Ingrid Worthington, Hurst Foundation Marketing, chats with Simon Hilliard now that he has been in his new post as Director of Safeguarding since Sept 2021 after two years at the school as Pastoral Intervention Practitioner.
Catching up with him and his therapy dog, Loki, he explains how his new role is very different to the how things were managed in the past.
From broken legs to anxiety, he explains that essentially the role is split into two but his main focus is keeping all children and staff safe.
The first part of the role involves safeguarding. This means a structured way of how we expect people to work so documenting policies and procedures for children and staff to adhere to. For example, if somebody has broken their leg, what measures are in place to accommodate that issue? Then, if that situation occurs, there are strict guidelines as to what should happen.
The second part is more of a child protection role and is very reactionary. The pupil with the broken leg now has lots of things to consider before deciding how to move forward;
Whilst the physical ailments bring their challenges, the emotional welfare of all has, quite rightly, become paramount given the Covid world of the last two years. Even before that, mental health has increased as a topic of conversation as we learn to understand that mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical wellbeing.
Simon goes on to mention that only five years ago, a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) meant that one would be seen within a reasonable timescale and an appropriate plan would be set up. However, the exhaustive waiting lists of today often means treatment could be months away so additional training for staff is now taking place to cater for the issues that many are now facing.
The new role was a natural progression for Simon and he sees it as a more procedural role and managing situations appropriately. He also has the support of the HOMs, Tutors and Matrons as well as Hurst’s excellent Pastoral team.
With an open-door policy, Simon sees 6-7 pupils a day and his therapy dog, Loki, is on hand for anyone who wishes to engage with this gorgeous Irish Doodle (poodle and red setter mix). Bred to be hypoallergenic, he is very relaxed and calm and has been trained to react to different situations or people. He will not interact unless approached first but loves being stroked and cuddled whilst providing emotive support. Dog lover or not, I defy anyone not to raise a smile when seeing this bundle of fun!