SEND and Safeguarding: Everything You Need to Know

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • Who needs a safeguarding policy.
  • Strategies to safeguard children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Where the latest SEND jobs are and how to apply for them. 

For children and young people with special educational needs, the path to education can be paved with challenges that require special attention and care. Safeguarding is an integral component of this journey, as it encompasses the responsibility to protect children from harm, provide them with a safe environment, and nurture their overall wellbeing. 

The topic of SEND and safeguarding in relation to children’s safety and wellbeing are complex and are constantly being updated. Children’s charity NSPCC and teaching union NASUWT surveyed Teachers across the UK and found a staggering 93% has seen an increase in the number of safeguarding referrals made within their school.

As we delve deeper into SEND and safeguarding, we’ll explore the strategies and best practices that educational institutions and teaching professionals can adopt to safeguard the welfare of children with special educational needs.

Who needs a safeguarding policy

Every institution that interacts with or comes into contact with children must establish safeguarding procedures and practices to guarantee that each child, regardless of their age, disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, is protected from harm.

Safeguarding is crucial for the welfare of children particularly those with SEN and disability. In schools, Headteachers, Teachers and SEND Teachers are expected to promote the welfare of all pupils, with additional precautions for children with SEND.

SEND professionals and experts such as EHC Plan Writers, SEN Case Officers and SENCOs are responsible for ensuring that all children get the support they need from the safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

SEND and safeguarding: Everything you need to know

SEND professionals should know about:

  • The individual needs of children with SEND.
  • The impact of communication barriers.
  • Children with SEND are prone to bullying or isolation.
  • The difficulties in managing or reporting challenges.
  • Working with parents and families.
  • How to identify neglect and abuse.

The individual needs of children with SEND

When it comes to children with SEND, it’s important to understand individual needs because every child is different. Even children who are the same age or have the same disability can be impacted by different things and will require different care because of this.

Many children or young people with SEND will have an Education Health and Care Plan (written by an EHC Plan Writer) to identify and set out the support needed to meet those educational, health and social needs.

Effective safeguarding is dependent on the individual's needs, strengths and difficulties meaning that SEND educators must provide different types of support to different children to achieve their potential. 

The impact of communication barriers

When it comes to communication, it is crucial that children’s voices are heard and their needs are recognised. Some children with SEND depend on others to communicate and express their needs, and some who cannot use words to communicate, use behaviour or devices as an alternative.

This makes it important for SEND educators to be aware of behaviour that can be indicative or used instead of verbal communication. As much as a child’s voice should be heard, SEND educators shouldn’t misinterpret non-verbal as silent or isolated. 

Children with SEND are prone to bullying or isolation

It is important for SEND professionals to recognise changes in children’s behaviour and communication in order to identify indications of bullying or isolation. According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, 36% of pupils with SEND experience frequent bullying compared to 25% of those without special educational needs.

Many children with SEND find it difficult to form and maintain social relationships causing them to stand out from their peers and experience feelings of isolation. Young people with SEND may misunderstand or misinterpret socially appropriate behaviour, and their behaviour and physical needs may make them appear different.

Children with SEND may lack the understanding to differentiate between friendship and bullying and are more at risk of bullying due to the additional pressures they face. Therefore it is up to SEND educators and professionals to be on the lookout for signs of bullying or isolation.

The difficulties in managing or reporting challenges

Reporting challenges is a particular issue as schools and parents often need to advocate for SEND children, explaining and supporting the child's specific needs. 

It can often be difficult for SEND professionals to identify risks of harm and for the young person to receive timely support. SEND professionals need to be sensitive, understanding and aware of changes in behaviour to identify, manage and report challenges.

Changes in behaviour are a key indicator of a safeguarding need and should be considered and questioned before action is taken.

If there is a safeguarding problem or cause for concern, it can be difficult to report any challenges especially if there are barriers in communication or emotional intelligence.

Working with parents and families

SEND educators work closely with parents and families to determine how to best meet the needs of children with SEND. Building positive, cooperative and trusting partnerships with parents and Teachers, can ensure safeguarding measures are met.

Often SEND professionals will be expected to communicate with parents and families in a bid to best protect the needs and welfare of children with SEND. Parents are key to informing decisions to instate more formal support such as Education, Health and Care Plans.

Empowering families to participate in decisions and services that affect the child can foster a better relationship that focuses on establishing positive routines and monitoring progress. However, SEND educators and professionals need to remember there is a risk of disguised compliance and to be able to make judgements concerning aspects of parenting.

Family members' descriptions of children’s behaviour can lead to safeguarding concerns and judgements about parenting, which is why working closely with families can provide crucial details and information about the child’s safety and learning development.

Identifying neglect and abuse

A survey from the children's charity NSPCC, found that in 2023, 87% of Teachers reported an increase in the number of neglect referrals. Safeguarding pupils from neglect and abuse is one of a Teacher’s responsibilities to prevent harm to children’s health or development.

SEND educators need to be able to spot the signs of neglect or abuse which can be increasingly difficult to identify in children with SEND. Professionals are required to see beyond the child’s special educational needs or disability to understand and evaluate the challenges and risks they are experiencing.

Just because a child has regular outbursts and regularly injures themself, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have injuries obtained by someone else.

Injury and changes in behaviour and mood are key indicators of abuse, however these can often be dismissed or disregarded to be a result of the child's SEN or disability. There can be lots of indicators of neglect and abuse including self-harm, frequent unexplained injuries or a sudden withdrawal from others.

Discover your next SEND job

If you’re searching for your next job in special educational needs, why not get in touch with our award winning Divisional Manager, Richard Shorrock, to find the best temporary, interim and permanent local authority SEND jobs on the market now.  

Alternatively, upload your CV  to receive notifications when relevant job opportunities become available. 

If you found this blog useful, why not head over to our SEND Career Hub where you will find insightful content like this…  

Local authority SEND recruitment services

As leaders within education and SEND recruitment, we understand how challenging and complex the market is at the moment. We work closely with hundreds of councils to supply them with experienced SEND specialists to ‘plug the gaps’ and overcome the challenges which they are facing. 

We specialise in placing senior appointments and difficult to fill roles and we have placed candidates in 75% of local authorities throughout the UK. Searching for diverse and experienced talent to join your local authority? Why not give Richard a call on 01772 954200 to discover how we can help you and cater to your specific needs. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

As an award winning recruitment agency, our commitment to revolutionising the recruitment industry has been an integral part of our success.

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