2018 is a new year and Gallery Teachers are introducing a new service, the monthly Safeguarding Newsletter. 

The newsletter aims to help members understand more about UK safeguarding and, therefore, be able to provide better safeguarding for students. The newsletter will include:

  1. general safeguarding information and reminders ELT industry
  2. classroom activities around safeguarding
  3. news on updates and developments
  4. links to useful sites
  5. responses to specific questions from members

Gallery Teachers welcome Nigel Heritage as GTMC Safeguarding Lead, writing the newsletter and further developing safeguarding services on the site. Nigel has been helping improve safeguarding standards in ELT for many years, notably through extensive training and sharing best practice information.

Safeguarding: Students, Seagulls and Safer Internet

Involving students in safeguarding 

We often think safeguarding is about adults looking after students properly, especially students under 18, and of course, that is very important. We should also think how we can get under 18 students thinking about safeguarding themselves, and each other. Here are some ideas.

  1. Talk about safeguarding with your students. Explain
    1. what it is (keeping them safe)
    2. why it is important (because UK law says we must, and anyway, their parents would be cross if we didn’t)
    3. they need to be careful themselves, and be ready to help each other.
  2. Students being careful. What does that mean in practice for your students and the situation? First, follow any rules because they are there to help keep students safe, for example;
    1. don’t go out on your own, go with a friend
    2. tell an adult where you’re going and what time you expect to be back
    3. keep your mobile charged so you can contact somebody in an emergency
    4. check you have the contact number of an adult who can help you (school, group leader, homestay)
    5. stay safe online (this is very important. See below!)
  3. Students helping other students.
    1. Be aware of friends and how they are.
    2. They might tell you they are unhappy (maybe they are being bullied), or you might notice they are unhappy or alone or maybe not behaving sensibly.
    3. Tell an adult if you are worried about any of your friends. Adults need to know so they can help.
  4. Students respecting and being tolerant of each other; those are important elements of safeguarding. We don’t help anyone if we say bad things about other students. We cannot always be friends with everyone, but we can be tolerant and respectful of everyone!

Classroom activities

Ask the students – of any age or language level. I have seen great results from this activity. 

  • tell the students they need to help other students new to their town / local area.
  • students must produce clear information (appropriate to age and language level) about what these new students need to do to stay safe locally.
  • results could be interesting, unexpected and make useful display material
  • a UK school located in a seaside town expected the visiting international students to list traffic hazards, or the dangers of the sea. But no! What did they have at the top of their list? ‘Be careful of seagulls; especially if you have chips or ice-cream!’

Image: telegraph.co.uk

And the students’ pictures were very clear about what the seagulls might do.

This was a wonderful example of how students see things that sometimes adults don’t! Never underestimate your students’ ability to stay safe.

Safer Internet Day in UK. 6 February 2018

This is another great way of involving students in thinking about and discussing safeguarding; how do they stay safe online? This is one of the biggest safeguarding challenges we have. The internet can be a source of many good things, but also a source of some bad. Under 18s (and adults) need to be careful.

There is a great organisation in UK dedicated to helping students stay safe online. They have prepared materials for teachers to use with different age groups of children. Although these are designed for native speakers, you could adapt some materials for your own students or use the ideas behind the materials. Use this link to access more information and the materials


Knowing that hundreds of thousands of students in UK will all be doing something about staying safe online on February 6 gives any activity you do on the same day a stronger focus and motivation. It is so important to help students understand more about how they and others behave online.

Updates and Developments

AccreditationUK (British Council) new inspection cycle

The inspection scheme sets standards for the ELT industry in UK. It is very thorough, probably the most demanding inspection scheme for English Language schools in the world. Member schools need to work hard to meet the required standards, and then maintain them as they will be re-inspected at least every 4 years. That is a good thing; customers of British Council inspected schools can be reassured that these organisations continue to meet the required high standards.

Get more information here https://www.britishcouncil.org/education/accreditation

Every 2 years, the British Council review and renew their inspection criteria; January 2018 is the start of the next two-year cycle (lasting to December 2019) and updated inspection criteria have been issued to member schools.

Safeguarding expectations are mostly the same, but with a few key changes designed to improve the safety of students generally and those under 18 in particular:

1. Thinking ahead and being prepared improves the safety of everyone; students, staff and group leaders

  • schools must have a written plan for responding to emergencies either off site or on site

2. Parents of under 18s knowing and agreeing to safety information and procedures. In UK law people aged under 18 must be properly looked after by the school; the under 18s parents need to agree how that is done. Parents must give written consent for emergency medical treatment.

  • schools must have written parental/guardian consent reflecting the level of care and support given to students under 18, including medical consent

3. Training; making sure responsible staff have had the proper training

  • Lead Safeguarding person in a school must have appropriate training which is to the old level 3

DBS checks

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the organisation which allows employers in England and Wales to check the criminal past of anyone applying for work that involves ‘regulated activity’, for example, working with students under 18. DBS checks help ELT organisations keep their under 18 students safe, knowing they are placing them in the care of reliable staff and homestays.

Here is one recent development from the DBS

  1. Some new ID checking guidelines were introduced by the DBS in October 2017 and from 25 January 2018, these new guidelines must be followed.  The changes mostly concern applicants who are not UK residents.  Detailed information is available via the ‘new guidelines’ link on this page http://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-identity-checking-guidelines