In preparation for the new academic year, we’re going to take a look at the top 10 things I think you need to be considering as part of your safeguarding audit.
What we will then do over the following weeks is to take each of those in turn and look a little more in detail at what each of those things involves, what it covers and what you need to be thinking about when you’re conducting your safeguarding audit.
Safeguarding policy/Child Protection Policy
It should go without saying that your safeguarding policy be reviewed as part of a safeguarding audit. But, sometimes, we maybe don’t look at those in as much detail as we perhaps should. And we can often forget about some of the simple things that we need to be considering. So, make sure your safeguarding audit includes a comprehensive review of your safeguarding policy.
If not included in your safeguarding policy, make sure you thoroughly reviewing your safeguarding procedures. Ask yourself:
- are they fit for purpose?
- do they meet the needs of your organisation as it currently stands?
- do they meet the requirements of a post COVID world?
- are they easy to understand?
- are they simple to follow?
Here I am not just talking about about your standard risk assessment, for example, the one you use for school trips. Rather, think about how safe are your students coming or going back to school or back into your organisation?
Have you looked at your entrances, your exits? Have you considered your your staffing your personnel?
Have you considered all the places where there may well be a risk anywhere where people may be meeting? What are your requirements in relation to that? Are they fit for purpose anymore? have things have to change? Because of the COVID situation?
Have you moved buildings so they need to be reviewed anyway Have you had a change In what you offer and how you offer it.
Have you moved from a face to face situation to online? And is that now covered as part of your risk assessments and your processes more generally speaking?
Now this isn’t necessarily just about your safeguarding staff. Yes, you will need to make sure their safeguarding training is up to date. Whilst there has been a bit of a moratorium on designated safeguarding lead training during lockdown, that is no longer the case. You will need to make sure that you’re certainly from September onwards that your safeguarding lead training is properly refreshed and updated.
Also, think about what other activities your staff undertake, do you have the right training in place for those activities, for example, stop and search; mental health first aid, restraint of children or vulnerable adults. Do not assume that if your staff are contracted in for these purposes that they have received the correct training.
Consider what particular issues are affecting your particular organisation, do you need awareness training? Maybe there are county lines issues, maybe you’ve got an increasing gang issues?
Maybe you’ve got an increase in drug and alcohol abuse that is taking place within the demographic that uses your organisation.
Are your staff are you properly equipped to understand and to deal with that?
Safeguarding should sit at the heart of everything we do as safeguarding professionals. That’s absolutely where it should be. Make sure that as part of your safeguarding audit your policies, in the wider context, are actually fit for purpose in terms of safeguarding. For example, do your car parking policies cover things like adequate lighting adequate access, safe access for staff and for students or authors using your organisation?
Your wider policies must be coherent with your safeguarding policies, otherwise you are leaving a huge gap in terms of protecting those that you work with.
What online access do your students have access to? Is it safe? Is it secure?
Fantastic if you’ve got an IT department who are able to put in appropriate filters and monitor this for you on a daily basis? If not, have you got the right equipment in order to make sure that your internet access is safe? How are you using it? And have you checked that the online access that has been given is appropriate?
And the tools that you’re asking the students and younger children to children to access: Are they appropriate? are they safe? Are they monitored? Do you know what they do? Do you know how they can access them?
Just because you use something personally doesn’t mean it’s automatically appropriate for you to use within an education or business setting. Remember, lots of these platforms will have a free level but you will not to be covered for education or business purposes if you are using the free level in an awful lot of circumstances.
Make sure what you’re using is appropriate and compliant not just from a safeguarding perspective, but you’ve also got to factor in data protection and GDPR as well.
Have you moved to an online delivery model? I have. I love delivering online. I absolutely love the freedom to be able to jump on and talk to you whenever and wherever. I love that my entire business is now a remote business or could be a remote business. And I have the freedom to choose whether or not I deliver anything in a face to face capacity.
Maybe you’ve moved part of your service, part of your teaching into a remote access situation. How is that working?
As part of your safeguarding audit, you should be looking at how that’s operated. What have been some of the issues that have arisen as a result of that? What have been some of the brilliant things, what have been some of the not so brilliant things? And what things do we absolutely have to address to make sure that we get right each and every time from a delivery perspective. So that could be the way that content is accessed. It could be how students and teachers access particular platforms, it could be passwords, one, two ones, simple things like backgrounds.
That should absolutely form part of your safeguarding audit. Because if your delivery method has changed, you will have had to make sure that it’s safe and secure and you should be King, that people, staff, students, whoever have been following the rules in relation to this that you have set down. If you haven’t set them down, then now is the time to do so to make sure that you are protected for whatever programme you are looking at delivering come the new term.
Contacts within external agencies
Sadly COVID has not only brought about the tragedies of very high numbers in deaths, it is also brought about the high numbers of services that are no longer available or do not have capacity to support any more people. You will need to make sure that you are reviewing those contact numbers that you already have. You will need to make sure that that’s still current that those people are still in those organisations and particularly that those are organisations are still running. You’ll also need to make sure that those organisations are still accepting people and how they are accepting referrals to make sure that your information is as up to date as is absolutely possible.
Now this is wider than your external agencies. It could be that you are looking internally at what resources you have available. And maybe you have counselling services in house maybe you have access to things like common rooms or you have access to ta days or you may have a band of volunteers that come in and support you. thoroughly review how you are using those resources, how they are accessing the information they need to or if they are physical, make sure they’re still fit for purpose and if they’ve not been used for months, what needs to happen in order to make them appropriate? Those are some of the very simple things that you can look at immediately.
Culture and level of vigilance
Finally, you need to review your culture and level of vigilance in terms of safeguarding within your organisation. You will get this partly from the work you’re doing in terms of reviewing your risk assessments, your policy, your procedures, but you’ll need to do some sort of check around how well they are being implemented and how well they are being used.
A policy procedure assessment is only as good as the weakest person using it.
And if there are people who aren’t using it appropriately, you will need to deal with that because you’re leaving yourself wide open.
So part of your audit needs to look at how safeguarding is viewed within your organisation where it sits within everybody’s daily practices and where it sits as part of the overall plan.
As part of your organisation, you will only get a true picture by delving deeply and actually asking some potentially difficult questions and doing some deep surveys of work that should be undertaken on a routine basis. If you want any assistance with any audits that are being undertaken, over the summer months of the early part of the new year, please do get in touch because I do support people through the safeguarding association to manage these audits.
They can be enormous for one person to deal with. And we can work together to make sure that you’re gathering the right information so that you know that you’re ordering Is thorough as it possibly can be, and you have somebody to bounce off and somebody that you can trust to, to support you through that process. I
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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Safeguarding Practitioners Ltd & Kate Young disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.