Written by Zen Khan, an inspirational educator, entrepreneur, international speaker, and safeguarding expert who has worked in educational leadership for over 15 years.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country steadfast in its dedication to the welfare and safety of its children. In the UAE, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, so ensuring that your knowledge of local reporting procedures and training is aligned with the unique challenges of the region is vital.
A strong knowledge of safeguarding is crucial for those working with children to ensure they are providing high-quality care and support.
Zenub Khan Professional Development and Education Services (Zen PD) supports schools with professional development; none are as important, however, as safeguarding.
All educational institutions in the UAE have a clear mandate and responsibility to ensure that children in their care are kept safe from abuse. Over the last few years, there has been tremendous progress with schools creating safe environments that protect all children from harm.
All educational institutions in the UAE have a clear mandate and responsibility to ensure that children in their care are kept safe from abuse
In this article, I will discuss the responsibilities of the schools, what schools must do to create an effective culture of safeguarding, and finally share some tips to build your school’s strategy and leadership confidence to ensure that your community is safe.
Children Learn Best When They Feel Safe and Valued
Feeling safe and valued is critical to a child’s development. When children fear for their safety, worry about being bullied, or sense their teachers do not care about them, learning suffers along with their future aspirations.
Schools and homes that provide a safe environment promote a positive environment and support the child’s academic success as well as their overall well-being.
When students feel safe, supported, and valued, they are more likely to flourish and achieve their potential.
The message is clear. The UAE law highlights that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of students is everyone’s responsibility, particularly those working in schools!
Schools have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their students and staff, including taking steps to prevent and respond to incidents of abuse, harassment, and discrimination, as well as promoting a culture of respect, inclusion, and professionalism.
The school must implement a safeguarding policy that outlines its obligations towards safeguarding children and define the procedures it will follow for their protection.
A safeguarding culture is embedded within the ethos of a school
Moreover, schools need to create a safe and secure environment for children by implementing security measures, ensuring proper supervision, and providing certified training aligned with local laws for all staff (including the leadership team), volunteers, and governance.
Here are some reasons why every educator in the UAE must be aware of their individual responsibility to protect children from harm!
- Protect children from abuse: The UAE has implemented laws that protect children from any form of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect.
- Preventing child labour: The UAE has laws in place to prevent child labour and protect children from exploitation.
- Ensuring access to education: The UAE has made education a priority and ensures that every child has access to education.
- Protecting children’s health: Smoking in public and private vehicles and indoor facilities where children are present is also prohibited under the law
Safeguarding Culture Versus Strategy
A safeguarding culture is embedded within the ethos of a school. It goes beyond policies and procedures; it’s about creating an environment where the well-being and safety of children are at the forefront of everything the school does. In UAE schools, fostering a safeguarding culture means:
- Prioritising Child Well-being: Schools with a safeguarding culture prioritise the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of their students. They create an atmosphere where students feel safe, valued, and supported.
- Open Communication: Teachers, staff, and students are encouraged to communicate openly about any concerns, whether related to safety, bullying, or mental health. This encourages trust and transparency within the school community.
- Training and Awareness: Continuous training and awareness programmes are delivered face to face via experts at Zen PD, ensuring they are well-prepared to identify and respond to safeguarding issues. This includes recognising signs of abuse, understanding online safety, and promoting a culture of respect.
- Inclusivity: Schools strive to create an inclusive environment where every student feels included, regardless of their background or abilities. This reduces the risk of discrimination and bullying.
- Community Involvement: Parents, guardians, and the wider community are actively involved in the safeguarding process. Their input and support are valued as essential components of creating a safe school environment.
Children are not merely a priority in the UAE; they are the cornerstone of a prosperous future
While a safeguarding culture focuses on creating a holistic approach to child protection, a safeguarding strategy is more tactical. It involves the specific policies, procedures, and guidelines that a school implements to safeguard its students. In UAE schools, safeguarding strategies may include:
- Policy Development: Schools create and regularly update safeguarding policies, addressing issues such as child protection, online safety, anti-bullying, and reporting mechanisms.
- Training Workshops: Staff members undergo training to ensure they understand and can implement safeguarding policies effectively. This includes recognizing signs of abuse and knowing how to report concerns.
- Safety Protocols: Schools establish clear protocols for responding to safeguarding incidents. This includes a designated safeguarding lead who coordinates the response and liaises with external agencies when necessary.
- Parental Involvement: Parents and guardians are informed about the school’s safeguarding policies and procedures, and they are encouraged to communicate any concerns or observations.
Children are not merely a priority in the UAE; they are the cornerstone of a prosperous future. The laws, extensive regulations, and continuing education initiatives demonstrate the government’s and its leaders’ dedication to keeping them safe. Schools play a crucial role in establishing an atmosphere where every child is protected from harm by making sure that rigorous safeguarding policies/procedures are in place and all staff are confident and knowledgeable about safeguarding children.
Here are my top five tips for schools:
- Have rigorous policies and procedures in place.
- Ensure all staff, governance, and volunteers have relevant safeguarding training (not just a tick box exercise).
- Undertake robust background checks when recruiting.
- Appoint a Designated Safeguarding Lead/Child Protection Officer.
- Ensure child protection support is accessible for everyone, so that students and parents, as well as adults in the school, know who they can talk to if they are worried.
Finding the Right Balance
Finding the right balance between safeguarding culture and safeguarding strategy is essential. A robust safeguarding culture helps ensure that policies and procedures are more than just paperwork – they are lived experiences for students, staff, and parents. On the other hand, a well-structured safeguarding strategy ensures that there are clear guidelines in place for dealing with any safeguarding issues that may arise.
Finding the right balance between safeguarding culture and safeguarding strategy is essential
In conclusion, schools must recognise the importance of both safeguarding culture and safeguarding strategy. Together, they create an environment where children can thrive, free from harm and fear, ensuring that education is not only about academic excellence but also the holistic well-being of every student.
The above is merely a taste of what is taught, learned, and discussed in our safeguarding courses. Delivered face-to-face or online in the Middle East, UK, and Far East, our training helps build confidence and highlights your responsibilities towards safeguarding pupils while taking into consideration the local laws and reporting procedures.
To learn more/book our Designated Safeguarding Lead, Advanced Safeguarding, Safeguarding in EYFS, or Safeguarding in primary/secondary course, or to learn more about our professional development courses, email [email protected] or call 00971585873184.
We look forward to supporting your school.