Train the Trainer

Do you NEED your workforce to #safeguard children?

Safeguarding

Do you NEED your workforce to #safeguard children?

Do you NEED your work force to #safeguard children, to not only to do the bare minimum? To understand that their actions can and do make a difference to the lives of others?

This challenge was put to us a while ago. We were asked to partner a large organisation with a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and a workforce that felt #safeguarding was a distraction from their daily duties.

But the “challenge” could easily have been similar with vulnerable adults, older customers or even customers from different ethnic backgrounds.

The challenge is about hearts and minds, about designing and delivering a course that inspires, motivates and changes behaviour. It is what we do here at PDP and we love it. Check  this out. Can we help your orgaisation move its culture forward?

The Grab

To move hear#safeguardts and minds you need to be inspirational, you need to quickly resonate with the audience and convince them that they can and MUST make a difference. In a previous blog on #safeguarding, workers moral and legal responsibilities were touched on. Here those responsibilities have to be  firmly addressed.

This is where our close consultations with you and your business come to the fore; we will utilise case studies or examples and put them into a national context. Then explore the real issues that face children in the UK in 2014, what that means, and the effect that your workforce can have on improving the lot of children. The impact of this session sets the tone for the rest of the training, firmly placing the responsibility where it should be, with adults that can make a difference. Your work force.

A public sector employee told me this story in 2009.

On official business a team of workers were asked to attend a basement property in London. The accommodation was described as being a cellar, a 1 room flat. In the room was a small galley kitchen, a shower curtain and loo and two beds. The double bed was where the two adults slept, the smaller bed for the three children living there. Now this at the very least describes a poverty issue, but possibly worse.

The workers had a hostile reception, but had to undertake some checks. During the investigation one worker noticed that the carpet has some strange shiny bits on it. On closer inspection there was evidence of rat excrement on the floor, there was a rat run in the room! Additionally there were soiled nappy’s and signs that one of the children hadn’t made it to the lavatory. I said to the employee how awful that must have been, he responded that they see this stuff “all of the time”.  I tried to empathise with him by saying how terrible it must be to work in rat infestation, rat excrement and human waste, to little avail. I asked him what they did.

They completed the work and left the property. I thought he was joking. I asked about the children. He told me that he worked for a particular arm of the public sector NOT Marks and Spencers. I can’t tell you the depth of horror I felt at this, but they needed to be moved forward. So I explained the following with the personal consequences that in-action could cause.

QUESTION: What should you say to this employee to try and demonstrate to him, and everyone else around that his response is inappropriate?  He has clearly missed the point, and needs to know that in 2014 he has a duty to report what he has seen. Even though its not his core job role, his duty to #safeguard children is still duty.

Stage 1

  • YOU KNOW that #SAFEGUARDING is really important, but don’t know how to do it.
  • EXAMPLE: Your first day in a new job. You have passed the interview you know that you are qualified, keen and ready to do the job. but you haven’t a clue of what to do! You are highly aware that you don’t know enough. You can’t really be left alone

Its called – Conscious Incompetence

Stage 2

  • #SAFEGUARDING is at the front of your mind and you are always aware of children at work.
  • EXAMPLE: In almost every job someone will take you under their wing and show you the ropes, make sure that you are safe to do the job before they release you into the wild. At this stage everything is done by the book, every “i “is dotted every “t” is crossed. Your minder, mentor, coach or buddy co-pilots with you.

Its called – Conscious Competence

Stage 3

  • #SAFEGUARDING is a natural thing, you assimilate risk and make quick, but accurate and appropriate decisions
  • EXAMPLE: After a while you become really proficient at your job, you have seen loads of examples of good and poor outcomes, you can see pitfalls and avoid them, so don’t need to use all of your brain power to complete tasks because you are becoming the expert.

 Its called –Unconscious Competence

Stage 4

  • This is where colleagues get dulled by what they see.  When things are seen frequently they become NORMAL when they are not. #SAFGUARDING ceases to happen because your focus is on other things that seem to be really important at the expense of all else
  • EXAMPLE: When people have been doing a job for a while, they can become resistant to change, take the eye off the ball, operate without much thought to things that should be important. This is like picking up your phone whilst driving, people do it but they shouldn’t.

Its called – Unconscious Incompetence

And this stuff gets business’ a bad name, employees the sack and tragically more children become statistics because someone that should have done better didn’t!

Don’t allow your teams to be unconsciously incompetent.  Let us help you to design and deliver meaningful programmes that have an impact and make a difference to your business, colleagues job security and #Safeguarding #Children. Lets get the right things right.

Contact Richard or Paula to let them help out on 08712 349 873

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Follow Paula on Twitter or Richard on Twitter

Richard@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

Paula@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

Reading an article regarding increasing parental involvement made me reflect on the value of setting up and running a successful parent’s support group, as early in the school year as possible.   As staff,  you will quickly become aware of those children who are engaging in  negative behaviours, and will begin trying to change that behaviour through rewards and sanctions, as well as talking 5 steps to running a successful parent's support groupto their parents about your concerns and trying to get them on board.

Some children are new to school life and are struggling to adapt to the formal nature of the setting and cry each time they are left or have regular tantrums throughout their time with you.  Some parents themselves are finding it difficult to leave their little ones,  cry at handover time, and are difficult to get out of the classroom.    I can look back on memories of cajoling parents into leaving their children, then moving onto guiding them to the classroom door, then physically shutting the door, whilst they yell around the frame “remember mummy loves you….the teacher will call me if you need me……I might just wait in the office for half an hour to check that they settle”.  These parents can be their child’s very reason for not settling!

Other children are familiar with school and the routines and are flexing their muscles.  Still others,  may have regularly displayed episodes of choosing to engage in negative behaviour, whilst some may have  an undiagnosed condition such as ADHD or Aspergers or other aspects of the autistic spectrum.

 

How do you engage parents in discussing their child’s inappropriate behaviour?

successful parent's support group

This is a tricky one, as often the parents you want to speak to are the very ones who ignore you!  More often than not, their own experiences of being at school are extremely negative and they want to avoid being in the building, meeting a teacher and discussing school work at all costs.  Their own academic skills may be poor and so they don’t want to show themselves up by displaying their lack of knowledge.  Add to this already long list of why these parents don’t want to engage with school, the fact that you are complaining about their child’s behaviour, and you can understand why they might blow up at your suggestion that they try that bit harder to help the school!

I have a background in SEN, especially focusing on social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and worked both in schools and as part of a local authority behaviour support team. We spent many hours looking at the best ways to work with parents, ranging from formal meetings at school and the accompanying paperwork tying them into trying things at home, which inevitably failed, to having a cup of tea with them in a place they felt comfortable and discussing how to move forward together.  This took time and steps were slow, as we were working on a 1:1 basis.  I found one of the best ways was forming a support group with parents.  I deliberately use the term with, rather than for parents, as they have to feel both parties are on the same side, in order for real changes to be made.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parent’s support group

STEP 1 – Choose carefully the mix of parents who will be in the group.

Will you ‘invite’ parents to join the group, or will they choose to sign up with no suggestion from the school?

From my experience, you will find a number of parents willing to come to a parent’s support group, but will they be the right ones?  The ones who avoid coming to school, don’t return letters etc, will not put their names forward for this.

I’ve tended to ‘invite’ personally those who I want to attend and also mention it to those parents who appear anxious about their children or keen to help, but I have no real concerns over.  This mix ensures that I would not be talking at a group of parents, but that some would ask and answer questions as well. This reinforced the idea that we were actively seeking parental expertise to help change their children’s behaviour.  Also it doesn’t look like a “failing parents group”, as one mum suggested I was asking her to attend.

 

STEP 2 – Think carefully about the time of day, length and purpose of tsuccessful parent's support grouphe sessions.

These things can make or break a successful parent’s support group.  Parents will always come up with a reason to not attend boring school stuff, that they think has no relevance to them, and also where they will be told that they aren’t parenting their kids right.

The groups I’ve been involved with, trialled times and dates, and found that generally running the session straight after drop off or before pick up were the best times.  We also choose a day towards the end of the week, as often behaviour was getting worse at home as well as at school, and parents were more receptive to behaviour management ideas that they might try out of pure desperation!

The first session was only 30 minutes long, as we wanted it to be as painless as possible, and parents to feel pleasantly surprised when it appeared to be over quickly.  The next session was 45 minutes and then the others were 60 minutes long.  We tended to run them for half a term, and so recruitment began the half term before, in order to get maximum numbers attending the sessions.

 

STEP 3 – What’s in it for them?

A creche facility was offered for siblings, which initially  was in the same room as our parent’s support group.  This was for two reasons, firstly, to alleviate parental anxiety over what the younger ones were up to and who was looking after them.  We needed to build up trust.  Secondly, it was free childcare and gave them a break!  Thirdly, it meant if parents found the format to imposing, they could pretend to play/oversee their children, whilst still be in the room listening and hopefully contributing.  Fourthly, parents couldn’t cancel, because they had no one to look after their child.

We ensured we offered refreshments for both parents and the toddlers, including cakes for the parents rather than biscuits, as they  thought this was a treat.

Lastly, we arranged for their school based children to be brought to the meeting room, as then our support group sessions didn’t have tparent group wordso be cut short, with parents slowly drifting out.  This strategy also allowed parents to talk to one another after the more formal input and us to have ‘light touch’ 1:1’s with certain parents.

 

STEP 4 – Choose staff whom the parents like and respect and provide the necessary time for them to fulfil this role properly

My role  with schools was devising the programme for the parent support group project and then acting as the facilitator for each session with a member of school staff.  Choose carefully who that person will be.  The parents have to know this person and have some form of respect or positive opinion about them to start with, as well as feel they are quite high up the school pecking order.  The choices have often been the SENCO or Deputy Head.  These people have been released from some of their duties to allow them to focus on these children, including meeting parents informally throughout the week and checking on the progress of the children in the classroom/playground.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

STEP 5 – Gaining trust and building relationships

This is key if you want to work more intimately with parents.  This can be an uphill battle, due to the feelings parents may have about their own school experiences.  How do school staff begin to break down those barriers and build relationships with parents?  The success of your parent’s support group will depend on this.

In our first session,  we stuck to the 30 minute time slot and  asked parents for their experiences of school.  We ensured we had quotes from other parents that we could use, to demonstrate we  understood and had listened to and more importantly ‘heard’ how some parents may feel negatively about their school experiences.

Once we started, the parents offered their stories and we had a great deal of laughter and also some shocked gasps.  There was emotion in the room, but not highly charged, so it was easy to handle, if you were a skilled teacher or facilitator.  For parents to share these emotions, they must have that key member of staff who they know and reasonably like, as obviously I was new to them.

We kept the session light hearted and asked them for tips on how they managed their children’s behaviour at home. We validated each idea, as far as we could, and then translated it into what we could and couldn’t do at school, both through choice and legally!

We kept it as a discussion forum, then offered 1:1 sessions afterwards if parents wanted to discuss their individual child. Inevitably, it’s the nervous parents who come to see you, rather than the ones you needed to.  However, it meant there were always willing voices to share what strategies they had tried out during the next week.  This allowed us to become facilitators for only part of the session, rather than throughout, and the group began to talk to each other outside of the sessions and share ideas.

successful parent's support group

Each session we focused on a key behaviour issue, rather than a child and asked parents to comment if their child displayed that behaviour, which they inevitably did, and we could then add what we were seeing in school and strategies we used.  We  would explain how we wanted the parents to support us with changing the behaviour. Gradually parents moved from saying their child wasn’t a problem at home, to admitting they were, and often the behaviours were more extreme.  This led to some pro-active joint problem solving between home and the school.

 

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

 Contact Paula at PDP to  plan a successful parent’s support group.

Behavioural contracting, the way forward.

Behavioural ContractingBehavioural contracting, the way forward

Have you ever been on a training course where someone has an axe to grind from moment one, and does it all the way through the course? Then behavioural contracting is the way forward  for you!

Why is behavioural contracting the way forward?

The purpose of a behavioural contract is to allow people the freedom to behave, in positive ways, so that they get the most from an event. Many of my colleagues view this as some kind of chore that has to be achieved, in the same way you would give out health and safety briefings.

I felt like this until about three years ago. On a day that I didn’t bother doing one!

Picture the scene.

A law enforcement organisation, middle and senior managers all of whom had been told to attend the session, but were there because of the “fear” of non-attendance, rather than the outside chance that they might learn something.

A particularly vocal individual suggested we get on with things, instead of going through the usual “crap”. So naively I did. The outcome, bickering, back biting and general anarchy.

It took me back to my earliest teacher training days when as a first year PE teacher I asked someone to throw me a basketball and a dozen 14 year old boys all threw the ball at me! NEVER AGAIN!

behavioural contracting

So I had to really lay the law down with the law enforcers and had a battle of a day, but rescued it.

So the learning?

Having been in a really difficult situation, I didn’t lose the group, but it was darn close. I vowed NEVER to be there again. I now take behavioural contracting, as the way forward really seriously. Every event that we do will include some aspect of the expected behaviours from delegates.

A typical outcome is shown here Behavioural contracting, the way forward the detail of the contract will vary from group to group, but the principle of having an influence over the behaviours of the group is critical. It enables anyone, from junior to senior colleagues to say ” hang on, we agreed we would listen, I don’t feel I am being listened to…” Powerful stuff.

So when someone starts the axe grinding what options are available? Obviously there are several, the most powerful one is where another delegate suggests that the behaviour is outside our agreement. This always leads to a brilliant discussion around acceptable behaviours, power and the greater good.

Occasionally when the transgressor is more senior it allows me to intervene without causing embarrassment.

SUMO

No, not the big Japanese chaps. Sum Up and Move On. This methodology enables us to stay on track, to not go around the houses or down any pointless rabbit holes. In the agreement there is a tacit mention of this and when we might need it.

NOT using SUMO is like being in an endless “any other business” part of a meeting. Futile and demoralising.

Moving out of the classroom

Behavioural contracting, the way forward.  Many of my clients believe so, they have taken the principles out of the classroom and gone back to work t on team driven behavioural contracting.

How powerful would your workplace be if people really felt they could contribute without fear. What would that do to your levels of innovation?

PDP are here to help you get it right.  Contact us for advice.