My role as Designated Safeguarding Lead
Ofsted requires that all education providers take their responsibility to safeguard seriously. Here at BMS Progress, we have in place a designated safeguarding lead (myself) and a deputy safeguarding lead (our performance manager, Rochelle Hewitt). But it’s much more than a tick-box exercise to us.
I previously worked in schools, which obviously come with greater safeguarding concerns as you’re dealing with people under the age of 18. Most of our learners now are older, but we still treat safeguarding just as seriously by upskilling our staff.
For instance, we keep them up to date with key topics on the agenda within education. I also make sure that there are the correct policies in place around safeguarding, and that all team members have passed a DBS check.
The role of our coaches
We’ve ensured that our coaches are well trained to support learners, particularly with their mental health – something that’s very prevalent in all ages. They’re able to handle the more sensitive discussions and spot the signs of someone who may need further attention.
Learners’ mental health can be more fragile. After all, they’re not only doing an apprenticeship, but they also have a job to hold down – and they sometimes have families too. Plus, sales roles are naturally quite stressful, and it’s common to suffer setbacks. Being able to strengthen your resilience and self-motivation goes hand in hand with wellbeing – both mental and physical. That’s why we guide learners on how to pick themselves up, as well as talk about and supply resources on topics that open the mind.
As part of this, we make them aware of safeguarding and wellbeing as a priority. We ask questions like ‘how are you?’ and ‘how are things at work?’, which can draw out related conversations. Our development coaches become confidants. It really does go beyond sales training – and that’s further reflected in our focus on personal development during our courses.
Our emphasis on personal development
The support of the development coach comes under the umbrella term of ‘personal development’. Previously, commercial training would focus on development in terms of things like negotiation skills. But over the last three years, we’ve introduced safeguarding and opened up these conversations.
We don’t technically have to have these conversations with learners, but I do feel they’re beneficial. And whilst they’re not the main focus of the sessions with their development coach, it'll be a discussion point where we’ll encourage the learner to bring something to the meeting. It’s up to them whether they do or not.Ultimately, every learner, even if they’re still young, has had previous experiences – whether that’s in other workplaces or maybe an education setting. They come to us with a desire to complete a sales training programme, and in the process, we try to enhance their personal development. This can be through discussions, as well as encouraging them to become active citizens and working in ways that are inclusive. We can’t judge if they don’t follow through on these, but at least we’ve given them access to the resources and conversations to do so.
What we’re doing this safeguarding awareness month
We have a safeguarding awareness month every September to ensure it’s prioritised. This involves bringing topics to the surface by talking about safeguarding at every interaction. Key subjects are mental health and wellbeing, sexual consent, and bullying and harassment in the workplace. Some of these are easier for learners to relate to, and others we’re just bringing to their attention.
Something we didn’t expect to be talking about this September is grieving for someone you didn’t know. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve tried to provide advice that we hope is helpful to those affected. We also have various eLearning modules as part of our emphasis on safeguarding, like ‘the importance of sleep’. We don’t force learners to complete these – we just recommend them if we feel a particular topic would be useful. They provide small nuggets of information, and learners can take what they need from it.
Focus on safeguarding with BMS Progress
We truly believe that safeguarding should be a topic of discussion for every employer and learner.
If you’d like to find out more about our safeguarding awareness month, or how it forms part of our training, speak to our team today.