Page 22 - FIS World Oct 2019 Web
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Safe and Sound
Sharing responsibility for safeguarding students
to promote
the wellbeing of students throughout the school ensures that FIS is a place where they can feel secure and thrive
“Safeguarding”is the catch-all term for the policies and procedures of a school that promote the welfare and wellbeing of all children. FIS constantly engages in review and development of its approach to safeguarding to ensure an international learning community that is safe, secure and nurturing for
Among the many people involved in this process is Susie March, a Munich-based consultant and regular visitor to FIS. Over the last five years, Mrs. March has supported the school’s leadership team in developing
safeguarding practices, deliv- ering sex educa- tion workshops to students, and advising school nurses on best practices; earlier in October Mrs. March visited FIS to present a parent semi- nar on "Talking to Students about Personal Relationships.”
“One of the most effective ways to keep students safe is to teach them how to protect themselves in an age-appropriate way,” Mrs. March explains. “We pro- vide a foundation from which students can gradually build knowledge about puberty and sexual health to be able to express their feelings and experiences, to feel confident and safe at school and at home, and to understand boundaries with classmates, friends and other relationships.”
In addition to building their own sense of self confi- dence,“it’s also important that children know where to go to get help from trusted adults,” says Upper School counselor, Charlene Aspinwall. “At FIS, coun- selors are available to support students as needs arise and as part of the curriculum. This may look differ- ent depending on the division and age group, but we see students in classes, small groups, individually, or simply by being out and about in the hallways or on the playground.”
An example of working with classes is in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) unit, Safety. Counselors and teachers work to help children recognize what safe and unsafe behavior is and how to respond if they feel unsafe. This begins to teach children at an early age the knowledge they need to feel safe. Topics
are enhanced and expanded as children grow and develop, and include practicing strategies around friendships, playground safety, and how to deal with teasing and bullying behaviors.
As older students become more independent, the in- creased freedom they experience both online and in the real world brings more responsibility as well as more potential for risk. Ms. Aspinwall describes one way FIS addresses this:“We build in opportunities for students to practice skills and strategies for using their voice and developing confidence in standing up for themselves within a safe environment, so they can apply these skills in school and beyond.” Mrs. March also offers a suggestion for developing self-assur- ance and courage: “Talk about being an upstander, not a bystander,” she says.
Parental input is invaluable when children receive the same messages from school as from their family. To support parents, the library has a range of books on parenting and how to keep communication open as children become more independent. Parents are also encouraged to attend parenting workshops of- fered by the counselors and presentations by guest speakers. For example, in the last two years, Rosalind Wiseman and Michael Thompson, PhD, both visited FIS to share their considerable knowledge with the FIS community; the counselors will host another guest speaker in February 2020. To address social media concerns and cyber security, the school also offers Parent Tech Academies, which provide tips and advice on how parents can help keep their chil- dren safe online.
Ms. Aspinwall emphasises: “We enjoy talking with parents about how to best support children as they grow and mature into independent young adults. We feel it is a partnership between school and home, and parents are always welcome to call, email or visit their child’s divisional counselor anytime.”
In the broader safeguarding context, FIS has also in- troduced more comprehensive safeguarding training for faculty, staff, coaches and long-term volunteers, stricter requirements for visibility of identification badges on campus, and enhanced guard stations at the entrances of both campuses.
By working together as a community, we can ensure that our students are not only safe while at school, but also develop the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe in their lives beyond FIS.
Leila Holmyard FIS World Writer
20 FIS World October 2019

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