If you’re a designated safeguarding officer (DSO) for an apprenticeship training provider, you have a very important role to play in securing the safety and well-being of your apprentices. You are not only responsible for dealing with any safeguarding concerns that might occur but also for creating and maintaining a positive safeguarding culture within your organisation.
But what does a safeguarding culture mean, and how can you achieve it? In this blog post, we share some tips and insights on how to be a great DSO for your apprentices, and how to work with your colleagues to foster a culture of trust, respect and support.
So, firstly, what is a safeguarding culture?
A safeguarding culture is a set of values, attitudes and behaviours that promote the protection and welfare of all learners, especially those who are vulnerable or at risk of harm. A safeguarding culture means that everyone in the organisation:
- Understands their roles and responsibilities relating to safeguarding
- Knows how to recognise and respond to signs of abuse or neglect
- Feels confident and comfortable raising concerns or issues
- Respects the rights and dignity of all learners
- Provides a safe and supportive learning environment
- Encourages learners to speak up and seek help if needed
How do you create and maintain a safeguarding culture?
A safeguarding culture is so important because it helps to prevent or reduce the risk of harm to learners, and to support them if they are affected by abuse or neglect. As a DSO, you have a key role in creating and maintaining that safeguarding culture within your organisation.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Lead by example: Show your commitment and enthusiasm for safeguarding, and model good practice in your own behaviour and interactions. Be approachable and accessible to learners and staff, and listen to their views and feedback.
- Communicate clearly: Ensure that everyone in the organisation is aware of the safeguarding policies and procedures, and how to follow them. Provide regular training and updates on safeguarding issues, and use different methods of communication such as newsletters, posters, videos or podcasts.
- Collaborate effectively: Work closely with your colleagues, especially those who have direct contact with learners, such as tutors, mentors or assessors. Share information and resources, and support each other in dealing with any challenges or difficulties. Building relationships with external partners or other DSO in other apprenticeship providers is also a great idea to share best practices.
- Monitor and evaluate: Keep track of the safeguarding activities and outcomes within your organisation, and use data and evidence to measure their impact. Identify any gaps or areas for improvement, and plan actions to address them. Celebrate successes and achievements, and recognise the contributions of staff and learners.
- Review and improve: Regularly review the safeguarding policies and procedures, and make sure they are up-to-date, relevant and effective. Involve learners and staff in the review process, and seek their feedback and suggestions. Implement changes or improvements based on the feedback, and communicate them clearly.
Why not join one of our Designated Safeguarding Officer training sessions?
Whether you’re new to the DSO role, or are looking for a refresher, this interactive online workshop will cover both virtual and face-to-face settings and will equip you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to respond to a variety of safeguarding concerns in your provider.
This session will cover:
- The role and responsibilities of the Designated Safeguarding Officer and other key members of staff.
- Creating and managing safeguarding systems.
- Barriers to effective organisational safeguarding processes, how to overcome them and create a safeguarding culture.
- Identifying, assessing and mitigating risk.
- Designing and developing high-standard policies and procedures for both virtual and face-to-face delivery.
It’s also a fantastic chance to network with other DSOs in the apprenticeship space, form great links and share ideas and best practice going forwards.