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Schools praise benefits of pioneering scheme to help safeguard Wiltshire children

A pilot scheme to help young people who are at risk of becoming victims of exploitation or harm outside of the home is being trialled in Wiltshire.

Published 16 March 2022

Wiltshire Council has worked with 10 schools including four in Wiltshire to identify and respond to harm young people experience both within education environments but also within their communities. The scheme called Safer Young People has been trialled in a number of schools and is having a positive impact.

The work involves supporting schools to evaluate how they respond to child exploitation or peer on peer abuse. This includes directly supporting schools, with face to face meetings, reviewing policies and providing a toolkit to assess their responses to harm outside of the home. This builds on previous work where there has been meetings with schools and young people to talk through potential issues.

This has involved mapping out support and a way to move young people away from factors that may cause harm outside the home. The work is carried out alongside partners including police, children's services, health and community organisations. It also helps schools to evaluate their responses to young people experiencing these issues.

Wiltshire Council has been working with multi-agency partners on the pioneering work and with a team from the University of Durham and the University of Bedfordshire. The council is leading another pilot which focuses on Child Protection and Risk Outside the Home (CP ROTH). This recognises while traditional child protection focusses on harm within the home there needs to be more plans in place to counteract harm from outside the home. A new child protection process has been developed with University of Durham's Professor Carlene Firmin and her team to work restoratively with young people and parents recognising the level of harm and working with parents and professional to develop a ROTH plan to pilot this new approach. The DfE is supporting this pilot of a fifth category of harm - Risk Outside the Home (ROTH)

 Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: "A young person today lives a very different life to just a few years ago and the way we offer child protection needs to change to keep up with the different experiences and factors which can affect a young child's life. This is important pioneering work which we are doing alongside our partners and I want to thank our schools for being key to this and helping us to put into practices new ways of working which will ultimately provide better insight and protection for our young people."


Designated Safeguarding Leads from some of the schools involved have commented on the programme.

Andy Bazen of St Joseph's School said: "We were delighted to be selected to be a part of this pilot. We have already found that it has increased staff understanding, vigilance and reporting. Being a part of the pilot has highlighted to all of us the severity and serious nature of Extra Familial Harm. The benefits of professionals working together to share good practice, as well as build a far greater context about individuals and their circumstances is vital to prevent harm or harm escalating. Developing future practices and networking will further embed that safeguarding is everyone's responsibility and we look forward to seeing this having a positive impact on the safeguarding of young people.  We feel that being part of the pilot has helped us to reflect, review and refine practices, and will ensure that we continue to provide the best safeguarding possible for our young people."

Tom Phillips of Matravers School said: "We're delighted with the progress being made to embed practice that safeguards children in all aspects of their life. In today's society it is never ok for any child to suffer adverse experiences:

As a collective of professionals dedicated to child welfare, we're all committed to establishing replicable framework which will prevent children from harm and support those who have experienced any form of abuse."

Dan Holley of Kingsbury Green Academy said: "At KGA, we are always committed to the safeguarding of our children and addressing the issues around extra-familial harm and peer on peer abuse. These issues have been magnified by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns so we are thrilled to be part of the pilot with Wiltshire Council that will look to help resolve some of these issues."

Dave Tregilgas of Abbeyfield School said: "We are absolutely delighted to be part of the DfE Contextual Safeguarding Pilot. With support from Helena Wykes-Dart and opportunity to share best practice at regular meetings, we have reviewed, adapted and improved our safeguarding policies, updated our safeguarding system and are in the process of raising the awareness of our staff, students and their parents carers about the signs and impact of extra-familial harm. Thanks to being involved in this pilot, our networking and lines of communication in regards to all aspects of contextual safeguarding have never been so strong."

Detective Superintendent Ben Mant, Head of Public Protection at Wiltshire Police, said: "We, along with our partners like Wiltshire Council, are committed to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and the wider issue of Child Exploitation (CE). 

"This crime is not something that just happens in the home - it can take place anywhere in our society - both in our physical world and the virtual cyber one.  This is why a pilot scheme like this one is very welcome.

"It also helps our police work, as part of our zero-tolerance approach to exploitation, urging members of the public to be aware of the potential signs of CE or CSE and to report any issues to us. 

"If you have any concerns about a child or group of children that is at immediate risk of exploitation please ring Wiltshire Police on 999.  Otherwise call 101 or report via our website: wiltshire.police.uk.

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