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Six principles of safeguarding in schools

Posted by Karen Foster on Saturday, 6 April 2019
Karen Foster
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What are the six principles? What is the legislation that underpins them? Why is it important for everyone to know about them?

The six principles of safeguarding originate from The Care Act 2014, which was instigated in order to set out the responsibilities of carers when caring for others.

The Care Act 2014 is aimed primarily at caring for adults at risk, however, the key areas covered within the six principles highlight fundamental safeguarding duties and responsibilities that apply to everyone; and reminds us all how and why safeguarding is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

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The Paramountcy Principle within The Children Act 1989 reminds all that ‘the welfare and protection of the child must always come first.’

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 makes it explicitly clear that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children includes preventing them from experiencing harm, enabling them to be healthy, and meet their developmental milestones.

"Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment."

The 6 Principles of Safeguarding as defined by The Care Act 2014 are:

• Accountability

• Empowerment

• Partnership

• Prevention

• Proportionality

• Protection

These principles outline every person’s rights to live free from harm or abuse and are the basis of all good safeguarding practice.


Being clear about your responsibilities to safeguard those deemed as being ‘at risk’, and transparent in your actions so that the person who has made the disclosure understands fully the actions you will now have to take ensures that ‘Accountability’ has been met.


It is important that the person deemed as being ‘at risk’ is in control of the situation that is about to take place. Your role as the person dealing with the disclosure is to involve the person in the process of reporting the concern; this allows for ‘Empowerment’.

You need to be familiar with your schools safeguarding reporting and recording procedures; only then will you be able to confidently explain the next steps. When safeguarding children it is important to be aware that informed consent is not required in order for you to share a safeguarding concern.

However, it is good practice to always ask for consent to share. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 makes it clear that:- ‘Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.’

ring of people


Multi-agency working plays an important role in ensuring that the appropriate services and agencies are aware of, and where necessary working with, children and their families who are at risk of harm; therefore allowing for effective ‘Partnership’ working to take place.

It is important to note that when sensitive information is being shared it needs to be done appropriately to ensure that confidentiality is in place at all times. Following the correct reporting procedures, both internally and externally is vital.


Safeguarding is reacting, preventing and helping children, young people and adults to recognise and deal with risk. The ability to do this well requires you to be able to know the signs and indicators of abuse or harm so that you can report any concerns before they escalate. You also need to be able to help the individual recognise that they are at risk of harm, and therefore aid in the ‘Prevention’ of it.

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Once a risk has been identified the way in which it is dealt with needs to be proportionate and appropriate. The ‘Proportionality’ used will depend on the level of risk. If there is an immediate risk of harm to the individual or others then a proportionate response would be to contact the Emergency Services.

If the concern does not require immediate action then the proportionate response would be to follow your schools reporting and recording procedures.


Safeguarding is designed to protect everyone from harm where they might be placed at risk, and ‘Protection’ is vital for those in greatest need of support. Supporting and representing these individuals in the most appropriate way can help to protect them from further harm.


About our Community Expert



Community Expert

As an experienced practitioner Child Protection, Safeguarding and Behaviour are key areas for much of Karen’s expertise and experience. She has been working with children, young people and adults for over 15 years in a multitude of settings which include dance and performing arts companies, local authorities, youth clubs, education and the welfare to work sector.

Karen’s main expertise is in safeguarding and behaviour management and modification strategies, with her most recent role being a national Safeguarding Lead. Karen has also been a school governor for nine years, two of which have been as Vice-Chair.

Karen has also run a behaviour unit (inclusive PRU) within an Academy and worked with the most disaffected students whose behaviour was disruptive who weren’t accessing the curriculum within the mainstream setting. She has and also worked with disaffected young people within a youth club, most of whom were at risk of permanent exclusion and carried out safeguarding audits whilst working for a multi-academy trust.

Topics: Safeguarding


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