Becoming a safeguarder
Safeguarders provide an independent consideration of assessments and plans for children in the hearings system and they make their own recommendations about what they think is needed to achieve the best interests of children. This can play a key role in decision making by both children’s hearings and sheriffs.
Legislation introduced this role into the Children’s Hearings System in Scotland in 1985. Further legislation in 2011 established a national Safeguarders Panel to which, since 24 June 2013, all safeguarders are appointed by Scottish Ministers. The national Panel is managed and operated by Children 1st on a contractual basis on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
Any child or young person, who a children’s hearing or sheriff decide should have a safeguarder to safeguard their interests, will have a safeguarder appointed to them from this national Panel.
For more information about the Children’s Hearings System please visit:
- Scottish Government - overview of the Children's Hearings System
- Children’s Hearings Scotland
- Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration
- Children's Hearing Improvement Partnership
Becoming a safeguarder
Recruitment to the national Safeguarders Panel is currently open.
Advert and information on how to apply is available here.
Closing date for applications is Friday 31 August 12 noon.
Frequently asked questions
- A safeguarder independently assesses and recommends what is in the best interests of a child in children’s hearing proceedings where they have been appointed to do so.
- The role description gives more detail about the role’s responsibilities and requirements.
- Further information on the safeguarder role is also available here.
- The Practice Standards for Safeguarders and Practice Notes on the Role set out what is expected from the role in more detail.
- Anyone over 18 – there is no set academic or professional qualification required.
- As long as you have what the role is looking for (see below) and you are not disqualified or barred from becoming a safeguarder (The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 Safeguarders Panel) Regulations 2012, section 5).
- Scottish Ministers need to be satisfied that you are capable of satisfying the key competencies and have appropriate experience for the role.
- The role description and person specification set out the competencies, values, skills, knowledge and experience expected.
- Being child centred, respectful, collaborative and committed are key to this role.
- There is a significant commitment expected before appointment to successfully complete pre-appointment training.
- When appointed there is a requirement to attend requisite training and support sessions (see below)
- When appointed, children’s hearings and sheriffs appoint a safeguarder when this is needed, so the number of safeguarder appointments varies over time and area. The expectation is that you will be able to take no less than five and no more than 15 appointments in any year where this is possible.
- Individual appointments, which are sometimes for a few children in the one family, vary in the amount of work required. This is dependent on the child’s unique circumstances, needs and complexity of the process.
- Yes, it is possible to have other roles and be a safeguarder as long as no conflict of interest between your role and being a safeguarder.
- You must be able available to take sufficient safeguarder appointments for your practice to be monitored.
- The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 Safeguarders Panel) Regulations 2012, section 5 outlines those who are disqualified from being appointed as a member of the national Safeguarders Panel.
- Recruitment to the national Safeguarders Panel is advertised - Advert available here
- You make an application using the required paperwork (see advert) together with a short paper asked for on a particular topic.
- Interviews are held for successful applicants – the interview will involve completing a short written exercise on the day.
- After successful interview, you successfully complete requisite pre-appointment training and assessment (Read: Pre-appointment Training & Assessment Info).
- After successful training and assessment completion, you are recommended to Scottish Ministers to be appointed to the national Safeguarders Panel.
- Scottish Ministers appoint you.
- You sign and return the letter of acceptance of appointment which contains the terms of your appointment. Read: terms and conditions.
- Pre-appointment training allows you to learn in more detail about the role as it works in practice and to feel confident to perform in the role (Read: Pre-appointment training & assessment info).
- Once appointed, training sessions are held twice a year covering essential training subjects that you must attend.
- Additional training modules are held where needed for all safeguarders, groups of or individual safeguarders – depending on need.
- You will be supported in your learning and development as a safeguarder through individual support sessions (Performance Support & Monitoring Framework for Safeguarders).
- Once appointed you will also be expected to make sure that you keep up to date with skills and knowledge as required for the role.
- Initial appointment to the national Safeguarders Panel is for three years.
- Re-appointment after three years is possible and is based on continued fitness to be in the role with evidence of practice and conduct meeting the Practice Standards (Performance Support & Monitoring Framework for Safeguarders).
- Re-appointment can be for a period of less than three years (for one to three years) where improvements are required but not yet achieved.
- You can be removed from the Panel at any time if you become disqualified or barred from being a safeguarder or if Scottish Ministers consider you are not fit to be a member of the Panel because of your conduct, compliance with the terms of your appointment or you are unable or unwilling to work to the Practice Standards.
- You can resign, usually with one month’s notice, when you wish to.
- You will have an allocated support manager who will discuss your individual support needs and who will monitor your performance against the Practice Standards at regular support sessions.
- Local engagement events allow safeguarders to come together, reflect on their practice in general terms, resolve issues and develop the safeguarder service.
- Safeguarder-led groups look at areas of practice and develop notes and tools to help safeguarders be clear about practice (Practice Notes on the Role).
- Training is practice-based and allows interactive discussion about safeguarder practice needs.
- Policies and Guidance e.g. Data Management, Lone Working and Complaints for safeguarders are available.
- The Safeguarders Panel Team offer a duty system Monday to Friday; safeguarders can phone or email for practice and/ or emotional support.
- Safeguarders are paid fixed fees, reasonable expenses and travel costs. View current Policy on Safeguarder Fees, Expenses and Allowances here.
- Claims are expected to be submitted when an individual appointment is ended and will be paid within 35 days.
- Claims must be submitted electronically using claim forms.
- Attendance at training or working groups is not paid but reasonable expenses are reimbursed. Training is usually held locally so that significant travel is reduced.
- Safeguarders are expected to be able to perform their role during court proceedings which can be a regular part of the role.
- Safeguarders will receive initial training and assessment for this part of the role in pre-appointment training.
- Safeguarders will be provided with further advanced training and assessment if this is required.
- Support from the Safeguarders Panel Team and other safeguarders can be available if required on an individual basis.
- The context for children and young people and the difficulties that they are in can be distressing and you need to be able to work with this.
- Keeping the child at the centre can be hard when proceedings are complex.
- Time commitment and time management can be difficult if you have other commitments. The offer of an appointment will come at unpredictable times and the dates and times to attend hearings may not be flexible.
- Working independently and within the parameters of the role, especially where you have other roles can be challenging.
- Confidentiality is crucial and it is essential that you do not share any information with anyone who is not entitled to know or access the information that you hold. You need to be able to access, store, send and communicate information confidentially so that no one else has access to your information that does not have a right to do so. (Read: Data Management Policy & Guidance - Coming Soon).
- Safeguarding the interests of a child.
- Providing an independent contribution on the interests of the child that helps children’s hearings and courts make timely, difficult decisions.
- Helping a child or young person to participate in the proceedings especially helping them to express their views and have these considered.
- Helping to move matters on so that unnecessary delay is avoided.