Safeguarding notes for poet facilitators

This page is for poet facilitators visiting schools on behalf of The Poetry Society through our Poets in Schools service. These are based on notes taken during a child safeguarding session with Barnardo’s in December 2019.

Everyone who comes into contact with children, and their families and carers, has a role to play in safeguarding children. A child is anyone who has not reached their 18th birthday yet.

Visiting schools as a facilitator

Every school or organisation you visit where you will come into contact with children should have both a Child Protection Policy and a designated safeguarding lead. The safeguarding lead should provide support to staff members, including yourself as a facilitator, to carry out their safeguarding duties.

If you have concerns about a child, you should ask for help and you must discuss your concerns with a designated member of staff, which will normally be the school’s or organisation’s designated safeguarding lead. This person then has responsibility for ensuring that the appropriate course of action is taken.

If, for whatever reason, you do not have an opportunity to report a concern during the course of your visit, you should report your concern in writing, in as much detail as possible, to The Poetry Society at [email protected]. The Poetry Society will then contact the school to ensure that the appropriate action is taken, and to help manage any necessary further contact between yourself and the school.

It is not your duty to investigate or to decide whether something is or isn’t abuse, only to share information. This is a legal responsibility for anyone working with children. It is best practice to gain the young person’s consent to share their disclosure, but even if they don’t consent, you must still share the information.

You can also seek advice at any time from the NSPCC helpline – [email protected] or 0808 800 5000.

What to do in case of a disclosure

  • Recognise
    Be vigilant – watching & listening
  • Respond
    Remove immediate risk of harm
  • Record
    Note down what you see, hear and do
  • Report
    Report to designated safeguarding lead without delay

In a Poets in Schools context, you might take the following steps.

If a child has disclosed something verbally to you: avoid reacting emotionally. Ensure they understand you believe them. Take them seriously: do not minimise or try to find other explanations. Listen carefully and non-judgmentally. Gather information if appropriate. Tell them you have a responsibility to share what they’re telling you – do not promise confidentiality. If possible, gain their consent to share their disclosure, and tell them who you’re going to tell. Do not promise you can do anything other than support within your role. If they are at immediate risk, help to remove the danger if you can (for instance, if they are actively suicidal, call 999 and stay with them). Report immediately to the designated safeguarding lead and teacher and make a record of what was said/heard, what you did, and the time and date. Do not paraphrase what was said, even if it seems inappropriate.

If a child has disclosed something in writing (for example in a poem), or if you have concerns about a child because of something you’ve seen or heard, report these to the designated safeguarding lead as soon as possible and record what you have done.

If you would like to, you may follow up with the teacher or designated safeguarding lead, to find out what the outcome was.

If you would like to speak with The Poetry Society’s Education Team, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email ([email protected]). Please note that The Poetry Society team is still working from home and that we only have access to one phone line currently. Please email us where possible. Our apologies for any delays or difficulties.

Further information

You may wish to read more about different kinds of abuse and signs to look out for. The four main types of abuse are emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

If you have any more specific questions, do get in touch with The Poetry Society’s Education Team. If you’re interested in doing an online safeguarding course, we recommend those offered by NSPCC or Barnardo’s.