This is the sixth Gallery Teachers Safeguarding Newsletter of 2018. We had a break over the busy summer period; the monthly Newsletter is now back!

There is a small change; the ‘classroom ideas’ section has been replaced with ‘practical safeguarding’ which increases the range of items that can be covered. The Newsletter has three sections:

(i) general safeguarding topics

(ii) practical safeguarding

(iii) updates

You can take our Safeguarding Basic Awareness Training and Prevent Online Trainingfree of charge.

1) General Safeguarding Topic: Busy Summer

How did your summer go? No doubt you were busy as so many international students aged under 18 travel to UK in June, July and August. 2018 was a glorious sunny and hot summer in UK which probably brought a few different safeguarding challenges.

When you are in the middle of a hectic summer delivering safeguarding, you focus on ‘doing’; now that summer is over, it is time for reviewing.

1.1 Who needs to review the summer’s safeguarding and how?

Everyone, whatever your role in safeguarding international students, should take some time to think about how things went this summer. 

All adults working with international students have safeguarding responsibilities; some people have more than others, it depends on your role. In summer 2018, were you a homestay host, a staff member, a group leader, a member of your organisation’s safeguarding team, a manager? Consider some of these points according to your role.

  • Did you keep your students safe
  • ‘Safe’ can mean many things; think about not just times when something went wrong, but also about ‘near misses’ when something nearly went wrong.
  • Why did those situations happen or nearly happen?
  • Was communication maybe an issue? Students, and the adults working with them, need to understand what is expected of them. 
  • Understanding is not the same as being told. I have often heard, ‘we told them’, but telling is often not enough; you need to ensure the recipient of your information understands it.
  • Was reporting of concerns done (a) promptly and (b) to the right person? This is very important if there were any serious incidents, e.g. related to child protection.
  • Were there any notable safeguarding successes? We need to celebrate when things go well!

You will probably do a more thorough and successful review if you discuss your thoughts with others. Sharing ideas usually leads more quickly to the next step of the review…….

1.2 Making it better

As well as identifying anything that went wrong (and why), we must think about making improvements and trying to avoid something similar situation happening in the future. 

  • Do we need more information to make things safer?
  • Do any procedures need to be changed?
  • Does the safeguarding policy need to be updated as a result?
  • Do we need to meet anyone and discuss their behaviour/performance? (Although this would usually be done immediately any issue were identified.)
  • Do materials with safeguarding information need (a) to be improved, e.g. to help with communication, or (b) updated in line with any procedure changes? Handbooks, information sent to parents or agents, posters in classrooms, student and staff induction PowerPoints; safeguarding is covered in so many places.

1.3 Every summer – something different

I have been involved in safeguarding young international students for the last 30 years and every summer something has happened that has never happened before. Here are some examples of ‘firsts’ from UK ELT organisations this summer; for each it was a ‘first’. (This section is probably more interesting for DSLs, the lead safeguarding people.)

1.3.1 Number of safeguarding issues. 

(i) One school reported no safeguarding issues throughout the summer;

(ii) Another school reported 11 incidents, some serious, that had to be dealt with by the DSL. 

You just never know how a summer will go. 

1.3.2 Inconsistency from local authorities – Private Fostering

(i) One ELT organisation correctly informed their local council that they wanted to register a homestay host with the private fostering unit because a student aged under 16 was due to stay with that host for more than 27 nights. The local authority told them that it wasn’t necessary to register the host as a private foster carer. The ELT school tried to insist, but the local authority would have none of it

(ii) An ELT residential centre was visited by members of the private fostering unit of their local authority because that authority have identified that any student aged under 16 being cared for by an adult who is not a close relative for more than 27 nights in UK, whether in homestay or residential (or a combination of both), constitutes a private fostering arrangement. The local authority was visiting residential institutions not registered with OFSTED as a boarding school or children’s home.

These examples illustrate the importance of keeping in contact with your local authority safeguarding departments because how each authority interprets regulations may be different.

1.3.3 Expect the Unexpected – FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in UK

The first case of FGM in UK ELT that I have heard about. A young female student sent on a summer course, during which time, it had been arranged for her to receive FGM in a city in the north of England. Congratulations to the alert staff who stopped the plan from happening. The first sign of something wrong was a ‘change in behaviour, which is so often an indication that ‘something is amiss’. The case was passed to the relevant authorities.

As this illustrates, serious safeguarding incidents can happen anywhere, and at any time. We always need to be ready to deal with the unexpected.

2) Practical Safeguarding:

I’m very lucky; I am in contact with a lot of good people working in ELT safeguarding and I have visited a lot of schools and seen their safeguarding in action. This section shares a couple of examples of practical safeguarding I have heard about or seen.

2.1 Contact phone numbers given to students

2.1.1 When giving students the school’s emergency phone number, or the student’s homestay number, or a school excursion phone number, remember that some students will be using UK SIM cards whilst others will be using their usual overseas phone number. If using an overseas number a student needs to know to add +44 at the start of the number and miss the first 0. Does a student need 07777 123 456, or do they need +44 7777 123 456?

2.1.2 How are you going to make sure that each student, especially if they are young or are beginner level, have the right school numbers in their own phones? (Remember that just ‘telling them’ isn’t always enough) Who is going to check their phones?

2.2 Keeping safeguarding posters up-to-date?

2.2.1 Members of a school’s safeguarding team will change as staff come and go. Who, amongst the safeguarding team, has the responsibility to ensure that all the notices around the school buildings or campus (not just the lobby area) are kept up-to-date with the right names and photographs?

2.2.2 Keeping posters up-to-date applies to all aspects of safeguarding, so if any information or procedure changes, for example the assembly point in the event of fire, somebody needs to ensure that the fire safety posters around the school are changed.

Any information, not just safeguarding, displayed around the school needs to be correct and well-presented. If it isn’t, the sub-text message to students is that the information isn’t important and doesn’t really matter – which is not the case! 

3) Updates and developments

This month all the updates are primarily important for Safeguarding Leads in ELT organisations. There have been a lot of government updates recently and DSLs will need to spend time assessing how these affect their organisation

3.1 Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSE) FINAL 2018 VERSION!

NB: this has just been re-issued again with a few changes since the previous update reported in the June Newsletter. 

This document is statutory guidance for schools and FE colleges in the regulated sector. ELT organisations are not obliged to follow this document unless they are inspected by OFSTED or ISI. However, legal advice is that any private education organisations looking after students under 18 should follow the guidelines as far as is practical for their situation, and be ready to explain why they haven’t followed the KCSE standards in the event of a serious incident happening at their school. 

KCSE presents detailed safeguarding information in a logical and clear way; it is easy to read and covers many aspects that apply to ELT organisations, for example; work experience, homestays (KCSE now uses the term homestay alongside host family), additional recruitment checks for school owners, and much more; the appendices are also helpful. DSL’s must have a copy of this latest re-issue on file and must take time to read it

The document (112 pages) can be found on the government webpage here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education–2

3.1.1 Keeping Children Safe in Education – Part 1

In OFSTED or ISI inspected schools, this section needs to be issued to all staff with evidence that they have read and understood it. It covers the ‘core’ knowledge that all staff in regulated sector schools are expected to know. Some of the new material in this section is probably more thorough than most ELT organisation staff need to know. KCSE – Part 1 is available on the same webpage link above.

3.1.2 KCSE Updates for September 2018

These are listed in Appendix H of KCSE. How do they affect ELT organisations? 

The AccreditationUK Scheme (British Council inspections) will issue any changes they expect ELT organisations to make for inspection purposes, so watch out for information from them in the coming months.

In the meantime, here are some key points:

  • All organisations must have safeguarding provision in place that suits the organisation’s safeguarding needs, so look at the KCSE updates and decide which apply to your organisation
  • Your organisation’s safeguarding policy and documents must reflect the safeguarding you provide, so any updates must be in the policy (see 3.5)
  • Training will be needed to ensure staff, homestays and other stakeholders are aware of the recent updates affecting them, and any changes made to school safeguarding procedures

3.2 Working Together to Safeguard Children – Updated July 2018

This document explains how safeguarding provision across England will change over the next 12 months. LSCBs (Local Safeguarding Children Boards) will be replaced by key Safeguarding Partners made up of (i) the local authority social care (ii) the police and (iii) health. The mechanisms of how these agencies work together is outlined in this document.

DSLs must have a copy of this updated document (112 pages) on file. 

The document can be found on the government webpage here.


3.2.1 How the updated Working Together to Safeguard Children affects ELT organisations.

There are two key points:

  • The ELT organisation needs to find out from its LSCB who to contact in the event of any child protection incidents occurring after the demise of the LSCB and the introduction of Safeguarding Partners. One ELT school I know has already done this and been told that there is no change in their area and that the school is still to contact the LADO using the same contact details. Every school must check this in the coming months
  • Page 71 states that private organisations working with under 18s ‘play an important role in safeguarding children through the services they deliver’ and need to have ‘appropriate arrangements in place to safeguard and protect children from harm.’ In other words, there is a legal expectation that ELT organisations must safeguard their under 18 students appropriately; – it’s not just to please the British Council inspectors!!

3.3 Information Sharing – guidance on GDPR and safeguarding

Information Sharing (16 pages) was updated in July 2018. It is a government document providing advice for practitioners and senior managers involved in safeguarding children. It helps them decide when and how to share personal information legally and professionally within the new GDPR laws. The main message is that the best interests of the child are always the most important consideration. 

This very useful document can be found on the government webpage here.


3.4 Disqualification by Association – changed guidance

There was a requirement that schools taking children under the age of 8 had to get staff to sign a ‘Disqualification by Association’ form. This requirement has now been dropped for schools, however, it still ‘applies to individuals providing and working in childcare in domestic settings’ (i.e. homestays taking children under 8). 

For further information, see the document on the government webpage here


3.5 Updating Safeguarding Policy

With so many safeguarding updates introduced recently, your organisation’s safeguarding policy will need to be updated too. In the next Newsletter there will be a policy guidance document to help you.