As the summer term draws to a close, we may have half an eye on the new academic year. In a usual year we may wait until the end of August before we worry about it too much.
2020 is not a usual year.
As it currently stands, there is a 42% increase in couples considering divorce, over 600,000 job losses, substantial rise in levels of anxiety amongst young people and a substantial increase in the levels of online grooming.
In short there is a tsunami of cases of a safeguarding nature that are headed our way.
We’ve all been talking about the impact of the lockdown in terms of the increase in domestic abuse, the increase in psychological harm, the rise in anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies. An increase in the number of job losses, potentially amongst those families with income has never been an issue previously.
And all of that leads to essentially a perfect storm of cases coming in the next few months.
When will they appear? Sadly, we can’t say for definite.
Children need to feel secure when they’re going to make a disclosure or tell somebody that something’s not right. They need to feel safe, they need to know that what they say is going to be trusted, and then not going to be ignored. That can take a matter of weeks, it could take a matter of months, and the changing picture in terms of how we’re coming out of this lockdown, and what our environment from an education perspective is going to look like in the new academic year is going to have an impact on that.
But, we know it’s coming.
As a senior lead, you must have a strategy in place.
You don’t have unlimited resources, you don’t have a bottomless pit of funding to deal with this. But, you will already have links, potentially really good links with other agencies.
Now is the time to prepare for that impending increase in cases.
- What resources do you already have in place? Are they being used to their fullest? For example, do you have god links with a charity supporting families in poverty but you have never really understood how they work or how to actually refer to them?
- Can you rearrange your existing support to better support more students? Could you put in place a triage system? What skills do your staff already have that could be used?
- Are you using your technological resources to their fullest? Maybe you are still paper based? Can staff cope with such a system if there is a 50% increase in the number of safeguarding cases? Do all required staff know how to use the technology you have in place? Does there need to be further training? Can this be provided by the software company themselves?
- What links to do you have with external support agencies outside of the local authority? How can these be strengthened? Do you have a list of agencies easy at hand for safeguarding staff to refer to when working with vulnerable young people?
- What support do you have, as DSL, to allow you to fully support your staff through some potentially difficult months?
I appreciate we are just coming to the close the summer term, and we really don’t know what the September 2020 term is going to look like.
But you need to take steps now.
Have a plan; have a strategy that you can implement, to make sure that you are best using the resources you have so that your staff and yourself are not utterly overwhelmed when this influx of cases hits and you will be in a good and strong position to best support those students who need it.
Want to keep on top of your safeguarding obligations, join Kate and other child protection professionals in The Safeguarding Association community.
Now you know more about the different types of abuse, learn what the various stages of child protection look like in my short course: Overview of Child Protection Stages
Already working as a DSL in tertiary education and looking for quality training relevant to your sector and role? Complete the contact form below or look at my open courses here
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.