What is a safeguarding lead for children?

mum home schooling son

A safeguarding lead is someone who oversees child protection in an organisation that works with children.

It is a person who is the first point of contact for all staff and volunteers, and the individual to approach if they are worried about a particular child.

Safeguarding means

  • Protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
  • Preventing harm to children’s health or development
  • Ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes

Child protection is part of the safeguarding process.

It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.

A safeguarding lead can also be known as:

  • Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO)
  • Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
  • Nominated child protection lead
  • “Named person” for child protection
  • Child protection officer
  • Child protection lead
  • Safeguarding or child protection coordinator.

In which areas of work might you need a designated safeguarding lead?

  • Nurseries
  • Schools and other educational settings
  • Healthcare settings (such as GP surgeries and hospitals)
  • Social care settings (such as a women’s refuge where children may be present)

An ideal candidate for the role will need to be:

  • A person who is in authority, possibly a manager or someone similar
  • Someone who is also a member of the staff rather than a freelancer, if possible
  • Possess a Disclosure and Barring Service check (the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) carries out enhanced checks with barred lists on anyone working with children, to make sure the children are safe) .
  • Have at least two references who have been contacted
  • They should be contactable all the time, even out of hours (organisations might also consider having a deputy too)

Duties of a designated safeguarding lead:

  • The safeguarding lead should be trained. In fact, they’ll have a high level of safeguarding knowledge and should have completed essential training in Working Together to Safeguard Children and Young People
  • They are responsible for ensuring that their organisation’s safeguarding policy is kept up to date as well as completing the Section 11 audit tool every two years. (Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships (LSCB’s) have a statutory duty to gauge whether agencies in their area are fulfilling their statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of children as described in Section 11 of the Children Act 2004). More briefly, this is an audit to assess whether the key people and agencies are doing enough to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
  • The safeguarding lead will be involved in safe recruitment procedures for new staff members as well as their induction
  • They support staff. For example, if someone is concerned about a child, they’ll support any decision to notify Children’s Social Work Services or assess whether other courses of action are more appropriate. That might be the completion of an Early Help Approach. (CSWS)
  • They will make formal referrals to the Duty and Advice Team
  • They will ensure that concerns are logged and stored securely away from, say, normal school records
  • The safeguarding lead will have joint responsibility, together with the management committee or Board of Trustees, to ensure that the organisation’s safeguarding policy and related policies and procedures are followed and regularly updated
  • They are responsible for promoting a safe environment for children and young people
  • They are the person to go to for the contact details of relevant statutory agencies, such as Children’s Social Work Services (CSWS), Police, Local Safeguarding Children Board, and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for allegations against staff.
  • They must refresh their training in line with any updates

It is worth noting that it is not the responsibility of the designated safeguarding lead to decide whether a child has been abused or not.

That is the responsibility of investigative statutory agencies such as Children’s Social Work Services, or the police.

However, how to keep children safe is something that everyone in the organisation should be aware of.

All staff should know who to go to, and how to report any concerns they may have about a child being harmed or at risk of being harmed.

What training do I need to become a designated safeguarding lead?

The designated safeguarding lead in an organisation will be someone equipped with the  knowledge, experience, and training to fulfil their role.

This means having prior experience with safeguarding to enable advancement to a DSL level.

It can’t be stressed enough that overseeing safeguarding is a crucial responsibility, so being suitably prepared is a necessary step.

Each organisation will probably have its own guidance for staff about the amount of training that a person will need to do, and this has to be established before the DSL embarks on a course.

However, as a general rule, if you are planning to become the safeguarding lead for your organisation, then you are required to complete Working Together to Safeguard Children, Foundation Module 1 and 2, followed by the New to Role Designated Safeguarding Lead training (for early years and schools only).

Schools can book on New to Role Designated Safeguarding Lead for Education Provisions training.

Other settings may have particular training requirements before you take on the DSL role, details of this will be available within your own organisation.

What should be covered in training a designated safeguarding lead?

As the NSPCC states, the designated safeguarding lead must be trained in:

  • The law and guidance on safeguarding
  • Types of abuse and the signs and indicators to look for
  • How to build a safe culture so that people are safe and willing to share concerns
  • Barriers to disclosure and recognition of safeguarding issues
  • Safer recruitment
  • Listening to and supporting those who have concerns

Training must regularly be refreshed in line with any updates or changes to guidance.

DSLs are generally recommended to receive accredited, enhanced training each year as required to keep their knowledge up to date.

This is especially important as the Department for Education often update their guidance, for example, Keeping Children Safe in Education and Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Do schools have to have a designated safeguarding lead?

Yes, all schools must have a Designated Safeguarding Lead In place to deal with child protection concerns.

The DSL, or a deputy, should always be available during school hours for staff to discuss any safeguarding concerns.

Individual schools should decide whether ‘available’ means the DSL must be on the school premises, or whether they can be contacted via telephone or email.

Schools should decide what arrangements are made for the availability of a DSL, or deputy, during out-of-school activities.

The designated safeguarding lead’s role is to:
  1. Work with the governing body to make sure that the school’s child protection policy is updated and renewed each year and that all members of staff have access to it and understand it
  2. Provide regular briefings and updates at staff, departmental and governor meetings to help ensure that everyone is kept up to speed on the latest policy developments and also reminded of their responsibilities
  3. Ensure the child protection policy is available publicly, and that parents are aware of it, and that schools may make referrals to children’s social care if there are concerns about abuse or neglect.
  4. Link with the LSCB (England and Wales), SBNI (Northern Ireland), child protection committees (Scotland) to keep up to date with training opportunities and the latest local policies.
  5. Keep records. It is also the designated safeguarding lead’s responsibility to keep detailed, accurate and secure written records of safeguarding concerns. These records are confidential, and should be kept separately from pupil records. They should include a chronology of concerns, referrals, meetings, phone calls and emails. Where children leave the school or college, ensure their child protection file is transferred to the new school or college as soon as possible. This should be transferred separately from the main pupil file, ensuring secure delivery and confirmation of receipt should be obtained.
  6. Training of other staff is also part of the role of the designated safeguarding lead.

How long does a safeguarding certificate last?

It is important for staff to have up-to-date Safeguarding Children Level 2 training.

This should be carried out every two years.

It is important to have regular meetings about safeguarding within the school that include the appropriate members of staff.

Teacher training days where there is a designated safeguarding lead are also an excellent opportunity to discuss every aspect of child safety, whether it is suspicions that may have arisen, or about best practice.

If there are concerns then the following actions should be taken:

  • Calling the emergency services on 999 if the child is in immediate danger
  • Following the implemented safeguarding policies and procedures as soon as possible if the danger is not imminent
  • Contacting the local child protection services where the local authority designated officer (LADO) will take action

If you wish to know more about being a designated safeguarding lead, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at CBAT.