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Safeguarding for Governors – A Guide
With the 2022 update to Keeping Children Safe in Education came an increased onus on school governors to both undertake safeguarding and child protection training and to take an increased role in the safeguarding process. To ensure you remain within the boundaries of the legislation, then, we’ve created a brief guide to safeguarding for governors, so that you can understand all of your responsibilities under the new document.
Governors and safeguarding
At times, literature from local authorities refers to the idea of a ‘link governor‘, members of a school’s governing body assigned to completing specific tasks in the school’s everyday practices. For example, there may be a link governor for finance or A-Level students.
Under KCSiE 2022 (comes into force 1 September 2022), a school’s board of governors must now have a senior board member take ‘leadership responsibility for their school or college’s safeguarding requirements.’ This person should be separate from the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) but should work with them to oversee and improve the school’s safeguarding process. Note that this is a strategic ‘leadership’ role; safeguarding and child protection actions remain the responsibility of the DSL.
Perhaps it’s helpful, then, to think of this newly-required member as a ‘link governor’ for safeguarding. Of course, there’s no legal requirement for them to be referred to as such.
Tasks of the governor
Again, it’s important to note that this governor responsible for safeguarding is not to be involved in the day-to-day running of the school’s safeguarding processes, including:
- Dealing with individual safeguarding incidents
- Reporting on individual safeguarding incidents
Instead, they are to act as a leader of these processes, oversee them and liaise with both the board and the DSL to keep improving them. With that level of involvement in mind, here’s a list of some of the responsibilities facing the ‘safeguarding governor’:
Liaison for the board of governors
- A principle role of the safeguarding governor is to be the board’s expert on safeguarding; this includes ensuring the board is aware of and in-line with the most recent safeguarding legislation.
Safeguarding training for governors
- The safeguarding governor must regularly take training and refresh their knowledge, so as to be in-line with the latest government guidance.
- Similarly, the governor responsible for safeguarding must also direct the safeguarding training efforts of the board, ensuring that all governors are properly trained upon admittance, and that training is regularly updated.
- The safeguarding governor should also ensure that school staff are trained in safeguarding, and that training regularly updated.
Overseeing the school’s safeguarding policies
The safeguarding governor must ensure the school has an effective range of policies related to safeguarding:
- An effective child protection policy
- A school-wide behaviour policy, including measures to prevent all kinds of bullying
- A staff behaviour policy
- Appropriate arrangements to safeguard children who go missing from education, particularly those who do so regularly
More information on the specifics of these policies can be found in Keeping Children Safe in Education, paragraph 98.
Create an infrastructure for proper safeguarding
Furthermore, the safeguarding governor must do everything they can to ensure that the above policies are properly implemented, such as:
- Appoint an appropriate DSL from the senior leadership team and then:
- Support that DSL, with the appropriate funding, training and resources required
- Meet the DSL regularly to ensure procedures are up-to-date and effective
Find out more about the role of the designated safeguarding lead, and how to support them as a governor, in Annex C of Keeping Children Safe in Education.
- Ensure that the school has appointed a designated teacher, responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked-after or previously looked-after children, such as those who have been adopted, came under special guardianship or are in similar child care arrangements.
- Design a curriculum which teaches the importance of safeguarding and online safety to staff and children
- Update the board on the success of current monitoring procedures
- Ensure that checks of the single central record (a central record of safeguarding checks carried out on all staff and relevant people) are made regularly, though not by the governor
As the governor responsible for safeguarding, ensuring your school practices it properly can be complicated, but is absolutely necessary. Whilst this article represents a good summary of the new responsibilities of governors within school safeguarding, to understand your requirements properly, you should read the Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 document.
You can find out more information about the roles and duties of governing boards, and advice on the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to be effective on the government website.
As a governor, you should receive safeguarding training. We offer the following courses:
- Safeguarding in Education – An online course designed for all school staff which covers safeguarding duties, online safety and Prevent duty.
- Designated Safeguarding Lead Training – An online course designed for the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Deputy. This course is taken in addition to the Safeguarding in Education course and includes information about processes and procedures, legislation, handling allegations and making referrals etc.