I am starting a Doctorate – eeek!

Today is day 1 of my Doctorate of Professional Studies in Social Care & Community: Policy and Practice. Which is a mouthful to be honest. A “Prof Doc” as it is shortened to, is like a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) but more focused on research that has practical applications to the workplace. This is more my style – I dislike research for the sake of research. I wanted to do something that was pragmatic and had real-world application. Something that could be implemented when I am finished.

After I get through the initial modules, I am going to be researching how international schools respond to child protection disclosures when there is little to no statutory provision in the host country. International schools in particularly in Asia and the Middle East, often find themselves in the following situations: the law being unclear, e.g. in Thailand it is illegal “to torture” your children – but what does that actually mean? What happens, therefore, if a parent is physically abusing their child, but the law does not say this is constitutes torture? Or you believe a child is being physically abused but the authorities say it doesn’t meet a threshold and ask what they did to deserve it? Or the reverse, if the law states it is illegal to use physically abuse your children, but there isn’t the services in-country to deal with it. Or a child is in serious danger today, but you know services are so stretched that no-one will come to help for 6 months, if at all…

As a pastoral team what do you do next?

Or what happens when you have a case of peer on peer abuse, say sexual violence, and the country laws prosecute young women for extra-martial sex? Or perhaps the alleged perpetrator is a staff child or the child of a very important person. Ethically what do you do?

Or perhaps you have an expat family, or even teaching staff where there are rumours of domestic violence; how or even should the school intervene if the laws in the country say it’s ok? What do you do when you are faced with a situation which would be so straightforward in Europe to deal with – you just call social services – when you cannot rely on services in your host country?

As a former Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) at a large international school, who now supervises DSL’s across Asia and the Middle East, and trains schools in Safeguarding, I know there is a huge discrepancy between how individual schools work around these issues. Some schools have excellent procedures, some schools bury their heads in the sand. Many schools do generic tick box training which is UK centric and has little real world application out here. But they need something that says “Level 3” on it, regardless of how useless it is.

And this is the hole I want to plug. I want to find out how schools are making these decisions and what they do next. How do they act in the best interests of their students? What do they need to help them make the right decision?

I will keep you posted!