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Safeguarding Interview Questions

Safeguarding Interview Questions

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If you’re looking for a role in the education industry or want to work with children in general, it’s inevitable that you’ll be asked some safeguarding questions in your interview.

In this article, we’re going to explain what safeguarding is, what you should expect from safeguarding questions and provide some examples of safeguarding interview questions with sample answers for each.

We will end with some tips for preparing for and answering safeguarding interview questions.

What Is Safeguarding?

An adult working in the education sector has a legal duty to keep the children at the education facility safe from harm. There is no single person who takes on this responsibility in a school.

Those with this duty include:

  • Teaching assistants
  • Teachers
  • Headteachers
  • Designated safeguarding leads
  • Lunchtime staff

However, anyone working with children, either in a paid or voluntary position, also has this duty.

Children may share their worries, problems or concerns with any of these people. So, if you’re in one of these roles, it’s important that you know how to identify a safeguarding issue and what to do with this information.

Safeguarding issues can be difficult to identify. You’ll need to be aware of a child mentioning or showing any worrying signs related to any of the following:

  • Neglect
  • Bullying
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Grooming
  • Radicalization
  • Allegations against staff
  • Self-harm
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Forced marriage

This list does not cover every safeguarding issue you’ll possibly come across. Your duty doesn’t just cover keeping the children safe while they’re in school; it extends to out of school, extra-curricular activities or at home.

If you notice a difference in a child’s behavior or appearance, it could be a sign they may be in danger, and you have a duty to report it. Each school or facility will have its own process in place to deal with safeguarding issues, so make sure that you’re aware of this when you start a new role.

What to Expect With Safeguarding Questions

Interviews give employers an insight into an applicant’s motivations, values and attitude. Interview questions help employers decide if an applicant’s face-to-face answers align with their application documents and whether they are a good match for the role.

Safeguarding questions in interviews are essential for employers to see the applicant’s reaction to dealing with these sensitive issues. They ask safeguarding questions to gain an understanding of how you will deal with a difficult situation relating to a child’s wellbeing and whether you have the right attitude to do so.

Safeguarding questions will inevitably be included in your teaching interview, so it’s crucial that you are prepared for these. Showing confidence when answering safeguarding questions is very important, as you don’t want to show that you are uncomfortable in any way when having to deal with a difficult situation.

Employers will probably ask you competency-based questions to gain an understanding of how you have dealt with a situation in the past, or how you will deal with it in the future.

A good question will be open-ended to give you the opportunity to give as much detail as possible.

Top Safeguarding Interview Questions and Answers

1. How are teachers responsible for keeping children safe?

This question is designed to demonstrate your knowledge regarding the teacher’s responsibility for children’s wellbeing both in and out of school.

Ensure you include in your answer that you are not only looking out for the children’s safety in school but that this duty extends to outside of school.

Teachers have a duty to keep children safe from harm, both in and out of school. Teachers must be able to recognize signs of distress in a child and report it to the relevant authority.

2. Why do you want to work with children?

This question shows your motivation to your potential employer.

It’s important to be honest here, as employers will have heard every generic answer. You want to get quite personal to show your passion and motivation, but not too much.

When I was at school, I had little excitement for learning. I found the classes boring and I felt the classes were designed for students who had one particular learning style.

Once I developed my own learning style, I realized that there were many ways to make learning fun and interesting for everyone. I wanted to become a teacher to show children that learning can be fun, and to include students with different learning styles into my lessons so that no one feels left out.

3. What is your attitude to child protection and safeguarding?

This question shows the employer your approach and how you will deal with safeguarding issues. It’s crucial to show that you are comfortable dealing with sensitive issues.

You should try to demonstrate that you will remain professional and have control over your emotions while being empathetic.

I believe it’s important to be open to every child’s concerns, to always put their needs first, and to take their concerns seriously. I believe you should approach safeguarding issues with a balanced view of right and wrong.

4. How can you personally support the school/council’s safeguarding agenda?

Here, you should show how your personal attributes will contribute to the school’s safeguarding policies. You could discuss previous ways in which you have done so to demonstrate this.

I have always maintained a strong relationship with the children I have worked with. I believe creating relationships based on respect and trust is essential.

For me personally, it's important to remain vigilant at all times, to be sensitive to changes in student behavior, and to always take any sign of a child being in danger seriously. I have always and will always do this.

5. Tell me how you dealt with a safeguarding issue? OR Tell me about a time you took action to protect a child?

This question gives the employer an indication of your hands-on abilities when dealing with safeguarding issues. You should remember that this doesn’t have to be a time when you formally dealt with a safeguarding issue.

Employers aren’t expecting you to have dealt with anything too serious, especially if you’re not very experienced. But there will be a time where you have used your ability to spot a child in difficulty and stepped in to help.

Also, keep in mind that employers aren’t looking for the exact details and are not expecting you to provide a child’s personal information, only to discuss what your actions were in the matter and to remain confidential.

While I was working in my first school, I noticed a child, who was normally very chatty and would normally take part in class, suddenly became withdrawn and quiet. I recognized this as a possible sign that the child was experiencing a form of harm.

Following the school’s protocol, I brought this to the headteacher’s attention, who then spoke to the child’s parents. Luckily, the child returned to their normal self in a short time.

Safeguarding Interview Questions
Safeguarding Interview Questions

6. What would you do if a child’s behavior concerned you?

This question is designed to show that you understand the importance of stepping in if you feel that there may be a safeguarding issue and that you would know what actions to take.

Try to draw on a real experience to demonstrate that you would be confident in dealing with such a situation. Again, you should not give any personal information about the child in question.

In my previous school, I noticed that a young child who was normally very polite and respectful to staff and other children began to show signs of aggression and would use foul language towards their peers. This was very out of character for them.

I brought it to the attention of the school safeguarding lead, as per the school’s system.

7. How would you respond to allegations made against a staff member?

This is a very difficult question. The employer is looking for evidence that you would always take allegations seriously, regardless of who the staff member is and your own personal feeling in the matter.

They want to know that you would handle the complaint professionally and take it to the relevant authority. Again, you could draw on your experience here, but try to keep emotions out of your answer.

All allegations made by a child should be treated seriously and should always be investigated thoroughly. In this instance, I would report the allegation to the relevant staff member or body who would deal with it.

8. How would you deal with bullying in school?

You will no doubt come across some form of bullying within a school in your role as a teacher. It’s essential that you know how to deal with this and can show this in an interview.

The employer is looking for evidence that you are able to identify bullying and that you know how to deal with it. Different schools or facilities will have their own way of dealing with bullying so you should show that you are aware of this.

If I noticed bullying happening in the school, I would deal with the issue by remaining sensitive to the child’s feelings. I would take the necessary steps to make sure the child feels comfortable and investigate the issue thoroughly, in line with the processes that are in place within the school. I would raise the issue with my superior and arrange a conversation with the respective children’s parents if necessary.

Tips for Answering Safeguarding Interview Questions

There’s a lot of information that employers are looking for in safeguarding interview answers from potential employees. It may seem a little overwhelming at first; however, practice makes perfect, and as always, preparation is key.

Step 1. Read the School’s Safeguarding Policy

Each school will have its own safeguarding policy, and it is likely to be available online. If not, you could probably request it from the school’s office. It’s helpful to read this before attending your interview to give you the best chance of understanding how the school strives to deal with safeguarding issues.

Step 2. Provide Example Situations

Come up with a few examples of situations where you have followed training and policies on safeguarding issues. It’s much easier to come up with these in advance rather than thinking of them on the spot. Examples are essential to demonstrate that you have the ability to follow the correct procedures.

Step 3. Be Honest

If you are asked about a safeguarding situation you have not experienced, be honest and show an understanding of the correct procedure. Employers don’t expect you to have experienced every single safeguarding situation that could arise. In fact, they probably wouldn’t believe you if you had.

Step 4. Be Mindful of Confidentiality

It’s important when giving your examples that you do not share too much information regarding the child. Employers will also want to know that you understand teacher-student confidentiality, so make sure that you only share what is necessary to answer the question.

Step 5. Use the STAR Method

The STAR method helps you to structure your answers, especially when giving an example of a situation in the past.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Using this technique will ensure that your answers are clear and concise, and that they answer the question at hand.

Final Thoughts

Safeguarding interview questions can be difficult to answer. As a teacher or teaching assistant, it’s likely that you will have to deal with a safeguarding issue at some point in your career.

Prospective employers want to see that you understand all angles of safeguarding, either from previous experience, training or study.

Read a copy of the establishment's safeguarding policy beforehand, practice your interview answers to the questions provided above, and you’ll be ready for whatever safeguarding questions the interviewers give you.

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