I don’t know about you, but I put off going to a safeguarding course for as long as possible. Eventually it became a legal requirement for childminders and I HAD to do it. I put it off because I didn’t feel that it would teach me anything. I understood and had regard for my local safeguarding procedures, and figured – I’m not an idiot – I know what a belt buckle mark looks like – if a child I’m looking after is being abused I’m going to spot it. So I put it off and never bothered going.
Let me be totally clear: the number one answer to ‘why you really should attend a safeguarding course’ is because if you are a childminder, it is a legal requirement, just like Paediatric First Aid. With my inspection looming, I thought, there’s no way I’m going to pass my inspection, let alone get outstanding again if I haven’t done a safeguarding course, so, very reluctantly, I decided to sign up, expecting to spend three hours watching the clock.
But actually the Safeguarding Course was a pleasant surprise. It was actually really interesting and I didn’t know quite as much about everything as I had rather arrogantly believed. Is it ok to smack children? I thought I knew the answer to that question before I went, but now I have learned more about the ‘grey areas’ of things and the concept of ‘reasonable force’. I was challenged to think not about injuries or symptoms in isolation but to look at the big picture. And I was taught how to really ‘think about the explanation I was being given for injuries’ and that my own best judgement and instincts are important too.
It helped that our trainer was an ex-police officer who peppered the boring bits of his talk with stories about throwing “baddies” over the bonnets of cars, handcuffing them and hauling them off to prison!
But he left us with an important message: we, as childminders, are on the front line and that in all the horror stories out there of children who fall between the gaps in our system, we are part of that system and we can be the one who saves the child.
You need to read What To Do If You Are Worried A Child Is Being Abused, and do take a safeguarding course if you haven’t done so – it’s much more than just a boring legal requirement.