The last year has been difficult for everyone to navigate, and lockdowns have made it particularly tough for schools. Staff at Jeddah Prep and Grammar School in Saudi Arabia – where schools have been closed since March 2020 – noticed that online learning was having a huge impact on their students, with not only learning being affected but more students reaching out for support with their mental health than ever before.
Headteacher Mark Bedford comments that “The teachers worked tirelessly to give the students the best possible experience virtually.” But even so, mental health and student wellbeing is the most pressing safeguarding and duty of care issue they’re currently facing.
How to support students and keep them safe
When exploring how to support students with mental health and wellbeing, an important area for the school to look at was staff training.
Staff CPD has been listed as a key priority by the Jeddah Prep and Grammar School, and as staff are not all UK trained or have been out of the UK for the last five years, there is a need to provide them with training that is compliant with UK statutory guidance. It has been very difficult to get trainers over to Saudi Arabia, so training has been very costly as staff have had to leave the kingdom.
So Mark and his senior leadership team decided to look at virtual learning options. Tes stood out by reputation and experience – as the school already had a Tes Recruitment Subscription. Tes Safeguarding appealed due to the comprehensive list of courses available and because courses are continually updated in line with the latest UK statutory guidance, such as KCSIE 2020.
How Tes Safeguarding is helping
Staff at Jeddah Prep and Grammar School have now been using Tes Safeguarding for four months with their SLT and have just rolled it out to all staff, with a positive response.
“Staff that have completed the courses are very positive. After completing their first course they are quick to take up a second course.” comments Mark.
Mark and his team have been able to easily assign mandatory training, such as Child Protection Basics for International Schools using the study plans feature, which allows schools to quickly assign courses to all or specific staff. And the 2020 Child Protection Refresher will be completed during Induction September 2021. Mark says:
“These courses will ensure our staff are level 1 trained in safeguarding. Being able to set courses to mandatory, with set deadlines for completion, enables us to easily track how all our staff are doing and evidence any training when needed.”
Staff have also been taking Mental Wellbeing in Children and Young People to get some much needed practical advice on how to support their students which is already being put to good use:
“We have used PSHE and assemblies to support pupils during this time. We have delivered topics on health and wellbeing (including mental health).”
Mark and his team are confident that their staff have access to the right training to provide them with the skills and knowledge to offer the best possible support to their students and ensure they’re 100% compliant: “I am most impressed by the quality and quantity while being in line with current UK and international statutory guidance”, he says.
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