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  • 670,000 children in England are classed as having family-related vulnerabilities
  • 31,193 are involved in the criminal justice system
  • 407,924 are in the troubled families programme
  • 46,053 between the ages of 10 and 18 are members of a gang
Some of the most common situations for vulnerable young people in the UK include domestic abuse, neglect, exposure to criminal and sexual exploitation and county lines drug trafficking. Worryingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the NSPCC has indicated that the pressure of coronavirus on family finances, health and wellbeing could have made many children’s home lives much worse. In a recent briefing paper, Isolated and struggling: Social isolation and the risk of child maltreatment, in lockdown and beyond, it noted that “the conditions created by COVID-19 have increased the likelihood that both stressors and vulnerability will increase, at a time when the protective services we normally rely on have been weakened, and families have reduced social support and connections to rely on”. The NSPCC has already seen how this has played out, with reports of physical abuse having risen by 53% during lockdown earlier this year.

‘Back to school’ and the safeguarding challenge

This means that safeguarding in schools – especially when it comes to monitoring and managing concerns – is more important than ever before. But in these testing times it comes with even more difficulties than usual. While schools closed their doors during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, in April and over the summer, more children were exposed to greater risk – but with less oversight and support from teachers and other adults in school. And, even now that schools are back, challenges persist. A great deal will have changed since teachers last saw many of their students – and issues that may have gone undetected during lockdown are likely to start to come to light, whether that’s due to greater visibility of concerning behaviour or children opening up to an adult they trust. And students who were no or low risk before lockdown may now be a cause for concern. Alongside this, as schools face the possibility of further closures and quarantines, the challenges that come with managing safeguarding concerns remotely are pertinent once again.

Approaching the management of concerns in the new context

There are several signs that teachers and other adults in schools can look out for when assessing the vulnerability of a child in their care. These are often specific to certain types of abuse or exploitation, and the earlier they can be identified, the better. For example, when it comes to gang-related drug trafficking via county lines, there may be small signs from the very beginning of a child’s exploitation – including unexplained absences or lateness, unexplained money in their possession or use of language that they haven’t previously used. And, with emerging evidence suggesting that heightened awareness of trafficking and the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns are causing gangs to recruit vulnerable children locally, early identification is vitally important. Crucially, schools need to have a joined-up system for managing safeguarding concerns in place in order to link signs and understand how they might relate to a bigger problem. Tools like MyConcern – Entrust’s recommended safeguarding software designed to support the reporting, managing and reporting of concerns – can help to give schools a holistic view of a pupil and join the dots more easily. It also enables designated safeguarding leads to review issues raised by a number of adults to create a complete picture of a child and how vulnerable they may be. Entrust can also provide staff with professional development and guidance to help them to spot, log and deal with safeguarding issues appropriately, and plan for any future periods of remote learning.

Providing support to vulnerable children

In the current context – with staff facing increased time pressures and potentially fewer touch points with students, as some work remotely – working out what support students need is no mean feat. Especially as employment uncertainty, reduced hours and redundancy will mean that many families will face changing circumstances over the coming months. It’s vital that schools find ways to not only consistently monitor and report concerns, but also to have a robust safeguarding strategy in place to ensure that all children are getting the right support. Entrust’s Online Free School Meals Eligibility Checking can help schools get a better picture of a child’s circumstances and identify what support might be required. Specifically, this tool helps schools to check children’s eligibility for free school meals and detects changes in their circumstances while boosting the school’s Pupil Premium. Once families are signed up, the system regularly checks their eligibility and informs schools if their circumstances change, ensuring that no child misses out on a free school meal if they’re eligible for one.

A vital role

At a time when vulnerable children are more at risk, and more children are at risk of becoming vulnerable, schools play a critical role in keeping them safe. Given current ways of working, this isn’t easy – but getting the right infrastructure and services in place can help schools and their safeguarding leads to make certain that they are doing all they can to protect pupils. Entrust is a trusted partner with the expertise and tools to make sure schools are doing all they can for their pupils. To find out more about how we can help your school to manage safeguarding processes, visit our website or get in touch with our team of experts.
You might also like: The Open University has been hit by over 1m email attacks this year
  [post_title] => Keeping children safe in education: managing concerns in the COVID-19 era [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => keeping-children-safe-in-education-managing-concerns-in-the-covid-19-era [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-11-12 15:36:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-11-12 15:36:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/?p=35356 [menu_order] => 693 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 34947 [post_author] => 2340 [post_date] => 2020-11-02 15:48:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-11-02 15:48:55 [post_content] => While safeguarding issues are sadly not new, the new guidance reflects the fact that children and young people are facing more complex problems today than ever before. And, with some risks exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic – and the continuing uncertainty making this a difficult time for pupils and teachers alike – it’s critical that schools get their safeguarding strategies right over the next few months . Here, we’ll look at some of the most noteworthy changes in the new KSCIE guidance that headteachers and designated safeguarding leads will need to be aware of – and highlight how Entrust’s safeguarding offering helps schools keep children safe.

Changes in the KCSIE 2020 guidance

The latest KCSIE guidance reflects the evolving problems faced by young people today – including online safety, which has been particularly relevant during lockdowns and quarantines, mental health and county lines. Some of the changes in it include:
  • A greater emphasis on contextual safeguarding in areas such as abuse, neglect, child criminal and sexual exploitation, and county lines. Not only do schools need to be aware of signs to look out for, but they also need to consider the safety of young people in a wider context than school or family; with extra-familial harms being highlighted as a particular issue to bear in mind
  • A greater focus on schools’ responsibility to promote mental health, understand the contextual relevance of pupils’ mental health problems and take appropriate action if they become a safeguarding issue
  • More resources and guidance on how to keep children safe online and when using ICT, with new information on keeping children safe when online at home
  • Updates to reflect the new mandatory Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education (RSHE) guidance (applicable from September 2020), which includes sections on online safety and mental wellbeing
  • New guidance on managing allegations against supply teachers to protect both pupils and schools
What does this mean for schools and safeguarding leads? From ensuring staff are trained in and comfortable with the latest guidance to having robust safeguarding processes that account for local lockdowns or quarantines, schools may have to consider making significant, structural changes to how they approach safeguarding – as well as refreshing parts of the curriculum to meet the statutory requirements of the RSHE guidance. The expectations on schools to adequately meet safeguarding standards are high, and rightly so. But it’s a big responsibility, especially when resources are spread so thin. As a result, technology will be key in helping them to meet their obligations without creating a huge administrative burden.

Introduction to Entrust’s safeguarding services

At Entrust, we offer training, support and policy-based solutions to provide schools and academies with specialist expertise, ensuring every child and young person receives a good education, in a safe and healthy environment, and is given expert guidance to realise their full potential. Our safeguarding services are an important part of this. We have a full suite of products to cover all aspects of safeguarding and we provide a single point of contact, liaising closely with schools to help them meet DfE and Ofsted requirements. And we don’t just talk the talk; Entrust has many ex-teachers on its staff, who know first-hand what educators need to enable them to focus on pupils, their education and their wellbeing – not on onerous admin.

Keeping children safe in education in 2020/21

This year continues to be incredibly challenging for schools. When it comes to safeguarding, taking a thorough, holistic approach isn’t optional – indeed, the pressure is on schools to get this right from the start. With young people facing ever-more dangerous and complex risks, headteachers and safeguarding leads must ensure they have robust and seamless safeguarding structures in place that take into account potential disruption caused by local lockdowns or quarantine measures. Entrust is a trusted partner with the expertise and tools to make sure schools are doing all they can for their pupils. To find out more about how we can help your school to manage safeguarding processes, visit our website or get in touch with our team of experts.
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  • 670,000 children in England are classed as having family-related vulnerabilities
  • 31,193 are involved in the criminal justice system
  • 407,924 are in the troubled families programme
  • 46,053 between the ages of 10 and 18 are members of a gang
Some of the most common situations for vulnerable young people in the UK include domestic abuse, neglect, exposure to criminal and sexual exploitation and county lines drug trafficking. Worryingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the NSPCC has indicated that the pressure of coronavirus on family finances, health and wellbeing could have made many children’s home lives much worse. In a recent briefing paper, Isolated and struggling: Social isolation and the risk of child maltreatment, in lockdown and beyond, it noted that “the conditions created by COVID-19 have increased the likelihood that both stressors and vulnerability will increase, at a time when the protective services we normally rely on have been weakened, and families have reduced social support and connections to rely on”. The NSPCC has already seen how this has played out, with reports of physical abuse having risen by 53% during lockdown earlier this year.

‘Back to school’ and the safeguarding challenge

This means that safeguarding in schools – especially when it comes to monitoring and managing concerns – is more important than ever before. But in these testing times it comes with even more difficulties than usual. While schools closed their doors during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, in April and over the summer, more children were exposed to greater risk – but with less oversight and support from teachers and other adults in school. And, even now that schools are back, challenges persist. A great deal will have changed since teachers last saw many of their students – and issues that may have gone undetected during lockdown are likely to start to come to light, whether that’s due to greater visibility of concerning behaviour or children opening up to an adult they trust. And students who were no or low risk before lockdown may now be a cause for concern. Alongside this, as schools face the possibility of further closures and quarantines, the challenges that come with managing safeguarding concerns remotely are pertinent once again.

Approaching the management of concerns in the new context

There are several signs that teachers and other adults in schools can look out for when assessing the vulnerability of a child in their care. These are often specific to certain types of abuse or exploitation, and the earlier they can be identified, the better. For example, when it comes to gang-related drug trafficking via county lines, there may be small signs from the very beginning of a child’s exploitation – including unexplained absences or lateness, unexplained money in their possession or use of language that they haven’t previously used. And, with emerging evidence suggesting that heightened awareness of trafficking and the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns are causing gangs to recruit vulnerable children locally, early identification is vitally important. Crucially, schools need to have a joined-up system for managing safeguarding concerns in place in order to link signs and understand how they might relate to a bigger problem. Tools like MyConcern – Entrust’s recommended safeguarding software designed to support the reporting, managing and reporting of concerns – can help to give schools a holistic view of a pupil and join the dots more easily. It also enables designated safeguarding leads to review issues raised by a number of adults to create a complete picture of a child and how vulnerable they may be. Entrust can also provide staff with professional development and guidance to help them to spot, log and deal with safeguarding issues appropriately, and plan for any future periods of remote learning.

Providing support to vulnerable children

In the current context – with staff facing increased time pressures and potentially fewer touch points with students, as some work remotely – working out what support students need is no mean feat. Especially as employment uncertainty, reduced hours and redundancy will mean that many families will face changing circumstances over the coming months. It’s vital that schools find ways to not only consistently monitor and report concerns, but also to have a robust safeguarding strategy in place to ensure that all children are getting the right support. Entrust’s Online Free School Meals Eligibility Checking can help schools get a better picture of a child’s circumstances and identify what support might be required. Specifically, this tool helps schools to check children’s eligibility for free school meals and detects changes in their circumstances while boosting the school’s Pupil Premium. Once families are signed up, the system regularly checks their eligibility and informs schools if their circumstances change, ensuring that no child misses out on a free school meal if they’re eligible for one.

A vital role

At a time when vulnerable children are more at risk, and more children are at risk of becoming vulnerable, schools play a critical role in keeping them safe. Given current ways of working, this isn’t easy – but getting the right infrastructure and services in place can help schools and their safeguarding leads to make certain that they are doing all they can to protect pupils. Entrust is a trusted partner with the expertise and tools to make sure schools are doing all they can for their pupils. To find out more about how we can help your school to manage safeguarding processes, visit our website or get in touch with our team of experts.
You might also like: The Open University has been hit by over 1m email attacks this year
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About

Entrust provide specialist ICT services to schools and multi-academy trusts across England.

We keep up to date with the ever-evolving worlds of education and technology, helping schools to deliver improved outcomes for their learners, strengthen decision-making, and ultimately achieve their goals by providing the expertise and solutions they can trust.

For us, improving outcomes with technology means so much more than just the provision of laptops and mobile devices. And so, our service has developed alongside new technologies and the changing needs of schools, to ensure that we continue to set the bar for better education and overall school improvement.

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