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Two part: Is anyone a DSL in a school? Anyone work in a specialist provision school?

13 replies

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 08:10


I have a new job as a DSL in a specialist SEMH provision. Looking for advice and experiences to help prepare over the next 2 weeks before I start!

I am a Social Worker by profession (with a fair bit of education experience/youth work/charity roles) but I imagine the role is very different day today day from a school DSL and an allocated CP Social worker.

NB: I am not worried at all about my ability to manage the role, but just trying to glean a daily experience 1.) of life in a specialist provision and 2.) daily DSL life

OP posts:
2reefsin30knots · 16/10/2022 08:15

Will you be working directly with the children or is it mainly a family support/ admin role?

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 08:25

It's a Designated Safeguarding Lead role.
I will be working at Senior Leadership Team level. I understand there will be scope for some interventions with the children but they've described it as a DSL/social work role within a school.

It won't be pastoral or nurture as there are already big teams for that.

I've spent a fair bit of time in PRU settings but not as much in SEMH schools

OP posts:
cansu · 16/10/2022 08:44

In every school I have worked in the delivery is very much involved in pastoral issues. Our DSL speaks to children regularly, does referrals to ss, attends meetings for children with outside services, meets parents and advises staff. They read safeguarding alerts on cpoms and decide what action to take.

AntlerRose · 16/10/2022 08:49

I am not a dsl and i dont work in an semh school...

But my son goes to one. His DSL calls us to talk through things he has disclosed about his mental health and support us with what to do. Like the dsl showed us what to put in a safety plan and talked us through all the different things a child might harm themselves with in her experience (dressing gown cords, hoodies, door hooks and so on)

I think a lot of people you speak to will cry!

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 08:51

Thank you. The reason I say not pastoral is because I won't be doing the bulk of nurture or emotional well being interventions.

I believe I will be mainly dealing with CLA/CP/CIN and Early help matters. Meetings as you say. Deciding the course of action and delegating appropriate tasks.

I've never been senior leadership in a school before!

OP posts:
HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 08:52

@AntlerRose thank you for your insight! I've worked with many families in a social work role so feel comfortable with this aspect.

In your opinion, is she a good DSL ? And if so what do you value in particular?

I'm trying to make sure I fulfil the role to the absolute best I can!

OP posts:
violetcuriosity · 16/10/2022 09:00

I'm Assistant head/DSL at an SEMH school...

Examples of daily situations-

  • historic disclosures that need investigating linked to trauma
  • new disclosures of emotional, physical and sexual abuse
  • children in crisis smashing up parts of the building
  • parents coming in reporting DV
  • lots of work needed around relationships to build trust
  • building links between mental health services, school nursing, family services, psychology teams
  • hosting parent carer workshops
  • liaising with transport (not school's job but most of them come in taxis and there's a lot of drama around these)

Basically just prepare yourself for lots of smashed windows, door kicking, lots of historical trauma and fetal alcohol syndrome that needs supporting, parents that need a lot of support themselves and to give A LOT of love to an amazing bunch of kids ♥️

Good luck, it's not for everyone!
AntlerRose · 16/10/2022 09:00

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 08:52

@AntlerRose thank you for your insight! I've worked with many families in a social work role so feel comfortable with this aspect.

In your opinion, is she a good DSL ? And if so what do you value in particular?

I'm trying to make sure I fulfil the role to the absolute best I can!

I think she is brilliant. She speaks really calmly and doesnt give across any judgement which is so important. She recognises its tough for us too and always acknowledges that. She cant solve things but can give her experience.

She is also really thorough. Like she have me a cahms crisis line to call, i called and they said the school can also call for advice. When i called to let the school know to the school they were already getting advice.

She also keeps really good cpoms records of conversations, which we can just read out in cahms meetings.

2reefsin30knots · 16/10/2022 09:05

I think you will do the things cansu suggests. You might be the one who phones home if there have been incidents in school.

In theory, an SEMH school should be more settled than a PRU as the pupils are in long term placements and have had their needs assessed. The staff will know them well and should be in a position to foresee and play round most problems.

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 09:14

Thank you everyone.
I'm really excited to meet the children and start building relationships with them and the families.

I had planned to call up to introduce myself, and offer a home visit whenever is convenient.

@AntlerRose do you think this would be appreciated as an initial contact home?

OP posts:
AntlerRose · 16/10/2022 09:18

Id appreciated a call.
Not sure about a home visit. Id have to hoover. I think if it was 'if you would like to meet i could visit or you could come here or we can just keep in touch on phone'

Also, is it safe for you as a lone worker in peoples homes?

Itsrainingatlast · 16/10/2022 09:56

I’ve been a DSL in a mainstream school for over 15 years (also SLT).

Be aware that the DSL is always the first person that Ofsted will ask to see. Although you might not actually do it, you are also responsible for ensuring that:

The SCR is 100% up to date
Your SLT have completed safer recruitment training
All staff safeguarding training is up to date and recorded, including governors.
The safeguarding policy is up to date.
All staff know KCSIE inside out.
Your training is up to date (Level 3 DSL training, renewed every two years)
All staff (including non-teaching…Ofsted asked our canteen staff!) know who the DSL is and how to report a safeguarding concern (my picture and that of my DDSLs is in every classroom/staffroom/toilets)
All safeguarding concerns are recorded and properly followed up (we use provision map, but MyConcern and CPOMS are also good) - if the school isn’t using an electronic system, get this sorted asap!
My LA also insists on cover across the holidays; make sure you have a rota in place or you are on call 52 weeks a year!

Also make sure you are given supervision (my MAT provides this for all the DSLs), and there should be a local network of DSLs that you can get support from, either your LA/MAT/local safeguarding hub.

The admin is unfortunately a massive part of the role, to ensure Ofsted consider safeguarding to be effective.

HarvestTimeMuthafluffa · 16/10/2022 10:32

@AntlerRose I've been advised that as long as there are no risk markers I would be allowed to do a home visit alone, as a Social Worker.
I will bear what you've said in mind.

@Itsrainingatlast this is incredibly helpful. I had no idea re the SCR being solely my role. There is a safeguarding officer and social worker overseeing all 3 school sites , I need to check whether he wants me to keep track of all of that info or whether he does/jointly.

Im contracted year round as are all the DSLs and social workers in the school so there is always cover.

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