This post was written as part of my day job for Community Brands / Assembly: https://assembly.education/data-trends-safeguarding/.
In this article, our Analytics expert Dan Stucke looks at the current trends in safeguarding in schools in the UK, including the publication of “Keeping Children Safe in Education” 2022 (KCSIE), discussing good practice in using data to help lead safeguarding and detail Assembly Pro’s new partnership with CPOMS.
Trends in Safeguarding
The past two years have seen huge changes in the challenges involved in safeguarding young people in the UK. Societal issues that were already causing growing issues have been amplified by the pandemic.
A recent SchoolsWeek investigation into mental health services highlighted growing waiting lists, rising costs and falling availability of Educational Psychologists and a CAMHS system at breaking point with referrals up 50% and increasing hurdles to access support.
Attendance & safeguarding
Persistent and extreme absence of students is at record levels. I covered this in detail in our January Data Trends article. The CCO Where Are Englands Children report found growing numbers of young people who were not in education employment or training (NEET) or who were choosing Elective Home Education (EHE). It highlighted issues with the recording of attendance at school and LA level. New attendance guidance for September 2022 clarifies the roles of schools, MATs and LAs in managing attendance. Amongst other things, it brings in the category of ‘Extreme Absence’ (students with less than 50% attendance) and clarifies that those in this category, who have all reasonable interventions in place, would be considered cases of neglect.
Child on child abuse
Sexual abuse of young people, by young people has been one of the biggest issues of the year. The naming of schools on the website Everyone’s Invited last year and Ofsted’s review into sexual abuse in schools that followed dug into the issue of young people suffering sexual abuse in schools, and recommendations as to how the profession can support in this area.
Keeping Children Safe in Education
Child on Child Abuse
Peer-on-peer abuse has changed to ‘child on child abuse’ to emphasise the fact that abuse can take place between children of all ages. This is in direct response to the Everyone’s Invited website and subsequent Ofsted report. Specifically, it states:
“All staff should understand that even if there are no reports in their schools or colleges it does not mean it is not happening, it may be the case that it is just not being reported.”
Expect this to be a focus for Ofsted over the coming year.
Actions for leaders
It will be important to monitor levels of reporting in this category and to match up your safeguarding logs with student and parent voice feedback. It is inevitable that some schools will be pulled up for not recording issues in this area internally, despite the community expressing it as an issue. This will require training of staff, students and parents as to what is unacceptable behaviour and how to register concerns.
Expectations on governors and trustees have been strengthened. This includes requiring safeguarding training at the point of induction and re-emphasising the responsibilities of these staff to hold schools and trusts to account for their responsibilities. Specifically:
“Governing bodies and proprietors have a strategic leadership responsibility for their school’s or college’s safeguarding arrangements and must ensure that they comply with their duties under legislation.”
“…training should equip them with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge to test and assure themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools and colleges are effective and support the delivery of a robust whole school approach to safeguarding”
Actions for leaders
Ensure training for governing bodies and trustees is rigorous and in place at the time of induction. Ensure that your safeguarding policy makes it clear which governors/trustees have a safeguarding responsibility and that they are suitably trained. Review your safeguarding reporting; what data do you report, to whom and how often? How is data summarised at a MAT level? Are trends analysed and challenged? Are apparent successes interrogated (e.g. low levels of recorded child on child abuse)?
Safeguarding Analytics Best Practice with CPOMS & Assembly Pro
Accurate, Confidential & Secure Record Keeping
KCSIE has long made it clear that keeping accurate, detailed records of safeguarding concerns is critical, and that these records should be kept confidential and stored securely. Most schools have long since moved to electronic record-keeping systems (I still remember filling safeguarding concerns in on green paper slips, behaviour concerns on pink slips etc!).
Avoiding Data Silos to Deliver the Best Possible Care
At Assembly, we are delighted to have developed a partnership with the biggest provider of Safeguarding software in the UK, CPOMS. We have worked closely together over the past year to develop a solution that brings together the data analytics power of Assembly Pro, with the security, confidentiality and detailed safeguarding data that you expect from CPOMS.
Combining the security of Office 365 authentication and row-level security in Assembly Pro with granular data sharing permissions in CPOMS you can control exactly who can see what level of safeguarding information.
The outcome of this is your senior safeguarding leads having data analysis tools that have never been available before in safeguarding software. Our safeguarding dashboards allow you to track and interrogate trends and patterns across your CPOMS safeguarding data from schools across your MAT.
When this is combined with your MIS data in Assembly, you are able to analyse safeguarding incidents alongside assessment, behaviour, exclusions and attendance data. This gives you a unique view of key indicators across your school and MAT. It also allows you a unique view of your students, enabling you to spot worrying trends early and deliver interventions to help young people at the earliest possible moment. We are genuinely excited about giving senior leaders these tools and can’t wait to see them have a positive impact on young people. As our list of third parties grows, so will the possibilities of combining all your key data into one set of intelligent dashboards, something that’s just not possible in your MIS alone.
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