Creating a safe learning environment that promotes the well-being of apprentices is fundamental for any training provider.
So let’s talk about safeguarding – what do you need to know and what practical steps can you take to prevent and protect apprentices?
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding aims to promote the welfare of apprentices by putting measures in place to prevent and protect them from harm. It applies in all apprenticeship scenarios, whether that’s face-to-face, online, with the training provider or in the workplace.
The responsibility for creating safer learning environments is shared by all of us working in the apprenticeship sector. An open, supportive and ‘speak out’ culture promotes the safety and well-being of all apprentices and staff meaning that:
- apprentices can thrive and achieve
- apprentices can feel safe and secure
- everyone is assured that their welfare is a high priority
You should have a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO). A DSO makes sure safeguarding procedures are in place and are followed by all staff (including teachers/trainers/assessors who visit apprentices in the workplace). Apprentices and staff must be aware of safeguarding policies and procedures. All staff should know what signs to look out for and what to do if they suspect someone’s being harmed in the workplace or in the community. All apprentices should know how to raise a concern about themselves or others and what support is available, having a DSO can make this all easier.
How is safeguarding managed?
As a teacher or trainer, you need to make sure DBS checks are in place if you’re working with apprentices under 18.
It’s your responsibility to make sure apprentices get information, advice and guidance relating to safeguarding as part of the induction process. You’ll also need to consider the safeguarding duty within each apprentice’s workplace.
Try asking yourself:
- Does the apprentice understand how to raise concerns?
- Does the workplace mentor understand safeguarding requirements and the referral process?
- Are there any conflicts between our safeguarding processes and policies and those of the apprentice’s workplace?
Risk assessment is an important part of planning for apprenticeship delivery. It doesn’t mean safeguarding issues won’t arise, but it creates an effective framework for dealing with problems rapidly, efficiently, and sensibly.
You should strive to involve everyone in the risk assessment, including employers. Risk assessment should continue during the life cycle of the apprenticeship and be constantly re-evaluated to identify effective methods of mitigation.
Reviewing your safeguarding
When reviewing how you manage safeguarding as part of your apprenticeship delivery, start by asking yourself a few questions:
- How do we interact with apprentices (online/face-to-face/in the workplace) and how will this affect the way we manage safeguarding?
- Do we have a Designated Safeguarding Officer who is it and how do we contact them?
- How do I include safeguarding in our apprenticeship induction?
- How have I approached safeguarding in conversations with the apprentice/employer?
- How regularly are we conducting/reviewing risk assessments?
- What safeguarding processes are in place and how does this fit into our curriculum delivery?
Safeguarding essentials and DSO training
It’s a big topic and it’s essential that learner-facing staff and Designated Safeguarding Officers have access to training around this.