Compulsory Safeguarding and Equality Training for Lecturers

by Matt Valentine-Chase 04 February 2019, 21:35

Category: Academic Support

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I am surprised to learn that, although the UoS Safeguarding policy is available for all staff and students to read - training is not compulsory and therefore the majority of lecturers are not trained in Safeguarding, Equality, Human Rights or mental / physical disability laws. This can and does have a direct negative impact on students where their needs are not being met. This can result in:

  • Exacerbation of mental health problems
  • Relapse – physically or mentally
  • Poor attendance
  • Chaotic attendance
  • Dropping out
  • Wider socio-economic symptoms
  • Wider psychosocial symptoms

Important to note here that all symptoms have a root cause. I believe that the root cause to many student’s poor health is down to the lack of knowledge lecturer’s currently have around Safeguarding. The UoS policy suggest this here:

‘It is important to note that harm, abuse or exploitation is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. It can:

  • Consist of a single act or repeated acts or multiples types of harm
  • Be intentional or unintentional or result from a lack of knowledge;
  • Be an act of neglect, an omission or a failure to act;
  • Cause harm temporarily or over a period of time;
  • Involve taking advantage of existing vulnerabilities and needs that a person has: people in need of identity, friendship or care, who are frustrated, lost or feel they don’t fit in’

Ignorance of the above will not stand up in court (the above list is simply an example, the points made are also examples of what is termed ‘Organisational Abuse’ in Safeguarding and Equality legislation).

I therefore call for: An immediate and thorough review of the current Safeguarding policy (at just fourteen pages it is currently inadequate, although it does make some good points). I also call for:


Immediate and thorough training of lecturers and student-facing staff in: Equality (Equality Act 2010) , Safeguarding (Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006), Human Rights (Human Rights Act 1998), Mental Capacity Act 2005. I believe that the above training will:

  • Inform and educate staff and students
  • Prevent further Safeguarding concerns*
  • Prevent unnecessary mental and physical health crises
  • Protect the University from litigation
  • Hold lecturers personally accountable which will:
      • Increase student confidence
      • Enhance University reputation
      • Prevent or manage other serious consequences of poor Safeguarding**

The current UoS Safeguarding policy states: 'Staff should: Ensure welfare of the students (or subjects of the activity) always comes first regardless of aims of activity being carried out'. I believe that this needs to be applied in every day teaching and staff receiving said training will at least begin to address this. This will in turn have a massive positive benefit to all students, regardless of disability status. *A useful training and resource for prevention is: Prevention in Safeguarding (Social Care Institute of Excellence, 2011). **Details here are omitted to Safeguard readers who may otherwise be triggered by the information.



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    Daniel Emberlin   wrote, 05-02-2019 - 15:39

    I fully support the idea of compulsory training for university staff in these areas as all students deserve to be treated with respect and dignity in a way that's most suitable to their personal needs, however, I'm not sure your proposed methods would be the most effective. Just because you are aware of what the law is doesn't mean you know how best to apply it in a working environment or even which parts of it would actually apply at any given moment. Also, I worry this would shift a huge amount of responsibility away from the university and students union itself to individual lecturers and other staff members for students health and wellbeing, and as a result have an impact on the quality of education delivered. A better outcome for students might be specific training in how best to actually deal with the complex needs of students as opposed to training in the law itself, while at the same time promoting and improving university services such as the wellbeing service. The university or students union could also conduct a survey on what needs the student population has in regards to the areas you've mentioned and from there implement policies to address the areas that mean the most to students. Overall the needs of students are the priority and the university should ensure it does all it can to meet them, in whatever form that takes.

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    Matt Valentine-Chase   wrote, 05-02-2019 - 19:41

    Hi Daniel, brilliant feedback thank you! It might help to know that Safeguarding, Equality, Human Rights and associated training does involve being trained in how to us it. That’s the point here. The University already has policies in place – but now that needs to be localised so that each and every lecturer understands why the policies are there and what can happen if they are not followed. My ‘day job’ as I call it, aside form being a student, is mental health practitioner and therapist. I have been trained in the aforementioned and can testify that for ‘front line’ staff it helps to give a bigger picture on why we use regulations, policies and laws. It also is used to demonstrate, by case studies, what can happen when things go wrong. This is daunting for the trainee (!) but it gives a real-world picture of how Safeguarding can benefit the service user (in this case students). I am hearing what you say about referring to the wellbeing service, but here I am talking about the root cause of the problem. In my opinion, the wellbeing service are already excellent at dealing with, what I see as, the fall-out of poor practice. I hope that helps and if you need any further info feel free to ask.

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