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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Ullmer

Safeguarding and Governors

This is a particular issue for Heads. Governors can sometimes be reluctant to go through safeguarding training at times, and no matter how confident you are, you must remember that if anything goes wrong, they are possibly the worst people to deal with things. U.K. government guidelines are clear about safeguarding, but it may well be possible your governors have not read them and can be susceptible to all kinds of misinformed advice. To give an example, governors of one independent school actually tried to investigate a safeguarding concern by meeting a complainant themselves and conducting their own investigation into serious safeguarding issues in spite of not being trained to do so. They then appeared to negotiate with the complainant a separation agreement which was to be presented to the member of staff....! They even told the complainant of the timing of the meeting when they were to meet with the member of staff in case they needed to talk with him during the meeting on the phone. The complainant was also allowed to insert details into a settlement agreement before the member of staff had even been informed there was an allegation. You will not be surprised to hear the member of staff was not alerted to the content of the meeting they were summoned to, nor given the opportunity for legal advice.

One can only hope that these kind of situations are rare, but you need to be aware that governors inexperienced in these areas can make horrendous mistakes no matter what the school. If you expose serious issues at a school which reflect poor governance, you need to be aware that governors may actively look for ways remove you.

So, as a senior member of staff, always be prepared. Not everyone will play fair, and in an age of accusation and falsehood, it’s surprisingly easy for governors to use such an emotive area to dispose of staff.


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