Monday, 26 September 2011

Ofsted: Training to safeguard learners

Training to safeguard learners

1.        Training in safeguarding is given a high priority in effective schools. Expertise is extended effectively and internal capacity is built up. Managers ensure that staff regularly undertake a comprehensive range of training to promote safe practice in classrooms, around the school and off site. Designated staff are trained and accredited in specialist areas of work, such as manual lifting and handling, sometimes to a standard which enables them to train others in-house. This helps staff to maintain their skills and gives them ready access to specialist advice.

2.        The high priority now given to training in safeguarding matters is a feature of many inspection reports. For example: ‘Safeguarding is a weekly item for staff meetings, and posters and displays ensure it has a high profile within the whole school community. Outstanding schools typically exceed the minimum expectation of refresher training every three years for all staff and every two years for designated child protection staff. They provide annual training for all staff, supplemented by regular updates in staff meetings and underpinned by accurate records of the training undertaken by each member of staff, including volunteers and student teachers.

In the Vale of Evesham school, volunteers were invited to join in staff training sessions. The school had produced a leaflet for volunteers which was recognised as good practice and had been adopted by the local authority for use in other schools.

3.        Some schools use staff handbooks to provide key information and guidance so that staff know exactly what is expected of them and how they should deal with any safeguarding matters. For example, in relation to child protection issues, they know what to look out for, who to report concerns to, and what the agreed referral procedures are. Other day-to-day routines, such as staffing arrangements at break times, are also made clear, adding consistency to the way that staff carry out their roles.

4.        Effective induction programmes for new staff give high priority to safeguarding, recognising that all staff should have the necessary basic training before they work with pupils. New staff need clear, easily accessible written guidance so that they can quickly become familiar with the school’s particular ways of working.

Good, systematic induction helped all staff at Stratton Upper School and Community College to understand how to play their part in safeguarding. New staff downloaded and personalised their induction timetables from the school’s website. Regular checks by line managers ensured that all members of staff were trained to prioritise safeguarding from their first days in the school. One new member of staff said that ‘thinking about the safeguarding needs of the pupils became second nature to me very quickly. Because I had been over the procedures with my line manager, I knew exactly who to turn to when I was worried about a pupil in my second week in the school’.

5.        Effective schools make good use of specialist staff to support the safeguarding agenda, taking advantage of the range of professional expertise available on site, such as the school nurse, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, and mental health worker. Staff actively draw on the expertise of other agencies and professionals. This has a positive impact on:

n  the protection of pupils and their families, and support for them

n  the flexibility and relevance of the curriculum

n  the range and quality of staff training.

6.        The use of external specialist support can help schools to keep their safeguarding practice sharp and in line with statutory requirements and national and local guidance. The schools revisited for this survey generally value and make good use of external support from their local authorities, including:

n  the development of model policies and procedures for all aspects of safeguarding

n  training for staff and governors, for example in child protection

n  advice and support for the recruitment and vetting of adults

n  access to authority-wide databases, such as those relating to risk assessments

n  regular health and safety audits and recommendations for improvement.

7.        High expectations of safeguarding practice extend to other on-site provision such as the nursery or school clubs.

Senior managers at Woodston Primary School worked in partnership with the on-site committee-managed nursery to ensure that safeguarding arrangements were robust. All staff employed in the nursery underwent the same recruitment and vetting checks as those in the school.

8.        Effective schools ensure that staff have a detailed knowledge of pupils’ individual care needs as well as their academic needs and take these into account when working with them and their families.
Of particular note, in the two special schools visited, was the degree of knowledge that staff had of pupils’ communication difficulties and the programmes and staff training that they put in place to help pupils overcome these difficulties. Speech and language therapists worked in partnership with staff to help pupils to communicate more effectively and so reduce their frustration, improve their behaviour, remain calm and minimise the risk of harm to themselves and others.

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