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About the national safeguarding training, learning and development standards
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Social Care Wales has been leading on the development of the national safeguarding training, learning and development standards.

Social Care Wales has been leading on the development of the national safeguarding training, learning and development standards. The standards have been co-produced by a multi-agency national development group as well as other groups focused on specific aspects of the work.

The standards were developed because there:

  • were no multi-agency, national standards for safeguarding training, learning and development in place
  • was a lack of consistency in the design, content and provision of safeguarding training, learning and development across organisations in Wales
  • was confusion around the appropriate levels of safeguarding training, learning and development for the workforce.

The standards will help organisations make sure:

  • they incorporate the standards for practitioners into their safeguarding policies and procedures
  • practitioners understand their responsibilities relevant to the group they’re in and how to follow the relevant policies and procedures
  • all practitioners have access to and comply with the Wales Safeguarding Procedures.

Who are the learning and development standards for?

The training, learning and development standards are relevant to everyone working in:

  • local authorities
  • social care
  • early years and childcare
  • health
  • police
  • education
  • probation
  • inspectorates
  • third and independent sector organisations
  • commissioned providers
  • agencies or organisations that work with all the above services.

All agencies working together is vital for effective safeguarding and the standards encourage multi-agency learning and development whenever possible.

There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained by being trained alongside multi-agency partners, which can lead to more collaborative working and better outcomes for people. The principles of safeguarding and the values around this are the same for everyone.

Important points to note

The following points will be repeated throughout the standards in the relevant sections.

  1. These standards refer to some role examples, but do not identify all roles and responsibilities across the sector. It is incumbent, therefore, on organisations to identify within their own workforce which roles fit into the specific groups.

    When determining appropriate training, learning and development for each individual member of staff, the organisation will need to satisfy itself which group each staff member will fit into.

    If organisations or managers are unsure of which group is the appropriate one, and the role may straddle more than one group, the expectation is that the practitioner will be trained up to the higher group. For example, if a worker straddles group B and C, then they should be trained at group C level.
  2. Throughout the standards, any practitioner commencing in a new role from group B onwards, it is expected that they will have completed training, learning and development in the previous groups prior to commencement in role.

    If not, they should be supported to complete the training, learning and development within the first six months of their induction period or within a timeframe agreed with their manager or commissioning organisation.
  3. In groups C to E there is an expectation that practitioners will undertake both generic and role specific training, learning and development. The generic section will include training, learning and development that all practitioners in these groups will need to complete regardless of role or organisation.

    In addition to the generic training, learning and development, however, the role specific training, learning and development will need to be formally agreed as part of the individual’s personal training, learning and development plan and will reflect the specific elements within their role and responsibilities.

The terms we’ve used

The term ‘safeguarding people’ includes children, young people up to the age of 18 and adults at risk.

We’ve used the term ‘practitioner’ in the standards so they align with the Wales safeguarding procedures.

We’ve split the standards into six groups (A to F) that reflect the roles and responsibilities of people who may be involved in safeguarding practice.

The multi-agency National Safeguarding Standards Development Group chose the term ‘groups’ and agreed that the groups will be consistent with the levels noted in the roles and competencies for healthcare staff (children and adults). So Group A, for example, is equivalent to Level 1.

You can find more information about the terms we’ve used in the glossary.

How the standards have been set out

The purpose of these standards is to make sure everyone in Wales gets consistent and good quality training, learning and development that’s relevant to their role and responsibilities, and that we, as practitioners, can safeguard people to the best of our ability.

If a practitioner sits in:

  • Group A – this is for everyone. They need to have a basic level of awareness of safeguarding and know how to report a concern
  • Group B – this is for people who work directly with people. They should have a higher knowledge of safeguarding, know who to talk to if they notice something is wrong and how to report a concern
  • Group C – this is for people who work directly with people and have particular safeguarding responsibilities. They need to be able to respond to safeguarding concerns.

The other groups are:

  • Group D – this is mainly for statutory agencies with higher-level decision-making powers
  • Group E – this mainly consists of social services personnel in strategic leadership roles, along with their key statutory partners
  • Group F – this includes all public sector leaders.

The standards apply to people of all ages, but we appreciate that some practitioners may specialise in working with adults or children. This will be acknowledged in the training, learning and development framework that accompanies these standards.

Safeguarding work can be emotional and hard and therefore the standards highlight the need to support practitioners and promote their well-being.

Without support, practitioners may experience burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary trauma and high stress levels. This can lead to staff sickness, staff leaving their role and a lack of continuity and consistency for the public who are often most at risk.

There are examples of excellent safeguarding practice across Wales, and we encourage sharing good practice. Please visit your Regional Safeguarding Board website for more information on this.

Build of knowledge

The safeguarding training, learning and development standards are written in a way that everybody can see what each practitioner is expected to do when fulfilling their safeguarding duty. Each group of practitioners will have different responsibilities.

Training, learning and development opportunities will match the role of the practitioner so that they are well prepared and skilled to carry out their role. When looking at the standards across the groups, it may look as if they are repeated, however practitioners in different groups will need to have more detailed knowledge and understanding because of the responsibilities they have.

Therefore, the training, learning and development provided for each group will explore the same topics in more depth. Some examples of this are:

  • the law and legal framework
  • the roles of different agencies and multi-agency working.

It is expected that most practitioners will complete the group A e-learning (or equivalent) at some point in their career. Organisations and managers or employers may set requirements within their organisation for the completion of this module.

Refresher training, learning and development

When practitioners have completed the training, learning and development required for the standards that link to their role, they will continue their safeguarding refresher training, learning and development in line with their role and responsibilities for that group.

For example, a group C practitioner who has completed their core training, learning and development will consider refresher training, learning and development in areas such as child sexual exploitation, Prevent and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. They will not be expected to repeat training, learning and development related to groups A and B unless their organisation requires them to do so.

The standards set for group A are essential for all practitioners, in every group. These standards cover the key parts of safeguarding and without this knowledge and understanding, mistakes could be made and people will be at risk.

Practitioners included in group A are required to be aware of safeguarding matters and therefore the standards are set to reflect the minimum level of knowledge and practice required for their role. For example, a group A practitioner will be aware that there is law that safeguards people.

The practitioners in group B will have more responsibility for safeguarding therefore the standards for group B practitioners are set so that the training, learning and development helps them develop a greater understanding of safeguarding matters.

For example, group B practitioners will need to show that they understand the law and put it into practice throughout their day-to-day work.

For group C practitioners, their safeguarding duties are greater and they will have decisions to make about keeping people safe and when they need to put protection processes in place.

These practitioners will need to have all of the knowledge and understanding of the standards in groups A and B plus additional knowledge to make sure they carry out their role in line with the law.

For example, group C practitioners will be able to understand the law and apply it to their day to day safeguarding and protection practice.

Group D practitioners often hold specialist safeguarding roles, either in addition to a main role or as a specialist safeguarding practitioner. They will provide advice and support to colleagues within and outside their team and organisation.

They will need the knowledge and understanding of the standards for groups A to C and also have experience and knowledge of working in more complex situations.

For example, group D practitioners will have a thorough understanding of safeguarding and protection law. They will also support colleagues to apply the law to their practice when making decisions around a person’s safety.

Key legislation and guidance

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force on 6 April 2016. The Act provides the legal framework for improving the well-being of people who need care and support. The Act is made up of 11 parts, with Part 7 relating to safeguarding. This legislation provides the framework for the Wales safeguarding procedures.

Accompanying the Act, Welsh Government has published statutory safeguarding guidance, Working Together to Safeguard People.

The Wales safeguarding procedures have been designed to allow frontline practitioners and their managers to apply the legislative requirements and expectations of the Act.

The aim is to improve person-centred outcomes for adults and children at risk of abuse, harm and neglect. The procedures also recognise other relevant legislation, guidance and protocols.

Additional legislation and guidance (this is not an exhaustive list)

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act principles

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act has five principles:

  • voice and control – of the individual
  • prevention and early intervention – to prevent escalation of issues
  • well-being – of the individuals, to be promoted by everyone carrying out functions under the Act
  • co-production – between the person and agencies, across agencies and sectors, co-producing services and solutions
  • multi-agency – in this case, safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility.

The principles that underpin safeguarding practice in Wales are:

  • safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility
  • taking a child/person-centred approach at all times.
First published: 21 October 2022
Last updated: 17 November 2022
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