Safeguarding students is the responsibility of every member of staff in a school, but PE teachers are often in unique situations which often require extra consideration. In this blog, we look at some of the ways we can provide pupils with a safe space to engage in sport and physical activity in our lessons.
“Sport should be a positive and safe experience, regardless of age and ability. It should not involve conduct or practices that cause emotional or sexual harm. It should not cause physical harm beyond unavoidable hazards. Keeping participants safe requires everyone engaging in sport to maintain appropriate standards of behaviour.”
Ensure safeguarding in changing rooms
The most obvious place where you need to ensure safeguarding protocols are met is in the changing rooms. Overseeing pupils changing can be awkward for both you and them, but is necessary to ensure that the both behaviour levels and safety levels are high.
Make sure you are visible and can see as many pupils as possible, but keep yourself busy so that the students don’t feel uncomfortable – sort bibs, hand out hair bobbles and tape, and take the register.
Continue to be alert for any issues that may arise, especially regarding any verbal abuse or comments that may be made to pupils by their peers. Having a seating plan in your changing space may help to regulate behaviour issues at this time. Have a look at our previous blog to see more of our tips to help your changing room routines improve!
As a pupil is changing, you may notice bruising, cuts or some unusual marks or injuries on their body, or you might notice that a child is reluctant to change in front of their peers. It is your decision as to whether to speak to this child privately or whether to ask a member of the safeguarding team to speak to them on, but either way you should always flag these injuries with your designated safeguarding lead (DSL).
There are other safeguarding concerns that you may notice as your class are changing. Any pupils who are very dirty, have a strong odour or have poor quality underwear/clothing may need extra support, and again it is something which should be raised with your DSL.
Remember – never, ever allow yourself to be in a situation where you are alone with a pupil, especially in the changing rooms.
Remain vigilant during lessons
PE teachers also need to ensure that pupils are safeguarded from each other during lessons. In a large or outdoors area, it might not be possible for you to hear and see everything that is going on all the time, but peer-on-peer abuse, including physical and verbal abuse, may take place in PE lessons.
To help negate this issue, ensure that pupils are working in groups that they are comfortable in, and position yourself so that you can see as many of the pupils as possible all of the time. Work around the whole group to ensure that you are visible, and address any issues which are reported to you immediately.
Ensure that everyone in your class knows what is considered acceptable conduct and behaviour in PE lessons, and what is not acceptable.
A PE teacher have a deep awareness and understanding of safeguarding procedures is imperative to the safety and wellbeing of pupils, and it is vital that all staff members understand the different types of abuse that may occur in PE lessons.