This is the fourth monthly Gallery Teachers Safeguarding Newsletter this year. The Newsletter gives some thoughts and reminders about safeguarding in ELT. There are three sections;

  1. general safeguarding topics
  2. classroom ideas
  3. updates

We hope you find it useful

Homestay hosts – a key safeguarding role

The role

From a safeguarding point of view, a homestay is one of the most important roles for any under18 student on an ELT course in UK. The homestay has so many safeguarding roles to fulfil as they carry out their ‘duty of care’:

  • helping the student get over ‘culture shock’ and adjust to UK and local ways of life
  • helping the u18 settle into a new home; which may include….
  • supporting the u18 through homesickness or worry because things are so different
  • helping them adapt to what is probably a different diet, and maybe different ways of eating and different times for meals
  • keeping an eye on the u18; making sure they follow the school rules – especially curfew times
  • helping them with communication; (i) how much English do they understand and (ii) encouraging them to talk English as much as possible
  • if the student gets poorly, looking after them and/or working with the school to make sure the u18 gets the right treatment or care
  • making sure the student knows what his/her programme is and (i) gets to school safely and on time and (ii) with the right clothes and equipment for the weather and for whatever is on the student’s programme (e.g. swimming or excursion)
  • being there; the host needs to be there while the u18 student is there, in case the student needs help with anything
  • and many more things which could be smaller or larger issues

Luckily, most international students are happy and well-adjusted and love the experience of living in a UK home. However, the homestay host must be ever alert and ready to deal with anything that might arise. The school is always available at the end of a 24-hour phone number, so can support and help the host with anything at any hour of the day or night, but it is the host who is actually there dealing with the under 18.

UK Guardianship Services
Selecting the right homestays

Choosing the right people to be homestays is a really important job for the school’s accommodation team. Because the under 18 student will be staying for many hours in a home, maybe alone or with just one other student, the under 18 is immediately more vulnerable than when they are at the school with all the other students, staff and group leaders around. When the accommodation team are finding the right homes to host their under18 students, they need to find out quite a lot about life in that home;

  • who lives there all the time?
  • are there any other adult residents or regular adult visitors?
  • what happens at weekends? Do the hosts go out and do things or stay at home?
  • what is a typical weekly menu?
  • does the host work; if so, who can care for the u18 if they get sick? (there is always an answer to this; it is the school’s responsibility to make sure they have discussed it and got a plan ready for each of their hosts)
  • and plenty more detailed points

Visiting the home and getting a feel for it is so important. Ideally, the school’s accommodation team should meet all the residents in the home (adults and children) as that will help provide a better understanding of the home. Seeing not just inside the home, but also the location and immediate area around will help the school decide if the home is the right match for the type of students the school has.

Safeguarding the homestays Having found the right homestays to keep the young international students well looked-after, the schools must offer guidance to the homestays about safeguarding themselves. A host or another adult in the home shouldn’t accidentally put themselves into a situation which might be misunderstood by a visiting international student. Staff are given a Code of Conduct by the school and hosts should be too, to help them understand what things they should/shouldn’t do around the students. Often mentioned are things like:

  • meeting in public spaces in the house like the kitchen or lounge, not in bedrooms or bathrooms
  • if a homestay does need to go into a student’s bedroom, to keep the door open and preferably have another adult present
  • always being appropriately dressed or covered up around the house
  • having guidelines for safe online interaction with students and safe settings for social media; homestays need to be aware that anyone, including the parents of an under 18 student might find them on Facebook
  • being careful about taking and posting photos of the under 18s; the school should explain what is OK
  • the homestay setting ‘house rules’ that they feel comfortable with; the visiting students need to respect and follow the routines of the homestay

If a homestay isn’t sure about anything, the school must always at the end of the phone to help.

Classroom activities

An activity to help students think about online safety and stimulate class or group discussion. This activity requires a room where the students cannot see outside into the corridor. If there is a glass panel in the door, temporarily cover it. It also requires the two girls to agree to the process (understanding that it isn’t really going to happen) and to have typed and printed off their messages (must be typed) ahead of time.

  1. The teacher announces that one of two girls is going to invite a boy in the class to go on a date with them. The two girls will go outside the room and decide (a) which girl is going to do the inviting and (b) which boy to ask.
  2. In front of the class, each girl places a photo of herself inside an envelope with writing on the outside saying ‘Photo of (girl’s name)’ This photo is placed inside a larger envelope saying ‘Message to ……’
  3. The girls then each place their typed (folded) message into the larger envelope; the teacher explains that this message invites the boy to meet, saying where and when and if he needs to bring anything.
  4. The teacher tells both girls to go outside the class (preferably a bit away from the room so that they can talk without those in the room hearing) and for each one to write the name of their chosen boy on the outside of the large envelope, and then to decide which one will actually slide their envelope under the door. If necessary they can toss a coin. Give a time limit.
  5. While the girls are outside the classroom, the teacher can ask the boys about accepting the invitation to the date. Are they sure they will go if invited?
  6. Outside the girls have written the name of the boy they want to invite. In a pre-arranged move, a mature male teacher/staff member comes along and takes the two envelopes and explains that he is going to slide one of them under the door and that the girls are to say nothing.
  7. After a pre-arranged signal, (e.g. 3 knocks on the door), an envelope is slid under the door.
  8. The teacher reads out the name of the boy on the outside of the envelope and gives it to him. He tells the boy to ‘open it and read the message’ – which the boy does.
  9. The teacher then tells the boy to ‘open the photo’
  10. The teacher asks the boy if he is going to accept the invitation. (Hoping he will say yes – and if not, ask the rest of the class if he should, hoping to get a bit of peer pressure to make him accept)
  11. The teacher then says that the boy had better see the person who posted that message and photo to him, and opens the door to invite in the person who did it. The mature male teacher walks in.
  12. The teacher should then guide the conversation to allow the students to reach the key points.
    1. That it’s about online safety; the teacher used online language
    2. In the online world, you have no idea who you have agreed to meet until you meet them in person
    3. Anyone can ‘take’ another’s profile or photo if it has been posted online – and people do
    4. Anyone can make contact with you if you have left your details online; and many can know exactly where you are
  13. In groups, the students discuss how to avoid this happening to them; what can they do to make their online lives safer, especially from adults who want to get online access to them.
  14. Gather feedback and conclude with key online safety points about e.g. privacy settings, using false names not real ones to keep identity private, realising that anything posted online is forever and can be taken by others, never agreeing to meet anyone unless it is in an open public place and you have a friend with you, etc

Updates and developments

WhatsApp bans users under 16 in EU

Current rules say users must be at least 13, but the introduction of the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) across the EU on 25 May 2018 has prompted Facebook, which owns the app, to change their conditions of use.

GDPR is intended to give people more control over how companies use their personal data. There are some particular rules to protect young people and their personal data, including a requirement that websites and apps that process data on young people are obliged to “make reasonable efforts to verify” that a parent has given consent for their child’s data to be handled.

At the moment Facebook does not ask users how old they are when joining WhatsApp; however the new terms will require users to confirm their age. All users will receive revised terms of service over the coming weeks. Although announcing this change to the lowest age, Facebook has not said how it will ensure the new age limit is being followed.

At first this may not seem like a huge change for ELT organisations. However, a lot of group leaders have been using WhatsApp to keep track of their students aged under 16, either on excursions or just getting back to homestays. One example being a group leader who made all her students send a photo via WhatsApp of the student with their homestay host at 6 pm, the time when every student was supposed to be at back at the homestay in time for dinner. This worked very well and everyone was happy with the results. 

Safer Recruitment. Name change for department administering the Prohibited List

The Prohibited List used to be looked after by the National College for Teaching and Learning (NCTL); this has been renamed the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). If ELT organisations wish to access the Prohibited List, they continue to use this email address; employer.access@education.gov.uk

The Prohibited List applies primarily to QTS teachers and others working in the regulated education sector (state and private schools), although anyone can be checked against it. An employee may have done something that hasn’t broken the law, but has been found guilty of misconduct which makes them unsuitable to work with children (for example helping their students cheat in exams, or abandoning their students during an off-campus activity). This person would not appear on a DBS check nor on the Barred List (which is a list of abusers or others who are a danger to children), but they might appear on the Prohibited List. Because this person cannot work in the regulated sector, they may try to find work in ELT.

Prohibited List checks are part of safer recruitment pre-appointment checks; they are required by OFSTED and ISI and the British Council considers them to be Best Practice but not at the moment a requirement. 

GDPR coming into force on 25 May 2018

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018, by which date all organisations processing data gathered from EU residents must be able to demonstrate and evidence compliance.

With so much emphasis on accountability, staff training is crucial for anyone who handles personal data. This includes but is not limited to school administrators, classroom teachers and accommodation managers. Gallery Teachers have developed a eLearning course which can be found here