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Safeguarding at Home Time

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools  through Protocol Education in Manchester. A recent incident drew her attention to a very real issue concerning supply teacher responsibilities at home time...


Beware of Blind Spots at Home Time

In many schools, the brilliant secretariat has considered every aspect of supply teaching protocol. No health and safety sick puddle has been left un-slipped on. You will be provided with maps with fire exits, the behaviour policy, the house style for marking etc. However even these schools will, more often than not, forget about an essential aspect of safeguarding – a safe home time routine. 

Home time seems so far away when you arrive breathless at the doors, cursing your sat nav.  I’ve had a proper scare in the past month which has convinced me that supply teachers need to take the reins and be assertive with schools in this area. 
Home time can feel particularly rushed and haphazard when you’re working in supply. Schools have different procedures, but most have the children gathered on the carpet with their coats, bags and armfuls of detritus to bring home to mum. A supply teacher can end up juggling letters, homework diaries, a queue of children who say they are going to street dance, boys suddenly stripping off for football with someone crying because he’s on a one-match ban for swearing while someone else swearing blind that he isn’t.
Teaching Assistants often knock off before home time, so can appear to have disappeared into the ether, just when you need them most.
Parents are usually in the vicinity craning their necks to get a look in, shaking their brollies, eager to get on. The children know they are supposed to tell you that their ‘grown up’ has arrived. There are normally about twenty eight joyful little reunions and everyone disappears apart from the two sulky kids whose parents are always, always late (Mrs Yates, aka Mum…I’m thinking of you, every single day thirty years ago).
In well over half of the schools I have worked in, there has been nobody apart from me on the door when home time comes. This is in schools where there may be photographs of adults pinned up in the staff room with notices beneath saying:  ‘Please do not let this man pick Harry up from school under any circumstances!’  I don’t always choose to go into the staff room. But I do watch scores of children hurry home with a known adult - one I have never seen before in my life. I am used to feeling this sense of vulnerability at the end of the day; and then shrugging it off and starting my marking. Or I was until last week.
A mother arrived late and a little harried, asking for her child and the child had gone. I could not remember which adult they had gone with (there were thirty children in the class). I could not quite remember the face of her child. I said, ‘I think he went with his Dad.’ The mother held her face in her hands, and started saying: ‘God no! No. God!  No!’ I remembered then that a Year 6 sister had arrived for her brother, saying she was unsure about who was picking them up today. I had sent them inside to the office to ask if there was a change to their arrangements. The mother looked tearful and relieved as she marched off to find them without saying another word.  
The risks are too great to let this lapse in safeguarding standards continue. My advice to supply teachers is to discuss home-time arrangements as soon as you arrive at the reception. Ask that there is a member of staff designated to manage the pick-up with you.  Ask for their name. Say why it is important. Check with this person that they are still going to be around at home time to support you. Don’t begin the home time pick-up without them even if it means thirty soggy parents sending out daggers from the rainy playground. 
Supply teachers have a responsibility to protect children and protect themselves; and schools need to learn about their safeguarding blind spots ASAP. 

Tags: Miranda, Safeguarding, Teach in Manchester, Primary Teacher, Supply Teacher, Home Time, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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