This month marks World Children’s Day. World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare. 20 November is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
At the FIS we take our responsibility with regard to child well-being and safeguarding very seriously. Understanding and applying the best child well-being and safeguarding practices and behaviors are not for teachers and staff alone; nor is it for school leaders alone, nor for trustees or governors alone. A vibrant and effective child safeguarding culture is a community responsibility. Each group of stakeholders must feel confident that all adults in the system are playing a vital role in ensuring a safeguarding culture and having the well-being of children at the center of everything we do. All members of our community are expected to exercise a vigilant duty of care in cases of concern. Our school not only educates our staff in how to react when they hear of or suspect an incident, but we also empower both our students and our staff about their rights and responsibilities with regards to child protection.
Over the last number of years, we have developed specific response procedures and pathways in accordance with the recommendations of the International Task Force on Child Protection, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989), of which Germany is a signatory. As an international school, the FIS is also committed and obligated to meet the German national requirements in developing and implementing our safeguarding policy. All FIS staff, substitute teachers, volunteers and board members undergo child protection training. Many designated members of staff also undergo advanced safeguard training. This extensive training is conducted regularly. This week all staff underwent training on recognizing and responding to child safeguarding issues. Last week training was conducted for all our bus drivers. All training is led by members of our Child Safeguarding Team. There are also instructions provided on safeguarding to all school visitors during sign-in at reception.
The FIS undertakes a rigorous security and vetting process for all our employees. For local staff, this includes an extended security check from the German authorities. For faculty joining the FIS from other posts, this includes an extended police check from all countries of prior residence. It is school policy to actively seek confidential references for all new employees. Police vetting is conducted and renewed every three years for all staff.
There are challenges facing schools when it comes to safeguarding children, but none of these challenges are an excuse for not having a child safeguarding policy and procedures in place. At the FIS, we go beyond German legal requirements. Our safeguarding culture is not simply about having a series of documents on a shelf, it is about having procedures and a culture where they are implemented and practiced.
Head of School