No. 7: Governor monitoring of safeguarding
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Overview of the role of governors
Successive editions of Working Together remind us that the safeguarding of children is everyone’s responsibility. Keeping Children Safe in Education has further focused governors of their responsibility to monitor the arrangements that are in place. Policies, staff and volunteer training, key roles such as Designated Safeguarding Leads and how all aspects of safeguarding practice at the school are effective can be found within Part 2. It’s crucial that all governors are able to see safeguarding as part of any visit to the school, considering how children are both kept safe at school, but also at an age-appropriate level made aware of the vulnerabilities they face both in their real and virtual worlds through the curriculum.
All governors should therefore be confident in the following, evaluating and monitoring (not an exhaustive list):
- Agreed procedures and practices followed such as at sign-in when visiting
- Staff practicing agreed policies in areas such as wearing lanyards, not using their mobile devices and safe working practices where working 1:1 with children
- Do children and staff appear confident and safe in their interactions – is this consistent throughout the school and for each visit
- How is information shared by the DSL to keep all staff and governors updated in their safeguarding knowledge – is it relevant, current and meet the needs of different groups
- Are the school grounds (site security) and indoor spaces risk assessed in providing children with a secure environment to learn and thrive
Keeping Children Safe in Education states that:
“Governing bodies and proprietors should have a senior board level (or equivalent) lead to take leadership responsibility for their school’s or college’s safeguarding arrangements” and that as a board, “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there are appropriate policies and procedures in place in order for appropriate action to be taken in a timely manner to safeguard and promote children’s welfare.”
The ‘Safeguarding Governor’ is therefore the named governor who has a role in coordination the monitoring of safeguarding and has themselves a greater understanding of the schools safeguarding practices without a knowledge of individual concerns be they about children or their families. While often in this role due to their working life having a link with safeguarding (commonly Police, Social or Healthcare role), it’s important that they have appropriate training to support this role.
- Many schools also have a Deputy Safeguarding governor, though there is no statutory requirement for this. The safeguarding governor is often involved in the following (not an exhaustive list):
Regular (often termly – though maybe more regular) meetings with the safeguarding team to discuss and share trends for concerns around children (not specific families or children), review of training for staff and its’ impact, DSL welfare, local/national initiatives, support for amending or writing policies
- Scrutiny of the Single Central Record (see separate OMG for this document) and sample of personnel files
- Completion of the section 175 Safeguarding Audit return to Devon County Council (within the autumn term)
- Involvement in site risk assessments, meetings with groups of children, discussions with staff about general themes and levels of provision linked to safeguarding
- Working with the DSL, coordinate the safeguarding aspect of governor visits and collate findings in readiness for reporting to the whole governing board
Reporting to the full governing board
Governing Boards have a variety of ways in which they share information. Commonly, Head teacher (or equivalent roles) contain a variety of information that will offer a range of detail linked to, or specifically about safeguarding. It should be stressed how crucial attendance data is. Leaders should be monitoring attendance in a range of ways and across a range of groups including those deemed vulnerable.
The Safeguarding Governor must provide a report about their, and wider governor monitoring activity that has taken place prepared alongside the DSL. This is crucial in meeting the requirement upon governors that they ensure “appropriate policies and procedures in place in order for appropriate action to be taken in a timely manner to safeguard and promote children’s welfare” – KCSiE. Such reports should be distributed beforehand for others to digest and prepare questions in advance of the meeting. It’s vital that such reports and subsequent questions and answers are recorded by the Clerk to Governors’ within minutes. These provide both transparency for parents, carers and staff as well as evidence for inspectors who are very likely to seek this evidence and meet with the safeguarding governor during inspection.
Reports should maintain the principle that individuals or situations are not referenced. The following points would support this process of sharing information with the wider governing board for scrutiny:
- Data (numbers) in the form of referrals made to Children’s Social Care (MASH enquires) and general themes or patterns if this is the case
- Levels of staff reporting concerns about children
- Dates and types of training offered including information shared in ways such as distribution of One Minute Guides
- Summary of governor visits and outcomes of these including any actions required of leaders
- Plans or topics for future monitoring