By Craig Keady and Donya Pourzand, senior consultants for the NSPCC
It's a brilliant feeling when you've found the right candidate for a role. Recruitment can be a rewarding process though it's fair to say that it can also be hard work. You've spent time preparing, shortlisting, interviewing and carrying out your vetting and pre-employment checks. You're sure that you've appointed the best person for your school and you're looking forward to their first day - the first of what you hope will be a long working relationship. But safer recruitment doesn't stop there, it's a continuous process.
You need to ensure that safeguarding is at the heart of the induction and probation period. It's essential for every educational setting - whether primary or secondary schools, higher education, pupil referral units, academies or SEN schools. But while the principles of safeguarding are the same across the education sector, every school setting is different. Your governance and procedures are tailored to your context and environment. Your values and culture are what makes your school unique. And it's really important that this is reflected in your induction processes.
A framework for induction and probation
By following safer recruitment practices you already have a framework for your induction and probation. The assessment criteria that you created during the planning stages of recruitment can be used to support your new starters in the first days, weeks and months of their new role. These criteria enable you to set out your expectations clearly and to provide a structure for the monitoring and the measurement of performance. By consistently applying these values and criteria you can ensure you are appropriately supporting your workforce and highlighting your own requirements.
Applying safeguarding policies and procedures
But what about safeguarding? Ensuring that everyone who works or volunteers with your school understands and knows how to apply your safeguarding policies and procedures is a standard part of every school's induction process. Of course it's a subject that teachers are already familiar with. Yet for non-teaching staff this may be a new area. They might not have worked in the education sector before and, even if they have, the way you apply your safeguarding policies and procedures will be bespoke to your school.
Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding
The day-to-day responsibilities are different for each role. Your school receptionist is the first person that every single visitor comes into contact with - and often the person that a child sees if they are sent home because they're unwell. Your kitchen staff see children and young people every mealtime, giving them an ideal opportunity to spot any signs of concern. Support staff work very closely with children and young people, so are perfectly placed to notice any changes in behaviour. Everyone plays their part in keeping children and young people safe and their individual roles provide them with different opportunities to do this. But pupils often don't see this difference - to them, every single member of staff or volunteer is a trusted adult. So it's really important that everyone knows what they must do to keep children safe, is able to recognise the signs of abuse or neglect and understand how to respond appropriately. And if a child or young person discloses to them, they must understand what steps they need to take.
Helping staff understand their responsibilities
That's why, as well as providing consultancy and training on safer recruitment we created our introductory online course Child protection in schools. Developed by our child protection experts it helps everyone:
- understand what safeguarding and child protection is
- understand the relevant legislation and guidance for safeguarding in education
- know how to recognise different types, signs and indicators of abuse and neglect
- know how to respond to concerns and provide a response that's best for the child
- understand the correct procedures for reporting any concerns and know who to report to.
The course takes around three hours and each section has follow up questions with explanations to give learners the understanding and confidence they need. By embedding training like this into your induction process you can be sure that you're empowering your staff in their role in keeping children and young people safe.