Equality & Disproportionality in Schools

Equality and disproportionality are themes that school inspectors have recently been interested in during school inspections. Keeping children safe in education 2022  has given focus and clarity on the legal duties of schools in relation to equality, disproportionality and protected characteristics.

The murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the subsequent global impact has prompted many education settings to take a deep-dive into their own data. Such a process will enable the  identification of areas where there has been disproportionality and inequality in service delivery in relation to children and families. Examining their own data can uncover questionable practice and enable learning and change.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) highlighted in a report How Black Working-Class Youth are Criminalised and Excluded in the English School System by Jessica Perrera that black working-class young people in England are being unfairly excluded and criminalised by a “two-tier education system”. The IRR report focuses on London and states that pupils from black families are disproportionately being sent to pupil referral units. Black Caribbean boys are nearly four times more likely to be permanently excluded and twice as likely to be suspended. The updated DfE guidance Behaviour in Schools – Advice for Headteachers and school staff  sets out clearly  that school leaders should analyse data ‘with an objective lens and from multiple perspectives’ to query and examine what could be contributing to misbehaviour and considering protected characteristics. Findings should inform policy and practice to ensure schools are complying with legal duties under the Equality Act 2010. In particular paragraphs 83-93 of KCSIE 2022 has included updated paragraphs clarifying schools’ and colleges’ legal duties and making the link between these and safeguarding.

Practical Advice with Children from ‘Wish We Knew What To Say’ by Pragya Agarwal

  • Promote learning about each other’s home cultures and each other’s similarities and differences
  • Introduce critical thinking about stereotypes and situations seen in books and cartoons (true/not true/fair/not fair)
  • Introduce stories from your own culture/heritage
  • Introduce positive stereotypes and role models
  • Be particular about the literature and media that you are exposing children to
  • Foster pride in children’s racial identity
  • Introduce diverse books and question stereotypes
  • Support children’s curiosity about their own identities and those of others through active engagement and questions
  • Help them to understand the difference between respectful and abusive behaviour
  • Talk to children about the ways that racism can manifest in the classroom and the playground, e.g.  through jokes and name-calling
  • Ask open-ended questions such as ‘What would you do if someone was being racist on your bus’? Talk through appropriate responses and actions

Top Tips for Best Safeguarding Practice

  • Ensure your school or college practices preventative education (para 131 KCSIE 2022) to prepare children and students for life in modern Britain
  • Create a culture of zero tolerance for sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic and sexual violence/harassment
  • Ensure your behaviour policy promotes your setting’s values and standards
  • Include a planned programme of evidence-based PSHE delivered in regularly timetabled lessons and reinforced throughout the whole school curriculum
  • Ensure the PSHE programme is fully inclusive, age and stage of development appropriate (in particular for children with SEND and other vulnerabilities)
  • Draw up individual behaviour plans for more vulnerable children – involve parents and carers to plan positive and proactive behaviour support and to minimise the need to use reasonable force
  • Safer recruitment processes should include the exploration of potential areas of concern such as an implication that adults and children are equal, a lack of recognition of the vulnerability of children or any indicators of negative safeguarding behaviours.

Safeguarding in Education Blog – Allegations against Staff

Working with children comes with the possibility that an allegation can be made against you by a child or an adult. Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 tells us that the child’s welfare is paramount.  All allegations of abuse of children against anyone working with children must be taken seriously and considered within the four categories of abuse physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.

You will know about the harms threshold, sometimes known as the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) threshold, which triggers a referral to the LADO, when an allegation or concern is raised against someone who works with children either in a paid or voluntary capacity. Recently we have been managing an increase in allegations under the fourth part of the harms threshold which relates to a member of staff or a volunteer:

  • Behaving in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children (this is in relation to the alleged harm taking place outside of school, which may make the subject unsuitable to work with children and this is sometimes also known as transferable risk).
  • Some examples are, they are a perpetrator of domestic abuse and/or their children are subject to child protection procedures, they are having (or had) a sexual relationship with a child under 18 if in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if consensual or grooming a child.
  • Grooming can relate to the commission of a relevant offence under Section 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003) or other grooming behaviour that may give rise to concerns of a broader child protection nature e.g. inappropriate text messages or images, gifts and possession of indecent images of children.

The Difference between an Allegation and a Concern

It is not always clear whether an incident has led to an allegation. For it to be an allegation it has to be sufficiently serious and meet the ‘harms threshold’. It is important that the LADO is consulted to allow for concerns to be evaluated objectively. The LADO will only record those allegations which appear to meet the threshold, but it is for schools or colleges, as employers, to record the details of any low-level concern. The LADO will record the number of consultations that are determined to be low-level by the employer and this information will be included in their annual report to the LSCP. Statutory guidance is clear that references should only include safeguarding allegations that meet the ‘harms threshold’ and that low-level concerns should not be included, unless they relate to matters such as misconduct or poor performance. If there is a pattern of low-level concerns that meet the ‘harms threshold’, and found to be substantiated, they should be referred to in a reference.

Learning from Allegations

For the first time, KCSIE asks us to review the circumstances of unsubstantiated allegations (as well as unfounded, false, malicious or substantiated allegations) to determine whether there are any improvements that can be made to school or college procedures. This is so that we prevent future allegations from being made. Your low-level concerns policy should be part of the staff code of conduct.

Top Tips for Best Safeguarding Practice

Aways remember that the child’s welfare is paramount and to share any concerns with your headteacher or designated safeguarding lead, however insignificant they may seem or low-level.

Find out about your own setting’s process in respect of allegations against staff. It will be based upon Part 4 of KCSIE 2022, but do check your internal procedures to ensure you know the process well and are aware of whom you should report any concerns or allegations.

Remember that the definition of harm in statutory guidance includes the notion that a child can be harmed if someone fails to act.

Ensure you are clear about what appropriate behaviour is.

Read the Staff Code of Conduct regularly, this will help staff with their confidence in knowing the difference between expected and appropriate behaviour, from inappropriate, problematic or concerning behaviour, both in themselves or others.

Senior leaders should empower staff to share low-level concerns – communicating safeguarding responsibilities, sharing information, asking for their input, encouraging decision making and thinking of new ways of doing things, feeling they can make a difference and feeling valued.

Unprofessional behaviour should be addressed at an early stage and this includes supporting the individual to correct the behaviour.

Low-level concerns and allegations should be responded to sensitively and proportionately and shared confidentially.

After any allegation or low-level concern, ensure there is a process for reviewing to help identify any weakness in the school or college safeguarding systems.

If it is difficult to determine the level of risk associated with an incident the following should be considered:

  • Was the incident a disproportionate or inappropriate response in the context of a challenging situation?
  • Where the incident involved an inappropriate response to challenging behaviour, had the member of staff had training in managing this?
  • Does the member of staff understand that their behaviour was inappropriate and express a wish to behave differently in the future? For example, are they willing to undergo training?
  • Does the child or family want to report the incident to the police or would they prefer the matter to be dealt with by the employer?
  • Have similar allegations been made against the employee – is there a pattern developing?

Incidents which fall short of the threshold could include an accusation that is made second or third hand and the facts are not clear, or the member of staff alleged to have done this was not there at the time; or there is confusion about the account.

Where it is decided that the incident does not meet the threshold of harm/risk of harm and is a concern only, then the employer should take steps to ensure any conduct or behaviour issues are addressed with the member of staff through normal employment practices.


Safeguarding in Education Blog – Social Media, Misogyny and Statutory Guidance for Schools

Welcome to the new academic year 2022-23!

As adults it can be difficult for us to navigate social media platforms and to keep up with the latest influencers and trends. For children it is more difficult to understand and address the effects of damaging social media patterns. It can sometimes mean they run into material which can have a negative influence and impact and sometimes it is used to abuse them or others. During the summer break you may have heard of the influencer Andrew Tate, who has been actively advocating extreme views on misogyny and sexism on social media platforms. Recently these platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (where it is reported he had more than 4.7 million followers), have banned him for his extreme misogynistic views. Social media companies are working to remove videos containing his views and violence.

It is his influence on boys and young men that is very worrying as well as his rise to notoriety for his derogatory views about women and toxic beliefs about masculinity. It has been reported that many young people follow him and that boys as young as 11 are attempting to emulate him. Many parody social media accounts have been set up, each one receiving money through Tate’s ‘affiliate’ programme. Parents may not be aware of what their children are watching on screens behind closed bedroom doors. This is something the DfE have asked schools to address in one of the latest updates to statutory guidance.

What does statutory guidance expect from schools?

It is important that schools raise awareness and educate parents about online harms – paragraph 139 of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 states that schools should reinforce to parents:

  • the importance of children’s safety
  • inform them of the filtering and monitoring systems used
  • what the school is asking children to do online outside of the school
  • the sites you are advising they access and
  • the staff they will be interacting with

There is a big emphasis this year on keeping parents informed and educated about online safety. This can be done through newsletters, workshops, information evenings and the school website. Use drama productions and open evenings where children play a big part in educating their parents, to engage and help parents to keep their children safe online when they are not in school. Governing bodies should review incidents and the effectiveness of online safety systems including the PSHE curriculum, healthy relationships, respect and consent.

Top Tips for Best Safeguarding Practice

  • Ensure children feel comfortable and confident in sharing concerns about themes they encounter in the online world, encourage children to share their experiences and anything that could be troubling them
  • Remind children of the importance of critically assessing all the information they see online, even where accounts appear verified and have many followers
  • Make staff aware of ‘alpha male’ influencers who advocate misogyny and an anti-feminist community on the internet – also known as the ‘manosphere’ a term also used by INCELs (involuntary celibates)
  • Ensure staff listen out for potentially problematic discussions inside and outside of lessons and engage children in conversations about what they see online
  • Make parents aware of how dangerous Tate’s content is and educate them about recognising the signs of hate – ensure there is a collaborative process between school and home, to keep abreast of developments about what is happening online
  • Use LGfL’s ParentSafe which includes top tips for parents, including parental controls, screen time and reporting concerns, to raise awareness and educate parents about online safety
  • Safeguarding and online safety should be a standing item at governing body meetings
  • The effectiveness of school filters and monitoring systems should be reviewed regularly by the safeguarding team, considering the ages of the children and likely contextual risks
  • Review the PSHE curriculum in relation to healthy relationships and consent and teach children about respect and tolerance as part of the RSHE curriculum
  • Ensure staff have awareness of systems and how to escalate concerns
  • For governors to fulfil their responsibility to ensure children’s exposure to online risks are limited, there should be regular reviews of online safety systems and trends and patterns in relation to any online safety incidents
  • Each review should trigger discussions about identifying trends and learning lessons

The Safeguarding in Education Blog – Preparing for the Summer Break

The six week summer break can be a difficult time for some children. There are some things that you can do to support children and families who are likely to struggle:

  • Make sure your school website is updated with national helpline numbers and support services e.g., local food banks, holiday activities and food schemes
  • Show children where to find the information before the holidays
  • Meet with vulnerable children that receive support and ask them how they are feeling about the holidays and if they need anything before the end of term.
  • Consider children with additional needs – do you need to prepare them for changes? Are there any activities you can signpost them to?
  • Consider young carers – liaise with their social worker and update them on any current concerns in plenty of time.
  • Consider your looked after children – have a 1-1 conversation with carers, thinking through the impact of the long school break and ask if they need extra support.
  • Consider sharing relevant safeguarding or pastoral information with parents before the holidays.
  • Think about mental health and consider sharing strategies with children to help them with their emotional health and wellbeing before the school closes.
  • Share well-being tips with staff and children – remind them about the importance of exercise, daylight, music, healthy eating – preparing them in many ways.
  • Think about who needs to be contacted and what needs to happen to safeguard children during the holidays.

Thinking ahead to September 2022

Consider training and development – what do you need to cover and how can you ensure that staff understand? There are changes being introduced in Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022.

Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews – do staff need a refresher on the four types of abuse and the signs and indicators? Think about the cases of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Star Hobson and Louis Mwangi and all the other children who have been murdered and abused. What were the lessons learned and what do we need to do to ensure all staff are aware? What key topics do you need to cover? Is it a refresher on child-on-child abuse or safer working practice? Should you revisit domestic violence and abuse, discrimination and equality and violence against women and girls? With the ever-increasing cost of living, many families are living under both financial and emotional pressures. Drug and alcohol abuse and parental mental health problems can also be exacerbated, particularly with the expected economic crisis.

Pupil Voice – what needs to be planned for the autumn term in relation to PSHE, RSHE and teaching children about safeguarding, being kind, respectful and healthy relationships and how we are encouraging children to tell us their wishes and feelings, offering them a safe space in school and a trusted adult? A greater emphasis on pastoral care!

Child-on-Child Abuse – is this part of your safeguarding policy truly reflected in practice or are there any discussions that need to take place with staff to obtain their views on its implementation? Do children feel supported, whether they are victims or perpetrators and how is your school addressing bullying, cyberbullying and child-on-child abuse?

My experience this term indicates these are growing issues in schools so what can we do to address these difficulties – can you nominate a group of staff and children that can be trained to champion these issues in your school?

Contact and Support during the Summer break

I will still be around to support you during school closures, you will find me on social media in various places:

If you haven’t already, why not join the discussion with like-minded people in my free group here  Safeguarding in Education Community Group.

You will find me on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/chalktalkeducation/

You will find me on Twitter here https://twitter.com/ChalktalkEduc

You will find me on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/ChalktalkEduc

You will find me on Linked in here https://www.linkedin.com/in/anastasiageorgiou1/

I have a new email address: anastasia@chalktalkeducation.com

Feel free to contact me for support and advice on any safeguarding in education matters.

Thank you for keeping children safe from harm and all  your relentless hard work this academic year. Thank you also for reading this blog and sharing it with your staff and governors. It is almost time to relax, re-charge and re-set. I wish you all a restful, happy and healthy summer holiday. 


The Safeguarding in Education Blog – Online Safety at Home and at School

The significance of online safety as a key element of safeguarding has increased greatly in the last few years. Being online is an integral part of most children’s lives, especially since the pandemic increased internet use significantly. Statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021, tells us that online safety should form a fundamental part of schools’ and colleges’ safeguarding and child protection procedures. Working effectively with parents is a key part of online safety because parents play an important role in helping their children stay safe online.

LGfL’s dedicated one-stop location offers parents support and advice on a range of subjects through their ParentSafe web page:

This is great news especially with parental engagement so vital to reinforce those key safeguarding messages.

School Resources

Just a joke? – Childnet Toolkit contains a range of resources to help schools explore problematic online sexual behaviour including:

  • Three lesson plans
  • Quick activities
  • An interactive quiz
  • Teaching Guide

Inspiring children to use technology responsibility and critically are key areas of online safety – what’s your school doing to ensure children are safe online?


Supporting Schools in Safeguarding Children

  • Whole school safeguarding and child protection training – interactive sessions providing a clear understanding of your legal duties, including signs and indicators, thresholds, case studies and best practice around safeguarding in your school/setting
  • Designated Safeguarding Leads – providing training on the designated safeguarding lead role including responsibilities of the role, in accordance with the latest DfE guidance and best practice
  • Accredited Safer Recruitment Training – colleagues in schools, colleges and other settings can benefit from booking a Safer Recruitment course for your senior leadership team, business managers, HR colleagues and governors
  • Governor training –   there are statutory safeguarding requirements on governing bodies – this course will ensure your governors have the knowledge and information necessary to better understand their responsibilities and perform their functions

Safeguarding Bulletins

January 2019 – Bulletin 1

Happy new year and a warm welcome to the first Chalktalk Education newsletter of 2019 which is aimed at schools, settings and colleges to inform them of relevant news, guidance and publications and to share feedback and learning.  

This month there is an interesting article on the impact on children and young people of regular screen use and some statistics demonstrating the negative effects on their health, welfare and attainment and some ways in which schools can help.

We also focus on the importance of Early Help and our duty to ensure vulnerable children and families receive the support they need as early as possible, to prevent problems increasing.

In our series examining learning from serious case reviews, we take a look at the case of William Vahey, a teacher who sexually abused children from Southbank School, an international school in London  from 2009 until 2013.  He then went to work in a school in Nicaragua.  In Nicaragua a USB stick owned by Vahey  was found to have multiple images of the abuse of school aged children from Southbank School.  Vahey admitted the abuse but before further enquiries could take place, he committed suicide in 2014.  These reviews highlight pertinent messages  for practice improvement and multi-agency working; the detail can  be emotionally draining and so can the emotional impact of the work of designated safeguarding leads in general; it is important that you have access to support your emotional well-being. 

Good practice safeguards staff as well as children and it is vital for staff who deal with safeguarding and child protection issues to receive supervision and support – please do get some emotional support  for yourselves – this is something that we can provide, please ask.

Help to share the information by circulating this newsletter to your colleagues and by making it available either electronically and/or on notice boards in your school/college/setting.

Soola Georgiou

Safeguarding in Education Consultant

Chalktalk Education

E:  ChalkTalkLtd@mail.com

W: www.chalktalkeducation.com

M: 07904 197780