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Just one of the reasons why Safeguarding needs schools to talk to each other!

Recently, I received an email from a teacher who reached out to inquire about the existence of a safeguarding database for educators in their country. They were upset upon learning that an interviewer at a school they applied to mentioned safeguarding concerns from a previous employer. They said that they were not given that information when they left the school or the opportunity to discuss or dispute it and now this had the potential to impact their future and that this was defamation (which could have serious legal consequences for the reporter in some countries).

This was worrying because, if true, the school would not only have (potentially) acted unfairly towards the individual, completed a limited child protection enquiry into whatever the concerns were but also missed the opportunity to change that individual’s behaviour in the future through signposting them to support. 

As we know these things are rarely straightforward though and in this case the teacher also shared with me that the reason they thought there must be a database was because they had omitted their employment history at that school from their application and therefore the new school should not have known to contact their previous school.

The teacher was contacting me questioning if I had access to (the non-existent) database because I had trained the Safeguarding Lead at one (possibly both) of the schools in question. Now although I totally understand that if they had not been informed of safeguarding concerns at the time their employment ended, concerns which were then shared externally, this would be very difficult.  They would not have had the opportunity to explore the concerns, share any mitigating circumstances or have a chance to reflect on, or learn from their actions.  

I am always wary of only hearing one person's viewpoint (which is why I am such an advocate. I worked on a Child Protection enquiry previously where the teacher who had their contract terminated due to gross misconduct stated in every communication possible (even a legal complaint they had written with legal support) that the school had not given them the opportunity to refute or discuss the allegations. This made the new school really worry about the legitimacy of the concerns and if the individual had in fact been unfairly targeted, as they claimed.  When in fact the original school had evidence that they had given multiple opportunities during and after the enquiry.  As if to inadvertently prove the point, that same individual then turned down the opportunity to meet to discuss the new concerns in the latest Enquiry which I was running. So, although I can empathise with someone who is challenging safeguarding concerns and their potential reputational harm, we also have to be very aware of deflection, distraction and the use of threats (such as reporting defamation) in these situations. This is another example of where communication and documentation were absolutely essential.

Let’s work together to Protect Children


This recent email made me think about these key points Schools and Safeguarding Leads need to consider:

  1. Importance of Communication Between Schools: Effective safeguarding relies on open communication between educational institutions. This collaboration helps identify potential risks and ensures that children are protected. It is crucial for schools to share relevant information about staff members, particularly if there are concerns related to student safety.

  2. Clarity of Reasoning: It is essential that schools and administrators don’t just exit someone as quickly as possible if an allegation is made, a full enquiry is needed. You need to ensure that there is as clear an understanding as possible of what has happened and document and share the reasoning behind decisions made and actions taken.  This is how you will evidence that the enquiry has been fair and reasonable, that the actions are appropriate and those involved understand the concerns and are offered support (internal or external) in order to make lasting positive changes. 

  3. Transparency in Job Applications: Do you make it clear as part of your Safe Recruitment practices that omitting or falsifying information on job applications is a serious breach of trust and will not be tolerated?  Schools need complete transparency to make informed hiring decisions. The omission of employment history, especially if it involves a terminated contract, is a significant safeguarding red flag. This practice can lead to immediate disqualification or termination upon discovery. A senior leader actually wrote in a document when complaining about their termination that it was the schools responsibility to do full background checks, not their responsibility to provide all the information. A slightly surprising defence to not sharing that you had been fired for gross misconduct previously, however it does provide an insight into their thinking and justification for their actions.

  4. Reflecting on Past Experiences: It’s vital for educators to seek feedback from previous employers, especially if there were concerns that led to the termination of their contract. Understanding these concerns, whether they stem from misunderstandings or legitimate issues, is crucial for personal and professional growth. This reflection helps in adjusting behaviour and ensuring that such issues do not recur.

  5. Continuous Professional Development: Safeguarding training is essential for all educators. Regularly updating knowledge and skills in safeguarding practices not only helps in understanding the complexities involved but also ensures that educators are well-equipped to protect their students effectively. Leaders and administrators need to accept that Safeguarding training, policy and systems are not just check box exercises and do require their commitment and willingness to fund and support.

Maintaining integrity and transparency is non-negotiable. These values are the foundation of trust and safety within education

Teachers and other educators

  • Complete Regular Safeguarding Training: Stay updated with the latest safeguarding practices and guidelines. Training helps in recognising and appropriately responding to potential risks. Everyone who works directly with children has a duty of care to protect them from harm and abuse.

  • Maintain Open Communication: Engage in honest and transparent communication with current and potential employers. This openness fosters trust and ensures that any concerns can be addressed proactively.

  • Seek Feedback and Reflect: Continuously seek feedback from colleagues and supervisors to understand areas of improvement. Reflect on past experiences to learn and grow as a professional.

In today’s interconnected world, safeguarding in education has become more crucial than ever. Ensuring the safety and well-being of students is a shared responsibility that demands commitment from every educator. By adhering to these principles, we can create safer educational environments where students can thrive, and educators can perform their roles with confidence and integrity.

If you have any concerns or need further guidance on safeguarding practices, feel free to reach out via our website

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