There are many responsibilities associated with being a teacher. Educating children and giving them some of the tools they will need to be productive adults is the most obvious function, but a teacher is also tasked with the pastoral care of his or her young charges, which means being a key part of a school’s or college’s child protection or safeguarding infrastructure. This duty is not limited to permanent members of staff but applies equally to supply teachers. How should the latter prepare for this part of the job?
The important work performed by teachers in safeguarding children and young people from predatory or abusive behaviours is highlighted in this recent BBC report. This piece amply illustrates the value of teachers constantly refreshing their knowledge of national child protection policies and being aware of the latest scholarship around recognising the signs and symptoms of abuse. If registered with a reputable agency, it’s likely that you will been asked to attend a course of study on safeguarding and various agencies and institutions across the country run their own programmes.
The UK government has also published a superb set of resources to help you navigate this complex and challenging area, and it will be a worthwhile exercise to familiarise yourself with these materials.
Your candidature will, of course, have been carefully vetted to ensure that you present no danger to young people. This is an understandable requirement for anyone who is going to work with children. Your criminal record, for instance, will have been investigated by a Disclosure and Barring Service check, commonly known as a basic DBS check, conducted by an organisation like http://www.carecheck.co.uk/basic-dbs-checks/.
Once you start in your new job, you should take some time to learn about the school’s specific safeguarding protocols and find out which member of staff is the current Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) since it is to this individual that you will need to report any concerns or fears you might have. The institution has a duty to make sure that you receive an induction in its policy and, if this doesn’t happen, you should identify this as an area where the school needs improvement. Refining a school’s protection ethos is part of the DSO’s job and he or she will welcome suggestions.