The safeguarding of students, staff and visitors is our number one priority at FSG. These are the key personnel who can help if you have a safeguarding concern.
Our Designated Safeguarding Lead is Mrs Ferguson.
As well as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the Senior Leadership Team are all trained in safeguarding. These are:
If you would rather speak to a member of the pastoral team, they are also trained to help:
Important message for young people and parents/carers
CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency and is here to help children and young people. We are here to help if you are a young person and you or your friend (up to age 18) has been forced or tricked into taking part in sexual activity with anyone online, or in the real world. We also have advice and links to support for other online problems young people might face, such as cyberbullying and hacking. Visit our Safety Centre for information, advice and to report directly to CEOP, by clicking on the Click CEOP button below.
If you are an adult stakeholder and require further information, advice or wish to report concerns directly to CEOP, visit the Safety Centre, by clicking on the Click CEOP button.
The Folkestone school for Girls is a community and all those directly connected (staff, governors, parents, families and pupils) have an essential role to play in making it safe and secure. The Folkestone School for Girls recognises our moral and statutory responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children with their best interests at the centre of our work.
The Folkestone School for Girls recognises the importance of providing an ethos and environment within school that will help children to feel safe, secure and respected; encourage them to talk openly; and enable them to feel confident that they will be listened to. We are alert to the signs of abuse and neglect and follow our procedures to ensure that children receive effective support, protection and justice.
Our school core safeguarding principles are:
- That schools are an important part of the wider safeguarding system for children.
- It is a whole school responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children as its paramount concern
- All children (defined as those up to the age of 18) regardless of age, gender, ability, culture, race, language, religion or sexual identity, have equal rights to protection
- All children have a right to be heard and to have their wishes and feelings taken into account
- All staff understand safe professional practice and adhere to our code of conduct and other associated policies
- All staff have a responsibility to recognise vulnerability in children and act on any concern in accordance with this guidance
There are four main elements to our safeguarding strategy:
- Prevention (e.g. positive, supportive, safe school culture, curriculum and pastoral opportunities for children, safer recruitment procedures);
- Protection (by following the agreed procedures, ensuring all staff are trained and supported to respond appropriately and sensitively to safeguarding concerns);
- Support (for all pupils, parents and staff, and where appropriate specific intervention for those who may be at risk of harm);
- Working with parents and other agencies (to ensure appropriate communications and actions are undertaken).
We aim through this section of the website to provide useful contacts and information to parents to ensure that our community is aware and able to support safeguarding the students that are the heart of our school. We define safeguarding as:
“Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from deliberate harm. It includes a wide range of issues relating to pupil’s welfare, health and safety.”
The school acknowledges that safeguarding will incorporate a range of specific safeguarding issues including (but not limited to):
- Bullying (including cyberbullying)
- Children Missing Education (CME)
- Child missing from home or care
- Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
- Domestic violence
- Drugs and alcohol misuse
- Fabricated or induced illness
- Faith abuse
- Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
- Forced marriage
- Gangs and youth violence
- Gender based abuse and violence against women and girls
- Honour based abuse
- Mental health
- Missing children and adults
- Online safety
- Prevent duty (radicalisation and extremism)
- Private fostering
- Relationship abuse
- Human trafficking and modern slavery
- Youth produced sexual imagery or “Sexting”
Our safeguarding team
With all safeguarding concerns please feel free to contact the school Pastoral staff and we will support you with your concerns.
If you are visiting the school, please always ensure you sign in at our reception. If you do have a concern whilst visiting please do ask at reception for the Designated Safeguarding Lead. Additional information on what to watch out for and how to report a concern can be found in this leaflet:
Radicalisation and extremism has become a key concern for the UK. Schools are a crucial part to preventing extremism and radicalisation. The Folkestone School for Girls does this through education and the promotion of British values. This is done through our interactions with students and is closely tied in to our ethos. An example of this is through the use of elections in school to promote democracy or teaching our students to question critically information they read to spot propaganda.
The school also has a responsibility to pass on information that is feels may prevent a student being radicalised.
Should you encounter a website that would be promoting extremist ideas or your daughter has accessed this then please use the following link:
The school also runs annual drills to counter the threat of an extremist incident. These are unlikely to happen of course but it is better to be prepared even in the most unlikely eventuality. In school we use the C.L.O.S.E protocol and enter a state of lockdown.
We also teach the students the about the dangers outside of school and what to do should they find themselves caught up in an incident. The following link contains advice for this eventuality:
Staying Safe Online
For many parents the battle to stay up to date and keep their children safe online is a hard one with new apps every day and ever complex technology. Here are some useful links to help keep children safe online:
Helping students to stay safe online remains a challenge so we have compiled some information to help. We have a range of downloadable documents that can be found in the downloads section of this page and cover: screen addiction and the warning signs, online grooming warning signs, advice to prevent extremism, advice for those affected by online bullying, social media and its impact on mental health and advice on staying safe whilst using social media.
Part of helping to keep students safe online is being confident to tackle these issues with the students both as a school and as parents/ carers. This can be a challenge with the students learning about digital media quicker than we can keep up. We have got some downloadable documents to help parents in the download section and these will cover: top tips to keep students safe on their devices, mobile phone use and children, using technology safely and a share aware family agreement to put agreed rules as a household in should you wish to.
Vodaphone offer lots of good advice to help with managing the dangers online with your children. Please see the link below to their page and the further links to their newsletter for digital parenting which contains lots of advice:
As well as this, there is some information to help with other issues such as students “sexting” and accessing online pornography. These guides provide useful advice on how to have conversations with your daughter should the need arise.
Should you have serious concerns about your daughter and feel that the actions of someone online is putting them at risk then please read the information in the link below. There is a thinkuknow quick link on our home page if you need to report something of concern to the Police.
There is also advice for students:
There is an increasing number of students in Kent who are being exploited by criminal gangs. These students are often recruited and made to carry out illegal activities for the gang. They are often exploited, intimidated or bribed to help with criminal activities.
Below is a link to crime stoppers new website aimed at young adults. It provides information on criminal offences and also provides an anonymous reporting facility if you are worried about a crime that could impact your daughter.
Emotional Well-being and Mental Health
One of the biggest challenges right now to our students is not in the risks they face from others, or the risks they face online – though both of course do still exist. Instead, it is supporting students with their own mental health and keeping them safe from themselves and the many pressures they experience as young people. A survey commissioned by the BBC asked 1000 boys and 1000 girls their views. More than a quarter of teenagers polled said they feel anxious all or most of the time, with exams, going to school and peer pressure being the top three reasons. More than half of male and female responses said they feel anxious when they don't have their phones with them - a third said comparing themselves to others on social media makes them anxious.
Responding to the survey, the Children's Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, said urgent work needs to be done to protect children from online pornography and other harmful content, and that many of the findings echo things that children have also told her. "In particular, it is clear that the online world and social media is having a very real impact on teenagers' mental health, their wellbeing, and their safety," Dame Rachel says.
Clearly School has an important role to play in supporting students to navigate these challenges and it’s something that we at FSG work hard on.
The most beneficial way to safeguard students is to prevent harm from happening in the first place. A mentally healthy school is one that adopts a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Promoting good Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing amongst all our girls is a central tenet of our school vision – and whilst we may not always make this intent obvious, it is at the very heart of all that we do. We want our girls to well qualified and well rounded (– and just well!) From the curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities we offer to the staffing and site developments we invest in; from how we set targets to how we schedule tests and mock examinations, from the tone of our communications to our unsung hero award programme and even how we report on progress, we aim to do all we can to support, motivate and encourage our girls in all aspects of their development. We believe that an outstanding education must deliver a balance between intellect and character. An outstanding education is not either/or. It is both. Our school climbing wall is a perfect example – we built this knowing full well it was unsuitable for GCSE PE! We didn’t build it for qualifications but for the chance to do something else, try something new, to just have fun! That’s equally true for the Escape Room, the mountain bike trail, archery, CCF, FSGRadio, DoE – none deliver GCSEs or A-levels; they deliver other things – a balance, fun, a chance to meet new friends, face new (and different) challenges…… A comprehensive ’whole school’ approach to ‘promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of children’ as set out in ‘promoting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing – a whole school or college approach’, published by the Children and Young Peoples mental health coalition; ‘improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole school population and equipping pupils to be resilient and reinforcing this through school activities and ethos’.
Students at FSG therefore do not complete an excessive amount of qualifications as a matter of course. We subscribe to a ‘quality, not quantity’ rationale and thus, students at FSG complete what we believe to be a sensible number of qualifications – one early too, to spread the load just a little. This allows students time to focus efforts on achieving the very best grades within these but also time to participate in the huge array of co-curricular activities that we offer. These activities are a central part of what we do; they are genuine co-curricular activities and not a ‘bolt on’ after-school extra-curricular offer. Instead we value them so highly and think them to be so important that they form part of the school day in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. They offer, fun, balance, self-confidence; they build “Courage, Kindness, friendship, Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us on occasion to greatness”
We believe that ‘exam results are what you get; they do not define who you are and will play only a part in shaping the person that you become’. We further believe that whilst exam results don’t define you, its an inconvenient truth that shyness can; a lack of confidence can - Those who lack confidence don’t join in, don’t sign up, don’t take part, don’t have a go. They settle!
Opportunities are missed.
Options are narrowed.
Doors are closed.
That lack of confidence starts to chart their course for the future and to define the person they become - but working together, parents and school, can tackle that. We want our girls to realise that they are capable of more than they know.
We want our girls to sign up, join in, take part, STAND OUT!
Exams, then, are only a very narrow definition of success and whilst we routinely are one of the higher performing schools in the country we further recognise that examination success looks different for everyone too. Within the headline figures of course are hundreds of individual triumphs and successes; and that’s not necessarily all about grades 7, 8 or 9 or A*/B. For some of our girls that grade 4 or 5 may have been equally hard fought and hard won and we recognise, value and celebrate those achievements, that progress made, just as much. Academic Targets set reflect this. We also recognise and report other accomplishments such as promotion within the ranks of our CCF contingent, the completion of the Duke of Edinburgh Award or taking a leading role on the stage or the sports field.
We also want to ensure that determination, perseverance and all those attributes that contribute to progress, success and learning are recognised and celebrated. Similarly, we want to recognise values like courage, kindness, friendship, character, commitment, service; these are the traits that can define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. Students who turn up every day and who simply get on quietly doing their best work, day in and day out, can go unnoticed. Not in this school! Students like that are too often the unsung heroes. With that in mind, at FSG, we have created the Unsung Hero Award. Staff turnover is low and our comprehensive personal development & character education programme, The FSGBacc, alongside a wealth of trips and visits facilitates strong positive relationships between students and staff. Students know how hard the staff work for them and now much they are cared for. We also have an expanded and expansive pastoral team dedicated solely to pupil well-being and progress and whilst much of this work is reactive, we also seek to be pro-active. So for example quieter, shyer, more vulnerable students are identified and enjoy bushcraft sessions to enable them, perhaps, to form a few friendships as they join us. Our FSGCamps, all free of charge, also allow students to bond and to establish lifelong memories and perhaps even lifelong friends to help each other through when the going gets a little tough.
We have invested heavily in our pastoral care teams, with 7 Student Development Leaders, one for each year group, who move with students as they move through the school from Year 7 to 13 – so that we can establish the best working knowledge and positive relationships we can with girls and their families. We have 2 full time counsellors on site and staff dedicated solely to Personal Development & Character Education. Over half a million pounds annually on staff to support ‘just’ emotional health and well-being as girls move through the school. In combination with an ethos and a curriculum which focuses on ‘well-qualified, well-rounded – and just well’, it is clear then that it is our intent to not only not overload our girls but to see them flourish – academically , pastorally, personally!
We provide adequate curriculum time to complete courses in lessons without the need for hundreds of hours of additional lunchtime or afterschool sessions. This supports our personal development and character education programme, the FSGBacc, in providing girls with the time to take part in and enjoy the many additional opportunities it affords. There is also time left to pursue other interests and activities at home and additionally, time to spend with friends and family; to watch Netflix; to hang out; occasionally to just do nothing! A justifiable balance between intellect and character.
So, we are a happy school with a relaxed but purposeful atmosphere. Our curriculum is framed around developing intellect and character and whilst we aim to deliver outstanding academic results alongside traits such as resilience and self-confidence, we are equally concerned to promote a work hard/play hard balance in our girls that will enable them to achieve success, at school and in the future, whilst considering their own mental health & emotional well-being.
Too often now parents allege that schools are damaging their child’s mental health for trivial situations such as not being selected for a school trip or as a cast member in a show. Perhaps a bit of an upset with a test or exam result or a falling out within a friendship group. Not being placed in the same CCF platoon or DoE group as a friend. Who they’ll share a room with on a residential school trip. That they have been asked to remove a nose piercing. These diminish and devalue students with genuine and ongoing mental health challenges. They are instead, quite simply, a part of life and it’s an inconvenient truth that things don’t always go our way! We don’t always get what we want. We all trip up and fall over from time to time and we need our girls/your daughters to understand and see that we don’t ‘lose’ when we get knocked over, we lose when we don’t get back up! We all need to work together to build the girls resilience to cope with the little knocks along the way. After all our job, together is to prepare the girls for life, not just for exams!
Its equally true that our teenage lives can be a challenge. Home lives, school lives, friendships, deciding what sort of person we are and what sort of person we want to be. Finding our tribe. Finding something that inspires us. Finding something that we might want to do for the rest of our lives. Not quite being a child anymore; not quite an adult either – those ‘inbetweener’ years can be tough and of course some find it tougher than others and some have more to contend with than others. Family breakdown, bereavement, relationship breakdowns (when a little older), friendships, exams, next steps etc. So, when the going does get a little tougher we will be there to support the girls as best we can. However, it is worth stating plainly and openly that we are not a mental health service and our staff are not mental health experts. We simply will do our best to care and advise and support and to direct families to the most appropriate support available.
Despite all of the preventative work we do in school, some girls will inevitably struggle at some points of their teenage years and may therefore require additional support. Some will struggle with school life. For some that might be school life at FSG; for some it might be school life in general; The likely truth is that there are a number of factors as to why students may struggle at times and its unhelpful to blame school for a deterioration in mental health when we are all here, parents and teachers alike, doing our best to support the girls; all of them.
In the first instance this would usually be through the relevant Student Development Leader but we also employ 2 full time emotional health and well-being practitioners and referrals to them (not necessarily shared with parents) are line managed by the pastoral team and considered to be a pastoral resource and intervention. For clarity we distinguish the boundary between emotional wellbeing (pastoral) and social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEND) as being where education/progress and/or wider development is becoming hindered. Typically then in the first instance emotional well-being support would be the first port of call but if the situation is more serious or is ongoing and progress is being hindered (as above) and external referral may be made – with parental involvement. In this way we are better able to rationalise the resources we have on site and to secure the most appropriate level of support for students.
We run in-school self-defence classes for all Year 7 students as part of our Year 7 FSGBacc curriculum so that all girls are taught a little about situational awareness and personal safety etc as they face, often, longer journeys to/from school and perhaps their first time alone!
In year 13, as they prepare to leave us and venture into the big wide world we offer a more intensive level of input. The message remains that most people would cross the road to help us rather than hurt us – but nonetheless there is the odd rotten apple and we want the girls to approach the world safely – and feeling safe.
A recent report by Girlguiding UK found that an ‘alarmingly high’ number of girls and young women feel unsafe outside their home. The survey found that nearly two thirds either felt unsafe or knew someone who felt unsafe when walking outside alone. As a girl’s school we feel this is something we really need to tackle and so we provide specialist workshops on self-defence and de-escalation to all Year 13 students from local company, Kent Self Defence Workshops, https://www.kentselfdefenceworkshops.co.uk/ to help support their transition to adulthood as they begin to venture out more, hit the pubs and clubs, stay out later etc. We feel a sensible time as they prepare to leave us for university and the like. This is offered free of charge so that all our students can leave us for the next steps feeling bold and spectacular, 10 feet tall, ready to take on the world – and that just can’t be so if they feel unsafe walking down the street!
So some tips to keep ourselves safe and strategies to prevent the worst, to talk things down and de-escalate and a few and moves should the worst ever happen!
In a recent NHS survey 24% of 11 to 15 year olds had tried a drug (illegal substances) and amongst 16-18 year olds said they had tried a class A drug. Seaside towns are also amongst the highest risk areas for drug use in the UK which means our demographic of students are a potentially high risk group. As a school we attempt to tackle drug misuse within our PSHE curriculum. We would work with a number of agencies if we felt a student may have an issue and we routinely bring in organisations to talk to the students about the dangers of substance abuse. Drug misuse may be a concern for some parents so please see the links below for some information on how you might be able to talk to the students to help protect them from harm and even access help if it is needed:
The school has entered a joint operation with Kent Police. This operation is to provide the school with a notification should the police be called to a domestic incident. This is to help share information to protect and support students who may be victims or witnesses to potential domestic abuse. the research suggests that students who witness or are victims of domestic abuse are at greater risk of mental health issues in the future. By knowing about these incidents it means we can support the students more effectively. All notifications are shared by the police securely and confidentially and the school will record these confidentially. The school will share this information with other agencies if there is a child protection need and will share this will staff who may need to know. We are one of 400 schools who have signed up so far. Please see the download section for a letter to parents and a presentation for more information.
Healthy Screen Time
Below is a link to an informative piece about healthy screen time and tech use for teens, which is a challenge for many parents.
You can find useful tips and advice on healthy gadget use, alternative tech for learning and creativity, and how to encourage teens to have a more balanced screen time ‘diet’ with their gadgets.