The personal safety of children is a societal responsibility and as such within the educative setting of St Andrew’s, policies and practices for a safe and supportive environment reflect societal laws, ethics, policy and practice. This week, during National Child Protection Week, the College has prioritised the safety of children and young people by maximising the opportunities for safety and wellbeing messages to children and young people.
During this week, in particular, students have been provided communications on safety through presentations at Primary and Secondary assemblies, by visits to Primary classes by Primary Deputy Cath Green, and through the regular timetabled lessons of MyWellbeing classes in Secondary. Linking students with the supports within their community and aligning the key safety messages with existing curriculum enables students to receive the learning outcomes for their own safety and that of their peers within safe, structured environments.
From an individual perspective, students are encouraged to build positive relationships with each other by including all students and listening to all voices and perspectives. Building healthy self-esteems and encouragement of understanding and empathy for others is a cornerstone for safety. Children with healthy self-concepts are less likely to be vulnerable and more likely to seek help and report concerning behaviour.
Some examples of conversation topics have been:
- helping students to identify unsafe situations, remove themselves to a safe place and seek help is another ‘right to be safe’ message.
-‘My body, my say’ topic to help students recognize that personal boundaries can be identifiable.
- the reminder for students to be sure of their own safety network for accessing help if needed and the promotion of a healthy self-esteem, and for confidence and reassurance that they are not alone.
Student representatives are included as members of the College Child and Youth Risk Management Committee. This student involvement ensures the youth voice is included in the development and evaluation of prevention strategies that are engaging and age-appropriate. Parents are also members of this committee and these meetings are conducted once per term.
Within the College there are four designated Student Protection Officers who have specialised training from the Anglican Schools Commission and external agencies representing Child Safety. These four staff are Cath Green and Ben Dean (Primary) and Andrew Linthorne and Lisa Martoo (Secondary). Staff and parents are also able to discuss any concerns with any of these staff members; or indeed any staff member and be assured that confidence, protocol and procedure will be strictly adhered to, to meet policy requirements and also as a discrete guide and support as needed.