Safeguarding: The Role of the Governing Body

St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary School

 

The role of the governing body (GB)

 

The governing body is a key driver in child protection and safeguarding, and must: ‘have arrangements in place to ensure that they exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children; and have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when drawing up those arrangements’ (a Guide to the Law for School Governors, DCSF 2009).

 

Safeguarding covers child protection issues and other wider safeguarding considerations, including bullying, pupil health and safety, meeting medical needs, first aid, school security, drug and substance misuse and other safeguarding issues that are specific to the local area.

 

Responsibilities for child protection and safeguarding

The GB should work closely with the Head Teacher to promote effective child protection and safeguarding.  In particular, the GB must ensure that the school:

  • Has a child protection policy and procedures that are in accordance with guidance issued by the Secretary of State (for example Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education and What to do if you’re Worried a Child is being Abused) and are also in accordance with locally agreed and inter-agency (Local Safeguarding Children Board LSCB) procedures, and are reviewed annually
  • Has policies and procedures relating to wider safeguarding issues (for example, bullying, health and safety) and that those procedures comply with relevant legislation and guidance follows agreed LSCB and Local Authority procedures in the event of an allegation being made against the Head Teacher or another member of staff
  • Ensures that staff and volunteer recruitment and selection follows safer recruitment procedures
  • Meets statutory requirements with regard to child protection training for school staff and the Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP)
  • Has a DSP who coordinates child protection issues, appears on the local authority database of DSP’s and is appropriately trained
  • Allocates sufficient resources to ensure that pupils are supported and protected in school
  • Has a framework of policies and guidance to support pupils and staff and maintain safety; this includes issues such as complaints, behaviour, the use of reasonable force, promoting pupil wellbeing, risk assessments, school trips, staff conduct, attendance, exclusion and health and safety, and that these are regularly monitored and reviewed
  • Complies with equality duties regarding race, gender and disability
  • Meets the new Prevent Duty Guidance: School Specific Advice July 2015
  • Meets the statutory requirements within Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) July 2015
  • Meets the requirements of OFSTED guidance September 2015.

 

The GB has no role in the management of individual child protection cases.

 

Professional relationships with the school

The GB is responsible for the school’s compliance with many child protection and safeguarding issues and so will request evidence that demonstrates such compliance.  It has a defined monitoring role, including the responsibility to evaluate the school’s progress towards targets, reviewing policies and procedures at regular intervals and questioning any deviation from set procedures.  It also acts a critical friend to the school, and particularly the Head Teacher.  Governors offer support, provide a sounding board for difficult issues, give constructive advice and promote best practice.

 

The GB is responsible for ensuring that staff appointments follow safer recruitment procedures and, with the Head Teacher, is responsible for implementing the performance management policy.  The Head Teacher provides an annual written report to governors about the operation of the performance management policy, which also identifies teachers’ training and development needs.  This should include any training needs relating to safeguarding and child protection.

 

The GB also acts as the reviewer for the performance of the Head Teacher.  Just two or three governors may undertake the reviewer role, but those governors must not be members of staff of the school.  The GB must work with the school improvement partner (SIP) to ensure that the Head Teacher’s review is carried out appropriately.

 

It is important for the DSP and the GB to cooperate in complying with legislation an developing and implementing best practice in child protection.

 

It would be helpful for a strategy for cooperation to be developed to ensure that governors and the DSP are empowered to carry out their respective roles.  The strategy could describe:

  • The principles of effective cooperation, for example, mutual respect, awareness of respective roles, shared values
  • A description of respective roles and responsibilities
  • The frequency of the DSP’s meetings with the full governing body
  • The arrangements for regular meeting with the nominated child protection governor
  • The arrangements for the collection of necessary data
  • How general child protection and safeguarding information is disseminated to parents and pupils
  • Opportunities for joint training
  • Ways of identifying gaps and overlaps in the roles of the DSP and GB.

 

Governor training 

A governor service provides training courses to support governors in their role, including induction.  The cost of governors’ training is paid from the school’s budget.

 

Child protection training for governors is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged. 

Newcastle offer child protection courses especially for governors, and welcome governors to attend generic training in school.

 

School DSP’s may deliver governor training in their own school, or encourage governors to attend whole-school training events.  As a minimum, the DSP should ensure that a newly appointed governor is aware of the school’s child protection policy and procedures and the procedures for reporting a concern.

 

One nominated governor should attend training on safer recruitment (as should the Head Teacher).  The National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services provides online training and has also produced materials to be used in face to face training that is often delivered by the local authority.  We encourage governing bodies nominated one governor to be the child protection ‘champion’ and this person is encouraged to attend relevant training and develop their expertise in order to support the governing body as a whole.

 

The GB has a function with regard to disciplinary action against staff, and specific training to support this area of work is also available, together with training in the management and advice of allegations against staff.

 

In the event of an allegation being made against the Head Teacher, the chair of the GB will liaise with the local authority designated officer and so it is advisable for the chair to receive training in both child protection awareness and allegations management.

 

It is good practice to arrange for the nominated child protection governor, Head Teacher and DSP to attend training together to strengthen the professional relationship and to develop parity of understanding.

 

Sharing information with the school community

The governing body has a responsibility to ensure that relevant data and information relating to child protection and safeguarding is collected and appropriately shared with stakeholders with due regard to confidentiality and information-sharing guidelines.  This data and information includes:

  • The number of child protection concerns raised in the school
  • The number of referrals made to children’s social care or the police or NSPCC
  • The number of child protection conferences attended by staff
  • The number of pupils who are the subject of a child protection plan
  • A log of racist incidents
  • A log of incidences of bullying
  • Attendance registers
  • Exclusions
  • Accidents
  • Records of the use of reasonable force
  • A summary of staff attendance at child protection training
  • A summary of staff attendance at child protection induction
  • The number of pupils who are looked-after by the local authority
  • The number of allegations made against staff
  • Confirmation that all child protection, safeguarding and equality policies and procedures are up to date, have been reviewed as required and are readily available to all staff
  • The name and date of appointment of the DSP and confirmation of the deputising arrangements
  • A single central record of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
  • Confirmation that child protection and safeguarding is addressed in the self-evaluation form, the school prospectus, the school profile and the school improvement plan
  • The arrangements in place to seek the views of pupils and parents
  • The arrangements to ensure pupils taking part in extended school or off-site activities are safeguarded
  • How the school’s safeguarding arrangements complement the local children and young person’s plan.

 

The Head Teacher is required to make an annual report on child protection matters to the governing body to demonstrate the school’s legal compliance.  Similarly, the governing body is required to make an annual report to the local authority, to enable the LA to meet its responsibilities to monitor the compliance of the schools in its area.

 

Newcastle Local Authorities provides a standardised form on which to record this information.  The template requests data and information on those issues that are controlled by legislation and invites the school to comment on wider aspects of safeguarding provision.

 

A short narrative focusing on how the school makes sure pupils are healthy, safe and well support is included in the school profile, together with a summary of the most recent Ofsted report.  The school profile is an online document but a paper copy should be made available to parents on request.  Governors must also ensure that the child protection policy is available to all parents.

 

Governors are not required to become experts in the field of child protection.  However, they do hold considerable responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils in school and must take those responsibilities seriously.  The key to best practice lies in the development of a good professional relationship with the Head Teacher and the DSP and a willingness to seek expert advice when required from local authority officers, the LSCB or other specialist agencies.

 

Safeguarding related policies and other documents that governing bodies are required to have by law

  • Allegations of abuse against staff
  • Attendance Policy
  • Central record of recruitment and vetting checks
  • Child protection
  • Complaints procedure
  • Exclusion of pupils
  • Health and safety
  • School discipline and pupil behaviour
  • Staff discipline conduct and grievance