CS Live – kids taskforce & DCSF tackling safety for kids

In the spirit of sharing some more good practice in the civil service, I sat in on a session called ‘Watch over me’ – a unique collaboration (with Sharon Doughty, Paul Toase and Paul Elliott). The aim is to build tools to help keep kids safe in a joined up approach, delivered by the Kids Taskforce, backed by the DCSF.

Sharon, our host,  is really passionate about the work she has done and the achievements of the task force.  She shows us a clip:  Boris Johnson has worked with Harrow Schools using the Mayor’s Fund for London, which was established to help kids in the most affected areas. The initial pilot for London will be centred around Shoreditch.

She tells us about ‘Missdorothy.com’ which expresses dangers in the real world, teaching kids life skills to keep them safe. The Kids Taskforce has enlisted help from Paul Elliott, former England footballer. He says he initially got involved to tackle racism, but he has seen how it touches upon bullying, health, citizenship…  He has been able to deliver key social messages through football, a successful way of engaging kids, and believes sport has a way of doing so much good, if only to teach them about fitness and how to be healthy. Paul says if all professional football players in the country did 6 hours a week for the community,  you can only imagine the positive impact they could have on kids and communities around the country… (wonder if they’d all agree!).

Duncan Taylor, head teacher, Whitby, Doncaster, is also involved in the programme. He tells us the most important piece of legislation in any school is not about getting grades A-C. The 2nd line of the ECM agenda is more important – ‘stay safe’. Without being safe kids cannot achieve. The kids who are the most vulnerable are those who don’t attach themselves to text based material.  Learning materials in schools about sex education, citizenship, life skills, was all text based, so if the kids can’t read properly or don’t engage this way they miss out. Duncan believes that for kids, the most important conversations are in the corridor, so they tried to bring this in to the Missdorothy and watchoverme materials as they that get kids to think about where they are in life, and to respond to social issues. Duncan can cite cases where he has seen miss dorothy and watch over me bring about positive change, responding to issues such as self-harm, domestic violence, suicide, bereavement, bullying, drugs, sex and relationships. (Watchover me is a prevention strategy using real life stories, and CCTV, to help teens address safety issues affecting kids – and it seems to well received by teens in schools).

The session was not delivered by the DCSF but the DCSF were thanked for all their support and I must say, the people working on this initiative were practically bouncing off the walls with pride and passion for what they were doing… it was good to see.

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