Working so closely with the international school community, child protection is a subject that’s never far from our thoughts at Faria Education Group. With young people spending more time than ever online in the wake of the pandemic, the need to ensure their safety is greater than it’s ever been. In today’s post, we’d like to share what we do to ensure strong safeguarding practices underpin everything we do across our school services and systems.

Recognising the risks

Our diverse software offering for international schools means there are a number of safeguarding touch points throughout our company, including students taking our online courses with Pamoja, attending Oxford Study Courses, revising with OSC Study, and using ManageBac to write reflections, submit work and interact with teachers.

Young people all over the world engage with our services and systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it’s always at the forefront of our minds that their safety is paramount. Not only that, but members of our staff make school visits and may encounter young people both in person and online. With that in mind, we use the standards and guidance of the International Task Force on Child Protection, adapted for our own unique context and the different roles in our company.

Safeguarding code of conduct

This year, we’ve updated our Safeguarding Policy and internal Codes of Conduct to recognise the different levels of risk in our company, outlining the safeguarding measures by which all Faria staff are expected to abide. The Code of Conduct recognises the different scenarios in which our staff may interact with young people, such as guidance for school visits around use of media and adult-only restrooms. Our recruitment process includes safer recruitment practices, including enhanced background checks for all employees.

We know it’s also important to recognise and come forward with low level concerns, so we’ve updated our company safeguarding policy to include new guidance that fosters a culture of openness among our staff, supporting them to feel able to come forward to share internal concerns or ‘nagging doubts’.

Training and accountability

Alongside this work, we’ve been reviewing and updating our safeguarding training. By the end of 2021, all our full-time employees and long-term contractors will have received this new training. What’s more, we’ll be refreshing our training regularly, ensuring we’re always responsive and up-to-date with the latest guidelines.

While safeguarding is something for which everyone has responsibility here at Faria, we also want to make sure there are named people within our company who are specifically trained to oversee this crucial area. That’s why we’ve appointed and trained more Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) this year, and assigned one to each of our products that students use or engage with directly.

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Further, to make sure we’ve got safeguarding covered at all times, we’ve appointed enough DSLs that two deputies will be available if the DSLs can’t be reached. What’s more, the safeguarding team can be contacted via their shared email address at any time with concerns or questions around safeguarding.

We’re all in this together

Finally, we’re working hard to keep the young people in our community safe, but it falls to everyone in the education technology sector to follow suit. School leaders can join us in raising awareness of safeguarding in our sector by asking companies pertinent questions such as:

  • What is your safeguarding policy?
  • How do you train your staff?
  • Which staff do you train?
  • What is your reporting process?
  • Do you have a company Designated Safeguarding Lead?
  • What background and reference checks do you do before hiring staff? What about teachers?
  • Who can see our students’ personal information, contact details, family information, interests, grades and reflections? (This data, if triangulated, can give access to and paint a picture of a child.)
  • For online courses, how do you support students to keep themselves safe online and understand the reporting process if they have concerns?

By asking the right questions, staying vigilant and following up on any nagging doubts, we can work together to make the world of education a safer place for young people.

To explore more about fostering belonging, with a spotlight on safeguarding and inclusion, read more via MiniPD.com‘s blog post and coach articles here, and access actionable strategies and resources via MiniPD.com‘s monthly content page here.