Safeguarding vulnerable children – focussing on EAL and new arrivals

Safeguarding is a huge issue that needs to be tackled with care but how can you do this when you cannot speak directly to the child or parents? Members of EMASUK  have access to the tools to deliver this efficiently and securely, so this post discusses the commissioners finding and shows where the tools you have available supports the initiative.

In relation to safeguarding one tool allows you not only to have a conversation but also record the conversation via PDF. Two Can Talk allows the conversationalists to type in their information and have it spoken aloud in another language. The intimacy of the programme which allows two people of different language bases to speak and discuss together means the child feels supported and listened to. In addition the teacher/nurse/officer can read all the body language that accompanies the conversation to make a real judgment on the case.The addition of the ability to put in who the conversationalists were makes it possible for the first time to keep a record for further use which is a real must for safeguarding discussions. In practice this was brought home last year when one school was able to use Two Can Talk to find out that the child had a nut alergy so were able to divert a possible life threatening situation.

The same tool can be used in hospitals and in police stations where children also have difficult conversations, but again they can be reassured that they are being listened to and understood, as is the recording of the information, the child may only have the courage to say it once, so we must do our best to make this simple and easy for everyone concerned.

The Childrens Commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson has this week detailed some good examples of how to support safeguarding in schools via her top ten tips.  Below are some highlighted areas that relate exactly to the group of children and parents that we are supporting in the UK schools and the community i.e. those whose first language is not English and new arrivals.

How will good practice help safeguarding in everyday school life. p5 of the report.

One of the areas highlighted is the ability for the child to be listened to, and also good relationships with parents, again this is really difficult if you yourself do not speak Arabic, Russian, Bengali etc, but you can start that process if you are using Text Tutor effectively.  Text Tutor has all these and more languages and by using the simple cut and paste method you can create what ever letter, news information, safeguarding leaflet that you need personalised for your institution.

The commissioner targets ten areas with one of these being  ‘How do you engage with parents and carers’. The commissioner states that parents should be aware of the safeguarding policies and how schools plan to fulfil their responsibilities. She suggests that good schools  have approachable staff and good communication. One school which I have seen in action is Tennyson Road School in Luton, they really have the child at the centre of their processes including one person with the role as a parent support worker. The use of this type of support is recognised by the childrens commissioner as really good practice because of their knowledge of the school but also the wider community. To support this further by using the hand held translator I Can Talk To it allows officers, teachers and support workers a more portable device where there is no computer access, but still allows parental engagement. See it working here

The value of Parent support workers for the school, the child and the local community.

Disclosure is often something that people are unprepared for, but again the use of two can talk can help the conversation take place and record it. I have experienced this once and with a child who spoke my language and this was really difficult for both of us, but imagine if the child did not speak the same language, it makes it even more difficult but as the commissioners says these children have a right to be heard, so at EMASUK we believe it is our job to make that as painless and easy as possible.

EAL and disclosure examples of good practice.

In conclusion using the variety of communication tools available it is possible to support these children and also be ragarded as a good school in realtion to safeguarding whether at school, hospital, police station or the local council office, but more importantly be regarded by the child as soem one they can put their trust in to have their most difficult conversation with.

You can download or read the tips by the Commissioner here

For further information email


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