Most school leaders are used to turning to an HR professional for guidance on contracts of employment and recruitment and selection matters. Involving HR in issues that are directly related to pupil welfare, for example, safeguarding matters, probably happens less often. However, HR has a role to play in these areas of school management, too.
HR And Your Relationship Abuse Policy
HR can help you to draw up your policy on sensitive issues such as relationship abuse. In doing so, HR will help you to define your school’s position and establish the responses you will make when you believe abuse occurs.
HR can help you to be confident that your policy takes into account your obligations under relevant legislation, including human rights and equalities legislation. HR can also help you to state clearly the differences between abuse and bullying and to set out how your policy on relationship abuse fits in with your overall approach to safeguarding.
Turning Policy Into Action: HR’s Involvement
As a school leader you know that policies are relatively easy to create. How instructions are set down for staff to follow, and how a policy is actually implemented in school, can lead to complications and confusion.
Your HR specialist will be able to help you to draw up procedures to ensure that your policy can be implemented in a straightforward way. That task will include setting out individuals’ responsibilities, specifying the circumstances in which staff members should intervene, stating how concerns should be reported and specifying what staff members should actually do when dealing with pupils who are in, what may turn out to be, abusive relationships.
An HR specialist will have a different perspective on safeguarding issues from yours. As an outsider and someone who is not a teacher, in the case of relationship abuse, your HR expert will be more detached from day-to-day circumstances in school than you are. This will bring another dimension to your considerations.
Your HR expert will also draw on his or her professional experience to judge how robust, and just how workable, the procedures you are planning to introduce will be.
Together school leaders and HR professionals can work well together on sensitive issues. Talk to your HR specialist about more than people management issues. Every one will benefit, if you do.
In November 2013 the NSPCC published a research report on relationship abuse.