The National Safeguarding Panel wanted to understand its impact on safeguarding policies and practices in the church and was conscious that it had been operating the same model of scrutiny since 2019. Consequently, the Panel undertook a survey of those who attended the Panel during 2022 and those within the Church involved with the Panel’s work.
The key themes from the survey were as follows:
The majority of people attending the Panel found the sessions useful in their work in developing safeguarding policy. It provides a space for reflection, whilst also offering scrutiny and practice accountability. The Panel also provides independent and external perspectives and the Chair’s blog can be a useful point of reference.
Developments were suggested that fall broadly into two areas: the Panel’s impact on safeguarding work and the way the Panel operates.
There is a need to improve awareness throughout the church of the work of the Panel, and knowledge of the Chair’s blog. Better monitoring of Panel recommendations has to be introduced to identify where they have achieved improved practice. Greater engagement with the Panel from across the church would be beneficial to improving safeguarding practice. Discussions need to take place about the interaction with other safeguarding bodies in the church; specifically the National Safeguarding Steering Group and the Independent Safeguarding Board.
At times the meeting is too rushed. This could be improved by reviewing the way questions are developed and asked, to improve focus. There is a preference for face-to-face meetings as these are more productive.
At its last meeting, the National Safeguarding Panel considered this feedback in small groups and reflected on the performance of the Panel. After further discussion the Panel agreed a number of conclusions and recommendations.
Improving Awareness of the Panels Work
The Panel should develop a communications strategy setting out its core purpose and role within the church and include key methods for reporting on its work. This should include the target audiences and the different ways of measuring the impact of the strategy. The Panel’s good practice webinars in July 2023 should include a session on the role of the National Safeguarding Panel.
Improving monitoring of the impact of recommendations
The Panel, in consultation with the National Safeguarding Team, should explore opportunities to improve the monitoring of Panel recommendations. Considerations should include any additional resource requirements. Panel meeting times should be extended to accommodate a 6 monthly review of recommendations.
Clarifying the relationships and interdependencies between the Panel, the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) and the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB)
The Panel, NSSG and ISB should consider holding a development event to support a clearer understanding of their respective roles within the Church’s safeguarding framework.
Identifying how to improve the Panel’s influence across a broader range of Church activity
The Panel should investigate opportunities to engage with the pilot schemes for regional models of delivering safeguarding services, including regional Diocesan and Cathedral Safeguarding Advisory Panel networks.
The Panel should consider the time, resource, and funding requirements to hold meetings other than at Church House, Westminster. This would help to raise the profile of the Panel across dioceses, cathedrals and parishes.
Improving the operation of the Panel
Panel membership should be actively engaged in developing the questions and areas of focus for each of the scrutiny topics.
All scrutiny sessions will include a question on how the Panel can best assist and support the delivery of projects, or policy areas, which are the subject of a particular session.
The Panel will set a draft annual forward programme of scrutiny topics at the last meeting of the calendar year. This programme should allow for the inclusion of issues of importance that arise during the year.