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Teachers more worried about child safety than impact on attainment during lockdown

Chief Constable Simon Bailey says “Teachers play an absolutely critical role in the wellbeing, welfare and the safeguarding of children”

20 May 2020, Nottingham, UK: With schools reopening for some year groups in just a few weeks’ time, new research from safeguarding software specialists Impero has found that 87 percent of school teachers are worried about the impact of school closures on their ability to safeguard children, with the majority of teachers in the UK considering safeguarding a large part of their job (82 percent).

During school closures, teachers are most concerned about the safeguarding and protection of children (40 percent) followed by disruption to learning and development (30 percent), limited access to school meals, such as free breakfasts (16 percent) and rising mental health challenges as a result of social distancing and isolation (14 percent).

Nearly three quarters (72 percent) say they have contacted ‘at risk’ pupils – students considered particularly vulnerable due to their history or circumstances – during school closures with information on where they can go if they need safeguarding help. Meanwhile, more than two thirds (67 percent) have flagged concerns, or intend to, about ‘at risk’ pupils’ safety to local authority social care teams. When asked about how they usually log safeguarding concerns, half (48 percent) said they still use manual systems (Microsoft Excel and paper records), while the other half (47 percent) use a dedicated records management system.

Teachers’ role in safeguarding was highlighted by reporting that child protection referrals have plummeted by more than 50 percent in some areas of England following school closures. The Department for Education wants children back in primary schools in a phased reopening starting next month, with class sizes limited to 15 and a staggered timetable to limit the number of pupils and risk of transmission. However, this would mean leaving some vulnerable children at home in potentially unsafe environments.

The research was discussed during “Safeguarding during the pandemic and beyond: A virtual roundtable hosted by Impero on 19th May, which can be downloaded and viewed here: https://we.tl/t-coSC2JlhE9

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, a panellist at the roundtable, said: “Teachers play an absolutely critical role in the wellbeing, the welfare and the safeguarding of children. Teachers, in my own experience, are the first group of professionals to get a sense for when something is not quite right. It could be that a child comes into school and their clothes are dirty, they are dirty or they’re hungry – it’s all those really early signs that teachers are very good at picking up on, identifying and then passing on to the safeguarding lead. That will be even more important when children return to school.”

Justin Reilly, CEO of Impero, said: “Any teacher will tell you that safeguarding is the foundation for effective teaching. Schools’ abrupt closures meant there wasn’t time to adjust and adapt safeguarding approaches. With safeguarding records locked up in schools, teachers have been left to organise their own safeguarding systems remotely.

“This pandemic has shown that the safeguarding process needs to be reviewed. Teachers need to be properly supported to perform this vital role when schools are closed. Part of this is about moving safeguarding systems online so every relevant stakeholder, from teachers to social workers, can access up to date, vital information that helps keep children safe.”

ENDS

 

Notes to editor:

– Impero commissioned Surveygoo to conduct this survey. Respondents consisted of 306 teachers working in a primary school, secondary school or college. This survey was conducted in the UK in May 2020.

– Full findings can be sent upon request.

– The virtual roundtable can be downloaded and viewed here: https://we.tl/t-coSC2JlhE9. The video will be uploaded to Impero’s website in due course – if you’d like to include this link for your readers, please let me know and I will send it on when it is finalised.

Media contact:

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About Impero:

Impero Software offers remote monitoring and management software, relied upon by education establishments around the world. Founded in 2002, Impero Software is now accessed by over 2 million devices in over 90 countries.

Impero’s cutting edge EdTech software consolidates a range of powerful classroom, network and device management features enabling schools and colleges to reduce costs and improve both staff and student productivity. Impero’s sophisticated online safety functionality uses keyword detection technology, monitoring and reporting tools to help schools safeguard students online and offline. For more information visit: www.imperosoftware.com