Safeguarding in schools is very important. Throughout the medical literature, profession and political arena, it’s consistently stated that safeguarding is everyone’s business. This implies that all healthcare and teaching professionals that work with young people and children are morally and legally obligated to protect and promote their health and wellbeing, making sure they’re not at risk. In education this extends to teachers, staff, parents and school administrators.
What exactly is meant by safeguarding? Safeguarding refers to the prevention of physical, verbal or sexual abuse occurring on a person or within a school environment. It also involves addressing the risk factors associated with abusive behaviours. There is a great deal of debate and controversy surrounding what constitutes and actual measure of “safe” behaviour versus inappropriate behaviour. It is recommended that each situation be treated as a unique situation and that it should be appropriately addressed by developing a tailored solution. This can involve using an independant safeguarding consultant to carry out regular audits and safeguarding training.
Some critics state that there is no difference between safeguarding and child protection and that both are subjective terms that are used to describe the same thing. A cursory examination would seem to cast doubt on this view. Both involve the regulation of behaviour in the schools and both raise issues about the duty of care of students and parents towards children. However, whilst child protection involves the regulation of behaviour by professionals in terms of preventing abuse and violence, a key difference exists when discussing the regulation of staff within independent schools and within institutions of childcare. The term “staff” in an independent school setting refers to the professional that provide a service to the school; while a childcare provider may be an employee in a child protection centre but the focus will be on the needs of the child or children being cared for.
The debate surrounding the regulation of staff within independent schools and within childcare facilities has been exacerbated by reports that have highlighted instances where vulnerable young people have been abused by staff in these institutions. As a result, some parents and carers have questioned the necessity of both safeguarding children and of employing independent childcare providers. However, other parents and carers feel that they are adequately equipped to provide a caring and nurturing environment where a child can thrive.