Insights

If you think you know everything you become a dangerous person”…

Not my words but those of Amanda Spielman, reflecting on her own induction into the role of HM Chief Inspector—Ofsted at the recent Education Select Committee meeting. A view which is also reflected in the recent revisions to safeguarding training, where schools and academies now are required to evidence ongoing training and updates throughout the academic year.

Spielman also went on to comment “I don’t think you should ever say the induction period is completely finished, there’s always more to learn”. As a specialist and advocate of promoting best practice, music to my ears. So why are so many education settings still operating on a model of annual one-off training? In conversations with school and academy staff we are still hearing phrases like “we’ve done this year’s training” or “we’ve had training and are covered”. So, it begs the question that, given the chief inspector’s views, just how will such opinions fare in the inspection process.

As I’ve said before, given the range and complexity of the safeguarding remit, it is impossible to achieve best practice standards using a one off training method and snippets at staff briefings as such a model cannot possibly offer the depth of subject knowledge, assessment of learning and evaluation of practice standards. In my view, training models without such triangulation not only fail to adequately equip frontline staff but should also open up a key line of enquiry re leadership and management.

So what should a good training model look like and how can you be sure of its effectiveness? I’d advocate applying similar broad principals we apply to curriculum delivery:

1. Use great content produced by experts in the particular topics and avoid cascaded models of training, which dilute expert experience and quality of learning;

2. Ensure the content is accessible, engaging and most importantly current. The best systems offer immediate updates as legislation, statutory guidance and inspection requirements change.

3. Provide training that all staff, regardless of their ability level, experience and language requirements, will understand with access to revision of training at the point of need, not when you can fit it into staff training sessions. (E-learning can be a valuable tool to achieve this).

4. Use a system where individual tracking and assessment can be fully monitored. This is invaluable for leaders to not only track progress but assess comprehension. Something you can’t achieve in the traditional seminar style delivery.

5. Avoid training where assessment pass rates are below 100%. I’m often asked why our pass rates aren’t lower than 100% and my response is always the same – “tell me what part of the safeguarding remit its okay not to understand”.

Whilst I echo Spielman’s ethos of ongoing continued professional development as essential, it’s the quality of such learning which lies at the heart of best practice. If we make this our focus for the safeguarding remit, standards can only improve and we may finally see the demise of the tick list approach!