Putting safeguarding at the heart of your organisation and operating model

Posted by NTP Quality Assurance Team on March 28, 2023

As the Quality Assurance provider for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Tribal are at the forefront of working within the Tuition sector. We have always recognised the importance of our work in helping to raise the quality of service and provision for pupils and we’re delighted to share this thought leadership piece focussing on safeguarding. We’ve shared this widely with our Tuition Partners and we'll be sharing more thought leadership articles in the coming months to support sector growth, learning and expertise and improve outcomes for all. 

We are pleased to be sharing the first of our three-part thought leadership series on safeguarding. Each part will build on the previous, to provide you with a thorough and insightful guide to what best practice looks like and how to implement it. They are designed to be practical with clear links and signposting, so you will have all the information you need at your fingertips to raise the quality bar in your organisation and best serve our schools and pupils.

The first part deals with how to put safeguarding at the front and centre of your organisation in practical terms. Over the next few weeks, we will share the second part; Managing safeguarding risk and finally part 3 will look at raising the quality bar for safeguarding in our organisations and across the system.

Introduction

Safeguarding is fundamental for all organisations working with children, including all of us working to improve outcomes, especially for disadvantaged pupils as part of the National Tutoring Programme. Effective safeguarding must therefore be a priority for all of us, requiring consistent and ongoing focus. The NTP’s Quality Assurance (QA) Framework Criteria sets out key requirements for safeguarding and safer recruitment in Element 2 and establishes the relevant criteria. Further guidance is provided in the QA Guidance Handbook. An effective TP should have a clear understanding of the required criteria and must be able to provide evidence of the outlined criteria embedded within the core of its organisation.  

Part 1: Putting safeguarding at the heart of your organisation 

Safeguarding is fundamental for all organisations working with children. The NSPCC defines safeguarding as “the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm”. While this is broad, the responsibilities of those working with children are clearly set out in statutory guidance for safeguarding, specifically from Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE), and a range of other helpful resources.

KCSiE notes that safeguarding is “everyone’s responsibility”. All TPs must ensure that safeguarding plays a pivotal role in informing their organisation’s policies, processes, and culture. This means that all personnel must understand what is needed, and why it is important, and be active champions of safeguarding. They should understand that the organisation’s approach to safeguarding can lead to authentic and meaningful action, which directly affects the wellbeing and safety of the children that they work with.

Putting safeguarding at the heart of your operating model
This is the first article in a three-part series focused on embedding safeguarding into your organisation. The diagram (shown below) identifies a set of components (and sub-components) which encapsulate how safeguarding must be fully integrated into all areas of an organisation, comprising policies & tools, processes & procedures, and culture & values.

Safeguarding must be embedded in an organisation’s policies and tools, meaning that relevant policies exist, and are in line with statutory guidance (i.e. KCSiE). Tools such as the single central record or risk register contribute to creating a safe environment for pupils.

Processes and procedures must consider safeguarding at every stage of a tutor and pupil’s journey; this relates to how staff are recruited, managed, and trained, as well as having strong partnerships, timely and accurate monitoring and reporting, and delivery which puts pupil safety first.

To ensure that the processes and procedures are effectively implemented (and championed), safeguarding must be rooted in the culture and values of all TPs.

Weaknesses in any of the three components can mean that the whole process is compromised; for example, poor monitoring and reporting (possibly due to low quality training, governance, inconsistent and unclear messaging, etc.) can negatively impact partnerships as schools may lose trust in their provider’s ability to monitor and report safeguarding concerns in a timely and accurate fashion. Poor monitoring and reporting may also delay and inhibit appropriate interventions. We will delve deeper into these key areas in the following articles in this three-part series.

Common challenges for TPs

Our recent quality reviews of safeguarding practices by TPs have highlighted some common issues which could constrain effective safeguarding.

Policies and Procedures
A criterion that become an important topic for TPs is Criterion 2.1 – Policies and Procedures. This criterion relates to (1) following statutory guidance, (2) ensuring safeguarding is aligned with practice, and (3) establishing a risk register which effectively highlights and mitigates potential risks. For more guidance on what robust and effective safeguarding policies and procedures entail, please see pages 17-18 of the QA Guidance Handbook.

Recent Updates to the KCSIE
KCSIE was last updated in September 2023. It is crucial that all TPs ensure that their organisation’s policies and procedures follow the most recent guidance.  The NSPCC* has published a summary of changes introduced in the latest KCSiE (2023) document. Some key changes include (but are not limited to) the following:

•    Increased expectations and clarification in relation to filtering and monitoring. The organisation’s approach should be reflected in the Safeguarding Policy. Staff training should include an understanding of filtering and monitoring, including how to escalate any concerns.
•    ‘Children missing from education’ has been replaced with ‘Children who are absent from education’ and additional clarification is included that being absent from education for prolonged periods and/or on repeat occasions can act as a vital warning sign to a range of safeguarding issues (paragraph 175). This means that organisations need to ensure that they have safeguarding arrangements in place when pupils are absent from lessons.
•    Organisations should consider carrying out an online search for shortlisted candidates and clarification is given that they should also inform shortlisted candidates that this may be done as part of due diligence checks.
•    A new paragraph has been included in Part 4 with information about the role of schools in responding to allegations related to organisations or individuals using school premises. 

For more information on the 2023 changes to KCSIE, you can go on the NSPCC website.

Conclusion 

Safeguarding compliance should not be for compliance’s sake; the policies & tools, processes & procedures, and culture & values must truly sit at the heart of the organisation, and can make a real difference to children’s learning, lives, and wellbeing.   

Underpinning policies, tools, processes and procedures must be robust, dynamic, and continuously improving. Similarly, organisational values must be effective, meaningful, and fit for purpose. A strong culture and awareness of the importance of safeguarding by staff and leadership can help to drive this determination and commitment to improvement. 

The components highlighted in the operating model above are closely linked and interdependent; therefore, a weakness in one component can expose organisations and (more importantly) pupils to risk.  

All TPs are different and cater to different types of pupils who may have different needs. So while all TPs must be compliant with statutory guidance, given the diversity between TPs an organisation’s safeguarding strategy is most effective when it is designed specifically around their pupils’ needs.  

A strong safeguarding approach can make a real difference to children’s learning, wellbeing, and lives. As stated in KCSiE, “everyone who comes into contact with [children] has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information, and taking prompt action. It is “everyone’s responsibility”.  

References and Further Reading