Safeguarding training in St Albans

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

 Safeguarding training @ St Albans, January 2020


On a cold, wet and windy evening there is nothing better than sitting on primary school chairs exploring the safeguarding role of Woodcraft Folk adults!


Debs McCahon, Woodcraft Folk’s Lead Safeguarding Officer, facilitated a jam packed session looking at:


  • Clarify the definition of safeguarding
  • Explore the safeguarding role of adults within a Woodcraft Folk setting
  • Confirm what should be included in a risk assessment and Woodcraft Folk’s approach to managing risk
  • Review real-life safeguarding scenarios to support increased understanding and agreed practice
  • Learn how to share child protection and safeguarding concerns


Debs shared the safeguarding pocket guide, which highlights minimum requirements and sources of support.


Members shared their safeguarding questions, which included:



Debs shared a safeguarding definition, as used in the DfE ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidelines which states that safeguarding is about:


  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of a child’s health & development
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes


Debs shared her best drawings of a Woodcraft Folk adults and explored how adults need to take collective responsibility of all young people within the group – not just their own children and not wait for ‘another adult’ to intervene. Debs described how adults should:


  • Use their brains to help plan activities in advance
  • Use their hands to intervene e.g. to stop something dangerous from happening or to help demonstrate an activity
  • Use their ears and listen to young people, giving them space to talk
  • Use their eyes and observe young people e.g. supervising activities, but also observing their interactions with their peers and other adults
  • Use their mouths to talk to young people, to challenge inappropriate behaviour, to call a stop to dangerous conduct and to share concerns
  • Use their hearts to build positive relationships with young people


As a group members went on to match ‘risks’ against the ‘mitigations’, creating a web of protection. For example against the risk of ‘children coming into contact with unsuitable adults’ members matched ‘DBS screening’ and ‘references’. Other risks included:


  • Peer to peer bullying
  • Adult to child bullying
  • Child to adult bullying
  • Allergic reactions
  • Injury
  • Burns
  • Sun burn
  • Medical conditions that require managing
  • Behavioural conditions that require managing
  • Hypothermia
  • Hyperthermia
  • Broken bones and other physical injury
  • Children getting lost/left behind
  • Children feeling excluded or isolated
  • Children’s needs not being met
  • Inappropriate relationships developing between an adult and a child
  • Inappropriate relationships developing between children
  • Introduction to content that is not age appropriate


All Woodcraft Folk venues and activity types are required to be risk assessed. The risk assessment should be shared with all adults volunteering and with participants in an accessible way e.g. a briefing on how to use tools at the beginning of the session with appropriate supervision to add further instruction.


As a group we looked at the importance of risk assessments and what should be included:


  1. Environmental risks such as wires, electrics, water, traffic, rocks, walls, mud (equipment and things around your activity which could cause injury e.g. stacks of chairs, climbing equipment)
  2. Activity risks such as burns, cuts, sprains, walls (equipment or physical contact used in the activity which cause injury e.g. knives, stoves)
  3. Participant risks such as exclusion, inclusion, bullying, biting, additional needs, medical needs, support needs, allergies (risks associated to the needs of or interactions between participants)
  4. Leader risks such as training, support, DBS, references, experience, ratios (risks associated to the needs, experience of or interactions between leaders and participants)
  5. External risks such as members of the public, weather, transport, other room users, dogs (risks associated to issues outside your immediate control but those you need to consider in your planning)


Further risk assessment guidance is available at


In small groups we looked at real-life safeguarding and child protection issues from across the movement. All volunteering teams should regularly review these case studies to increase confidence of adults in responding to child protection or safeguarding issues.


And finally, Debs clarified how to raise concerns:


  1. First instance with a group contact or Group/District Safeguarding Lead
  2. In an emergency with the Police asking to speak to their Child Protection team


24hrs advice and support is always available from the NSPCC for both children and adults through their helplines.


For a full overview of all safeguarding and good practice documents please visit


In conclusion, Debs summed up the responsibilities of adults to:


  1. Develop positive relationships with children, getting to understand them and support their engagement in activities
  2. To challenge or question behaviour, everything from a ‘are you ok?/do you want to talk?’ to ‘stop/that is not acceptable behaviour!’
  3. To share concerns with their group contact or local safeguarding lead