Interview with Annamarie Mullan, Lead Officer for Safeguarding in Education
As part of our series of interviews with people working to safeguard children in Northamptonshire, Annamarie tells us about her role as a Safeguarding Manager with the county council’s Learning, Skills and Education division (LSE), part of the Children’s Services directorate.
Q. Annamarie, how did you get into safeguarding in the first place?
A: I began my career in 1984 as an Education Welfare Officer with the council. Safeguarding was a major aspect of my work but I could see there was a need for professionals who were social work qualified but who also understood the schools agenda. I became a qualified social worker in 1991 and had several safeguarding management roles until I left the county council in 2009 to work as a consultant. Earlier this year, I saw this part-time role advertised and because safeguarding in education has always been my passion, I was delighted to return to the council.
Q. What are the different things you do in your role?
A: Every day is different. On a typical day I quality assure education responses to safeguarding concerns, represent and co-ordinate attendance on behalf of LSE on NSCB committees, manage and maintain a register of all designated safeguarding leads in schools, offer strategic advice and support together with the Designated Officer (formerly known as the LADO) on the management of allegations, commission and quality assure full safeguarding audits on behalf of LSE. Then I have lunch and start on the afternoon tasks!
Q. How do you cope with the more difficult aspects of the role?
A: I hope my last sentence shows that I have a sense of humour which is essential in a role like this, where you can be dealing with some stressful situations. Developing and maintaining good inter-professional relationships is also essential as you can talk through issues and bounce ideas off each other. This is not just true of my council colleagues – I’m involved with a number of local and regional organisations and forums that focus on safeguarding and we meet regularly to offer each other support. A good manager and appropriate supervision is also a must – and thankfully I have both.
And I make sure I value my personal time. This is a part-time role but it could easily fill seven days a week so it’s important to keep a distinction between work and home. The activities in my personal life are completely unrelated to safeguarding and this helps me too.
Q: What’s your priority in terms of safeguarding in Northamptonshire for the next 12 months?
A: To work harder with partners and get even better engagement with the different areas of the board. I’d also like to see a more consistent approach to supporting the Safeguarding Leads in schools. For example, schools in the South Northants cluster have recently got together to offer each other support and the first item on their agenda is safeguarding. This is an excellent initiative and I’d love to see it rolled out across the county.
Q: Finally, as someone who started working in safeguarding in the 1980s, what changes did you notice on your return?
A: I have seen a lot of changes for the better. There is a real awareness that safeguarding is everyone’s problem. Schools are 100% engaged with the improvement process, there’s more capacity in the Board and the new website is a dream to navigate – it’s so easy to find information now! I feel very optimistic about the future of safeguarding in Northamptonshire.
Last updated: 22 July 2015