Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Here at The Open University (OU) during the 2020-2021 academic year we supported nearly 1000 students during their studies who needed support. We also processed over 400 reference requests for students who had completed their degrees with the OU and wanted to move into areas of work such as teaching, or social work.
At the OU we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of vigilance among our staff and students to recognise, respond, record and report safeguarding concerns and provide a proportionate response. We aim to adopt the highest possible standards and take all reasonable steps in relation to the safety and welfare of children, young people, and adults in a vulnerable situation.
Deborah Peat, Assistant Director of Academic Services, stresses that:
“Safeguarding concerns passed to the Safeguarding Referrals Team by OU staff or students may be that final piece of the jigsaw needed by external agencies to triangulate with insight from other professionals to keep a child or vulnerable adult safe from harm.”
What is the official definition of safeguarding?
The Open university applies the following definition, ensuring that adults at risk or protected adults are protected from harm and abuse:
“The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care”; and undertaking that role so as to enable children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.’’ (ref Working Together, 2006)
How do I handle a safeguarding concern?
If you receive a concerning disclosure, here are some initial top tips for supporting the individual:
- Allow the individual space to talk. Listen carefully to what you are being told – make notes as appropriate
- Try not to show shock/anger about the information shared, remain calm and show support
- Do not promise confidentiality
- Avoid expressing your own views on the situation
- Reassure the individual they have done the right thing by talking about the issue.
- Do explain you are going to refer the individual to a team who specialises in providing support
Your next step is to report the concern to the OU’s Safeguarding Team.
If you have any concerns about the safety of a child, young person under 18 or an adult at risk, please complete a safeguarding referral via the relevant webform or word document. Referrals should be made to the Safeguarding Team immediately, if not within 24-hours of the disclosure being made or spotted.
The Safeguarding Team are available from Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4:30pm. They can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further resources below
For OU staff and students: OU Safeguarding policy
OU Help Centre: