• The Open University

Leadership in Safeguarding in the International Aid Sector

Improve your leadership skills and organisational culture to help keep people safe.

1,048 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • Digital upgrade


Develop your leadership skills and enhance organisational culture

There is a growing need to develop leadership skills and a culture of accountability within organisations working with vulnerable communities in the international aid sector.

This free, four-week blended course will help you improve your leadership capacity. It will provide an opportunity for critical reflection on your personal leadership skills and styles and a chance to share frameworks and tools with peers through online discussion.

You’ll be able to join live webinars with esteemed speakers, which will further support the development of your advanced safeguarding practice. 

This course will equip you with the skills to support greater accountability in your organisation and challenge impunity in the sector, to foster public trust and keep staff, and beneficiaries alike, safe.

Take a strengths-based approach to leadership

You’ll explore the importance of organisational culture and how this is conducive to safeguarding. The course will also emphasise the role of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in promoting safeguarding.

You’ll have the chance to evaluate mechanisms for reporting, responding, and investigating safeguarding concerns before learning how to take a strengths-based approach to leadership, good governance, and organisational oversight in safeguarding.  

Access safeguarding training from the experts at The Open University

This course was co-created by senior academic safeguarding specialists from The Open University and an international human rights and safeguarding expert who has worked with several international aid agencies.

Course materials were developed with support from BOND, CHS Alliance, Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub, leaders in the sector and critically reviewed by leaders and safeguarding leads in international aid agencies.


  • Week 1

    Leadership skills required for safeguarding

    • Introduction to the course

      This section introduces the learning outcomes for the course and offers important guidance on how to keep yourself safe as you study.

    • Leadership in safeguarding

      This section looks at the importance of leadership in safeguarding. This includes exploring the particular relevance of feminist leadership styles as an example.

    • Creating safe spaces through supervision and wellbeing

      This section explores how those in leadership positions could promote safe spaces within their organisations by focusing on the use of supervision, wellbeing and empathy.

    • Review your learning and join a webinar

      The Week ends with an opportunity to review your learning and join a webinar.

  • Week 2

    The importance of a safe organisational culture

    • A positive and safe organisational culture

      This Week reflects on how to improve organisational culture to support the safeguarding of all persons, including identifying barriers to a positive organisational culture and practices which give rise to safeguarding concerns.

    • Why equality, diversity and inclusion matter

      Studies show that organisations that are more diverse tend to be more successful in achieving greater accountability. Under-representation of some groups leads to missing significant talent pools.

    • Transforming organisational culture

      Building the capacity or composition of the Board may be needed to transform organisational culture.

    • Strong safeguarding cultures among leaders

      Leaders may still struggle to know what a strong safeguarding organisational culture to keep people safe looks like in practice.

  • Week 3

    Reporting, responding and investigations

    • Challenging the culture of silence

      This Week we look at methods of reporting, how organisations should respond, protection for whistleblowers, and carrying out administrative investigations.

    • Principles of investigations and roles and responsibilities

      When undertaking investigations, it’s important to ensure the principles of investigations are upheld at all times.

    • Accountability and protecting whistleblowers

      In this section, we look at an organisation’s accountability to survivors/victims, accountability to donors, and accountability to regulatory bodies.

    • Review this week's learning and join a webinar

      A chance to review what you have learnt in Week 3 of this course and join a webinar.

  • Week 4

    Good governance and organisational oversight

    • Power and privilege

      The Board, the ultimate governing body of any organisation, is responsible for good governance and oversight.

    • A diverse and purpose-driven Board

      To ensure a variety of views from the best minds and informed decision-making, the recruitment of Board members is of vital importance.

    • Risk management, regulatory bodies and internal relationships

      All international aid organisations have a responsibility to ensure they don’t cause harm to anyone who has contact with them.

    • Review your learning and join a webinar

      Join a live webinar to explore the role and responsibilities of the Boards of international aid organisations.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Improve personalised approaches to safeguarding and embed evidence-based and culturally sensitive ways of working in your organisation.
  • Critically reflect on personal leadership skills using different frameworks and tools to embed a safe organisational culture.
  • Share learning on good practice on safer reporting and responding in order to improve accountability.
  • Implement good governance with clear senior oversight of organisational safeguarding.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for those in leadership, governance, or management positions who have a joint responsibility in safeguarding.

Those who have completed both Introduction to Safeguarding in the International Aid Sector and Implementing Safeguarding in the International Aid Sector will also find this course beneficial to consolidate their learning and to enable them to influence safeguarding practice in their organisations. This course is intended for those who are aged 18 years and above only.

This online course has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

Please note: this course is facilitated by Philippa Ramsden, Helen Horn & Tina Fahm from 9 May 2022 until 19 June 2022.

Who will you learn with?

An international human rights lawyer and expert in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, gender and sexual violence, and human rights and IHL in the international aid sector.

Jan Webb is the Associate Head of School for Nursing and Health Professions at the Open University. She has extensive experience of teaching and developing safeguarding and child protection courses.

Susan is an Open University tutor and a seasoned development researcher. She works extensively with international development organisations to deliver training and author teaching materials.

Andy Rixon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, specialising in children, young people, and families. Andy has a background as a social worker

Philippa Ramsden is an international development professional. She specialises in safeguarding and organisational effectiveness and has worked globally in education with a focus on inclusion.

Tina is the CEO of an international consulting firm. She has 30+ years experience in designing and delivering learning programmes in governance, leadership and safeguarding in the development sector.

Helen’s experience in government and the international aid sector includes humanitarian preparedness and response, and global initiatives to strengthen professional standards and safeguarding.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Endorsers and supporters

funded by


What's included?

The Open University are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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