A global mission with International School roots
Matt Harris Ed.D. reports how a significant gap in safeguarding training for schools is being filled by an innovative group of international educators.
We are all familiar with the strides made in Child Protection by international schools over the past decade. The volunteer work coordinated by our accrediting agencies, the formation of the International Task Force on Child Protection, the resources developed to aid schools, and the global commitment by the international school community to this cause have been life changing for so many.
And I am proud to be a part of that wave of positive change.
Steep learning curve
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a former senior leader having worked at international schools in Asia. I was working at an international school in Jakarta, Indonesia when two teachers and four support staff were sent to prison on Child Abuse charges. In response to that incident and the emerging volunteer work around Child Protection, my school engaged the services of Chris Gould from 112 Safeguarding to conduct a full Child Protection audit, to improve our Child Protection program, and to train all our staff.
Through Chris’ work, I not only gained the knowledge that comes with Level 3 Child Protection training, but I learned about the complex Child Protection challenges facing international schools. Specifically, Chris and I talked about the need for universal training for staff. Chris is experienced and adept at delivering training to teachers, leaders and parents as they come from culturally homogenous backgrounds, and typically, have a strong understanding of English, but as he admits, finds it challenging to offer training to host national support staff.
Support staff training gap
Support staff in international schools are typically locally hired employees that can have varied competencies in English, varied educational backgrounds, and varied experiences with Child Protection. These employees, as all international educators know, are the life blood of our international schools. They are often employed at the school before the expats arrive and will remain employed after the expats leave. They know the school, the students, and the community better than any expat employee. And they have seen and heard things that few expats realize.
This is why we started ChildSafeguarding.com
Meeting a need
ChildSafeguarding.com is an online Child Protection course built to be universally accessible for support staff in International schools. It works with any learner regardless of educational background or geography. The course is offered in multiple languages.
In building our course, we did what any good international educator would do: we leveraged our strengths, brought on an expert, studied schools, and followed the Design Cycle in our development.
To begin, we came up with the idea to use eLearning to reach every support staff in school, which would eliminate the need for live scheduled training, complex content development, and the challenge of translating materials. Chris, confirming the need for such a course, did us the honor of joining our project as our Child Protection expert. We then began to study schools and training programs. Our conclusion was that a significant majority of schools need what ChildSafeguarding.com offers and that there was no suitable alternative that met the needs of all learners.
Developing the program
So, we set off to build, using the Design Cycle we so cherish in international schools. Having clearly defined the problem, we conducted research into eLearning for support staff and Child Protection. We build a Proof of Concept version of our course content and our platform and then we sent it out to test. Over 35 learners, experts and educators from the Child Protection, accreditation, and international school community gave us detailed feedback. The results were overwhelmingly positive. There was a global need for ChildSafeguarding.com and through this work we hoped we would further the international school impact on Child Protection.
Refining the course
From there, we spent 12 months refining the course to meet all learning needs, to implement an instructional design that emphasized empowerment over compliance, to build an eLearning platform that delivers ease and accessibility, and to translate the course in their mother tongues thereby making support staff understand they are valued and respected in the school’s Child Protection efforts.
When we released ChildSafeguarding.com in late June 2020, the response was astounding. We had interest from hundreds of people in over 30 countries. Our launch webinar, held during the summer holidays after most schools had just finished with remote learning due to COVID19, was well attended and lively. Since then, we have started adding schools and vendors who work with schools onto the platform.
We continue to add languages to open up the learning to as many support staff as possible, with an aim of making the course available to all international schools.
True to our international roots
Of course, ChildSafeguarding.com would not be possible without our roots in international education. International schools have the unique characteristic of being globally minded yet locally focused. With continued support from international schools, we hope to bring Child Protection training to all schools, both globally and locally.
Matt Harris, Ed.D. is Co-Founder and CEO for ChildSafeguarding.com. He is a former international school leader and has worked with schools globally as an Educational Technology consultant.
Please visit http://childsafeguarding.com to learn more.