British International Schools Safeguarding Coalition Launches November 2023

Today is a monumentous day for global safeguarding with the official launch of the British International Schools Safeguarding Coalition (BISSC)
BISSC is a ground-breaking collaboration bringing together: The Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO), British Schools in the Middle East (BSME), Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Federation of British International School in Asia (FOBISIA), Latin American Heads Conference (LAHC), National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS) and The Safeguarding Alliance (TSA) to pioneer a shared commitment in upholding the highest standards in safeguarding. 
Key Objectives
BISSC will lobby the UK government to provide greater and more effective safeguarding support and guidance to the British international school sector, including, but not limited to:
•    The establishment of the International Teaching Regulation Agency (ITRA)
•    The establishment of the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme for International Schools (MDSIS)
•    The creation of a shared resource hub for British international schools.
•    The strengthening of partnerships safeguarding between BISSC, the Government and regulators.
Core Principles
Our commitment to safeguarding is underpinned by the following principles:
1.    Collaboration and Partnership: Collaboration is at the heart of our commitment to safeguarding. We firmly believe that by working together with like-minded organisations, regulators, governments, specialists, and communities, we can create a more powerful and effective force for change. Our commitment to collaboration extends to sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices to enhance the protection of vulnerable individuals. Together, we will grow a stronger culture in safeguarding. 
2.    Pioneering change: We are committed to relentlessly lobby for change in safeguarding. Our dedication to this cause is unwavering, as we tirelessly advocate for stronger protections, legal reforms, and heightened awareness. We believe that by actively engaging with policymakers and advocating for safeguarding improvements, we can make a lasting impact on the safety and well-being of vulnerable communities, ensuring a brighter, more secure future for all.
3.    Sharing best practice: We believe that by openly sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can empower individuals and other organisations to create safer environments for vulnerable communities. Through this commitment, we aim to foster a collective dedication to safeguarding, ensuring that the best practices are accessible to all, and ultimately, improving the well-being of those we serve.
4.    Growing a culture of safeguarding: Our commitment to safeguarding excellence is embedded at the very core of BISSC’s roots. We prioritise continuous training, education, and peer support to nurture a culture of vigilance and care. Through ongoing learning and collaboration, we empower practitioners to recognise and respond effectively to safeguarding concerns. This commitment extends to our wider community, where we aim to inspire and support others in their journey towards effective safeguarding, ensuring that the protection and well-being of all remains paramount.
5.    Child-Centred Approach: We pledge to always prioritise the well-being and protection of children. Their physical, emotional, and psychological safety is at the core of everything we do. We are dedicated to creating an environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive without fear or harm, abuse or neglect. 
6.    Impact Measurement: We maintain that safeguarding has no finish line. We will measure our impact, gather data, and evaluate our initiatives to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of the communities we serve. We will regularly review and enhance our objectives in light of evolving best practices, legal requirements, and emerging risks. We will learn from our experiences and from the broader safeguarding community. 
I am honoured to be Chairing this ground-breaking global safeguarding initiative. The Safeguarding Alliance is no stranger in lobbying for safeguarding reform, having successfully lobbied the UK government for legislative change to stop sex offenders changing their name to evade justice, Della’s Law. In my capacity as Chair, I am committed to ensuring any safeguarding risk, concern or challenge identified will be given the utmost priority. 
Many of you will be aware that The Safeguarding Alliance refer to safeguarding as the Tree of Safeguarding. This is because a tree is organic and will live a very long time if nurtured and provided with the correct environment in which to thrive. 
However, you cannot plant a tree and expect it to grow just because you have a seed. The environment has to be right, for example an oak tree will not grow in the desert and a palm tree will not grow in a cold forest. 
The same principle applies to safeguarding. You cannot take a 'UK' seed of safeguarding, plant it internationally, and expect it to grow as the conditions will not support it. Safeguarding must remain not only contextual but culturally contextual.
BISSC will not only plant one Tree of Safeguarding, we will plant a forest which will leave a legacy in safeguarding for generations to come.” 
 Global Chief Executive Officer of TSA and Chair of BISSC, Emily Konstantas
James McDonald, Chair of AOBSO, is thrilled that AOBSO has been a part of this collaboration from its outset and looks forward to the positive impact this will undoubtedly have on making children in British international schools even safer than they are today. One safeguarding incident in any school is one incident too many! We are delighted to host and help launch this initiative at our 2023 conference.
 Chair of AoBSO, James McDonald
Debra Forsyth, CEO BSME, has worked tirelessly to promote strong safeguarding practices within the association’s schools and is delighted to be part of this powerful global initiative. The coalition's work will add a significant and cohesive extra layer of protection for children in British international schools globally. The valuable support of the UK Government and its relevant departments will further bolster the coalition's impact and influence in the sector, which has to be a very positive step forward. 
 Chief Executive Officer of BSME, Debra Forsyth 
Colin Bell, CEO COBIS, is delighted that the six UK Government supported and approved British international school associations have taken the initiative to focus on and promote an even more joined up approach to safeguarding. Representing international schools as a founding member of the International Task Force on Child Protection (ITFCP) for international schools, and having presented written and verbal evidence to the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Colin firmly believes that this is a major step forwards and supports the excellent processes and procedures already in place within COBIS and fellow associations.
 Chief Executive Officer of COBIS, Colin Bell 
John Gwyn Jones, CEO FOBISIA, has been a key driver in ensuring that this initiative was at the forefront of cross-association meetings and wholeheartedly supports this coming together in the form of a safeguarding coalition. He passionately supports the initiative and wants regional as well as global British international school associations to establish greater cross border collaboration when it comes to child protection and safeguarding, so they become even safer places for children. He believes that British Schools (both in the UK and Internationally) lead the way in promoting the very best in safeguarding practice.
 Chief Executive Officer of FOBISIA, John Gwyn Jones
Alan Downie, Executive Officer of LAHC, has helped shape the coalition's terms of reference and is excited about the positive impact this will have initially upon British international education, but also in time upon global international education. If we set the bar high others will follow, and we’d be delighted to support and develop greater rigour regarding safeguarding procedures across the global sector. 
 Executive Officer of LAHC, Alan Downie 
Adrian Massam, President of NABSS, is looking forward to supporting this initiative and the more rigorously shared procedures the better. We must do all that we can to ensure that there is no place for weaknesses within recruitment processes and procedures to allow those with predatory characteristics to work in our schools. 
 President of NABSS, Adrian Massam 
Together we are one voice united in safeguarding.