In line with South Lanarkshire College’s vision of being ‘Scotland’s leading provider of college education and training’, the college is fully committed to providing a learning environment that ensures the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff. 

Due to recent high-profile cases across the UK, Gender-Based Violence is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and South Lanarkshire College take a zero-tolerance approach to all instances of gender-based violence.  In line with the Equally Safe initiative developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA, the College is committed to securing a future where gender-based violence no longer exists.

South Lanarkshire College, Head of Student Services, Rose Harkness said “At South Lanarkshire College, we recognise and understand the physical, emotional, and psychological impact that can be experienced by survivors of gender-based violence and are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to deliver a safe college community for all staff and students.  All of us have a responsibility for preventing gender-based violence in our communities and wider society”.

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To help achieve this vision, South Lanarkshire College have produced a Gender-Based Violence Prevention Strategy that is underpinned by three strategic priorities: Prevention, Support and Wellbeing Framework and Awareness Raising and Changing Attitudes.  To ensure these priorities are implemented and embedded across the institution the College produced an action plan along with a Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Support Policy.  This important work is continually monitored by the College’s Safeguarding Group and reviewed and developed on an annual basis.  The College are also delighted to be one of the pilot institutions working with EmilyTest on the Gender Based Violence Charter for colleges and universities.  EmilyTest is a Scottish charity working to improve prevention, intervention and support concerning gender-based violence in further and higher education. The charity was created in 2016 following the death of undergraduate student, Emily Drouet, who took her own life, after being subjected to a campaign of Gender Based Violence from a fellow student. 

The College seeks to further ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all, by being identified as a ‘corporate parent’.  The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 defines corporate parenting as "the formal and local partnerships between all services responsible for working together to meet the needs of looked after children, young people and care leavers.  The legislation includes those in foster care, residential care, secure care, looked after at home in compulsory supervision orders and those in formal kinship care.

Head of Student Services, Rose Harkness continues “The College recognises that often these individuals are among some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They often have complex support needs and most likely have experienced trauma, loss, or distress.  We take our responsibilities as a corporate parent extremely seriously and have the appropriate resources in place to promote and support the health and wellbeing of these individuals.  All of which ensures they have every opportunity to fulfil their full potential and move to a positive life outcome.  At South Lanarkshire College, we have developed a meaningful and inclusive Corporate Parenting Strategy 2020-23 and action plan on how we plan to deliver on this.  This plan was co-designed in partnership with the College’s Students’ Association.”

Additionally, South Lanarkshire College put a strong emphasis on Child Protection and Safeguarding, the College recognises its obligation outlined in the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 as well as the newly published National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 to protect young people under the age of 18, and vulnerable adults from instances of physical, emotional, sexual or institutional abuse.

It acknowledges the specific needs of young people with disabilities, minority ethnic groups and other groups in society that suffer discrimination and who might be especially vulnerable to abuse. The College has robust safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures in place to ensure that the appropriate action is taken immediately where a young person or vulnerable adult is suspected of being abused. The prime concern at all times is the safety and interests of young people and vulnerable adults.

Rose Harkness concludes, “At South Lanarkshire College, all staff undergo enhanced Protecting Vulnerable Group (PVG) disclosure and undertake mandatory Prevent, safeguarding and child protection training as part of the staff induction process.  Safeguarding training is available on an ongoing basis as part of the College’s annual designated staff development days.  This includes training on gender-based violence prevention and support, LGBT, mental health awareness and resilience workshops and suicide prevention.  There may also be instances when individuals are experiencing issues with physical and mental health or may be in crisis. This includes concerns with health and psychological difficulties, anxiety, depression, self-harm or suicide ideation. The College have an increasing number of staff trained in Mental Health First Aid and ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), ensuring we can respond quickly and provide that all important one-to-one caring support to those who need it”.

To find out more about the safe and inclusive strategies at South Lanarkshire College visit www.slc.ac.uk

This article appears as part of The Herald's The Future Of Education campaign, in association with South Lanarkshire College.