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Why Child Protection and Safeguarding was our first priority at RJS

Schools live or die on their culture, its the unwritten rules which govern how the place operates.

Culture is what happens in the staff room when the boss isn’t listening, it's the chats between parents as they cheer on the school team and most importantly, it's how children behave when they are on their own.

For school leaders who try and convince themselves that culture starts with policies and ends with a snappy inset will be sorely mistaken.  The evidence emerging from the #everyonesinvited movement shows just how wrong that thinking is.  Instead, culture is not what’s said, it’s the nod and a wink, the knowing look. 

I have just finished the excellent three part documentary on BBC regarding historic football child abuse.  The institutional failings at every level allowed a culture in the game to develop where at best, people turned a blind eye. At worst they were complicit.

But what has this to do with our new school in Uganda?  Culture is established early in an organisation’s history and reinforced along the way.  As we start on the journey to build a new Junior School, we have taken the decision to prioritise Child Protection and Safeguarding,  in order to develop a culture of openness and transparency and to make it very clear from the outset that as leaders in the new school we have a duty of care for all children in our care.

Nothing is fail safe and I’m not so naïve to assume things will be ok just by willing them to be, but through a dialogue of shared beliefs and a willingness to call out illegal behaviours we should set the right tone for staff and parents from the outset.