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Child protection: Safeguarding officers in schools needed

Career | Published 1 January, 2012 | By: Alison Byrne was talking to Jennifer Beckles

There can be few more important roles in education than that of keeping children safe. 

Why did you become a Safeguarding in Education Officer?
I was a headteacher of a large middle school when my mother became ill and I found that I couldn’t spend as much time with her as I would wish.  I resigned from my role, but still wanted to be involved with children and young people yet without the tremendous commitment that teachers put in outside of school hours.  When I saw this job description it matched my ideal completely.

What does your role involve?
I’m part of the Buckinghamshire safeguarding in education team, so I give advice to schools about child protection and safeguarding matters.  I train designated persons whose role is to manage all child protection issues within schools.  I also train whole schools and governors in child protection, and provide pro formas for a variety of policies and forms.  Additionally, I attend child protection case conferences for all school age children in the county.  Part of my role is to inform schools when children are in homes where domestic abuse occurs, as well as being a member of various sub committees and training pools. 

What skills do you need?
You need to be a qualified teacher or social worker with experience in child protection matters.

What are the best bits?
It has to be when my support is really appreciated by staff in schools who sometimes agonise over children in difficult circumstances.   Also when families have children who no longer need a child protection plan because their lives have been transformed.

And of course, going home on a Friday in the knowledge that you can leave everything behind until Monday morning with no planning, no marking……….

And the worst?
The absolute worst is hearing terrible cases at conference and feeling powerless to help because there are not sufficient or appropriate resources. One of the worst things is telling schools that although they are worried about families, there is nothing we can do because they will not meet the criteria for intervention.

What are the difficulties and how do you overcome them?
There are always new challenges and our team is really supportive of each other in trying to give good advice to schools.  If none of us knows the answers, we’ll research and use our wide network of contacts throughout the county council. 

How can others find out more?
Contact your local authority’s education or child protection team.  Also check local authority websites for vacancies as well as the local job centre. All county councils advertise their vacancies on the jobcentreplus website and that’s where I saw it.

 

Want to know about other non-teaching roles? Visit New career directions


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