FGM safeguarding sessions - Ealing Council

The involvement of parents and staff as well as the children, makes these safeguarding lessons unique. This three-way approach gives schools the tools and knowledge to recognise if someone might be at risk or for the individual to realise when they are at risk.


The safeguarding sessions at Perivale Primary are provided by Ealing Council along with Hoda Ali, who is a campaigner, activist and FGM survivor.

These safeguarding sessions are delivered to parents, staff and pupils. In the parent and staff sessions, Hoda discusses her own experience with FGM and raises awareness of the PANTs rule introduced by the NSPCC.

  • Privates are private
  • Always remember your body belongs to you
  • No means no
  • Talk about secrets that upset you
  • Speak up, someone can help.

The involvement of parents and staff as well as the children, makes these safeguarding lessons unique. This three-way approach gives schools the tools and knowledge to recognise if someone might be at risk or for the individual to realise when they are at risk.

The challenge: In Ealing there is a higher potential risk due to the ethnic diversity of these areas. According to estimates by City University, in England there are 137,000 girls and women living with FGM, and 144,000 girls at risk of it.

It is often assumed that FGM is only prevalent in Africa but there are many other countries that also practice FGM. The Home Office has identified women from a number of east African communities – including Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia – as well as Nigeria, the Middle East and Indonesia, and areas of Eastern Europe and South America as being most at risk.

It is believed that one reason that FGM is still practiced in the UK is that people do not know that it is illegal in this country. In fact it has been illegal since 1985 and if a child is suspected to be at risk, the authorities can remove them from the situation. Those that undergo FGM tend to be of primary school age.

The solution
Ealing are the only borough in the UK that puts on safeguarding sessions, with a focus on FGM in schools for pupils, parents and teachers. This enables them to:

  • learn about FGM
  • find out about the issues around it
  • enable children to recognize when they or someone else might be in danger
  • give children a place to go if they believe they or someone else is in danger

This three-year project aims to support primary schools in raising awareness of FGM with staff, parents, pupils and the local community. Perivale Primary School works with the Ealing health improvement team to provide schools with a years’ worth of support to embed this project. The project is led by Hoda Ali who is an activist, campaigner, and FGM survivor and Claire Meade who is an Ealing Council health improvement officer for Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and safeguarding.

As part of this project each school receives:

  • FGM staff training session 
  • Six parent workshops based on safeguarding. These sessions include topics covering the PSHE curriculum, PANTS rule, online safety, and FGM
  • Modelled pupil lessons. Hoda and Claire go to each school for two days and deliver FGM awareness raising lessons to pupils in years 3 to 6. Teachers observe and team teach the lessons to raise their own confidence in delivering these lessons
  • Local community engagement, to ensure the wider school community also has an increased understanding of FGM
  • A termly FGM steering group meeting. Each term the project leads and representatives from each school meet to discuss the project
  • Baseline and endline surveys for parents, staff, pupils and the community. These are used to provide each school with an impact report. 
  • Signposting to support for mothers who have undergone FGM themselves

During the staff and parent FGM sessions, Hoda discusses her own experience with FGM and explains simple guidance from the NSPCC which is used to teach children how to keep themselves safe. The sessions with children focus on the NSPCC PANTS rule which allows the teachers to use child friendly resources to teach pupils about appropriate and inappropriate touch. The pupil sessions also use lesson plans developed by a primary school in a neighbouring borough, Norbury Primary School, which raises pupils awareness of FGM in a child friendly, age appropriate way. 

The impact
So far Ealing Council are working in four different primary schools, teaching the parents, pupils and teachers. So far 414 parents and 86 members of staff have attended the sessions.

Testimonials from parents and teachers have included:

“I have learned so much over the six sessions and I now have confidence and knowledge about how to share uncomfortable subjects with my children. Thanks for the opportunity.”

“All the information given was very useful – I was a bit reluctant talking to my children about the subject but this workshop has just changed my mind.”

“I had very little knowledge about FGM but now I know a lot about it.”

“It was brutal and hard to hear but it had to be.”

“I feel better informed and more confident in having open discussions with both my child and school.”

How is the new approach being sustained?
The sessions are supported by Ealing Council and funding was successfully obtained from the John Lyon’s Charity for the academic year 2017/18 to support schools in developing ‘a community led whole school approach to tackling FGM in Ealing.’

During the second year of the project, six schools will be chosen to work with the project lead, based at Perivale Primary School, and the health improvement team to embed the community led whole school approach to tackling FGM. This project is free to schools.

Lessons learned

  • difficult conversations with children are possible when creating innovative and interesting ways of communicating to them
  • parents and teachers want to have these sessions to learn about the possible risks to children in their school
  • these lessons have made it possible for parents and their children to tackle difficult conversations that they wouldn’t usually be able to have.

Contact
Jack Butler 020 8825 8297
butlerj@ealing.gov.uk

 

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