What is safeguarding?


Safeguarding means putting processes in place to ensure that vulnerable people are not abused in any way, including verbally or physically.

Safeguarding as a general concept is to protect people from harm and the best way to do that is to put appropriate measures in place. This often comes in the form of a framework, which allows those involved to follow certain steps and prevent negative outcomes in a tried and tested manner.

When is safeguarding used?

Knowing about safeguarding and being trained in its implementation is a very useful skill to have. This is partly due to the fact that it can be used in a number of wide-reaching situations. The first, of course, is when looking after vulnerable people. Within this area there are several subcategories, such as children, older people and those with learning difficulties.

It is vitally important that anyone who is seen as vulnerable is protected, although all people within hierarchical structures should also be looked after. A common example of this is the workplace, where safeguarding helps to ensure that employees are not exploited or taken advantage of.

What constitutes abuse?

In order to fully understand safeguarding and the role it plays, it is important to know what constitutes abuse. It can be verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, financial or even neglect and can lead to the victim being hurt, upset, frightened or manipulated into doing something they know is wrong or do not want to do. Another issue is that the person subjected to the abuse may find it hard to report the matter.

Ways of safeguarding people

There are lots of ways to safeguard vulnerable people, but here are some of the most common forms:

  • Analysing available information to decide on the level of risk posed
  • Forwarding any concerns onto local authorities and the police
  • Asking vulnerable people if they have any safeguarding concerns
  • Carrying out investigations into safeguarding and writing reports into the findings
  • Taking action in any areas where safeguarding is failing vulnerable people


Since 2006, it has been enshrined in law that vulnerable people are kept safe. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was passed in the wake of the Soham murders, when the two victims were targeted by their school caretaker. It also led to the foundation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which ensures that those on lists barring them from working with vulnerable groups, including children, cannot gain employment in places where they would come into contact with them.

Responsibility of employers

The emphasis is still on employers to make sure that they are not hiring anyone inappropriate to work with vulnerable people. This includes carrying out police checks on all potential staff and volunteers, before they are left alone with children, elderly people and those with learning difficulties.

Their responsibility goes further still, as someone who has been checked could still harm a vulnerable person for the first time. If this is the case, it is not simply enough to terminate that person’s employment, as they also have a duty to inform the Independent Safeguarding Authority, who can ensure such behaviour does not happen again.


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What does Ofsted require in safeguarding training?


Those working with children, whether it be in primary, secondary or further education, will be subject to Ofsted inspections to ensure they are doing all they can to safeguard their pupils.

Education professionals who work with children will be subject to Ofsted inspections throughout their career to ensure that they are doing all they can to safeguard their pupils. Whether this be in primary, secondary or further education, it is essential that these checks are carried out so that the highest standards are maintained.

If a teacher or school fails to meet Ofsted’s requirement, they will be told which areas they must improve upon and when they need to be improved by. While it is up to the schools themselves to determine their practices, the government also provides a ‘School Inspection Handbook’ for each educational body to refer to.

Here we take a look at some of the main areas Ofsted assesses when on inspection.

The Common Inspection Framework

With the introduction of the Common Inspection Framework in 2015, safeguarding in education has a much stronger emphasis than it ever has done before, with Ofsted focusing on how well schools have embedded a ‘culture of vigilance’ into their practices.

According to the government, the framework is designed to bring together the inspection of various education, skills and early years settings to provide greater coherence across different providers that cater for similar age ranges. When children and learners move from one educational setting to another, the framework hopes to ensure more comparability as well as supporting greater consistency across the inspection of different remits.

Ofsted wants to test whether or not pupils feel as though they are learning in a safe environment. One of the key focuses for schools is ensuring that all adults in the school community understand the safeguarding risks for young children and make sure training is given when necessary.

It is now expected that instead of the previous child protection training every three years, schools will raise awareness of a wide-range of safeguarding topics on a regular basis. However, inspectors want to see evidence not only of when these topics were discussed but also in regard to what the school did to ensure staff that were absent received training too.

Safeguarding evidence

According to experienced education consultant Andrew Hall, key areas that Ofsted inspectors will be looking for evidence include:

  • The creation of a positive culture, backed up by staff training at every level
  • The effectiveness of safer recruitment, vetting and safeguarding policies and procedures
  • Staff awareness of signs of harm from within the family and wider community
  • The response to safeguarding concerns
  • The quality of the school contribution to multi-agency plans for the child

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Education inequality ‘worse than 50 years ago’


The UK’s education class divide is wider now that it was 50 years ago, and children from poorer backgrounds are eight months behind more privileged peers before even starting school.

This is according to the Sutton Trust, which conducted a study into international inequalities and found that in terms of the literacy gap between pupils from the poorest most affluent backgrounds, the UK falls behind Canada and Australia.

In the US education system, inequality levels were even larger, where disadvantaged pupils were around one year behind before they had even started primary school.

Although in the past decade inequality has narrowed slightly, research found that there is still a significantly larger gap between social groups then there was for those born 40 to 60 years ago.

The trust also said that greater efforts must go into reducing disparity in the UK system, for example, by ensuring that well-trained employees are taken on in Early Years settings. In addition to this, the charity requested the government improved access for disadvantaged children to the best early years education and care, making sure that children start primary education on a more equal footing.

Professor Jane Waldfogel, who led the research brief, commented: “We have known for some time that achievement gaps in the US and UK are large. This international research puts them in context – and show that they can and should be smaller.”

In Canada and Australia, five-year-olds with less educated parents, fall behind their more privileged peers by almost six months at the point of starting school, according to the research.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “There is a large difference between the reading attainment of the richest and poorest children in both the US and the UK.

“Tackling this disparity early on is critical to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and reducing inequality.”

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/primary-school-inequality-gap-wider-than-it-was-50-years-ago-a7477901.html

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