Speaking as she launched the Office of the Children's Commissioner's report into improving child safeguarding practice, Dr Maggie Atkinson urged on schools and local authorities to continue to prioritise safeguarding despite cutbacks.
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The report, compiled by the NSPCC and Youthworks, suggested that "the changing environment has led to a number of schools and services reporting that it is hard to keep up to date and in some cases, has led to uncertainty within the workforce around, for example, vetting and barring procedures and statutory child protection and safeguarding duties".
You have someone to trust - outstanding safeguarding practice in primary schools, is based on a sample of primary schools in England and includes case studies from teachers, professionals and children to highlight best practice in schools and also how they work with external agencies who help keep children safe.
She told delegates at the NSPCC Safeguarding in Education Conference, which launched the report, that "a whole school approach to safeguarding is key" and "good safeguarding in schools depends on good safeguarding in the community".
"Most primary schools do a good job identifying and supporting children recognised as vulnerable and at risk of abuse and neglect," added Dr Atkinson.
"Schools are in a unique position to work with other agencies to take action. However, teachers have told us they would value guidelines on developing a range of support strategies because the reductions in networks of local services are directly impacting on children and families in need of greater support and schools' ability to find quickly locate services for them. The changing guidance, legislation and inspection criteria have left some teachers confused about what to do for a child they are concerned about.
"Many schools are now dealing with the impact of these changes on children's lives and their increased need for support so it is important to identify models of good practice for teachers, school leaders and other children's services professionals to support them with any child protection concerns. The development of outstanding safeguarding practices is crucial to achieve the best outcomes for children. Only when they are socially and emotionally secure can children reach their full potential, either academically or personally."
Other speakers at the event included the NSPCC's head of safeguarding in education John Stead, Youthworks director Adrienne Katz and headteachers from schools highlighted in the report - here's our account of the key quotes from the day as reported @journalfhc on Twitter:
|Ready to kick off @nspcc #safeed2012 conf - it's an international affair with guests from as far New South Wales apparently!|
|We'll hear contributions from @nspcc head of safeguarding John Stead & @childrenscommissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson #safeed2012|
|Best policy & practice is key obj of #safeed2012 says @nspcc John Stead "key for schools to consider safeguarding at every level"|
|"Supporting children so they get the best education is only poss when they are safe" Stead says Munro quote always relevant #safeed2012|
|Imp to recognise that children always need someone to turn to and staff in school inc school nurses have most contact #safeed2012|
|Key for @childrenscommissioner is to reduce multi-agency barriers to effective safeguarding & have HVs, nurses work w schools #safeed2012|
|If they [chidren] aren't safe how do you know they will achieve? Asks @childrenscommissioner Dr Atkinson #safeed2012|
|'Niggle notes', recording any thoughts a child may have problems, key to good practice for @childrenscommissioner #safeed2012|
|Good links between #healthcare+ #mentalhealth professionals and teachers essential says @childrenscommissioner Cant do it on own #safeed2012|
|Involving #police in #safeerschoolspartnerships imp for @childrenscommissioner "schools not just islands" #safeed2012 @policingtoday|
|If schools have designated money must spend on safeguarding not teachers insists @childrenscommissioner & she's ex-teacher! #safeed2012|
|@childrenscommissioner closes by telling all teachers & health professionals in room "Remember-we're in it for the children" #safeed2012|
|Melbourne School's Jane Hinchliff says having #healthcare support key "heads aren't social workers, need quick advice on phone" #safeed2012|
|Fascinating to hear from Headteacher Ann Starr on inclusive safeguarding for those with #learningdisabilites #safeed2012 @socialcaredan|
|Ann says special needs schools often have less 'at-gate' contact with parents than other schools so contact w #health workers key#safeed2012|
|On wider issues around #meganstanmer case @childrenscomm says user-up e-safety training & sensible staff use of #socialmedia imp #safeed2012|
|@childrenscomm advocates clear comms links between #health workers & staff on excluded kids "need know safe if not there" #safeed2012|
|Anyone who's tried read Working Together to Safeguard Children doc be pleased hear from Simon Genders it's down from 390-21pgs #safeed2012|
|Genders, from @LeicsCountyHall, will explain how to engage schools in a multi-agency safeguarding approach #safeed2012|
|Just 3 paras in #WT talk about teachers, still key for identifying concerns but multi-agency aspect inc HVs, nurses more imp #safeed2012|
|Genders questions how academies, free schools, state schools etc can all fit into local safeguarding children board policies #safeed2012|
|Good safeguarding needs good leadership says @nspcc consultant Michelle North #safeed2012|
|"If children in school aren't safe, you have to work twice as hard to hit [attainment]targets" @nspcc Michelle North suggests #safeed2012|
|Adrienne Katz from Youthworks tells us about 9,000 young people's experience online as identified in Cybersurvey #safeed2012|
|Imbalance between many young people who claim to be cyberbullied & those that deny they have been making policy tough to set #safeed2012|
|96% of pupils receive e-safety education but how many actually follow questions Katz. A lot less than that I'd said #safeed2012|
|Often those in care/in contact with health workers most likely to be cyberbullied - HVs/care workers need monitor phone use etc #safeed2012|
|Universal e-safety advice isn't enough for vulnerable children argues Katz "they won't follow it, so active intervention is key" #safeed2012|
|Twin peaks to cyberbullying 10-11 & 14-15 so acting just before these can make a big difference argues Youthworks Katz #safeed2012|
|@nspcc John Stead closes conference by reminding delegates that "every piece is key to creating effective safeguarding jigsaw" #safeed2012|