Safeguarding and ProtectingEvery Child, a one-day national conference organised by Laura Henry, left me with lots to think about – so I’m delighted to have the chance to host an #EYTalking Twitter chat on the theme of “Safeguarding – professionalism and reflection” (Tuesday 6th December, 8:00pm-9:00pm).
|Left: talking with John Carnochan before the conference opened. Right: me, Laura and John|
As conference chair, I had a perfect opportunity to listen and to think about lots of different issues throughout the day. Perhaps my single biggest reflection was about how we tend to think a lot about safeguarding in terms of having the correct policies and procedures.
We focus on being compliant.
When things go terribly wrong and a child is seriously injured or killed, there will be a formal investigation called a Serious Case Review. These are often published. Reading them, whilst harrowing, is a good way to find out how things can go wrong and think about what individuals, or the system, might do differently in the future so that children are better protected.
In general, the shortcomings identified which are relevant to the early years and school sector are about professionalism, training, safer recruitment, and communication. No-one believes that just having good policies is an effective way of keeping children safe, though certainly having robust recruitment procedures, e-safety policies, and good protocols for picking up on and reporting suspected abuse are essential. It is often the case that if only professionals had felt more confident to state their concerns, more able to be assertive and to speak up for a child, and better at sharing information, then a serious injury or even a child’s death might have been prevented.
So, whilst we are inclined to get tied up in ever tighter knots as we try to be ever more compliant, we should not neglect the importance of focussing on staff professionalism, the culture of our settings, and the overall quality of what we provide for the children.