Children reach out via school websitePosted: 2nd June 2020
Anxious children are being given a discreet way of reaching out when they are feeling vulnerable during lockdown.
The move is just one of the reasons Forest Hall School has been given the Safeguarding Initiative Award, recognising schools which have demonstrated exceptional safeguarding during the crisis.
Students who are learning from home can discreetly contact their headteacher or school pastoral team directly, simply by using a contact form added to the website.
Head of school Hannah Jones said: “The safeguarding contact form enables students to quietly contact me directly if they need to. The alert goes straight into our designated safeguard lead email accounts, so I can respond as necessary without them having to pick up the phone and make what could be a difficult phone call. We have had a few children reach out in this way.”
The school submitted evidence to show how it has been taking care of its community to secure the award.
She said: “Everything has had to change with regards to how we safeguard our children through the crisis. We have had to use our initiative to be able to continue to safeguard. We have done a lot to ensure we have kept safeguarding and thinking about the welfare of our children.
“Some of our children live in remote villages and can be the only young person in the neighbourhood, so it is vital they keep in touch with as us a school and that we check they are speaking with their friends while at home.
“We are focusing on anxiety, particularly around children worrying about Coronavirus, coming back to school and mixing with people again.”
The school had to give examples of the work it has done around safeguarding and the impact it has had –
- every student has received a postcard from the school.
- daily phone calls are being made to the most vulnerable and at-risk students.
- all other students contacted by phone at least every two weeks to see how they are coping, whether they are exercising and keeping in contact with their friends. Ms Jones said: “That is not something we have had to do before as we usually see them every day. The children are loving it.”
- the school took part in Mental Health Awareness Week as another way of focusing on mental wellbeing.
Ms Jones said: “We have had so many emails and cards coming into school thanking us for what we are doing. Parents have also bought gifts for the school and staff. They are really appreciative of all we do.
“The award is another way of recognising what we have done. It is important to acknowledge how we have thought outside the box.”
The wellbeing of staff is also a focus, with online yoga lessons on offer and postcards sent home to thank them for their work. They have also been offered counselling.
Erin O’Dell, designated safeguarding lead and acting associate head of school, said: “The students and families from our school and community have been really encouraging about the support that has been on offer during this uncertain time. The welfare team have worked tirelessly to support students who wish to discuss any worries and get support with any concerns they may have.
“I am really proud of everyone for this achievement.”
Paul Read, from The Safeguarding Alliance, said: “COVID -19 pandemic has placed schools under a huge amount of pressure to maintain education stability and wellbeing for pupils. Schools have had to adjust, be creative and use tremendous initiative to ensure that pupils are protected and safeguarding is given the highest priority.
“The Safeguarding Initiative Award has been designed to publicly recognise and highlight schools who have demonstrated exceptional safeguarding initiative during COVID-19 to keep children and young people safe.”