Child Protection: the questions, NOT the answers

TheoGriff
11th May 2013 at 01:00

Safeguarding and Child Protection , the questions, not the answers

 

This is a topic that will come up in every interview for a job that involves children, young people, and vulnerable adults.

 

Whatever post you are going for in a school, understanding of the principles and practices of Safeguarding and Child Protection will be very important.  Not just for the interview, of course, but for a job in a school too, so that you can keep the pupils safe. 

 

A puppy isn’t just for Christmas, a Child Protection Policy isn’t just for an interview.

 

 

The interview panel will ask you at least one question about Safeguarding or Child Protection.

 

The problem, however, is that the words Safeguarding or Child Protection may not actually appear in their question, so you have to be alert for the topic.

 

It is absolutely essential that you are prepared for this, so here are some questions and some pointers, but NOT answers - you must develop these yourself from your own understanding of the issues.

 

In the Jobseekers Group we tend not to give answers.  We don't give model letters, we don't give ideas for lessons, we don't give answers to possible interview questions or anything like that.  It's not because we are mean, we're not, we're very supportive.  It's because you have to get the job on your terms, being you, not being us.

 

And because any ideas we put on here could be seen by other candidates for the same job! How embarrassing if your answer is followed by a question from the Governors: Can you explain why your answer is almost identical to that of the last candidate?  Did you both get your answer from the internet?

 

So the questions, but not the answers. 

 

Do prepare by reading again any Safeguarding and Child Protection policies there are in your school, the school you are applying to work at (look at their website), or failing these two, the policies from any school.  

 

See my article on A typical Child Protection Policy for a typical policy that you can read.

 

Tip: Remember in your answer to mention (a) the Designated Persons (there should normally be two, in case the complaint is made against the colleague who is a Designated Person), and (b) consulting the school’s own policy.

 

The first set of questions are from Devon County Council, but many others will have similar lists of questions

 

Sometimes these questions are impossible to answer apart from: I have never been in that situation, but if I were I would ....  They are designed for wider employment than just as a teacher in schools. They do, however, give you a general feel of what you might need to recognise as a Safeguarding or Child Protection question.

 

Sample Safeguarding Interview Questions: Devon County Council

 

Questions probing knowledge of policy and procedure:

 

What have you done in the last twelve months to improve safeguarding of children in the workplace?

Describe to us the key aspects of the safeguarding policy in your workplace

Give me an example of when you have had a safeguarding concern about a child. What happened?

Tell us about a time when you have had to challenge the views of someone more senior than yourself in relation to safeguarding concerns.  What was the outcome?

 

Questions probing values and ethics:

 

How do you feel when someone holds an opinion that differs from your own? How do you behave in that situation?

What are your attitudes to child protection? How have these developed over time?

What are your feelings about children who make allegations against staff?

Have you ever had concerns about a colleague with regards to his or her behaviour or attitude towards the children in his or her care? How did you deal with this?

 

Questions probing emotional maturity and resilience:

 

Tell us about a person with whom you have had particular difficulty in dealing.  What made it difficult?  How did you manage the situation?

Tell us about a time when you have been working with children and your authority was seriously challenged.  How did you react?  What strategies did you employ to bring things back on course?  With hindsight, how might you have improved your response?

 

Questions probing motivation for working with children:

 

What do you feel are the main reasons that have led you to want to work with children?

What has working with young people/children taught you about yourself?

Not only when asking questions about safeguarding, but throughout the interview process, interviewers should be attuned to answers that are vague or unrealistic.  In particular, interviewers should look out for answers that show no or little understanding or appreciation of children's needs or expectations; that fail to recognise the particular vulnerabilities of children from troubled backgrounds; inappropriate language about children; unclear boundaries with children; and answers that imply adults and children are equal.   It can be particularly difficult for an inexperienced staff member to maintain proper boundaries where the age differential between staff and service user is small, for example, as a worker with young people, or a young NQT working with sixth-formers.  It may be worth designing a question around this issue if it is relevant for your setting

 

Here are some more possible questions from other parts of the country:

 

Tell us about a time when you took action to help protect a child. 

Describe the procedures that need to be in place to protect children. 

How in your work or life so far have you tried to ensure that children are protected?

Give me an example of when you had safeguarding concerns over a child.

Give me an example of where you had to deal with bullying behaviour.

Give me an example of how you have managed poor pupil behaviour.

What do you think makes a school safe and supportive?

 

NOTE to interviewers: when forming your questions, you should consider what kinds of responses you are looking for.  Where candidates are finding it difficult to understand your wording it is helpful if you have prepared an alternative phrase or can expand sufficiently for the candidate to be able to answer.

 

Here are some more possible questions from other parts of the country:

 

Tell us about a time when you took action to help protect a child. 

Describe the procedures that need to be in place to protect children. 

How in your work or life so far have you tried to ensure that children are protected?

Give me an example of when you had safeguarding concerns over a child.

Give me an example of where you had to deal with bullying behaviour.

Give me an example of how you have managed poor pupil behaviour.

What do you think makes a school safe and supportive?

 

NOTE to interviewers: when forming your questions, you should consider what kinds of responses you are looking for.  Where candidates are finding it difficult to understand your wording it is helpful if you have prepared an alternative phrase or can expand sufficiently for the candidate to be able to answer.

 

Here is Doncaster's take on possible questions on CP:

 

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable about a colleague's behaviour towards children in a previous job? What were your concerns, what did you do,and how was the issue resolved?
  • Safeguarding children is an important part of our work. Can you give me same examples of how you would contribute to making the organisation a safer environment for children?
  • Tell me about a time when a child or young person behaved in a way that caused you concern. How did you deal with that? Who else did you involve?
  • Why do you want to work with children? What do you think you have to offer? Give an example of how children have benefited from contact with you.
  • Bullying is often a serious issue that has to be dealt with in all areas of work with children. In your experience what is the best way to deal with it? How did your previous organisation tackle the problem?

 

Stage 3 - Areas of Potential Concern


NOTE to interviewers: During your selection activities you may hear things that would cause you concern and which you would then need to explore further with the candidate.

These may include:

  • Lack or no understanding or appreciation of children's needs or expectations
  • They appear to want the role in order to meet their own needs rather than the needs of children
  • Using inappropriate language when talking about children
  • Vagueness about experiences and/or gaps on the application form or unable to provide examples to support their answers
  • A maverick - unwilling to follow rules, procedures or work with others 

 

Best wishes 

 

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