Safeguarding and Protecting Students First and Foremost
At YCIS Shanghai, the creation and maintenance of a safe, secure, and supportive learning environment and the welfare of all students is of paramount importance to the school community. The school fully recognises its responsibilities regarding child protection and is committed to providing education and support to students, parents, and teachers in all aspects of safeguarding. During the e-Learning period, YCIS Shanghai staff have continued to undertake child protection and safeguarding training and adhere to all established protocols, albeit in a digital setting. YCIS Shanghai Child Protection Officers Ms Lucia Hu and Ms Laura Muir (YCIS Pudong), along with Ms Jana van Zyl and Ms Lauren Rogers (YCIS Puxi), describe the measures in place at the school to maintain these high standards.
Safeguarding and Child Protection Training
At YCIS Shanghai, all teachers and staff, regardless of their role, take an annual in-person child protection training at the start of each academic year – or when they join. This intensive training is followed up throughout the academic year by ongoing child protection online training on the Educare platform, focusing on topics like bullying and peer-to-peer abuse. Staff must complete one online training on a specific topic each semester.
Additional training on the ‘intimate care’ policy and guidelines are also provided for all Early Child Education (ECE) staff and ‘ayis’, and all staff — academic and non-academic — sign an ‘Adult Code of Conduct for Working with Children’. In-person training for all parent volunteers and Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) providers is also offered and any visitor to YCIS Shanghai campuses that works with children needs to sign the ‘Adult Code of Conduct (Community Partners)’ document before they can work with students. Non-academic visitors are requested to sign an acknowledgement of child protection procedures. Finally, all staff receive weekly tips and reminders about the school policy or key concerns that they need to be aware of.
Training During e-Learning
As we look toward transitioning back to learning on campus, Child Protection Officers are working with school leadership and external experts to provide staff, parents, and students with training, advice, and strategies to monitor students’ physical safety and mental well-being. The school is looking at both broad, holistic approaches and individualised support to help students transition back to the routines and expectations of normal school life.
The Importance of Training
As adults whom students trust and confide in, teachers, ‘ayis’, volunteers, and CCA providers all play an important role in students’ lives. It is therefore imperative for them to be trained so that they can pick up any signs or symptoms of abuse, notice when there are changes in a child’s behaviour, and respond appropriately and with sensitivity and care, keeping in mind that the students’ safety is paramount and protected.
Chinese and International Frameworks
In recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the importance of child protection and safeguarding amongst local and international schools in China, and more and more schools are taking this matter seriously. Having developed procedures and guidelines — and reviewing them regularly — over the past 5 years, YCIS Shanghai is ahead of the curve.
The school policy and guidelines are developed from the ‘Minors Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China’ (2012, Article 5) and the ‘Anti-Domestic Violence Law of the People’s Republic of China’ (2015, Articles 14 and 35). Internationally, they are guided by the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (1989), of which China is a signatory.
The school also forms their policy and guidelines by referencing those of top organisations, such as CIS (Council for International schools), ISCA (International School Counselor Association), and ICMEC (International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children) and has a school-wide child protection committee that develops various policies and makes recommendations on this subject to the school board. Some of these policies include the ‘Wellness Education and Life Skills Policy’; the ‘Adult Code of Conduct for Working with Students’; the ‘Adult Code of Conduct for Working with Students (Community Partners)’; the ‘Child Protection Notice for Visitors’; the ‘Peer on Peer Abuse Policy’; the ‘Behaviour Policy’; the ‘Anti-bullying Policy’; the ‘Intimate Care Policy’; the ‘Crisis Management Policy’; and the ‘Self-Harm Policy’, among others.
Benefits of Training for Students and the Wider Community
Ultimately, a trained staff, increased awareness, deeper understanding of child protection, and the potential to intervene early, directly benefit the safety and protection of students. Research shows that teachers have a strong ability to spot concerns around student well-being and that training gives them the right confidence and knowledge to act. Teachers know that they have a responsibility to report any concerns, no matter how small. Child Protection Officers then have the role of carefully and sensitively following the concerns. This gives teachers the possibility to act without feeling they have to carry too much responsibility while protecting everyone and allowing trained experts to look further into the issues. By keeping the school a safe environment and ensuring fair, best practice policies are in place, YCIS Shanghai families, and the school community as a whole, are protected as a result.
At YCIS Shanghai, the sincere commitment to child protection comes directly from an ethical belief in prioritising student well-being. The school heavily invests time and resources into developing best practice policies, a skilled Child Protection team, and well-trained teachers and staff, making YCIS a leading school in the country, and worldwide, in the safeguarding of students’ well-being. To learn more about child protection at YCIS Shanghai, please click here.