Image of a teacher with children in a class

Over 90% of teachers say that safeguarding referrals have risen

A recent survey from the NSPCC of more than 8,000 UK teachers shows the essential role that schools play in keeping children safe.

The survey highlights the worrying scale of abuse and neglect faced by children, and the vital role teachers and schools play in helping to keep them safe.

The NSPCC worked jointly with the teaching union NASUWT, surveying 8,329 teachers and senior leaders across the UK. The key findings were:

  • 93% of teachers said that, over the last year, the number of safeguarding referrals made within their school had increased
  • 87% of teachers reported an increase in the number of neglect referrals

The survey, conducted between 20th March and 3rd April this year, also revealed the types of referrals that teachers have seen an increase in over the past year:

  • 87% of teachers have seen an increase in neglect referrals
  • 84% have seen an increase in emotional abuse referrals
  • 67% have seen an increase in physical abuse referrals
  • 50% have seen an increase in sexual abuse referrals.

The survey results echo government data, that shows that between 2020-21 and 2021-22, schools in England saw a 59% increase in the number of safeguarding referrals and re-referrals made to children’s services.

Helping children to recognise abuse and stay safe

The NSPCC has worked with educators for years, including visiting primary schools with its Speak out Stay safe assembly and workshop.

Programme volunteer Rob Pugal helps children learn that they have a right to a happy childhood and that abuse is never their fault. Rob, who experienced sexual abuse as a child, also helps children and young people learn the signs of abuse and neglect.

Rob said:

“I was once stuck with my perpetrator in Somerset. I realised on the first day that I was expected to sleep in the same bed as him, and I felt so trapped. The fact that children now have Speak out Stay safe, and that they can contact Childline for free, is wonderful.

We do this work because we care about children’s safety. But we can’t do it without funding. If I could share one message, it would be: by donating, you can help children learn to speak out.”

Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said:

“The vital role that teachers play in keeping children and young people safe cannot be underestimated.

They are in a prime position to spot concerns, and, in many cases, they are the trusted adults that children turn to when something worrying, or upsetting, has happened to them.

We know that the pandemic left many children at an increased risk of abuse and neglect and since children returned to school, teachers have been key in raising their hand and reporting concerns to ensure they can get the support they need.

Strong communities are vital in helping to keep children safe, and that’s why we are encouraging people to do their bit in their community and get behind Childhood Day 2023 by taking on the Childhood Day Mile.”

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