Safeguarding across a multi-academy trust

The scale of managing safeguarding across a multi-academy trust can come with particular challenges, including a lack of continuity between systems, patchy communication between and within establishments, unsecure channels for sharing information, lack of access to high-level data and difficulty identifying trends across and between schools in the group.

We work closely with a lot of trust-wide safeguarding leads, including Sue Bailey from Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP). We’ve found that her experience coming into that role closely mirrors the experiences of many of the other trust-wide safeguarding leads we know well. 

ATLP has 14 schools catering from early years through to sixth form, covering a range of localised needs across three geographic areas, which each responds to a different safeguardinag board and also complies with the Trust’s regulations. 

When Sue stepped into the role of Trust Safeguarding Lead in 2018, her priorities were to coordinate safeguarding across the Trust, train and provide supervision for the Designated Safeguarding Leads, ensure everyone was kept up to date with the latest guidance and developments and be present in schools as much as possible in order to provide on-the-ground support. Mike Glanville article on safeguarding

She also wanted to thoroughly assess the systems and levels of experience and skills across the schools in order to know how best they could support each other. What struck her immediately was that everyone was using different reporting methods, so she soon brought all the schools onto one system with MyConcern. 

Sue immediately found that having consistent systems and methods across the Trust meant that she was able to look at everything as a comprehensive picture, identifying, for instance, how many safeguarding and wellbeing checks were being conducted, emerging trends, increases in domestic violence or challenges around children’s mental health. This enabled her to increase signposting to staff so they could find the guidance they needed to tackle the relevant challenges within their schools. It also meant that she knew exactly what training she needed to introduce where. 

Now, record-keeping has become efficient and helpful, rather than a just a necessary task. Having updated information in the right place in chronological order, showing who said what when, means a full picture can be painted for each child. Records are also readily accessible from the app at home, rather than locked in a cupboard within individual schools, meaning information can be immediately accessed when needed. 

We wanted to bring peace of mind to Trust-wide Safeguarding Leads so they know they are doing everything they can to consistently safeguard and protect the children and young people across all their schools. Our new and exciting MyConcern solution which we have called ‘Clarity™’ has been designed especially for Multi-Academy Trusts and large groups of establishments working together.  Clarity, is able to aggregate critical safeguarding data from separate instances of MyConcern and allows that data to be collected and viewed from one central location. This is a significant game-changer for MATs as it allows them to analyse all of the relevant data in a meaningful way for the first time. 

This higher-level view allows Safeguarding Leads to pinpoint issues in one area or establishment which could spread to others. It allows for the quick and easy identification of risks and trends so that early help can be put into place to prevent escalation. The comprehensive data reports inform decision making, allowing users to identify training and resourcing requirements to encourage preventative action. Clarity also enables users to prove that interventions are working and demonstrate that processes comply with all statutory responsibilities during inspections. 

With the safety and wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of everything we do, we recognise the challenges of ensuring the in-depth understanding and management of safeguarding concerns across multiple sites. We want to make this as easy as possible for organisations to do so effectively, especially during such uncertain times.

We have also been working hard to help more schools manage safeguarding concerns remotely throughout the COVID-19 lockdown crisis by offering access to our school-level software free of charge to all schools that currently don’t have an electronic record keeping system until September 2020. The safeguarding challenge for all education settings has come into sharp focus since the lockdown was imposed. MyConcern ensures that you have the right tools to meet those challenges and are well-equipped to keep vulnerable children and young people safe.

To find out more about adopting MyConcern Safeguarding Software in your school or Clarity across your organisation, please visit www.myconcern.co.uk.
Article by Mike Glanville. Mike is a former police officer with more than 35 years of high-level safeguarding experience. He is co-founder and Director of Safeguarding Services for the safeguarding software solution MyConcern.
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