Helping teachers keep children safe – during lockdown and beyond Justin Reilly, CEO, Impero

Without a robust, accessible safeguarding system, teachers are unable to track concerns about abuse, bullying, mental health, radicalisation and a host of other issues, and red flags can go overlooked. News reports show online abuse has increased during the lockdown, while child protection referrals have plummeted.  
Teachers are fully aware of this problem. During the lockdown, according to a study we conducted, 40 percent of teachers listed safeguarding as their number one concern, beating out education at 30 percent.

Moving to smarter safeguarding
As schools closed, it quickly became clear that safeguarding systems that are relegated to offline spreadsheets or filing-cabinets are no longer an option. At Impero, we brought forward the launch of our cloud-based safeguarding software, Impero Back:drop, and made it available completely free of charge in perpetuity. While paid safeguarding software is available, we wanted to make our technology available to as many schools as possible.
The software can be set up within half an hour and provides a fast, secure and easy way for teachers to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities from wherever they are, on any internet-connected device. No child should ever be allowed to suffer because of administrative failings (even in circumstances as unusual as a national lockdown) and we are going to great lengths to make schools aware of our free safeguarding software.
Immediate impacts
We hope that by making our safeguarding software free forever, schools will continue to use it as in-person teaching resumes. In fact, we have already tracked a direct correlation between the number of safeguarding concerns logged in our system as the gradual return to the classroom has begun. In just the first half of June, the number of safeguarding incidents logged was already 70% of the previous month’s total. By the end of June, there were 46% more incidents tracked than the previous month.
It is undoubtedly easier for teachers to spot concerns in person, as Chief Constable Simon Bailey noted at our expert roundtable, and we anticipate a continued increase in concerns logged as schools begin to account for all of the issues that have arisen during the lockdown.
The next school year is going to be different and difficult for everyone to adjust to, and teachers will have to grapple with the continuity of education and safeguarding. Even with plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September, we have to assume that some parents will hold kids at home for fear of infection. That’s why schools must adopt flexible, straightforward technology to help them manage the day-to-day of schooling and safeguarding. World-class solutions exist for schools to use to make sure that education and safeguarding can happen together in harmony – here’s hoping that they all adopt them in time.