“Working with Edurio has helped us harness the power of national benchmarking”
In January 2023, Edurio and The Key released their national review of safeguarding in English schools, highlighting the views of 70,000 pupils from across the country. The study found concerning differences between pupils with different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Whilst the majority of pupils overall feel safe in school, this dropped significantly among pupils who did not identify as heterosexual, and those with a gender identity other than male or female:
● 75% of pupils overall reported feeling safe in school
● 78% of boys, and 75% of girls reported feeling safe, while just 48% of pupils with a gender identity other than male or female felt the same
● 71% of pupils who identity as heterosexual reported feeling safe, compared to 43% of bisexual pupils and just 40% of homosexual pupils
With these alarming national findings in mind, we spoke to safeguarding leads at Diverse Academies Trust about how they are approaching safeguarding within their organisation.
At Diverse, we have developed detailed strategies that look at issues from all angles, from the pupils who may be having a hard time, the staff who play a vital role in creating a safe environment for pupils from all backgrounds, and the very small minority of pupils who may be creating a harmful environment for others.
Within our trust, we have been leading and shaping best practices when it comes to whole-school approaches to gender identity and sexual orientation. We’ve honed our approach within our academies and seen real success when it comes to safeguarding children from different backgrounds or at different stages of their journey.
Helping Pupils Feel Safe
Starting with the pupil, we understand the need to access help quickly and discreetly. For example; in one of our secondary academies, every pupil is equipped with two professionally printed business cards, designed to fit in the pocket of their blazer, which contain the information they need to get help with bullying or with safeguarding issues. If anything changes in our policy, the pupils are given the new version so they always have up-to-date information within easy reach. In supporting the small number of pupils who have been affected, across all our academies, we adopt the same approach as we do for all forms of bullying, providing bespoke wrap-around support for the pupil who has been harmed (victim), and the one who has harmed (perpetrator).
For pupils who may be transitioning, we are commited to providing an in-depth social transitioning process that is tailored to each individual, based on their age, background and how far along their journey they are.
We support transitioning students in their communication with their peers and family (if appropriate), to help those around them navigate the change as well. The outline steps in the process are similar for all pupils, but the way we approach each step will change based on the pupil’s circumstances.
Stock image sourced by Edurio
Equipping Staff with Information
We also know it is vital for our staff to be well-versed in the needs of pupils to create an environment of acceptance and safety. Language and levels of understanding have evolved.
Our staff are equipped with the information they need to evolve alongside their pupils. In many of our academies, we have created a glossary of information, based on the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010 - the idea is not that staff must read and remember the full document, but use it as an aide-memoire document in the event they have a question. Staff are now better equipped to deliver an appropriate curriculum to our pupils.
Our academies link to all relevant policy documents (for example behaviour, safeguarding and equality). We outline behaviours that meet the threshold of “unacceptable” or “illegal”, and highlight what to do in response to such incidents. We expect that all staff within our Trust understand their duty to challenge inappropriate behaviour within the academy.
In the event of a child-on-child incident, we develop resources focused on re-educating the pupil who has harmed another. For example, in one of our academies, they have developed a workbook of resources to support issues related to protected characteristics, whether that’s transphobic, homophobic, racist or another type of issue. The workbook was developed by the safeguarding lead at the academy, based on significant research to find the resources that best suited the need.
Our leadership teams are commited through the personal development programme to teach pupils the key aspects of the Equality Act 2010 to increase their understanding and empathy.
Each of our academies are different, operating in highly individualised contexts, so we build bespoke resources in addition to generic resources available nationally.
We continue to be commited to look beyond the organisation seeking to further our knowledge and to access best-practice from other trusts and beyond.
Want to learn more about how Edurio work with schools and multi-academy trusts? We would love to hear about your school improvement goals and see how we could help — you can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.