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Safeguarding update December


Dear Headteachers and DSL’s,

I hope this briefing finds you well as we enter the final few weeks of 2020. A few updates, dates for the diary and handy resources this month, all of which I hope you will find of benefit.


Whole Staff 10 Minute CPD

Below, you will find a link to the first ’10 minute CPD’ documents, which is on the theme of Online Safety. It is intended to be used as a quick update and reflective tool at the start of a whole staff briefing / support staff meeting / teacher staff meeting….anywhere you see it working. The final section includes some questions for you then to reflect upon as a staff. By using resources such as this, it ensures that you can demonstrate that safeguarding has a high profile within your school and training is regularly provided – not just once a year or as a standing agenda item. If you wish, there is an ‘extended version’ which also includes a couple of the video clips used at the recent DSL workshop. Due to the size of the file this is available via Sharepoint by clicking here: Please feel free to adapt the resources however you wish and please let me know if there is anything I could do to improve the briefings.

See attached 10 minute CPD



Core Offer

It was has been great to get such positive feedback following the recent DSL workshop and Virtual Headteacher’s Conference, where I was able to share my ‘Core Offer’ to schools for 2020/21. In case you were not able to attend either meeting, a copy is attached so you are all aware of the support and services I am able to provide. **Plus, I am pleased to also be able to offer Governor Safeguarding training. Please see the training section below for future dates.

Please see attached


Virtual Nativities & Performances

Due to the current situation, I am aware that a number of schools are preparing for their first ‘Zoom Nativity’. Because of this, SWGFL have produced a handy ‘things to consider’ guide on Online Performances, which can be found here.





There are due to be some BIG changes to the filtering process used with DBS Checks following a Supreme court ruling and Overseas checks as a result of Brexit. I am in the process of developing an update for schools on the changes and what they will mean for any future pre-employment checks, etc.

These briefings will last approximately 90 minutes and will also provide an opportunity to ask any questions regarding recruitment and employment checks. It is strongly advised that at least one member of staff from every school attends one of these briefings, even if you have completed Safer Recruitment training in the last couple of months, due to the extent of the changes.

The dates of these briefings are below and places can be reserved by emailing The briefings will take place via Microsoft Teams and the link will be sent out nearer to the time.


Tuesday 26 January 2021 – 10:00 – 11:30

Tuesday 26 January 2021 – 13:30 – 14:30

Wednesday 27 January 2021 – 15:30 – 17:00




Job Vacancies, Safer Recruitment & References

Following the recent delivery of the first wave of Safer Recruitment Training to School Leaders and Governors, I just wanted to clarify and confirm a couple of points with you all with regards to recruitment, all of which have been agreed with Halton’s School Recruitment Team.

  • In line with guidance from the Safer Recruitment Consortium, it is expected that at least two members of any recruitment panel should been trained in Safer Recruitment. The only two ‘Quality Assured’ versions of this course are those delivered by the NSPCC or by someone trained through the Consortium, such as myself.
  • Please remember that ALL gaps in employment history – including times when they may not have been working in education – are explained and discussed during interview (with responses noted with the application)
  • References should, wherever possible (and at least one) be sought prior to interview and checked by one member of the panel before There should then be an opportunity at the end of the interview to ask a candidate for their response to any safeguarding concerns raised within the reference. The rest of the contents of the reference should not be taken into consideration by the panel until after a decision has been made, but there must be an opportunity to discuss safeguarding at interview. It is much harder to raise concerns after an offer has been made. This is supported within KCSiE, which states:

“Obtaining references before interview would allow any concerns they raise to be explored further with the referee and taken up with the candidate at interview. They should always be requested directly from the referee and preferably from a senior person with appropriate authority, not just a colleague.”

There are several reasons why this is good practice in relation to safeguarding children. In particular as noted above a person’s past behaviour is often the best indication of how he or she will behave in future and information about that is very relevant to making a decision about selecting the best person for appointment. That was highlighted by the enquiry into the Soham case that showed that if the school had been aware of information about Ian Huntley’s past behaviour he would probably not have been employed.

  • In line with KCSiE 2020, references received electronically must be verified for authenticity and a note made of how this has been done. It might be through speaking directly to the referee to validate it was them who sent the reference.
  • When checking references, it is essential that the dates of employment (and any other details) are crossed referenced with the application to ensure accuracy. There have been recent incidents within the local area of discrepancies relating to the dates of employment, which then identified gaps in employment.
  • To support with this, the application forms provided by Halton on the online system, are being updated with some minor changes.

I will continue to work closely with Gemma and her team in School Recruitment to ensure that all processes and procedures are as robust as they should be when it comes to recruitment in education. If there are any questions following this, or in relation to safer recruitment, please do get in touch, but I will also go through all this during DBS checks briefing


Training for 2021

Here are the dates for my courses for the remainder of the academic year. Further dates may be added if demand requires it. For now, it is presumed that all courses will be delivered remotely via Teams. (However, this may change later into the year and therefore dates might need to move depending of venue availability.)


  • Safer Recruitment for Headteachers, Senior Leaders, Business Managers and Governors

15 January 2021 – 9:15am – 4:30pm

23 April 2021 – 9:15am – 4:30pm


  • Safer Recruitment Refresher for Headteachers, Senior Leaders, Business Managers and Governors. (A certificate from the full course must be seen before a place can be reserved on this course)

26 April 2021 – 9:30am – 12:30pm


  • New to the role of DSL (Or infrequent user) This course is in addition to ‘Working Together L3 Safeguarding Training’ (which is delivered by the safeguarding partnership) and focusses on the role of DSL within a school setting – including managing referrals, specific areas of safeguarding and recording & reporting concerns.

4 May 2021 – 9:30am – 4pm


  • DSL Workshop For ALL DSL’s. This is the main DSL updates and workshops. It is best practice for all schools to try and attend these meetings each term. (The agenda will be sent out prior to the meeting)

4 March 2021 – 1pm – 4pm

29 June 2021 – 1pm – 4pm


  • Designated Governor for Safeguarding Training. This course is aimed at any governor who has a specific safeguarding responsibility as part of their role. It will provide them with a clear understanding of suitable processes and procedures to enable them to carry out their duties effectively.

9 February 2021 – 9:30am – 4pm

Further dates may be added, depending on demand.


  • Governor Safeguarding Training All Governors should receive safeguarding training in line with all members of staff and volunteers a minimum of once every three years, with regular updates during this time. This can be delivered using the whole school training materials. However, if preferred, Governors can attend this course which looks at safeguarding in schools from a Governor perspective. (They will still need to ensure that they understand the school’s specific processes and procedures)

23 March 2021 – 9:30am – 12:30pm

Further dates may be added, depending on demand.


If any further dates or training needs are identified, then I will do my best to provide these for schools, wherever possible. However, I do not have capacity to deliver training to full governing bodies in school, in the same way I cannot deliver whole staff safeguarding training. For September 2021, I will look to produce an adapted L2 training materials pack for use with full governing bodies, which can then be delivered by the school’s own safeguarding teams.


Are you listening? Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Funded by Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Violence Reduction Network, a new film entitled ‘Are you listening’ aims to raise awareness of the issue of CCE, some of the signs that could indicate a child is in danger and where you can go for help and support. It is important we all play an active role in tackling this issue.

The film focuses on four stories, which although fictional, are typical of the types of criminality children do become involved in.

Children won’t often just tell you if they are in trouble but there are often some obvious signs that could indicate they might need help.

The most obvious sign is a change in a child or young person’s behaviour from what is considered ‘normal’ for them.

Other signs include:

  • Withdrawal from usual group of friends and a mention of older or new friends
  • Having gifts, a new phone or money that can’t be accounted for
  • Becoming withdrawn or secretive
  • Receiving a large number of calls or messages to their phone or being worried about being away from their phone
  • A drop in grades or performance, as well as suspension or exclusion from school
  • Going missing from home or not showing up to school or regular afterschool groups or clubs
  • Become involved in low level criminality such as antisocial behaviour

This aimed at professionals but ultimately could be used in a classroom setting.



NSPCC Speak Out Stay Safe

The NSPCC have launched an online version of the ‘Speak out Stay Safe’ school assembly for children aged 5- to 11-years-old. The programme includes a 30-minute assembly introduced by Ant and Dec, along with supporting resources to use in the classroom. The resources can be accessed here.



Childline’s ‘Nobody is Normal’

Childline have launched a new campaign called Nobody is Normal, which aims to help children understand that lacking confidence, feeling not good enough or that you don’t fit in, is a shared experience. Statistics show that Childline has delivered 42,953 counselling sessions to children about their mental and emotional health across the UK since lockdown was first put in place. Figures also show that the monthly average number of Childline counselling sessions about eating and body image disorders increased by 32% on the pre-lockdown average; and the monthly average number of sessions about sexuality and gender identity increased by 16% compared with the pre-lockdown average. Click here to find out more.

Venus Charity

Have you heard of Venus? It is a charity which offers a range of services within Halton. Here are some details of the sorts of things you can request as support for families:

Families may receive support in either one or more of services if applicable.

P2P (Parent-to-Parent Support)

On our P2P service we offer both emotional and practical support to families who are pre-MAP or a soon to be closing MAP. The support is provided by a trained and DBS checked support volunteer for roughly 1-2 hours per week.

The criteria for this support is any two of the below –

  • Parents and young children involved in crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Children who need help
  • Families affected by domestic abuse
  • Children who have not been attending school regularly
  • Adults out of work or at risk of worklessness
  • Parents and children with a range health problems

Most of the families we do support do fall under these categories but if you feel that a family does need support and doesn’t fall under 2 of the criteria’s then please contact us and we can try and work something out.

ICE (Intensive Cleaning Education) project

On this project, we can offer support to families on all the levels of need. This project supports families who are struggling to maintain home conditions and to keep them at an acceptable standard. Myself or a volunteer will complete two visits a week for roughly 1-2 hours helping the family to declutter and organise the home. We aim to complete one room per session. Depending on each family the project lasts for roughly 4-6 weeks.

Throughout the project we will be educating the whole family on cleaning products, cleaning tips and routines.

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Drop in

This service will run by appointment only. Please call 07467045209 to book in.

Every Wednesday from 10am-11:30am

Old Police Station, Mersey Road, Runcorn, WA71DF

Every Wednesday from 12:30-2pm

Ditton Community Centre, Dundalk Road, Widnes, WA88DF

To request support they ask that you complete the referral form online via our website https://www.




iCART Referrals


Last year, a number of referrals were submitted just before the Christmas break, which did not come close to reaching threshold or did not include consent– more than at any other time of the year.

As we get nearer and nearer to the festive break, it will inevitably mean that iCART receive an increasing number of referrals, from all agencies. Please could I remind schools that referrals should, wherever possible, include at least one of the assessment toolkit materials – especially the pupil voice, and should also be submitted with consent (Unless a S47 – which has already been discussed with iCART on the phone) If you are ever unsure, please do give me a call beforehand, to discuss the options available.


Please be aware that between 24 December and 4 January, iCART will only be screening emergency referral, with all other submissions assessed in the new term.


Dispute Resolution Process for CP and LAC Cases

Halton’s Children and Young Persons Safeguarding Partnership (HCYPYP) have produced an updated dispute resolution.

Working Together 2018 makes it clear that safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility and effective, collaborative working is essential. Child Protection Conferences are central to the Multi-Agency decision making process that keeps children safe from harm.

  • The Child Protection Plan must be progressed between conferences by the Core Group and the family. If recommendations have not been met the social worker and Core Group must give a reasoned explanation about why this has not happened and alternative actions that may have taken place instead. If crucial elements of the child protection plan have not been actioned, the Independent Reviewing Manager responsible for the Child Protection Plan (CP IRM) must be kept informed between child protection conferences. Child Protection Independent Reviewing Managers will also complete midpoint reviews to consider progress of the plan.
  • The social worker’s report to conference, and the reports from all involved partner agencies, must be evidence based and have a clear risk analysis of the current situation with appropriate recommendations to progress the plan for the child. Reports to conference must be available 3 days prior to the Conference date. The report must always be endorsed by a manager in line with the above timescales, have been shared with parents, and when appropriate the child before the date of conference.

The Child Protection’s (CP) Independent Reviewing Manager (IRM) will consider initiating the dispute resolution process if there are significant failures in any of the above aspects of the child protection process that impact significantly on outcomes for the child.

A copy of the full document is attached


Finally, thank you so much to everyone for welcoming me so warmly to the team in Halton. It has been a busy first term, but it has been a pleasure to work with you and support you in order to make a difference to the safeguarding of our children and young people. I very much hope you have a wonderful final couple of weeks of term and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a (much calmer) New Year. But, in the meantime, if there is anything I can help with…or if you just want to talk something through, please do call.

All the best,

Ben Holmes

Safeguarding Children in Education Officer.






Junior Memory Championship 2020 – 2021



Dear Teacher,

I am writing to invite you to register for this year’s Junior Memory Championship. When you have a moment, please do visit for all the details.