Here is the second Gallery Teachers Safeguarding Newsletter.

Feedback from members was positive about the January Newsletter, so we hope you find this one as useful.

All members are welcome to send comments; there is a box for feedback at the bottom of the Newsletter blog page. You can also send safeguarding questions, or tell us about any areas of safeguarding which you would like to know more about by e-mail us on membership@galleryteachers.com

Safeguarding: UK ‘Duty of Care’ law

‘Duty of Care’

Schools need to be very careful when looking after their international students, especially those aged under 18. The school must remember the phrase ‘duty of care’. This is a legal obligation the school has to look after or safeguard all students aged under 18, to the same level as ‘a caring and responsible parent’.

But what does that mean?

Schools need to consider the students’ safety and also whether the activities and procedures are appropriate for the students. This is what ‘caring and responsible parents’ do all the time. Schools must make decisions, taking into account the students’ ages and that students are international visitors so often do not read the social and behavioural signals of UK society as accurately or quickly as local residents.

Schools will be thinking about their safeguarding duty of care for every aspect of a course with under 18 students. It particularly applies outside the classroom, especially during the social programme and when the students have time away from adults.

Some examples of ‘duty of care’ safeguarding could be

  1. Setting sensible limits if students have time away from adults, for example how far they can go, how many students need to be together, and how long students can be away from adults.
  2. Students must always carry the school’s emergency 24-hour contact number so that if they ever get lost, whatever level of English the student has, an adult helping the student can contact the school. That is definitely a good safeguarding ‘rule’ to have!
  3. Having curfew times. Caring and responsible parents know their children need to get enough sleep to stay healthy; especially when they are busy and doing lots of new things in a another country. 

Students understand some safeguarding procedures and rules easily, for example about students needing to carry a 24-hour emergency number at all times. Sometimes students find it hard to accept safeguarding procedures and rules so easily; why is that?

Being Children and Teenagers – and International Differences

1) The under 18 students could be acting like regular children and teenagers. 

When I was training to be a teacher, many years ago, one of my tutors explained it very simply. ‘The school makes the rules. The teacher’s job is to enforce the rules. The students’ job is to break the rules. That’s what students do!’

2) International differences

Parents in every country want their children to be safe and properly looked after. The detail of what that means will probably be different in different countries. Or it can be different in different locations within the same country; some things that seem safe in a small town do not feel safe in a big city.

Consider these examples:

  1. Travelling between the homestay and school; in some countries young children aged just 8 or 9 travel on their own to get to school, but in UK most children of that age would be accompanied.
  2. Curfew times; a ‘normal’ curfew time in UK might be the time that some students would be eating supper in their own country.

Students are bound to think some things are strange if they are so different to their usual life at home. Schools need to help students with explanations of why rules exist. The school sets limits and rules based on UK ‘duty of care’ laws, and following UK norms. Living the same as local people is as much part of the student’s UK experience as learning the language.

I now talk about the ‘duty of care’ law as safeguarding students under 18 as ‘a caring and responsible UK parent’, because that is the reality. It might not be the same as the student is used to in their own country, but that is what has to happen because we are in UK!

Classroom activities

Set up a survey for students, ideally something online

  1. ask questions about daily life and routines involving safeguarding (but don’t mention the word); e.g. journey home-school accompanied or not, how journey done (walk / public transport) going out locally (in evening / weekends) alone/with friends, curfew time in evening, etc
  2. compare answers – use for comparatives / superlatives work if level appropriate
  3. if students are from different countries, are there any differences between countries? If so, why might that be (climate, history, anything else)
  4. if students are all from same country, are there any differences and why? (parents, location?)
  5. use results to (a) highlight any differences with UK norms and that students cannot expect everything to be the same in UK as their own country (b) explain that schools cannot have lots of different rules, so make rules and procedures to fit everyone and to fit UK norms

Updates and developments

GDPR & Safeguarding

Last week I attended a powerful and, for me, very instructive training day on GDPR for the ELT industry. (GDPR = General Data Protection Regulation). There is a new law coming into force in May 2018, so only 3 months away. This law is designed to harmonise data privacy laws across the European Union, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy and to reshape the way organisations approach data.

I urge schools to find out more about GDPR as soon as they can; if you are an EnglishUK member you can book EnglishUK GDPR training – on Tuesday 27 February.

It affects most areas of an ELT organisation and it is very complex. I am not an expert and so cannot provide much information, but one clear example of how it will affect schools is the new requirement for students or their parents to opt in to an agreement for a school to use the student’s image and for the student to be told clearly how the school will use the image.

Children & Social Work Act 2017

Designated Safeguarding Leads in England should be aware of this coming change. 

The Act from 2017 has not yet been formally enacted. When it is, at some point in 2018, LSCBs (Local Safeguarding Children Boards) will cease to exist and instead, be replaced by three partners, the local authority, the police and the health service who will be required to work together on child protection in their area. 

It is likely there will be a period of about 12 months for the agencies to produce details of how they will work together and with any other appropriate organisations (e.g. maybe education) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area.

So, DSLs, you need to keep checking your LSCB’s website or contact anyone you know within your LSCB to make sure you know what is going to happen in your area and when.