Safeguarding: How to make the most of your Safeguarding Governor

Safeguarding: How to make the most of your Safeguarding Governor

Posted  11th November 2021

This blog is based on Judicium’s Safeguarding ‘Sofa Session’ from the 10th of November, with our resident expert Hannah Glossop. This session focused on the expectations of the Safeguarding Governor, enabling governors to facilitate a whole school approach to safeguarding and practical steps and action for a Safeguarding Governor to take.

Expectations of the Safeguarding Governor 

The first step we recommend is to look at the Governance Handbook (October 2020). It sets out the role and responsibilities the governing body must fulfil. Some of the key highlights to take away from the handbook include:

  • Governing bodies have a strategic leadership responsibility for their school’s safeguarding arrangements and must ensure that they comply with their duties under legislation.

  • They must give consideration to KCSIE, ensuring policies, procedures and training in their schools are effective and comply with the law at all times.

  • KCSIE sets out that an individual on the governing body should take strategic leadership responsibility for the organisation’s wider safeguarding arrangements. This includes the Prevent Duty, which should be seen as part of the wider safeguarding obligation.

For these expectations to be met, it is important that the safeguarding governor or academy trustee receives appropriate safeguarding training to undertake the role.

However, it is best practice if everyone on the governing board receives training about safeguarding, to establish that they have the knowledge and information needed to perform their functions, understand their responsibilities, and assure themselves that their own organisation’s safeguarding arrangements are robust. At the very least we would recommend all Governors read and acknowledge Part 1 of KCSIE.

KCSIE: A Whole School Approach

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure they facilitate a whole school approach to safeguarding. This means ensuring safeguarding and child protection are at the forefront and underpin all relevant aspects of process and policy development. Ultimately, all systems, processes and policies should operate with the best interests of the child at heart.

To take the lead in facilitating this whole school approach governing bodies and proprietors (if independent) should have a senior board level (or equivalent) lead to take leadership responsibility for their school’s safeguarding arrangement. This is often referred to as the Safeguarding Governor, Trustee, etc.

11 Key Safeguarding Responsibilities of the Governing Body 

  1. Facilitate safer recruitment checks and monitor the keeping of the Single Central Record.

  2. Policy – Make sure it is appropriate and also includes procedures to minimise the risk of peer-on-peer abuse.

  3. Provide Leadership – Ensure a DSL is in place who is part of the leadership team.

  4. Allegations Against Staff – Offer support for anyone facing an allegation, including the low-level concerns policy.

  5. Staff Training - Make certain all staff have read Part One of KCSIE and have undergone appropriate safeguarding training.

  6. Safeguarding Curriculum – Check that all children are taught about online safety.

  1. Online Safety - Limit children’s exposure to the above risks from the school’s or college’s IT system.

  2. Mental Health - Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure they have clear systems and processes in place for identifying possible mental health problems, including routes to escalate and clear referral and accountability systems.

  3. Looked After Children: Governing bodies of maintained schools and Trustees of academies must appoint a designated teacher.

  4. Site Safety: The governing body should also establish that all safeguarding requirements are included in any transfer of control agreement [i.e. lease or hire agreement], as a condition of use and occupation of the premises.

  5. Whole School Approach to Safeguarding: Inspectors will look for evidence of the extent to which leaders, and governors create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the setting, backed up by training at every level.

Local Knowledge: 

It is especially important that schools understand their role within the local safeguarding arrangements. Governing bodies, and their senior leadership teams, especially their designated safeguarding leads, should make themselves aware of local concerns and follow their local arrangements.

Enabling Governors to Facilitate a Whole School Approach to Safeguarding

Although the Safeguarding Governor has strategic leadership responsibility, the whole governing body shares some of this responsibility with them. Therefore, all governors should have some form of safeguarding training, including the NEDs of your local community. 
At governance meetings, have safeguarding as a standing item at every meeting, and include the 11 areas detailed previously as an essential part of the Headteacher’s report. 
Ensure that safeguarding visits from the safeguarding governor are reported back to the wider governing body, potentially via committee. 
Ask governors what knowledge or further training they need to feel confident with safeguarding. 
Is the DSL or wider safeguarding team being offered appropriate supervision? If not, make provisions to meet this need.

Ofsted Findings: 

  • Out of 53 inspections since 2019 where safeguarding has been judged to be “not effective,” leadership and/or governance have been mentioned as a contributing factor in 26 reports.

  • One Ofsted report found, “governors are reliant on teachers to tell them what is working well.”

We always recommend the Safeguarding Governor meets directly with staff and student groups to get a clearer picture of the safeguarding environment in school.

Practical Steps and Action for a Safeguarding Governor to Take

  • Organise Regular Safeguarding Visits – We recommend these take place termly to allow the safeguarding governor to check the parts that they as Safeguarding Governor need more reassurance in/evidence of.

  • Ensure safeguarding is a standing item at governing body meetings

  • Be Responsive - If a concern over the leadership of safeguarding comes up, how are the governing body tackling it? Set clear actions between meetings.

  • Don’t get bogged down in the daily management of safeguarding! The Safeguarding Governor should NOT know names of individuals or individual chronologies but should have an overall picture of safeguarding.

  • Ensure that pupil and staff voices are regular and useful.

  • Always come back to safeguarding culture, as per KCSIE: “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure they facilitate a whole school or college approach to safeguarding. This means ensuring safeguarding and child protection are at the forefront and underpin all relevant aspects of process and policy development. Ultimately, all systems, processes and policies should operate with the best interests of the child at their heart.”


Helpful Links

DfE Governance Handbook: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/925104/Governance_Handbook_FINAL.pdf

Judicium Education’s Safeguarding Service is intended to assist schools in meeting the statutory requirements and guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children and safer recruitment. For more information, please visit: https://www.judiciumeducation.co.uk/safeguarding-service

If you require any support in any of these steps or would like to talk to someone surrounding some support for your school, please do not hesitate to call us on 0845 459 2130 or email Georgina.decosta@judicium.com.

If you’d like to review Judicium’s forthcoming sofa sessions please click here