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Safeguarding children and young people with SEND
The protection of children and young people from harm and the provision of a conducive environment for their growth and development are essential societal values. Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are at an increased risk of being abused compared with children that do not have disabilities.
This article will discuss how to effectively safeguard children with SEND, examining your role in protecting them and introducing ways to ensure the safety and welfare of children with SEND.
Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are children who have disabilities or additional needs. Other terms may be used in an organisation, such as additional needs, additional learning support, and additional learning support for children.
Children with disabilities are more likely to be socially isolated. As a result, they are more likely to be exposed to abuse when they depend on parents and carers for practical assistance, including intimate personal care.
Due to their communication needs, it may be difficult to tell others what happened. They are also particularly susceptible to abuse because of their additional dependency on residential and hospital staff for daily physical care needs.
People who work with children and young people with SEND should be aware of the additional needs that children may have, which may make them more vulnerable to abuse or less able to speak out when something is not right.
Safeguarding legislation and guidance
It is important to note that each UK nation has legislation and guidance supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Despite the differences in terms used in different countries, the principles of safeguarding and protecting children and young people with additional needs and disabilities are generally the same.
See below the key safeguarding legislation and guidance in each UK nation.
|UK nation||Key safeguarding legislation|
|England||• A child or young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is covered by Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.|
• A child or young person aged 0-25 with a learning difficulty or disability requires special educational provisions and is considered to have special educational needs.
|Northern Ireland||• Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 are the key laws for children with special educational needs and disabilities.|
• A child with special educational needs is defined in this legislation as a child under 19 with a learning difficulty or disability that requires special educational assistance.
|Scotland||• The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 provides for children and young people with additional support needs.|
• Those of school age or younger who require additional support to benefit from school education have ASN.
|Wales||• The Welsh Government passed the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act in 2018.|
• Under this Act, children with learning difficulties or disabilities require additional learning opportunities.
Child protection policy and procedures
In the UK, every school should have a safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures that describe how they will ensure the safety of children. To ensure that all children receive the support they need, schools need to be aware of the additional vulnerabilities of some children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Your school's safeguarding and child protection procedures should also specify how those responsible for supporting students with SEND will work with the nominated child protection lead if concerns arise.
Safeguarding and child protection in schools are outlined in the UK's statutory guidance.
How do you safeguard children with SEND?
Raising awareness of special education needs and developing clear policies and procedures that everyone understands can prevent abuse and neglect. To build a child's self-esteem, you must get to know and communicate with them. As a result, we can show them there is someone they can trust and give them the confidence to tell someone if they feel uncomfortable.
You need to identify safeguarding concerns better when working with children and young people, spot the signs of abuse and avoid mistaking the indicators of abuse as signs of a child or young person’s disability.
A safeguarding children and young people with SEND e-learning course will assist you in identifying safeguarding concerns, communicating effectively with children and young people to ensure their safety, and fostering a safe environment for students and staff.
It is more challenging to safeguard children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Child protection policies should reflect that additional barriers exist when identifying abuse and neglect in this group of children.
All professionals working with children and young people are responsible for safeguarding them from abuse and neglect, including those working in education settings.
To address these additional challenges, schools and colleges need to consider providing extra support for children with special needs and disabilities and training and resources for those who work with children and young people.
Click here to see online courses and resources to help you and your organisation safeguard children and young people with SEND.
About the Mandatory Training Group
The Mandatory Training Group is one of the leading UK providers of CPDUK-accredited statutory and mandatory training, continuing professional development (CPD) courses, eLearning software and workforce development solutions for all sectors.
By making things simple and designing interactive e-learning content, we can provide meaningful training programs at all levels and enhance the capacity and resilience of individuals and organisations.
Click here to see our wide range of accredited safeguarding children courses and training programmes.
References and resources
NSPCC Learning (2023) - Safeguarding children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
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