for effective identification, assessment, risk management and service provision. Poor information sharing has been identified as a key factor in numerous serious case reviews.

In the Advice for Practitioners on Information Sharing produced by the government they outline the seven golden rules to sharing information as being:

  1. Remember that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data

Protection Act 2018 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.

  1. Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  2. Seek advice from other practitioners, or your information governance lead, if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  3. Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be clear of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you do not have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  4. Consider safety and well-being: base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  5. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up to date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely (see principles).
  6. Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.

To support this we have an information sharing framework. This overarching framework which outlines the principles, standards of conduct and bases for using and sharing information by partner organisations working in Portsmouth.