Created in collaboration with our SEND expert.




Safeguarding children is everyone’s concern; this includes parents and immediate family, extended family, carers, neighbours and all school staff. Everyone has a moral duty to ensure that children are safe in our communities.

Within schools, the role becomes complex and the SLT and governing board have to fulfil statutory requirements regarding safeguarding, especially in the case of pupils with SEND. There must be a Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy in place to keep all learners safe and, in the case of pupils with SEND, this policy should reflect the increased risk.


Why are pupils with SEND more at risk?


Pupils with SEND are more susceptible to safeguarding risks as they are less able to protect themselves from abusers; if a pupil with SEND experiences difficulties, they may feel they have no one to confide in. Other reasons why pupils with SEND can be more at risk  include the following:

  • They may be afraid to confide in someone
  • They have an increased risk of being bullied – they spend time in respite so the opportunity for bullying or abuse is increased
  • Some pupils with SEND rely on adults for everything, including personal care, and this vulnerability puts them at a greater risk of being harmed or abused
  • If they have been harmed before they may not want to speak out again in fear of being disbelieved or blamed
  • Staff may not be able to spot the signs of abuse in children with SEND


What provision can be put in place?


Schools can ensure that all pupils with SEND are protected by ensuring:

  • That everyone who works with pupils with SEND knows their role regarding safeguarding.
  • School staff are aware of pupils with SEND who are more at risk of child sexual exploitation, domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage or extremism.
  •  All staff understand the risks of online bullying or grooming, and how these are increased for pupils with SEND.
  • All staff are aware of how to report any safeguarding concerns and who to report them to.
  • Training for all staff is kept up-to-date and is reviewed regularly.
  • That all staff working with pupils with SEND have additional training in what to look out for, as these signs can differ.
  • All staff know how to support a pupil with more complex difficulties.
  • A named, designated senior member of staff is in charge of safeguarding who understands the need to protect vulnerable children and young people.
  • Pupils are taught about how they might be more at risk and why.
  • The school takes action to deal with, and prevent, discriminatory language or comments about pupils with SEND and vulnerable pupils.
  • The Prevent duty is clear and understood by staff.
  • Pupils are provided with books to aid in communication between them and staff regarding their safety, such as pragmatic organisation dynamic display (PODD) books.
  • Pupils are provided with other reliable communication aids where necessary, such as giving pupils a single sign or symbol that will help them to communicate a problem if needed.
  • Pupils are given opportunities to speak with a designated staff member.
  • All staff are reminded to be vigilant in looking for signs of abuse.
  • Staff are aware of mood changes that might indicate a change in a pupil’s personal circumstances.


How can schools guarantee the provision is in place?


Schools should provide mentors for all new staff to ensure they are fully trained before allowing them to supervise pupils with SEND alone. It should also be ensured that volunteers are not left alone with a pupil at any time. Risk assessments should be continuously conducted on staff and their cohort of pupils, and schools should be vigilant when looking at the current provision that is in place.

The welfare of pupils should be promoted through teaching and learning, through pastoral activities and across the curriculum. The school should have safer recruitment and designated safeguarding governors, and details of the school’s DSL should be published on the school website as a point of contact

When publishing job advertisements, the school must ensure the explicit need for a DBS disclosure is included, to ensure potential candidates are properly assessed for a position that works closely with pupils. 


What’s next?


To ensure the thorough safeguarding of all pupils, schools should ensure they have the following policies in place:

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