Ensuring Effective Safeguarding: A Governor's Role

How to Provide Sufficient Challenge When Looking at Safeguarding in your School

We focus this blog on how to provide sufficient challenge when looking at safeguarding in your school; what policies and procedures are in place or need revising; and how to create a whole-school approach to safeguarding.

What is the role of the Governing Body?
A key term that is repeated in both the Governance Handbook and Keeping Children Safe In Education (KCSIE) is Strategic Responsibility.

For example, the Governance Handbook (October 2020) states:

  • Governing bodies have a strategic leadership responsibility for their school’s safeguarding arrangements and must ensure that they comply with their duties under legislation. They must have regard to KCSIE ensuring policies, procedures and training in their schools are effective and always comply with the law.

And KCSIE Part two sets out the responsibility of governing bodies in the management of safeguarding:

  • An individual on the governing body (often known as safeguarding governor) should have strategic leadership responsibility for the organisation’s wider safeguarding arrangements (and the Prevent Duty should be seen as part of this).
  • Governors/Trustees should receive appropriate safeguarding training to make sure they have the knowledge and information needed to perform their functions, understand their responsibilities and assure themselves that their own organisation’s safeguarding arrangements are robust.

Although the Safeguarding Governor will take the lead, all members of the board must have the knowledge, skills and training to execute this responsibility.

This means that Governors need to have:

  • Secure knowledge of KCSIE and the updates
  • Secure knowledge of the role of the DSL and safeguarding procedures in your schools
  • Oversight of all safeguarding-related policies and knowledge of what they should include

Please see here for details of Judicium’s CPD Safeguarding eLearning package that is available for unlimited usage across the school and appropriate for governors.

Governors also have oversight of:

  • Safer recruitment checks and the keeping of the Single Central Record
  • Policy
  • Leadership
  • Allegations against staff
  • Staff training
  • Safeguarding curriculum
  • Online safety
  • Mental health
  • Looked after children
    • NB: Governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies must appoint a designated teacher
  • Site safety
  • Whole-school approach to safeguarding

Where does sufficient challenge begin?

The best place to start is the school’s policies. Begin by asking, are they compliant and fit for purpose?

The second area to look at is knowledge.

  • Is there sufficient knowledge within the governing body to challenge safeguarding?
  • Is there sufficient knowledge within the staff of the school to understand their duties, responsibilities and role in identifying and reporting concerns?
  • Do students feel safe in the school, and do they know what to do if they do not feel safe?

How do you know these answers? If the answer is no, where are the gaps and what training is required?

What Policies and Procedures are In Place or Need Revising?

The following policies and procedures should be outlined to staff on induction and updated regularly:

Child Protection or Safeguarding Policy

  • Describe procedures in accordance with government guidance
  • Reflect the whole school approach to child-on-child abuse
  • Reflect reporting systems
  • Reference any locally agreed multi-agency safeguarding arrangements put in place by the three safeguarding partners
    • include policies as reflected in Part two of KCSIE, such as online safety
    • special education needs and disabilities (SEND)
    • anti-bullying
  • Be available publicly either via the organisation’s website or by other means
  • Reviewed annually (as a minimum) and updated annually (as a minimum)
  • Kept up to date with safeguarding issues as they emerge and evolve, including lessons learnt
  • Contain appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place to respond to children who go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions

Staff Behaviour Policy

  • Low-level concerns
  • Allegations against staff and whistleblowing
  • Acceptable use of technologies (including mobile devices)
  • Staff/pupil relationships and communications including the use of social media
  • Whistle-blowing policy

Where does sufficient challenge continue?

Consider how policies are reviewed by the governing body.

  • How do you ensure it isn’t an administrative task and that policies are being rigorously cross-referenced with national guidance and statutory guidance?
  • How do you ensure and know that what is in the policy reflects the culture of the school?

How to Develop a Whole-School Approach to Safeguarding

The Basics

  • All policies are compliant and updated regularly
  • All Governors know their duties
  • All staff and Governors have received training

How does sufficient challenge compliment a whole-school approach to safeguarding

The link Safeguarding Governor should:

  • Have safeguarding as a standing item at each governors meeting, and as an essential part of the headteacher’s report.
  • Organise regular safeguarding visits, ideally termly.
  • Be responsive
  • Set clear actions between meetings with the governing body and with the DSL
  • Ensure pupil and staff voice is regular and useful and that it leads to improvements
  • Ensure that safeguarding visits from the Safeguarding Governor are reported back to the wider governing body
  • Ensure these visits are not a ‘tick-box’ activity and that the Governor speaks to students, staff and leaders to triangulate what the DSL is telling them
  • Ask Governors what knowledge they need to feel confident with safeguarding
  • Is the DSL/wider safeguarding team being offered appropriate supervision?

Other members of the Governing body should be prepared to question and probe reports.

Additional Information

The Safeguarding Service is also providing CPD accredited open training courses for DSLs, ALL staff and Governors, including Level 3 equivalent DSL training. For more information on the courses please click here.

If you’d like to review Judicium’s forthcoming sofa sessions please click here

For further information please get in touch.

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