The Wellbeing/Safe-Guarding Jigsaw - The importance of each puzzle piece

April 22, 2022

Picture this

A child sits alone at lunchtime, watching her peers play but not interacting with anyone

A child who normally comes to school happy cries when being dropped off and seems particularly clingy

In a music class, a child answers a question incorrectly and gets overly distressed

2 friends who are usually inseparable, eat their lunch at different tables and there appears to be some whispering going on

During class reading time, a student falls asleep on a cushion and doesn’t seem as bubbly as usual

What do all of these things have in common?

On their own, each incident appears to be minor and not worthy of any ongoing attention, especially if the adult who observed this only observes it once. Some of these may have been observed by a duty teacher, a kitchen staff member, a bus monitor, a specialist teacher or a homeroom teacher all of whom have different levels of involvement with students at different times. 

In reality, each incident is a jigsaw puzzle piece and when you begin to join them all together, you see a clearer and more complete overview of each child as their picture comes together.

This is why it is vital that schools have a system in place that allows all adults involved in the care of your children to be able to report on observations or concerns no matter how big or seemingly insignificant they are. It is essential that the system is then monitored by the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the Deputy Safeguarding Lead and the Head of School. Their role is to look at the bigger picture forming and identify patterns that may be appearing for a particular student/class that warrants closer attention.

Other patterns can be identified by a robust reporting system such as the one we use at Green Shoots, by allowing incidents to be categorised, identification of students in the report as possible victims or perpetrators, locations added (eg playground, classroom, home or bus) and case managers added. Categorising of incidents allows a school to identify possible trends/patterns, further enhancing the puzzle formation into a clearer picture. It might be noted that a child who is a victim in a classroom incident, becomes a perpetrator in the playground. Having the complete picture in an instance such as this would completely change how the case was handled, than if dealt with in isolation by the duty teacher and the classroom teacher. A pattern of behaviour being widely experienced throughout multiple grades may prompt revisiting our values education and PSHE programme to see how these patterns can be improved through the delivery of the curriculum.

Adding case managers and team members is a valuable part of any comprehensive system, allowing reports to be shared with those who need to know what is happening in a child’s life. Usually, this is the homeroom teacher, learning support or counselling staff. It allows them to see a clear picture of what is happening in ALL areas of the child’s educational journey, gleaning insight into the whole person and being able to best support their development, wellbeing, safety and happiness in a more holistic way.

When you combine this with the ability for reports to be filed by all staff members at the school, who all see students in different situations and observe different aspects of their safety and wellbeing, you get a very comprehensive picture that can proactively identify risks and trends before they can escalate.

At Green Shoots, our system is also vital to identifying referrals to our Student Success Team (SST) where each week, pictures coming together from the addition of the ‘puzzle pieces’ are discussed amongst leadership and specialist staff so that strategies and support for the student and their teachers can be developed and plan of implementation put into action.

As a parent, you may find yourself asking, “How can I contribute to this picture building for my child’s benefit?” Continue to build relationships with your child’s main teacher and let them know when something happens at home that might affect your child at school….perhaps an overly busy week with visitors may leave your child feeling tired and cranky. If the teacher knows what's happening in their life at home, they can deal with the behaviours surfacing with the knowledge of the underlying cause. You might also wish to tell your child’s teacher about relationship changes, a playdate on the weekend gone wrong, or an upcoming trip that has your child nervous or excited. All of these impact your child, and by sharing them with the teacher, it helps them to better manage any changes seen in your child and support their wellbeing.

According to a paper published by Public Health England called “The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment” students  with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically. They display effective social and emotional competencies that are associated with greater health and wellbeing, and better achievement. It also points to the school culture, ethos and environment as an influence on the health and wellbeing of pupils and their readiness to learn.  

By building our culture of wellbeing and safeguarding, providing a robust system for the sharing and monitoring of information and providing teacher training and support, we can ensure our students wellbeing and safety and enhance their educational journey to the highest possible international standards, raising strong young global citizens.

Sue Lyn-Ryan

Director of Administration and Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

Cameron, N., 2021. Safeguarding - Build a strong DSL team. [online] The Headteacher. Available at: [Accessed 26 March 2022].

The Safeguarding Company. “MyConcern: For Recording All Safeguarding and Pastoral Concerns.” The Safeguarding Company, [Accessed 4 April 2022].

Brooks, F., 2014. The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment A briefing for head teachers, governors and staff in education settings. [ebook] London: Public Health England. Available at< data/file/370686/HT_briefing_layoutvFINALvii.pdf>[Accessed 19 March 2022].

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