Alun Cairns Champions Safeguarding in Welsh Schools

Alun Cairns MP visits Vale School, Gladstone Primary to witness their proactive approach to safeguarding and pupil well-being
 
Alun Cairns MP for the Vale of Glamorgan visited Gladstone Primary, Barry today (Friday 14th September) to understand how the school is taking an innovative approach to safeguarding and the well-being of its 442 pupils.
 
Gladstone Primary School, in Barry today welcomed the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan through its gates. The visit was arranged to demonstrate how Gladstone is taking a novel approach to their safeguarding responsibilities and its exceptional attitude and duty of care for the well-being of their students (ranging from 3 – 11 years old).
 
It’s estimated that three children in every classroom in Wales will at some point experience a mental health issue1. With schools now dealing with a significant rise in the number of safeguarding and wellbeing concerns including mental health issues, online dangers and child exploitation, it’s important that schools are armed with the tools they need to tackle these serious child protection issues.
 
The Head Teacher of Gladstone Primary, Caroline Newman said:
 
“We recognise that our role with safeguarding extends beyond the immediate child protection concerns that we have, to ensuring that our children have the strategies and resilience to support themselves in respect of recognising when they are at risk.”
 
Amongst some of the initiatives the children can benefit from are:
 
Play Therapy, supported lunch times in the Friendship Garden or the Rainbow Room, and dedicated well-being hotline where parents can text concerns about their child if they are unable to speak to staff directly. In addition to this they also have Group Wellbeing which is supported by a trained Learning Support Assistant. Gladstone is the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) ambassador for the Barry Schools cluster and the Senior Leadership team have received training in First Aid for Mental Health for youth and young adults. Both the Head Teacher and Assistant Headteacher have diploma qualifications as trauma informed practitioners. They are also the only school in Wales who are part of a well-being programme for Years 3 and 4 (Zippy and Apple’s friends).
 
Gladstone has also invested in MyConcern®, a Queen’s award-winning safeguarding software system (also developed in South Wales). Its secure software allows the easy recording and reporting of wellbeing concerns, so that staff can monitor and respond quickly to a child’s needs.
 
Caroline Newman, explains:

 
“My Concern is invaluable to us in Gladstone – we honestly do not know how we would function without it. It ensures that every aspect of the child is logged and supports us to really understand what the child lives with and how the child reacts in school. We use My Concern in a very sensitive way and it supports staff working with our most vulnerable children to really understand and have an empathy and understanding of how to support the child. We recognise that we cannot ‘fix’ experiences, but we can validate emotions and support a child to work through and come to terms or resolve trauma that they may have or still be experiencing.”
 
All of this support ultimately allows for a readiness and more focused approach to what is the main objective of learning.
 
Whilst at the school, Mr Carins was given a tour of the school’s safeguarding areas and spoke directly to some of the children who have benefited as a result of the processes that the school has put in place. He also had the chance to speak to one of the Directors of One Team Logic (the makers of MyConcern software) to understand exactly how MyConcern aids Gladstone on a day to day basis.
 
Martin Baker QPM, Managing Director of One Team Logic (the makers of MyConcern) said:
 
 “It’s a huge privilege for us to be able support schools in meeting the challenges and responsibilities of safeguarding children and young people and it is hugely heartening for our staff to know that their work is making a real difference to the lives of school staff and the youngsters that they care so much about”.
 
 
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:
“Gladstone Primary clearly leads the way in their approach to safeguarding children.  Their approach is holistic and the MyConcern software is an excellent tool. 

 
“Gladstone Primary were early adopters and the parents and Authorities can take assurance from the way they work, using the latest software.  I have previously met One Team Logic to learn about the concept and recently presented them their Queen’s Award for Enterprise. 
 
“It was excellent to see out how the MyConcern safeguarding software works in practice. The Head teacher Mrs Newman demonstrated brilliantly how the school have adapted to the new system and how it has improved safeguarding. Alongside the excellent practices that Gladstone Primary undertake to make all pupils feel safe and happy in school, the MyConcern system allows them to accurately follow the stories of pupils who may be facing particular issues so that any problems can be flagged and tackled at the earliest opportunity. This means that pupils are given the best chance to progress and succeed and already we’re seeing results. I want to pay a huge tribute to the fantastic work of Mrs Newman, she is making an incredibly positive difference and I thank her for that.”
 

 

Gladstone is pleased to reveal that these initiatives have contributed to a very positive inspection report and hopes that it can be the example of exemplar safeguarding practices to other schools in Wales.