Child Protection & Safeguarding Policy
Designated Senior Person: Ms L White
Deputy Designated Senior Person: Mrs T Lambert
Designated Persons: Mrs H Dietz
Headteacher: Ms L White
- Policy statement and principals
The school’s safeguarding arrangements are inspected by Ofsted under the judgements for behaviour and safety, and leadership and management.
Our core safeguarding principles are:
- the school’s responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children is of paramount importance.
- safer children make more successful learners.
- Policies will be reviewed at least annually unless an incident or new legislation or guidance suggests the need for an interim review.
Child protection statement
We recognise our moral and statutory responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of all pupils. We endeavour to provide a safe and welcoming environment where children are respected and valued. We are alert to the signs of abuse and neglect and follow our procedures to ensure that children receive effective support, protection and justice.
The procedures contained in this policy apply to all staff and governors and are consistent with those of the local safeguarding children board (LSCB).
- Welfare of the child is paramount
- All children, regardless of age, gender, ability, culture, race, language, religion or sexual identity, have equal rights to protection
- All staff have an equal responsibility to act on any suspicion or disclosure that may suggest a child is at risk of harm
- Pupils and staff involved in child protection issues will receive appropriate support
- To provide all staff with the necessary information to enable them to meet their child protection responsibilities
- To ensure consistent good practice
- To demonstrate the school’s commitment with regard to child protection to pupils, parents and other partners
- To contribute to the school’s safeguarding portfolio
- Safeguarding legislation and guidance
Section 157 of the same act and the Education (Independent Schools Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 require proprietors of independent schools (including academies and city technology colleges) to have arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are pupils at the school.
- The Teacher Standards 2012 state that teachers, including head teachers should safeguard children’s wellbeing and maintain public trust in the teaching profession as part of their professional duties.
- The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) covers the legislative requirements and expectations on individual services (including schools and colleges) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It also provides the framework for LSCB’s to monitor the effectiveness of local services, including safeguarding arrangements in schools.
- The statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (2015) is issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards ) (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by SI 2012/2962) and the Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools) (England) Regulations 2011. Schools and colleges must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Unless otherwise stated, ‘school’ in this guidance means all schools, whether maintained, non-maintained or independent, including academies and free schools, alternative provision academies and pupil referral units. All staff should read Part One of this guidance and staff can find a copy in the staff room.
Research suggests that around 10 per cent of children will suffer some form of abuse, and disabled children are three times more likely to be abused. Due to their day-to-day contact with pupils, school staff are uniquely placed to observe changes in children’s behaviour and the outward signs of abuse. Children may also turn to a trusted adult in school when they are in distress or at risk. It is vital that school staff are alert to the signs of abuse and understand the procedures for reporting their concerns. The school will act on identified concerns and provide early help to prevent concerns from escalating.
- Roles and responsibilities
All schools should appoint a member of the senior leadership team to coordinate child protection arrangements.
- have the status and authority within the school to carry out the duties of the post, including committing resources and supporting and directing other staff
- are appropriately trained, with updates every two years
- act as a source of support and expertise to the school community
- encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings
- are alert to the specific needs of children in need, those with special educational needs and young carers
- have a working knowledge of LSCB procedures
- have an understanding of locally agreed processes for providing early help and intervention
- keep detailed written records of all concerns, ensuring that such records are stored securely and flagged on, but kept separate from, the pupil’s general file
- refer cases of suspected abuse to children’s social care or police as appropriate
- notify children’s social care if a child with a child protection plan is absent for more than two days without explanation
- ensure that when a pupil with a child protection plan leaves the school, their information is passed to their new school and the pupil’s social worker is informed
- where children leave the school, ensure the child protection file is copied for any new school as soon as possible but transferred separately from the main pupil file
- attend and/or contribute to child protection conferences
- coordinate the school’s contribution to child protection plans
- develop effective links with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies including the LSCB
- ensure that all staff sign to indicate that they have read and understood the child protection policy
- ensure that the child protection policy is regularly reviewed and updated annually
- liaise with the nominated governor and Headteacher
- All Staff and leaders to receive regular updates on safeguarding at least annually.
- Designated members of staff to receive safeguarding training every two years and knowledge and skills refreshed annulay.
- keep a record of staff attendance at child protection training.
- make the child protection policy available publicly, on the school’s website and by other means
- ensure parents are aware of the school’s role in safeguarding and that referrals about suspected abuse and neglect may be made
- work with the Headteacher to ensure cases concerning a member of staff are referred appropriately to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and/or the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
The deputy designated person(s) is appropriately trained and, in the absence of the senior designated person, carries out those functions necessary to ensure the ongoing safety and protection of pupils. In the event of the long-term absence of the designated person, the deputy will assume all of the functions above.
The governing body
- Has enhanced DBS status
- appoints a DSP for child protection who is a member of the senior leadership team and who has undertaken training in inter-agency working, in addition to basic child protection training
- ensures that the DSP role is explicit in the role holder’s job description
- has a child protection policy and procedures, including a staff code of conduct that is reviewed annually and made available publicly on the school’s website and by other means
- has procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse made against members of staff including allegations made against the head teacher and allegations against other children
- follows safer recruitment procedures that include statutory checks on staff suitability to work with children.
- Strengthened requirements for recruiting individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK. Check with EEA professional regulating authority using the NCTL teacher services system.
- The Teaching Services System is used to check that teachers are not prohibited from teaching and that managers of independent schools are not prohibited from managing.
- develops a training strategy that ensures all staff, including the head teacher, receives information about the school’s safeguarding arrangements on induction and appropriate child protection training, which is regularly updated. The DSP receives refresher training at two-yearly intervals
- ensures that all temporary staff and volunteers are made aware of the school’s arrangements for child protection
- ensures that the school contributes to inter agency working and plans
- provides a coordinated offer of early help when additional needs of children are identified
- Considers how pupils may be taught about safeguarding, including online as part of a broad and balanced curriculum
The governing body nominates a member (normally the chair) to be responsible for liaising with the local authority and other agencies in the event of an allegation being made against the Headteacher.
It is the responsibility of the governing body to ensure that the school’s safeguarding, recruitment and managing allegations procedures are in accordance with the LSCB and national guidance.
An annual report (Section 175 audit) will be submitted to the local authority about how the governing body’s duties have been carried out. Any weaknesses will be rectified without delay.
- ensures that the child protection policy and procedures are implemented and followed by all staff
- allocates sufficient time, training, support and resources, including cover arrangements when necessary, to enable the DSP and deputy to carry out their roles effectively, including the assessment of pupils and attendance at strategy discussions and other necessary meetings
- ensures that all staff feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice and that such concerns are handled sensitively and in accordance with the whistle blowing procedures
- ensures that pupils are provided with opportunities throughout the curriculum to learn about safeguarding, including keeping themselves safe online
- liaises with the Local Authority Designated Officer where an allegation is made against a member of staff
- Ensures that anyone who has harmed or may pose a risk to a child is referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service.
- Good practice guidelines and staff code of conduct
To meet and maintain our responsibilities towards pupils we need to agree standards of good practice which form a code of conduct for all staff. Good practice includes:
- treating all pupils with respect
- setting a good example by conducting ourselves appropriately
- involving pupils in decisions that affect them
- encouraging positive, respectful and safe behaviour among pupils
- being a good listener
- being alert to changes in pupils’ behaviour and to signs of abuse and neglect
- recognising that challenging behaviour may be an indicator of abuse
- reading and understanding the school’s child protection policy and guidance documents on wider safeguarding issues, for example bullying, behaviour, physical contact and information-sharing
- asking the pupil’s permission before initiating physical contact, such as assisting with dressing, physical support during PE or administering first aid
- maintaining appropriate standards of conversation and interaction with and between pupils and avoiding the use of sexualised or derogatory language
- being aware that the personal and family circumstances and lifestyles of some pupils lead to an increased risk of abuse
- applying the use of reasonable force only as a last resort and in compliance with school and LSCB procedures
- referring all concerns about a pupil’s safety and welfare to the DSP, or, if necessary directly to police or children’s social care
- following the school’s rules with regard to communication with pupils and use of social media and online networking
- Abuse of trust
All school staff are aware that inappropriate behaviour towards pupils is unacceptable and that their conduct towards pupils must be beyond reproach.
In addition, staff should understand that, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence for a person over the age of 18 to have a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 18, where that person is in a position of trust, even if the relationship is consensual. This means that any sexual activity between a member of the school staff and a pupil under 18 may be a criminal offence, even if that pupil is over the age of consent.
The school’s Staff Handbook sets out our expectations of staff.
- Children who may be particularly vulnerable
Some children may have an increased risk of abuse. It is important to understand that this increase in risk is due more to societal attitudes and assumptions, and child protection procedures that fail to acknowledge children’s diverse circumstances, rather than the individual child’s personality, impairment or circumstances. Many factors can contribute to an increase in risk, including prejudice and discrimination, isolation, social exclusion, communication issues and reluctance on the part of some adults to accept that abuse can occur.
We address the safeguarding of children with special educational needs and or disabilities by evaluating their needs and vulnerabilities in regular IEP updates
To ensure that all of our pupils receive equal protection, we will give special consideration to children who are:
- disabled or have special educational needs
- young carers
- living in a domestic abuse situation
- affected by parental substance misuse
- asylum seekers
- living away from home
- vulnerable to being bullied, or engaging in bullying
- living in temporary accommodation
- live transient lifestyles
- living in chaotic and unsupportive home situations
- vulnerable to discrimination and maltreatment on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexuality
- involved directly or indirectly in sexual exploitation
- do not have English as a first language
- at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) or forced marriage.
- Vulnerable to radicalisation or extreme view points.
This list provides examples of additionally vulnerable groups and is not exhaustive. Special consideration includes the provision of safeguarding information and resources in community languages and accessible formats for children with communication needs
- Missing children
A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. The DSP will monitor unauthorised absence, particularly where children go missing on repeated occasions.
- Helping children to keep themselves safe
Children are taught to understand and manage risk through our personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education lessons and through all aspects of school life. Our approach is designed to help children to think about risks they may encounter and with staff work out how those risks might be overcome. Discussions about risk are empowering and enabling for all children and promote sensible behaviour rather than fear or anxiety. Children are taught how to conduct themselves, interact with peers and behave in a responsible manner. Our children are taught to respect gender issues and individual sexuality. Children are also reminded regularly about e-safety ( see ICT Policy)and tackling bullying procedures. The school continually promotes an ethos of respect for children, and pupils are encouraged to speak to a member of staff in confidence about any worries they may have.
- Support for those involved in a child protection issue
Child abuse is devastating for the child and can also result in distress and anxiety for staff who become involved.
We will support pupils, their families, and staff by:
- taking all suspicions and disclosures seriously
- where a member of staff is the subject of an allegation made by a pupil, separate link people will be nominated to avoid any conflict of interest
- responding sympathetically to any request from pupils or staff for time out to deal with distress or anxiety
- maintaining confidentiality and sharing information on a need-to-know basis only with relevant individuals and agencies
- storing records securely
- offering details of help lines, counselling or other avenues of external support
- following the procedures laid down in our whistleblowing, complaints and disciplinary procedures
- Cooperating fully with relevant statutory agencies.
- Complaints procedure
Our complaints procedure will be followed where a pupil or parent raises a concern about poor practice towards a pupil that initially does not reach the threshold for child protection action.Poor practice examples include unfairly singling out a pupil or attempting to humiliate them, bullying or belittling a pupil or discriminating against them in some way. Complaints are managed by senior staff, the head teacher and governors.
Complaints from staff are dealt with under the school’s complaints and disciplinary and grievance procedures.
- If you have concerns about a colleague
Staff who are concerned about the conduct of a colleague towards a pupil are undoubtedly placed in a very difficult situation. They may worry that they have misunderstood the situation and they will wonder whether a report could jeopardise their colleague’s career. All staff must remember that the welfare of the child is paramount. The school’s whistleblowing code (Headteacher’s room) enables staff to raise concerns or allegations in confidence and for a sensitive enquiry to take place.
All concerns of poor practice or possible child abuse by colleagues should be reported to the head teacher. Complaints about the Headteacher should be reported to the chair of governors.
Staff may also report their concerns directly to children’s social care or the police if they believe direct reporting is necessary to secure action
- Allegations against staff
When an allegation is made against a member of staff, set procedures must be followed. It is rare for a child to make an entirely false or malicious allegation, although misunderstandings and misinterpretations of events do happen.
A child may also make an allegation against an innocent party because they are too afraid to name the real perpetrator. Even so, we must accept that some professionals do pose a serious risk to pupils and we must act on every allegation. Staff who are the subject of an allegation have the right to have their case dealt with fairly, quickly and consistently and to be kept informed of its progress. Suspension is not the default option and alternatives to suspension will always be considered. In some cases, staff may be suspended where this is deemed to be the best way to ensure that children are protected.
Allegations against staff should be reported to the head teacher. Allegations against the head teacher should be reported to the chair of governors. Staff may also report their concerns directly to police or children’s social care if they believe direct reporting is necessary to secure action
The full procedures for dealing with allegations against staff can be found in Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE, 2015).
Staff, parents and governors are reminded that publication of material that may lead to the identification of a teacher who is the subject of an allegation is prohibited by law. Publication includes verbal conversations or writing, including content placed on social media sites.
- Staff training
It is important that all staff have training to enable them to recognise the possible signs of abuse and neglect and to know what to do if they have a concern.
New staff and governors will receive an explanation during their induction which includes the school’s child protection policy, reporting and recording arrangements, the staff code of conduct and details for the DSP. All staff, including the Headteacher (unless the Headteacher is the DSP) and governors will receive training that is regularly updated including training in inter-agency procedures.
- Safer recruitment
Our school endeavours to ensure that we do our utmost to employ ‘safe’ staff using the principles of safer recruitment.
Safer recruitment means that all applicants will:
- complete an application form which includes their employment history
- provide two referees, including at least one who can comment on the applicant’s suitability to work with children
- provide evidence of identity and qualifications
- be checked in accordance with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) regulations as appropriate to their role
- provide evidence of their right to work in the UK
- be interviewed
The school will also verify the candidate’s mental and physical fitness to carry out their work responsibilities.
At least one member of each recruitment panel will have attended safer recruitment training.
All new members of staff will undergo an induction that includes familiarisation with the school’s child protection policy and identification of their child protection training needs.
All staff sign to confirm they have received a copy of the child protection policy.
The school obtains written confirmation from supply agencies that agency staff have been appropriately checked.
The school maintains a single central record of recruitment checks undertaken.
Volunteers, including governors will undergo checks commensurate with their work in the school and contact with pupils.
Volunteers who work only in a supervised capacity and are not in regulated activity will undergo the safe recruitment checks appropriate to their role, in accordance with the school’s risk assessment process and statutory guidance.
The school checks the identity of all contractors working on site and requests DBS checks where appropriate.
- Site security
Visitors to the school, including contractors, are asked to sign in and are given a badge, which confirms they have permission to be on site. Parents who are simply delivering or collecting their children do not need to sign in. All visitors are expected to observe the school’s safeguarding and health and safety regulations to ensure children in school are kept safe. The Headteacher will exercise professional judgement in determining whether any visitor should be escorted or supervised while on site.
- Extended school and off-site arrangements
Where extended school activities are provided by and managed by the school, our own child protection policy and procedures apply. If other organisations provide services or activities on our site we will check that they have appropriate procedures in place, including safer recruitment procedures.
When our pupils attend off-site activities, including day and residential visits and work related activities, we will check that effective child protection arrangements are in place.
- Photography and images
The vast majority of people who take or view photographs or videos of children do so for entirely innocent, understandable and acceptable reasons. Sadly, some people abuse children through taking or using images, so we must ensure that we have some safeguards in place.
To protect pupils we will:
- seek their consent for photographs to be taken or published (for example, on our website or in newspapers or publications)
- seek parental consent
- use only the pupil’s first name with an image
- ensure pupils are appropriately dressed
- Encourage pupils to tell us if they are worried about any photographs that are taken of them.
Our pupils increasingly use mobile phones, tablets and computers on a daily basis. They are a source of fun, entertainment, communication and education. However, we know that some adults and young people will use these technologies to harm children. The harm might range from sending hurtful or abusive texts and emails, to enticing children to engage in sexually harmful conversations, webcam photography or face-to-face meetings. Cyberbullying and sexting by pupils, via texts and emails, will be treated as seriously as any other type of bullying and will be managed through our anti-bullying procedures.
Chatrooms and social networking sites are the more obvious sources of inappropriate and harmful behaviour and pupils are not allowed to access these sites in school. Some pupils will undoubtedly be ‘chatting’ on mobiles or social networking sites at home and parents are encouraged to consider measures to keep their children safe when using social mediahttps://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/.
Staff also receive advice regarding the use of social networking and electronic communication with pupils.
- Child protection procedures
To ensure that our pupils are protected from harm, we need to understand what types of behaviour constitute abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, for example by hitting them, or by failing to act to prevent harm, for example by leaving a small child home alone, or leaving knives or matches within reach of an unattended toddler.
Abuse may be committed by adult men or women and by other children and young people.
The school recognises its duty to protect its pupils from indoctrination into any form of extreme ideology which may lead to the harm of self or others. This is particularly important due to the open access to electronic information through the internet. The school aims to safeguard young people through educating them on appropriate use of social media and the dangers of downloading and sharing inappropriate material which is illegal under the Counter Terrorism Act. The school vets all visitors rigorously and will take firm action if any individual or group is perceived to be attempting to influence members of our school community, either physically or electronically.
There are four categories of abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
Physical abuse is a form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. (This used to be called Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, but is now more usually referred to as fabricated or induced illness).
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Female genital mutilation – FGM (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Definitions taken from Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2015).
While bullying between children is not a separate category of abuse and neglect, it is a very serious issue that can cause considerable anxiety and distress. At its most serious level, bullying can have a disastrous effect on a child’s wellbeing and in very rare cases has been a feature in the suicide of some young people.
All incidences of bullying, including cyber-bullying and prejudice-based bullying should be reported and will be managed through our tackling-bullying procedures. All pupils and parents receive a copy of the procedures on joining the school and the subject of bullying is addressed at regular intervals in PSHE education. If the bullying is particularly serious, or the tackling bullying procedures are deemed to be ineffective, the head teacher and the DSP will consider implementing child protection procedures.
Indicators of abuse
Physical signs define some types of abuse, for example, bruising, bleeding or broken bones resulting from physical or sexual abuse, or injuries sustained while a child has been inadequately supervised. The identification of physical signs is complicated, as children may go to great lengths to hide injuries, often because they are ashamed or embarrassed, or their abuser has threatened further violence or trauma if they ‘tell’. It is also quite difficult for anyone without medical training to categorise injuries into accidental or deliberate with any degree of certainty. For these reasons it is vital that staff are also aware of the range of behavioural indicators of abuse and report any concerns to the designated senior person.
It is the responsibility of staff to report their concerns. It is not their responsibility to investigate or decide whether a child has been abused.
A child who is being abused or neglected may:
- have bruises, bleeding, burns, fractures or other injuries
- show signs of pain or discomfort
- keep arms and legs covered, even in warm weather
- be concerned about changing for PE or swimming
- look unkempt and uncared for
- change their eating habits
- have difficulty in making or sustaining friendships
- appear fearful
- be reckless with regard to their own or other’s safety
- frequently miss school or arrive late
- show signs of not wanting to go home
- display a change in behaviour – from quiet to aggressive, or happy-go-lucky to withdrawn
- challenge authority
- become disinterested in their school work
- be constantly tired or preoccupied
- be wary of physical contact
- be involved in, or particularly knowledgeable about drugs or alcohol
- Display sexual knowledge or behaviour beyond that normally expected for their age.
Individual indicators will rarely, in isolation, provide conclusive evidence of abuse. They should be viewed as part of a jigsaw, and each small piece of information will help the DSP to decide how to proceed.
It is very important that staff report their concerns – they do not need ‘absolute proof’ that the child is at risk.
Impact of abuse
The impact of child abuse should not be underestimated. Many children do recover well and go on to lead healthy, happy and productive lives, although most adult survivors agree that the emotional scars remain, however well buried. For some children, full recovery is beyond their reach, and the rest of their childhood and their adulthood may be characterised by anxiety or depression, self-harm, eating disorders, alcohol and substance misuse, unequal and destructive relationships and long-term medical or psychiatric difficulties.
Any child, in any family in any school could become a victim of abuse. Staff should always maintain an attitude of “it could happen here”.
Key points for staff to remember for taking action are:
- in an emergency take the action necessary to help the child, for example, call 999
- report your concern to the DSP immediately
- do not start your own investigation
- share information on a need-to-know basis only – do not discuss the issue with colleagues, friends or family
- complete a record of concern
- Seek support for yourself if you are distressed.
If you are concerned about a pupil’s welfare
There will be occasions when staff may suspect that a pupil may be at risk, but have no ‘real’ evidence. The pupil’s behaviour may have changed, their artwork could be bizarre, and they may write stories or poetry that reveal confusion or distress, or physical but inconclusive signs may have been noticed. In these circumstances, staff will try to give the pupil the opportunity to talk. The signs they have noticed may be due to a variety of factors, for example, a parent has moved out, a pet has died, a grandparent is very ill. It is fine for staff to ask the pupil if they are OK or if they can help in any way.
Staff should use the welfare concern form to record these early concerns. If the pupil does begin to reveal that they are being harmed, staff should follow the advice below. Following an initial conversation with the pupil, if the member of staff remains concerned, they should discuss their concerns with the DSP.
If a pupil discloses to you
It takes a lot of courage for a child to disclose that they are being abused. They may feel ashamed, particularly if the abuse is sexual; their abuser may have threatened what will happen if they tell; they may have lost all trust in adults; or they may believe, or have been told, that the abuse is their own fault.
If a pupil talks to a member of staff about any risks to their safety or wellbeing, the staff member will need to let the pupil know that they must pass the information on – staff are not allowed to keep secrets. The point at which they tell the pupil this is a matter for professional judgement. If they jump in immediately the pupil may think that they do not want to listen, if left until the very end of the conversation, the pupil may feel that they have been misled into revealing more than they would have otherwise.
During their conversations with the pupils staff will:
- not promise confidentiality
- allow them to speak freely
- remain calm and not overreact – the pupil may stop talking if they feel they are upsetting their listener
- give reassuring nods or words of comfort – ‘I’m so sorry this has happened’, ‘I want to help’, ‘This isn’t your fault’, ‘You are doing the right thing in talking to me’
- not be afraid of silences – staff must remember how hard this must be for the pupil
- under no circumstances ask investigative questions – such as how many times this has happened, whether it happens to siblings too, or what does the pupil’s mother think about all this
- at an appropriate time tell the pupil that in order to help them, the member of staff must pass the information on
- Not automatically offer any physical touch as comfort. It may be anything but comforting to a child who has been abused
- Avoid admonishing the child for not disclosing earlier. Saying things such as ‘I do wish you had told me about this when it started’ or ‘I can’t believe what I’m hearing’ may be the staff member’s way of being supportive but may be interpreted by the child to mean that they have done something wrong
- Tell the pupil what will happen next. The pupil may agree to go to see the designated senior person. Otherwise let them know that someone will come to see them before the end of the day.
- report verbally to the DSP even if the child has promised to do it by themselves
- write up their conversation as soon as possible on the record of concern form and hand it to the designated person
- seek support if they feel distressed
The school will normally seek to discuss any concerns about a pupil with their parents. This must be handled sensitively and the DSP will make contact with the parent in the event of a concern, suspicion or disclosure.
However, if the school believes that notifying parents could increase the risk to the child or exacerbate the problem, advice will first be sought from children’s social care.
Referral to children’s social care
The DSP will make a referral to children’s social care if it is believed that a pupil is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm. The pupil (subject to their age and understanding) and the parents will be told that a referral is being made, unless to do so would increase the risk to the child.
Children with sexually harmful behaviour
Children may be harmed by other children or young people. Staff will be aware of the harm caused by bullying and will use the school’s anti-bullying procedures where necessary. However, there will be occasions when a pupil’s behaviour warrants a response under child protection rather than anti-bullying procedures. In particular, research suggests that up to 30 per cent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone under the age of 18.
The management of children and young people with sexually harmful behaviour is complex and the school will work with other relevant agencies to maintain the safety of the whole school community. Young people who display such behaviour may be victims of abuse themselves and the child protection procedures will be followed for both victim and perpetrator. Staff who become concerned about a pupil’s sexual behaviour should speak to the DSP as soon as possible.
Sexual exploitation of children
Sexual exploitation involves an individual or group of adults taking advantage of the vulnerability of an individual or groups of children or young people, and victims can be boys or girls. Children and young people are often unwittingly drawn into sexual exploitation through the offer of friendship and care, gifts, drugs and alcohol, and sometimes accommodation. Sexual exploitation is a serious crime and can have a long-lasting adverse impact on a child’s physical and emotional health. It may also be linked to child trafficking. All staff are made aware of the indicators of sexual exploitation and all concerns are reported immediately to the DSP.
Confidentiality and sharing information
All staff will understand that child protection issues warrant a high level of confidentiality, not only out of respect for the pupil and staff involved but also to ensure that being released into the public domain does not compromise evidence.
Staff should only discuss concerns with the designated senior person, head teacher or chair of governors (depending on who is the subject of the concern). That person will then decide who else needs to have the information and they will disseminate it on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.
However, following a number of cases where senior leaders in school had failed to act upon concerns raised by staff, Keeping Children Safe in Education emphasises that any member of staff can contact children’s social care if they are concerned about a child.
Child protection information will be stored and handled in line with Data Protection Act 1998 principles. Information is:
- processed for limited purposes
- adequate, relevant and not excessive
- kept no longer than necessary
- processed in accordance with the data subject’s rights
Information on children is stored in files kept in a locked cabinet.
Every effort will be made to prevent unauthorised access, and sensitive information should not be stored on laptop computers, which, by the nature of their portability, could be lost or stolen. Child protection information will be stored separately from the pupil’s school file and the school file will be labelled to indicate that separate information is held.
Child protection records are normally exempt from the disclosure provisions of the Data Protection Act, which means that children and parents do not have an automatic right to see them. If any member of staff receives a request from a pupil or parent to see child protection records, they will refer the request to the head teacher or DSP.
The Data Protection Act does not prevent school staff from sharing information with relevant agencies, where that information may help to protect a child.
Reporting directly to child protection agencies
Staff should follow the reporting procedures outlined in this policy. However, they may also share information directly with children’s social care, police or the NSPCC if:
- the situation is an emergency and the designated senior person, their deputy, the head teacher and the chair of governors are all unavailable
- they are convinced that a direct report is the only way to ensure the pupil’s safety
- For any other reason they make a judgement that direct referral is in the best interests of the child.
Looked after children
The most common reason for children becoming looked after is as a result of abuse or neglect. The school ensures that appropriate staff have information about a child’s looked after status and care arrangements. The designated teacher for looked after children and the DSP have details of the child’s social worker and the name and contact details of the local authority’s virtual head for children in care.
Policy Reviewed: Annually Date of next review: September 2017