The Gloucester grammar school deputy head who's flying the flag for safeguarding, inclusion and wellbeing

When new deputy head at The Crypt School in Gloucester, Gemma Hargraves, was appointed lead on safeguarding, she was impressed by the 'wonderful' staff and systems already in place. SoGlos speaks to Gemma about how she's building upon strong foundations to empower everyone to uphold safeguarding and all of its core values.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
Deputy headteacher at The Crypt School in Gloucester, Gemma Hargraves, praises the school's 'knowledgeable and supportive' pastoral team as she speaks to SoGlos about her role as safeguarding lead.
In partnership with The Crypt School  |
The Crypt School

The Crypt School is a co-educational grammar school in Gloucester, which welcomes students aged 11 to 18. It has an excellent academic reputation, an impressive extra-curricular programme and an environment of strong pastoral care to help its pupils achieve their full potential.

With a focus on things like pastoral care, helping students find their 'happy place' and building positive relationships with parents, there's plenty that The Crypt School in Gloucester does to ensure its students feel safe, secure and supported.

SoGlos caught up with deputy head and safeguarding lead Gemma Hargraves, who joined last September, to hear her first impressions of The Crypt and how she's helping to make safeguarding, inclusion and wellbeing 'even better' at the school.

Gemma, you're currently at the end of your first year as deputy head at The Crypt School — how have you found your time there so far?

Busy, but hugely enjoyable!

Tell us a bit about your background in education and specifically safeguarding and student wellbeing.

Prior to joining The Crypt School, I worked in a selective girls’ school in Birmingham for seven years, where I was assistant headteacher. My work there involved safeguarding, promoting positive wellbeing, overseeing inclusion, leading a student equality group and an annual culture week, chairing student council and transforming the second-hand uniform provision for affordability and sustainability.

I also led the weekly cross country club and supported Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions. I’m always keen to keep learning and reflecting and I have written for Times Educational Supplement, Chartered College of Teaching and Diverse Educators around safeguarding, school culture and celebrating diversity.

I also teach history and am a member of the Historical Association Secondary Committee which allows me to find time to focus on history and working with history teachers across the country too.

What does safeguarding, inclusion and wellbeing in education mean to you — and why is it so important?

That’s a big question! Safeguarding is all about keeping children safe, and this is more important than ever with students being so active online and potentially exposed to all sorts of risks in our towns and cities.

Inclusion, at its heart, is about ensuring all people feel they belong and they can thrive. And wellbeing will look different to different people and I hope at Crypt we provide ample opportunities for students to find their happy place — from Lego to languages society, or rugby to rollercoaster club!

All of this is important because students can only excel academically, and truly flourish, if they feel safe and secure at school.

Describe your role in supporting staff and students to practice effective safeguarding at school.

Essentially, I lead the safeguarding culture at school which involves being visible and accessible to staff and students, keeping up to date with legislation and government guidance, effective record keeping, and updating policies and procedures.

Importantly, I share relevant information with staff to keep them informed and enable them to be professionally curious which is key to noticing if a child is struggling. Where we have concerns about a student, I make referrals to Children's Services or other agencies and, working closely with the pastoral support workers, school counsellor and school nurse, we build a picture of a child’s context and what support they may need. I also hope to have a positive relationship with parents and carers so we can all work together to safeguard children.

Were there any systems or practices around safeguarding, inclusion and wellbeing that you were particularly impressed with when you started at The Crypt last year?

The pastoral support workers and pastoral room are wonderful! This is something not many schools have and I was really impressed by the knowledgeable and supportive staff, and the bright positive safe spaces, available to students from Year 7 right through to sixth form.

There’s also a dedicated attendance officer who is really valuable for noticing trends and issues which can tell us a lot about a student and any challenges they might face — it’s not an easy job but vital for safeguarding. Additionally, the outcomes for students who receive pupil premium funding are also excellent which impressed me, and that’s in no small part due to a diligent and committed pupil premium lead.

What has changed at the school since you came into the role as safeguarding lead?

We reviewed the school values this year to strengthen them and reflect our inclusive community; the new values are: kindness, pride, and integrity (respect and responsibility remain). We have also trained ten students to be our first Diana Award Anti-Bullying ambassadors and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact they make next year.

Gloucestershire Young Carers came in to deliver assemblies to raise awareness of young carers which was really valuable, and for the first time we held Neurodiversity Celebration Week which will be even bigger and better next year. We have also appointed a deputy SENDCo to add capacity to our strong special educational needs team.

Finally, what is your favourite thing about working at The Crypt School?

Can I say cake on Fridays?! I also love the green site and having the athletics track — being outside and being active is so good for wellbeing and we are really lucky with The Crypt School site. The people are also wonderful — the teachers, support staff and students have been really welcoming and it’s been lovely to get to know them and see how we can make this fabulous school even better, together.

In partnership with The Crypt School  |

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