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Unlocking Potential, Minimising Risks: Why Safeguarding Supervision Matters in International Schools

During a meeting last week, someone shared that when they had asked their HoS to fund Supervision for the Counsellors, they were met with a clear and total lack of understanding around why that was a necessary or valuable investment for the school.  I remember having that same conversation with a room full of Counsellors at a SEASCN conference 7 or 8 years ago and being shocked at how few were receiving supervision (despite it being a professional requirement in many countries) and how grateful I was that my school was (thanks BSJ!). 



Hearing that the same discussions are still being had has made me really reflect on how difficult I have found it to get ‘buy-in’ from many schools for Professional Supervision for Safeguarding their Leads.  There are a few schools who are leading the way and investing in supporting their staff but the challenge is real!  Which is why I founded ISSSH, the international school safeguarding support hub.  ISSSH can’t provide that in depth one-to-one Supervision, but it is a step in the right direction and it certainly helps people to feel connected and supported by peers as well as by me. 


ISSSH international school safeguarding support hub, membership group for school staff who are DSLs or part of the child protection team

However, this isn’t about ISSH, this is about professional safeguarding supervision, 1to1 or in small groups; exploring issues, reflecting on bias, decision making, checking in emotionally and knowing that someone else understands what you are struggling with.

International schools, with their diverse student bodies and unique environments, present unique challenges for safeguarding leads rushing to the front to deal with any Safeguarding or Child Protection issues that arise. On a daily basis they are navigating challenging complexities that extend beyond local norms and require specialised knowledge and support.


Investing in professional supervision for safeguarding leads isn't just a commendable act; it's a strategic decision that strengthens schools and empowers these crucial roles. 

Do I sound like I am on my soap box?  Well that is fair because I am! 


Professional Safeguarding Supervision connects and supports DSLs and Child Protection Officers in international schools

Safeguarding issues in international settings can be far-reaching, they’re a melting pots of cultures, presenting safeguarding leads with distinct needs and challenges involving diverse cultural backgrounds, language barriers, and evolving societal nuances. Safeguarding leads grapple with complex decisions that impact vulnerable students, often without readily available local support. So DSLs need and deserve support for this! International schools may struggle to find accessible or relevant external support for safeguarding.


By investing in professional supervision, they ensure their DSLs have access to specialists who understand the specific challenges faced in international environments. This fosters confidence in decision-making, ultimately impacting the well-being of the entire school community.


Some will continue to question the value of supervision, dismissing it as unnecessary. However, neglecting this crucial support undermines not only staff well-being but also student safety. Supervision provides a designated space for safeguarding leads (and teams) to decompress, seek support, and reflect on their practice. This reduces burnout, staff turnover, and ultimately reduces costly mistakes, demonstrating a commitment to both staff and student well-being.

Talking through concerns and complex situations provides support and reduces staff stress

Professional supervision goes beyond mere ‘best practice’, it fosters a culture of care within the school community. When safeguarding leads feel empowered and supported, they make informed decisions, minimising risks and creating a safer and more nurturing environment for all.


Yes, of course I am saying this because providing professional supervision is a key part of my business BUT it is a key part because I know how valuable it is!  During every single supervision session I hold, problems are solved, deeper reflection and knowledge is gained and I know that at the end of every session that person feels more empowered and confident, they have clear actions to follow and they feel more able to face the next challenge that comes their way.  Isn't this something that EVERY school should want for their Safeguarding team?


If this sounds like something you (or your safeguarding staff) need, please get in touch with me sian.jorgensen@encompass-safeguarding.com / www.encompass-safeguarding.com

written by Sian Jorgensen MSc, MA, BASW, MACP.

Director of Encompass Safeguarding LTD

8/02/2024

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