The understanding of child protection in the United Kingdom has certainly been on an ever changing and undulating journey over the last 100 years. Although there is a consensus amongst professionals that it provides a clear framework for safe practice what is perhaps not so readily considered is the structure of how to continually ensure that professional development within child protection is monitored, assessed, and validated.
We saw in 1989 a watershed moment in child protection legislation with the implementation of the Children Act which aimed to comprehensively review and reform child law. Up until this time there had been less emphasis on qualification requirements within the children’s workforce but at this juncture there was shift to strengthen and to put in place a more formalised process and requirement for certification. However, and interestingly, basic child protection training (and later the more advanced) never fully kept up with this momentum of quality control even though it is one of the most critical elements of understanding within a workforce.
By 2003 the term ‘safeguarding’ began to become more embedded within professional understanding in part due to the recommendations found within the Laming Inquiry and by 2015 statutory guidance started to prescribe that all those within the children’s workforce should receive “appropriate safeguarding training”, but what does this mean in practice?
There is no dispute that this is an important component in keeping all children safe, but there can also be some confusion and difficulty for an organisation when deciding where training should be sourced from amongst the myriad of training opportunities available.
Training a children’s workforce in safeguarding should ensure that everyone with responsibilities for those most vulnerable has a strong awareness on how to best to protect, to be able to identify risks to children and have confidence when working across a multi agency partnership to share information promptly. However, unlike other statutory required training i.e. first aid and food hygiene, there has been little, to no regulation, and a significant lack of quality control in safeguarding training.
The recent The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (‘IICSA’) Residential Schools Investigation Report, March 2022, equally highlighted the current ambiguity as to how safeguarding training is currently delivered and expressed the need for the standardisation of training:
“Other than requiring staff to have read the relevant parts of KCSIE, the statutory guidance does not set out a minimum level of training or specify any requirements as to the content of safeguarding training that teachers and other school staff should undertake…. Although the intention of the DfE in providing this autonomy for delivery is to benefit the school in flexibility the counterbalance to this is that some settings will only provide the bare minimum and others a high standard of training.”
It is imperative that safeguarding training is not just seen as a statutory ‘tick box’ requirement as set out in “Keeping Children Safe in Education” and “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, or a mere process to be followed in order to perhaps fulfil a requirement of an inspection or funding stream.
We cannot and should not deliver safeguarding training like a pizza by just presenting it in a box (to be ticked). Considering this analogy, a pizza deliverer will knock at the door, collect the money, drop of the pizza, and then walk away with little to no interaction. In this case how do you know the pizza was good or prepared to taste, how do you know the customer knew how to eat the pizza and how do you know the delivery service was impactive?
This also applies to safeguarding training, if delivered as a ‘tick box’ exercise with little to no interaction how will you know staff truly comprehend what safeguarding means? How will you impact assess and quality assure their competence and understanding? How will you ensure that the training delivered was contextual to their role and responsibility or the organisation?
To be impactive, training should be planned and driven by contextual safeguarding trends and practice and communicate a wider understanding of the definition of safeguarding. Strategic safeguarding mapping should form part of an organisations continued professional journey when reviewing the safety and protection of everyone, as opposed to just ‘ticking the box’.
Unlike a ‘pizza’, safeguarding training cannot be considered as just a delivery, it is important that senior leaders ensure a continued understanding is maintained and upheld throughout the year.
The Safeguarding Alliance pioneered ‘Safeguarding 5-a-Day’, (nothing to do with fruit and vegetables!) which enables senior leaders to monitor, impact assess, and quality assure safeguarding understanding throughout the year following safeguarding training.
Safeguarding 5-a-day is a monitoring tool that asks 5 short, sharp safeguarding questions to all staff once a week and can be contextually based on policies, procedures, or safeguarding trends. The responses are then analysed to continue to assess understanding and drive future training needs.
The acronym ‘CSE’ is a type of what?
What is the term for when drug gangs move from cities to smaller towns?
What is Child Criminal Exploitation?
When children do not have enough food, clothes to be comfortable, are left alone for too long and are ignored, which type of safeguarding issue is this?
What does the abbreviation ‘KSCiE’ mean?
We have found that Safeguarding 5-a Day enables senior leaders to identify safeguarding shortfalls in understanding and provide a platform to communicate and embed an ongoing commitment in safeguarding supporting a wider cultural shift in understanding and engagement.