The security and safeguarding of children and young people across the education system is one of the most important tasks shared by everybody in the industry. It is obviously also a key statutory requirement, and something that school inspectors look very closely at.
Over the past few years, a handful of local authorities in the UK have been starting to use predictive analytics for children at risk of harm to more effectively target their increasingly limited resources, and there is no reason why schools and trusts can’t go down a similar path to maximise the information they already have to hand and help keep children safe.
These authorities are already grappling with the ethical implications around which data they use, which is why it is incredibly important to have a strong understanding of your data landscape and be completely clear about the legal bases for processing information.
Multi-academy trusts have a wealth of data from across their academies. Between attendance, attainment, behaviour trackers, homework trackers, demographics and lunch information, there is a lot that trusts can learn about students to pick up on patterns that may impact safeguarding earlier than they currently can.
Professionals who work in safeguarding are already very adept at picking up on high risk cases and making good, professional judgements. Data analytics are used to ensure they have the best, most accurate information in front of them to help them make these judgements and ensure that less obvious cases don’t ‘slip through the cracks.’
Local authorities for example, already have ‘triggers’ in place (such as 20 unauthorised absences over a period) as benchmarks for when intervention might be required. There might be nothing else outwardly wrong with the student who is away frequently, but with good analytics, safeguarding experts can then drill down into several different factors that might be contributing to the situation and act accordingly.
For trusts and academies using analytics effectively, earlier interventions will become easier larger problems will become fewer – fire prevention, rather than firefighting.
Once interventions have been put in place, you can use analytics to measure the outcomes and over a period of time, refine your systems so the right child gets the right help at the right time. For staff directly involved in safeguarding, this saves huge amounts of time, boosts their efficiency and most importantly – keeps children even safer.
A note about Safeguarding data and the GDPR
“Fears about sharing information cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at risk of abuse or neglect.” – Information sharing advice from HM Government
There are always (rightful) concerns about sharing data between organisations and agencies under the GDPR, but the government guidance (quoted and linked above) makes it clear that the safety and security of children should always come first, as long as the proper procedures (as outlined in the guidance) are followed.
Find out more about how Groupcall can help you with your data-driven safeguarding strategy.