Safeguarding In Education During Covid-19: 'Lessons Learned'
Safeguarding in Education During This Pandemic
Immediately following the Covid-19 lockdown and school closures we offered our safeguarding software, MyConcern, free of charge to any school without an online safeguarding reporting system. We also began conducting free weekly Covid-19 Safeguarding Support Sessions, which have to date benefitted over 1500 delegates who raised a wide range of fundamental safeguarding issues. Consequently, we decided that it was vitally important that the issues identified and discussed by practitioners during these sessions, as well as the many other reflections that Safeguarding Leads will have, should be collected, collated and communicated to inform future safeguarding practice.
Identifying The Lessons Learned
In order to ensure a rigorous and comprehensive academic approach to this process we approached Professor Jonathan Crego, Director of the Hydra Foundation to ask if he would run a structured debriefing of Safeguarding during Covid-19 with safeguarding leads from schools, colleges and other sectors – and (thankfully) he said “yes” (immediately)!
Jonathan is ‘by trade’ a forensic psychologist and both he and the Hydra Foundation are wholly dedicated to saving lives. Over the past 25 years Jonathan has developed a number of Hydra methodologies for immersive learning including a phenomenological research methodology called ’10,000 volts’ – 10 Kv. Through structured, time limited debriefing sessions – historically held onsite but now available online - it is possible to capture the lived experience of professionals involved in decision making in highly pressured environments and to share that experience in order to save lives.
On 24 June 2020 Jonathan facilitated for us a 10Kv debriefing session to understand the lessons learned in safeguarding during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Over 180 designated safeguarding leads contributed their knowledge, experience and personal insights in relation to:
- Activity within their school (and, where applicable, their MAT) and the effect on staff
- Identifying, risk assessing and monitoring vulnerable children
- Managing online contact for teaching and learning
- Working with other agencies, and
- Personal reflections and insights for the future
The purpose of this debrief was to create an independent and detailed body of research that would identify lessons to be learned by practitioners, senior leaders, school governors, multi-agency partners and both local and national Government. These lessons are intended to inform future safeguarding policy and practise in education and, ultimately, to improve the protection of children and young people.
The 10Kv Session
During the session, safeguarding practitioners had the opportunity to share their early learning with the spotlight on what has been working well, what has not been working so well and what they might seek to change moving forward. This conversation is especially relevant to the ongoing Covid-19 response (and any ‘second spike’) and will also have an impact that lasts well beyond the current pandemic into the recovery phase and the establishment of a ‘new normal’ for safeguarding in education.
This methodology relied on us having sufficient safeguarding leads attending the session, so we are extremely grateful to all the delegates for their input and for their dedication to keeping children and young people safe from harm.
During the session, Jonathan led the delegates through a series of structured questions and allowed them time to enter their responses into the online 10Kv portal. Responses from other attendees were also visible (completely anonymously) to each delegate so that they were able to contribute to each other’s views and comment on provide their own views, either directly in response to the questions, or in response to other comments entered into the system.
Firstly, it is important to recognise how powerful the 10Kv methodology proved to be on the day and how much the delegates appreciated the opportunity to communicate their experiences and insights with others. The Hydra Foundation is now undertaking a thorough ‘fast time’ analysis of the key findings so than these can be shared with participants, other practitioners, and policy makers. This was a unique event for safeguarding leads and one on which we will be building in the future.
Written by Sam Franklin