Safeguarding in international schools

Safeguarding children in international schools can present some challenges but Peter Kotrc, director of the Berlin Brandenburg International School, explains the importance of ensuring that your chosen school has adequate procedures in place.

Safeguarding in international schools
Choosing an international school can be a daunting process – from analysing the curriculum and looking at the facilities to worrying about whether your child will fit in, but at the top of the checklist should be the question, “Will my child be safe in this school?”, explains Peter Kotrc, director of the Berlin Brandenburg International School (BBIS).

'Enhanced' standards

In recent years there have been incidents of child safety breaches within international schools that have shocked the international education community. In 2014, these incidents led to a new set of ‘enhanced’ standards adopted by the accreditation and assessment agencies for International Schools and so how, as a parent, can you ensure that you make the right choice?“Ask the admissions office, the head of school or the teacher a simple question: how safe is my child at your school?” says Mr Kotrc.In addition to the school grounds being safe and secure and health and safety procedures in place, the school should be able to share with you a solid child protection policy. “Everyone who has access to the students, including [support functions such as] cleaners and drivers must have a recent police check. If a school is evasive about these points, don’t even bother to have a closer look at the application form”. 
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Different legislation

International schools are presented with some challenges in creating and sustaining a well-informed child safeguarding culture. Explains Tim Gerrish, safeguarding expert, “International schools operate under a wide variety of governments and, as a result, face different legislation as well as different standards, behaviours and support provision.”These challenges are not an excuse to avoid the issue, however, as safeguarding children in any school is the responsibility of every staff member and unless there is a clear policy in place, it cannot be implemented.

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