Recording and reporting low-level concerns can provide a better understanding of the safeguarding, pastoral and wellbeing concerns within your school.
In any school establishment, a key concern is ensuring staff are working together to create a safe environment for the children and young people in their care.
A good whole school safeguarding culture will further include robust management of complaints made against staff and volunteers, including low-level and malicious allegations.
A series of critical updates and changes in government guidance for schools in England have increasingly emphasised the importance of effectively managing allegations made against adults working within an education setting, including teaching staff, supply teachers, volunteers, and contractors.
It’s critical that all allegations made against staff are recorded and dealt with appropriately, including the reporting of ‘low level’ concerns.
Low-level concerns refer to those nagging doubts, however small, that a member of staff may have acted inappropriately, or in a manner inconsistent with a setting’s code of conduct, but in a way not considered sufficiently serious to warrant referral to an external agency.
Examples may include being over-friendly with children, having favourites or engaging with a child one-to-one in a secluded area.
What’s the impact?
Ensuring that you have, and continue to develop a positive safeguarding culture in your organisation can help prevent serious safeguarding risks.
The case of William Vahey should serve as a warning to all about what can happen when so-called low-level concerns aren’t reported or acted upon.
Vahey hid in plain sight, using his role as a teacher to abuse hundreds of children in not just one, but many different schools.
Multiple concerning behaviours exhibited by Vahey, as described by former colleagues following his arrest, could have been classed as ‘low-level’ concerns, thus demonstrating the importance of recording all such doubts.
By recording low-level concerns, patterns can emerge which may subsequently help formulate a bigger picture of the events occurring within your school.
It is therefore critical that all such concerns are recorded to prevent future harm and exploitation of the students in your care.
Dealing with concerns in an effective and timely fashion will also help guard against false allegations and misunderstandings.
The safeguarding culture in your school should convey the message that anyone reporting a concern, or any individual who becomes the subject of an allegation, can be assured of a professional response, and that anyone potentially subjected to false allegations or misunderstandings will be protected.
This is particularly important at the moment, in light of recent news stories concerning the use of TikTok to target teachers.
At The Safeguarding Company, we recognised the need for schools to effectively manage staff allegations and low-level concerns, so we created Confide – a secure software solution for recording and case-managing allegations and concerns regarding adults working in, or with your organisation.
Confide enables you to easily record concerns in a secure environment, as well as all other aspects of your investigation.
Relevant documents can be uploaded and used as the basis for accurate reports and surveys of trends.
Confide also lets you tailor access to the system, providing reassurance that the data stored will remain confidential and available only to users with appropriate permissions.
Find out more
The Safeguarding Company helps schools take a Total Safeguarding approach, by combining the very best safeguarding practice and technology with award-winning customer support and advice. Book a consultation by visiting thesafeguardingcompany.com