The Word 'Love'
When I wrote this I felt the urge to define the word love and where it can sit in any school. It's important that this term gets used, becomes commonplace and has meaning. Despite the fact that we may agree with this, there appears to be a reluctance to commit to using it. Everything is centred around love and still, the word itself, can often be the elephant in the room.
Have you ever talked to your colleagues or your school children about the word 'love'?
It's inevitably such an emotive word that it can be a challenging one to broker with so many different connotations, as well as some unhelpful pre-conceptions. It's no doubt that this is a word with baggage, and because of this, it's a term that can find itself left-alone or avoided. We can agree that love is central to everything in schools, and yet it's a term that will seldom appear in any safeguarding policy or child protection meeting.
'So much of what we do in school is guided by policies. These are created by the organisation and so do not use too many superlatives. What a shame. This is the perfect place to align the vision (why) with the system (how).
We spent a lot of time in our school dealing with safeguarding matters. Heart-breaking circumstances that could be very hard to rationalise. At first glance, it could be easy to make more superficial judgements and to overlook any possible indicators of love.
'I really thought that having taught in some very diverse and deprived, inner-city schools that I understood. I even went to a comprehensive school, notorious because of its location. A lot of people that I know had unconventional childhoods, and yet it took me years to get my approach right.
I learned that when assessing disclosures or talking to families, it was vital to remember that just because we may have a serious safeguarding concern, this does not mean that the child is not loved. This is important because I have heard people refer to a neglected child as 'unloved', which can be dangerously incorrect and unfair.
We must always remember that no matter how challenging the situation, and whilst maintaining our duty of care, we must also seek to identify all evidence of love.
The WIN / WIN
Love must be a common term in all parts of the school. The school vision must come from a place of love and everything subsequently should benefit from this.
We talked more about love. The staff and the children began to grow up in a school community where is was common to hear this. It emphasised how our school needed to be a safe place, where we could all feel secure together.
Safeguarding meetings are tough. They can be emotional, challenging and even confrontational. It's vital that the school can sustain trust, wherever possible. Trust that the decisions made are fairly and that our contribution is objective and in the interests of safety. Taking the time to see the situation clearly is critical. We do not want to cause unnecessary damage or to misjudge the situation.