Safeguarding learning and development framework passed by General Synod


General Synod today voted to approve the Safeguarding and Learning Development Framework as a Code of Practice which sets out details of the Church’s safeguarding learning pathways, for the next three years, along with expectations for Church officers*.

The safeguarding learning pathways support participants in developing and maintaining the necessary values, beliefs, knowledge, and skills to safeguard and protect children, young people, and vulnerable adults as outlined in the ‘Promoting a Safer Church’ House of Bishops policy statement (2017).

Introducing the debate Bishop Joanne Grenfell, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop outlined the importance of this framework for the whole Church noting that it builds on existing work and the framework before Synod was not significantly different to that published in 2021.  Church bodies have been successfully implementing this for the last three years. Bishop Joanne also highlighted the revisions to this edition noting they are driven by a programme of change designed to strengthen the opportunities for learning and development in safeguarding. (Her full speech can be read below).

The Framework sets out:

  • The vision, model, standards and requirements for safeguarding learning and development in the Church context.
  • Details of the range of learning and development pathways available and the requirements for their delivery.
  • Details of additional learning and development opportunities.

This practice guidance is for use across all Church bodies and once published in 2024, Church bodies must plan for full implementation of this framework from January 2025. The framework will not be revised again until 2027, ready for the next three-yearly cycle of safeguarding learning to commence in 2028.

*A ‘Church officer’ is anyone appointed/elected by or on behalf of the Church to a post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid. A Church Officer must be at least 18 years of age. However, the framework notes there a great many young helpers, leaders and PCC members who are between the ages of 16 and 19 years of age; these individuals should be supported to engage in the same level of safeguarding learning as their adult counterparts.


General Synod speech from lead safeguarding bishop Joanne Grenfell

Synod, I bring this important safeguarding and learning development framework for your approval as at least 25 members have asked for it to be debated rather than pass as deemed business.

I am indeed delighted that members want to discuss this, as it is a vital part of our safeguarding learning and understanding led by the National Safeguarding Team for all who work or volunteer in safeguarding.

I welcome discussion of its contents, and I look forward to hearing your personal reflections. My own experience of senior leadership training is that it is searching, thought provoking, and demands a response from the heart as well as the head. I think that’s what we need, because safeguarding can never be a tick box exercise.

The framework is before you for approval. Let me now outline why I ask you to do this:

It is builds on existing work and this iteration of the framework is not significantly different to that published in 2021 - Church bodies have been implementing this for the last three years

The reason for the lack of significant change is to allow for learning and development to become embedded and to build on the excellent progress that has been made across the Church

All Church bodies have implemented all existing pathways and are doing so with great success. Through the work of the Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission, it is being taken up in churches in Kenya, South Africa and New Zealand.

There are three key changes this time around – all born out of feedback which has been received over the past three years and brought up during the extensive consultation which has taken place across the Church. The key changes are:

An increase in the ratio of facilitators to participants from 1:6 to 1:8, allowing for overbooking up to 1:10, thus allowing greater numbers of people to be trained

The possibility of delivery of the Leadership Safeguarding Pathway as a single session – though only where it is delivered in person – to ease pressure on resources and to accommodate the logistics of in-person training in rural areas

An amendment to the required and recommended attendees at the Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse training, no longer requiring all PCC members to complete training but allowing for a significant proportion of them to do so. I’d like to think most would want to do it, as it is a powerful piece of training, but we are responding to feedback and trying to make sure that the best isn’t an enemy of the good.

Synod, the consequences of this not being approved as a Code would be that there would be no framework underpinning the learning and development programmes being delivered across the Church. This could cause church bodies to deviate from the national strategy and take us backwards to a place of inconsistency in approach and unsafe uncertainty as to who has completed what pieces of training as far as content is considered.

I look forward to hearing your views and I ask you to approve this Framework.