The further education (FE) safeguarding manager performs a critical role within the Student Services Team, ensuring all necessary steps are taken to protect learners and colleagues, and providing an essential link between child protection authorities and the organisations that their regulations apply to. The knowledge that they are making a positive contribution to students’ lives is a strong motivating factor for many in taking on the role.
Usually, the FE safeguarding manager will report to the Head of Student Services and be the central point of contact with child protection agencies, local authorities, the police, protection units, Channel, CAMHs and others, taking the lead on safeguarding and Prevent matters for the campus.
Candidates stand the best chance of landing a safeguarding manager role if they ensure that they have an in-depth knowledge of safeguarding and Prevent legislation, including the latest developments. A good understanding of the Equality Act 2010 is a must and you should be able to showcase your expertise in the processes around safeguarding children and at-risk adults.
Employers are on the lookout for candidates with problem-solving skills, good written and oral communication skills, the confidence and ability to quickly build relationships internally and externally, and the ability to sensitively manage outcomes on a wide range of safeguarding issues. Experience of working within the FE sector and experience of delivering training is desirable.
Andrew Pickles, Head of Safeguarding and Pastoral Support at Blackburn College, explains: “You got to have a degree of emotional intelligence but also a sense of fairness … there will always be students who genuinely need help and so you need to be fair. Yet you also have to be forceful and strident enough when you need to be.”
Salaries for the safeguarding manager role range from £39,004 at the low end, rising to £68,733 for the most experienced workers. The median salary for the role in the UK comes in at £46,957 per year, according to Talent.com, which is considerably more than the median annual pay for full-time employees (£33,000) for the tax year ending on April 5, 2022.
There has been a concerted effort by FE institutions to adapt to learner behaviour in response to stress in recent years. Katy Wayne, a course leader/lecturer in hair, beauty, media and nails at Buxton & Leek College, explains that focusing on encouraging good mental health has become paramount. “When I started teaching 22 years ago,” she says “it seemed few students had ‘learning difficulties’ but now we regularly have several with acute needs.”
It isn’t just exams that bring about an increase in the stress levels of learners, with social media adding to pressure. On top of this, there can be pressures at home, be it neglect, abuse gaslighting or bullying, for example.
It falls under the remit of the safeguarding manager to ensure that everyone working at an FE organisation has received the appropriate level of safeguarding training. This training should be updated every two years, in line with official guidance.
As laid out in the Care Act 2014, there are six fundamentals that relate to safeguarding that any safeguarding manager should be familiar with. These are:
What are some of the key issues encountered in the role?
There are a raft of issues that can come up on a daily basis in the role of safeguarding manager in the FE sector. As Pickles states, the role demands supporting individuals “who might be homeless, have behavioural problems, discipline, suffer exploitation on social media, through to mental health and depression”.
“A major concern is around mental health issues that prevent young people/adults from studying,” Pickles explains. “We talk things through with the students, although we make it clear we’re not a mental health service but can facilitate access to professional services across Lancashire.”
Providing emotional support for vulnerable people is a given for the position. “When a student comes to college, events can trigger things linked to what may have happened at school or at home,” says Pickles. He adds: “We have to ensure we can support them. The toughest challenge is being able to respond to those students with a combination of issues.”
AoCJobs, part of the Association of Colleges, connects teachers and support staff with schools and colleges for online job opportunities.