Everything You Need to Know About Being a Safeguarding Officer
Everything You Need to Know About Being a Safeguarding Officer
If you’re interested in working in a career with children, there are a range of different opportunities available to you. However, if you have a keen interest in ensuring the safety of children and protecting their wellbeing at all times, you may be interested in pursuing a career as a Safeguarding Officer.
Every organisation which regularly works with children needs to have a designated Safeguarding Officer in place to ensure that there is someone whose main responsibility is the safeguarding of children and child protection. While everyone who works in an organisation has the responsibility to ensure that the children in their care are safe and cared for at all times, the Safeguarding Officer has additional duties in overseeing the safety and wellbeing of any children involved in the organisation, as well ensuring that legal responsibilities are met.
If you’re interested in becoming a Safeguarding Officer, let’s take a look at some of the common roles and responsibilities expected of a Safeguarding Officer on a daily basis.
Extended Training and Development
In order to become a Safeguarding Officer, you will need to complete training in a number of specific areas to ensure that you have the level of safeguarding knowledge required to keep children safe and well.
Here are just some of the topics you should be adequately trained in in order to be a first-class Safeguarding Officer:
The current law and guidance of safeguarding practises for children and young people.
The common types of abuse you may come across and the signs you should look for to recognise abuse.
How to build a safe space for children and young people so that they feel safe, looked after, and willing to share any concerns they may have with you.
How to recruit new staff members in a safe way and prevent future safeguarding issues.
Excellent listening and empathy skills so you can properly listen to and support anyone who comes to you with a concern.
Exploring the barriers to disclosure and the recognition of any safeguarding concerns.
It’s important to recognise that the role of a Safeguarding Officer is constantly changing, and it’s vital to keep up to date with the latest developments in safeguarding rules and regulations. Your employer should provide constant support to you and allow you to attend training sessions wherever possible to stay up to date.
Training and Development of Others
As well as attending safeguarding training yourself, it will be your job as the Safeguarding Officer to ensure everyone in your organisation is up to date on the latest safeguarding information and are fully aware of their safeguarding responsibilities.
It will be your responsibility to recommend the different training sessions that everyone needs to attend and why each training session is vital to their job. The Safeguarding Officer will also be in charge of keeping abreast of any changes in law or regulations to ensure that your workforce’s knowledge is updated as soon as possible.
Putting Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Into Place
Each organisation that works with children and young people must have safeguarding policies and procedures in place to ensure that all staff know how to deal with safeguarding issues properly and legally. As a Safeguarding Officer, it will be your responsibility to develop, implement, and review your organisation’s safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they are always up to standard, and always reflect the most recent laws and regulations.
Safeguarding Officers are also expected to ensure that everyone in the organisation, including parents, children, staff and volunteers, is aware of the safeguarding policies your organisation has in place. You should also make sure everyone is aware of what to do if they have a safeguarding concern, and make it clear they should report any concerns directly to you or any other qualified Safeguarding Officers in your organisation.
Receiving Concerns About a Child From Others
If anyone in your organisation has a safeguarding concern about a child, it’s important they know to contact the Safeguarding Officer and report their concerns. This will ensure that all safeguarding concerns are processed and followed up in the same way, and that all safeguarding policies and procedures are followed.
As an organisation’s Safeguarding Officer, it will be your responsibility to record all the information you receive about a safeguarding concern. This includes any information about any adults in your organisation which the safeguarding concern may be related to. You can then use this information to make referrals to statutory agencies, and liaise with them to help them work through the safeguarding concern.
It’s important to recognise that it is not your job as a Safeguarding Officer to decide whether a child has been abused or not. Your job is merely to act as an appointed person for people to repor their concerns to, and then pass these concerns onto the relevant parties.
Being in Charge of Child Protection Records
A vital responsibility of a Safeguarding Officer is to ensure that accurate child protection records are kept by organisations. It’s important that any child protection records are stored in relation to the safeguarding policies and procedures you have put in place.
Finally, the Safeguarding Officer is responsible for reporting to the organisation’s board and management team about any safeguarding concerns which are brought to your attention.
Working as Part of a Team
Organisations may have one person who manages their safeguarding concerns, but larger organisations may have a team of Safeguarding Officers in place to ensure that their safeguarding needs are met and looked after.
Whether you work as an individual or as a part of a team, it’s important that there’s always someone within the organisation that team members can report safeguarding concerns to. If you are absent or unavailable, there should still always be someone there to ensure that safeguarding concerns are always dealt with with the same levels of professionalism. You could choose to train someone as your Safeguarding Officer deputy to make sure there is always someone to raise safeguarding concerns to.
What Do You Need to Become a Safeguarding Officer?
If you’re exploring the possibility of becoming a Safeguarding Officer, there are a number of requirements you will need to hit before you will be considered for a Safeguarding Officer position.
Experience Working With Vulnerable Children
You’ll need experience of working with vulnerable children before you are able to become a Safeguarding Officer. You can secure this experience through volunteering, so have a look if there are any children’s groups or charities in your area who are looking for volunteers. You may also already have gained this experience in your current role. For example, if you are a teacher who is looking to move into a more safeguarding-focused role, you will already have gained a lot of experience working with children in the classroom.
1. Counselling Skills
As a Safeguarding Officer, it is essential that you have excellent counselling skills. You should be able to actively listen to anyone who comes to you to report safeguarding concerns, and need to listen to others without judgement or prejudice. You need to be able to encourage others to come and talk to you in an environment where they feel comfortable and ensure they know you will deal with their concerns in a professional manner.
When working as a Safeguarding Officer, you may be dealing with difficult and distressing information, so it’s important that you can stay calm, display patience, and focus on the task at hand rather than letting your emotions cloud your judgement.
3. Excellent People Skills
As a Safeguarding Officer, it’s essential that you’re good at working with others. Not only will you have to work closely with your board and management team to implement effective safeguarding policies, but you need to be approachable enough for people to come to you with their safeguarding concerns.
4. The Ability to Work Well Under Pressure
Working as a Safeguarding Officer is an incredibly stressful job, and therefore it’s important that you can work well under pressure without letting it affect the quality of your work.
5. Active Listening Skills
Active listening is where you hear not just the words that someone is saying to you, but the complete message they are trying to communicate to you. This is a vital skill for a Safeguarding Officer because you need to absorb all the information that is being passed on to you about a safeguarding concern.
6. The Ability to be Sensitive and Understanding
It can be difficult for others to approach you with their safeguarding concerns, so it’s incredibly important that you’re extra sensitive and understanding to anyone that you deal with in a safeguarding capacity. Being sensitive and understanding will also ensure that anyone who approaches you with a concern will feel supported enough to return to you if they have any problems in the future.
Who Can Work as a Safeguarding Officer
While lots of organisations may have dedicated Safeguarding Officers, safeguarding can also be the responsibility of someone already employed by the organisation. This could be true of places like schools, where a teacher can take on the role of a Safeguarding Officer, or in the police force, where a police officer may choose to specialise in safeguarding while still carrying out their previous duties.
Here are the usual requirements of someone who works as a designated Safeguarding Officer in an organisation alongside their other job:
Be someone in a position of authority such as a manager or a team leader.
Be a fully paid member of staff is possible.
Have a DBS check.
Have at least two references which your employer will follow up on.
Completing Safeguarding Officer Training
The best way to build on the skill set you need to become a Safeguarding Officer is to complete a Safeguarding Officer training course. You can do this online, or attend in-person training, but either way there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from.
Not only will Safeguarding Officer training gives you a certified qualification which you can show off to potential employers, but it will also allow you to fully explore the role of a Safeguarding Officer to see if it’s a career you would like to pursue.
Here are some of common topics which may be covered in a Safeguarding Officer training course:
A full introduction to the topic of safeguarding and your responsibilities as a Safeguarding Officer.
Understand the importance of promoting childrens’ rights, safety, and wellbeing within your organisation.
A look at the laws and guidance surrounding safeguarding which you will need to follow as a Safeguarding Officer.
A deeper look at child abuse and child sexual exploitation so you can recognise the signs that there may be a safeguarding issues which needs addressing.
Understand how to respond to safeguarding issues which are brought to your attention.
How to properly report on safeguarding issues to ensure you follow the policies and procedures of your organisation.
Look at how to recognise safeguarding risks and identify children at risk.
Learn how to carry out safeguarding risk assessments.
Learn about advising others on child protection issues.
Understand what you need to do after a referral to ensure safeguarding issues are dealt with properly.
A look at record keeping and how to ensure your records are accurate and secure.
Understand how to write safeguarding reports in a non-judgemental way.
Discover how to write care plans and arrange proper support for vulnerable children.
Understand how to stay calm in stressful situations.
Look at providing evidence in court if necessary.
Completing a Safeguarding Officer training course will add an amazing set of skills to your CV and make you stand out from the competition when it comes to applying for jobs.
Kickstart Your Career as a Safeguarding Officer
We hope this post has given you all the information you need to pursue a successful career as a Safeguarding Officer. Becoming a safeguarding professional is an incredibly worthwhile and rewarding career and will ensure that any children that you work with have their safety and wellbeing protected at all times.
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