How to Change the Safeguarding Culture in your School
Simon Antwis has been a Headteacher of three schools, as well as a school inspector. He is now Senior Business Development Consultant at STEER Education.
One of the most well-known and easiest to interpret change management models is that produced by Knoster1. Essentially, he was saying that to produce effective change management in an organisation you need to be able to successfully address five key elements:
If any of these key elements are missing or not adequately addressed then the leader can expect the following consequences:
- Lack of vision will cause confusion amongst your team;
- Lack of skills will cause anxiety;
- Lack of resources will cause frustration;
- Lack of incentives will cause resistance;
- Lack of a plan will cause false starts.
If a leader can effectively address all five areas then change management will be successful and can lead to culture change.
STEER Tracking is a whole-school mental health platform empowering teachers to measure, track and improve the self-regulation and mental wellbeing of young people. I launched this tool in two of the schools I was Headteacher for and helped my group of schools to adopt it across the world.
The package provided by STEER to launch, implement and ultimately embed their tool helped me to address all five of the key elements of successful change management and culture shift that ultimately had a significant impact on the well-being and mental health of the young people under the school’s care. The knock-on effects also improved academic outcomes as we all know happy children are motivated children who are over-performing children.
STEER Tracking allows your pastoral care to be proactive rather than reactive. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said;
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.”
Let’s create a culture where we are preventative rather than solely responsive. Let’s create a culture where we track pupils over time for their entire career, where we teach them to understand their data when they are old enough, to use other STEER tools to develop their soft skills for life after school and to own 10 years of their own data and successful action plans and interventions used by their teachers to reference after they have left school.
Pastoral care that is unquestionably outstanding: granular, proactive, personalised, recorded over time – before things go wrong, as you are growing up and after you have even left us!
I began my career with almost zero training and preparation for how to support young people with well-being and mental health issues. I was given a register on day 1 of my career, pointed in the direction of 10AS in Room 36 and that was it.
With STEER your staff will get flexible online training modules to help them understand the assessment data, identify trends and ‘priority pupils,’ compile action plans personalised for pupils or address patterns were seen with groups or cohorts of pupils or even a school-wide issue.
Your staff will finally feel empowered and sufficiently skilled to be able to identify vulnerable pupils as well as use their instinct, professional judgement and other strategies to fully understand the world around every pupil.
As a Headteacher, I did not have to produce a single resource to deliver STEER Tracking to my pupils. Every template letter or powerpoint I required to communicate with any of my stakeholder groups (be that pupil body, parents, staff or governors . trustees) was provided for me. The online platform User Interface has just been completely renovated, modernised and made user-friendly. Schools are even provided with a School Dashboard to monitor trends across the school and to report back to Governors/trustees or even inspectorates. School groups are provided with a Group-wide Dashboard to help monitor implementation and delivery across the group and identify “Champion Schools.”
All STEER schools are provided with skilful consultancy from ex-SLT staff who have worked with the tool in schools. They will guide you through the process and help schools from launch to accreditation when hopefully you can fly on your own!
I did not have to create a single additional resource to support the rollout of the tool – not even a single letter to parents or a PowerPoint to train staff. It is all provided. In fact, your delivery to every stakeholder group has been considered and resourced.
Whilst STEER cannot pay your staff more money (!) it can significantly reduce workload at all levels. Senior staff can use the tool to empower staff at the coalface of education at the pupil level rather than trying to deal with all the issues themselves. An action plan takes only 10 minutes to write but can be shared with all relevant staff to have maximum effect.
Teaching can be one of the most selfless jobs in the world. Educators will always want to do what they think is best for their learners. This is incentive enough. Explaining the value of a change proposition to your team is invaluable. Also, everyone likes a bit of praise and the tool allows you to finally prove what a good job your pastoral team is doing and to publicly recognise them for their hard work.
STEER will help you with action planning at all levels, be that:
- Individual pupil action plans;
- Cohort action plans;
- Group action plans to track and monitor your notable groups;
- Whole school action plans;
STEER Will also enable you to inform the whole school action/improvement/development plan. It will help inform your strategic thinking for the future of the school. STEER Tracking data can help you plan for audits and inspections and even report to Governors / Trustees / Proprietors.
STEER data can be used to set motivational and meaningful Performance Management targets for all of your staff that help contributes to the whole school plan and help motivate your staff in achieving the vision.
No false starts.
In my experience, as headteacher of three schools, I was able to change the culture of schools from:
- where ‘academic staff’ felt pastoral care was someone else’s responsibility and ‘pastoral’ staff felt that their work was not recognised and had minimal impact on academic outcomes. And never the twain would meet to…..
- ‘pastoral staff’ who knew small but significant actions implemented by ‘academic’ staff helped to address self-regulation issues in pupils, helping them perform better academically. And academic staff who realised that small changes to their pedagogy and delivery could have positive impacts on a pupil’s wellbeing and mental health.
In other words, the attainment of a vision where all staff take responsibility for pastoral care and academic outcomes. Two halves of a school now operating as a single collaborative unit for the undiluted benefit of young people.
No missed pupils.
- Knoster, T., Villa, R., and Thousand, J. (2000). A framework for thinking about systems change. In R. Villa and J. Thousands (Eds.) Restructuring for caring and effective education: Piecing the puzzle together (2nd edition). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.