Child Protection Policy

Principle

Every pupil should feel safe and protected from any form of abuse which, in this policy, means any kind of neglect, non-accidental physical injury, sexual exploitation or emotional ill-treatment.

Our Commitment

Our policy, and our commitment, at New Direction are to take all reasonable measures to safeguard and promote the welfare of each pupil in our care to:

  1. Ensure that we practice safe recruitment in checking the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with children and young people.
  2. Protect each pupils from any form of abuse, whether from an adult or another pupil.
  3. Be alert to signs of abuse both in the School and from outside.
  4. Deal appropriately with every suspicion or complaint of abuse.
  5. Design and operate procedures which promote this policy and which, so far as possible, ensure that teachers and others who are innocent are not prejudices by false allegations.
  6. Support any child who has been abused, in accordance with his/her agreed child protection plan.
  7. Be alert to the needs of children with medical conditions.
  8. Operate robust and sensible health and safety procedures.
  9. Take all practicable steps to ensure that school premises are as secure as circumstances permit.
  10. Operate clear and supportive policies on drugs, alcohol and substance misuse.
  11. Consider and develop procedures to deal with any other safeguarding issues which may be specific of individual children in our school or local area.
  12. Have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State of Education and Skills in accordance with section 157 Education Act 2002 and associated regulations.
  13. Establish and maintain an ethos where pupils feel secure and are encouraged to talk and are listened to.
  14. Ensure pupils know that there are adults in the School whom they can approach if they are worried or in difficulty.
  15. Uphold and develop each pupil’s self-esteem, security, confidence, assertiveness, independence and personal safety skills.
  16. Help pupils to acquire skills and attitudes to stand against abuse in their own lives and to prepare them for responsibilities, including parenthood, in their adult lives.
  17. Encourage all pupils towards a positive self-image.
  18. Help pupils to make a reasoned, informed choices, judgements and decisions.
  19. Establish effective communication between pupils, teachers, parents and support agencies.
  20. Provide guidelines for all New Direction staff in cases of suspected or disclosed abuse.

The Designated Officer

As a small specialised school the Proprietor and School Manager at New Direction is also the person responsible for matters relating to child protection and welfare. The main responsibilities of the Designated Officer are:

  1. To be the first point of contact for parents, pupils, teaching and support staff, external agencies and any other in all matters of child protection.
  2. To ensure all staff are aware of the need to be alert to signs of abuse and know how to respond to a pupil who may tell of abuse.
  3. To co-ordinate the child protection procedures in the School.
  4. To ensure an on-going training programme for all school employees.
  5. To monitor the keeping, confidentiality and storage of records in relation to child protection.
  6. To liaise with the child protection officer appointed by the Social Care.
  7. To ensure that all pupils are encouraged to talk and that pupils know whom to approach with any concerns.
  8. To ensure that the duty of care towards pupils and staff is promoted by raising awareness of illegal, unsafe and unwise behaviour and assist staff to monitor their own standards and practice.

In The Event Of A Complaint/Suspicion

The Proprietor may be contacted on 01246 810456/out of hours on 07710 723784.

The Proprietor will:

  • Advise and act upon all suspicion, belief and evidence of abuse reported to her.
  • Keep the Proprietor informed of all actions unless the Proprietor is the subject of the complaint.
  • Liaise with Social Care and other agencies on behalf of the School.
  • Speak at the School assembly early in each Autumn Term about child protection and the adults to whom pupils with concerns should turn.

If the Proprietor is unavailable the subject of complaint, her duties will be carried out by the School Manager who can be contacted on 01246 810456/07539 073253.

Every complaint or suspicion of an abuse, from within or outside the School, will be investigated and in all proper circumstance will be referred to an external agency such as the Social Care or the placing authority (SC), the child protection unit of the police (CPU) or the NSPCC.

An anonymous report will be acted upon in the same manner as any other report – but this fact will be kept in mind when considering the context of the allegation.

Training & Responsibilities

Training

The Designated Person has undertaken appropriate training and will attend refresher training at two yearly intervals. Anyone deputising the Designated Officer will also undertake appropriate training.

Responsibilities

The Proprietor overseas all matters relating to child protection.

Pupils Rights.

Each pupil has the right to:

  • Be free from any abuse.
  • Have staff in School with whom they can feel confident to discuss any concerns regarding child protection.
  • Have their self-esteem and self-confidence nurtured at all times.
  • Be educated in personal safety skills, the responsibilities or parenthood and how to become a responsible citizen, free from discrimination on the grounds of gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, creed or background.

Signs of Abuse

Possible signs of abuse include (but are not limited to):

  • The pupil says she/he has been abused or asks a question which gives rise to that inference.
  • There is no reasonable or consistent explanation for a pupil’s injury; the injury is unusual in kind or location; there have been a number of injuries; there is a pattern to injuries.
  • The pupil’s behaviour stands out from the group as either being extreme model behaviour or extremely challenging behaviour, or there is a sudden change in the pupil’s behaviour.
  • The pupil asks to drop subjects with a particular teacher and seems reluctant to discuss the reasons.
  • The pupil’s development is delayed.
  • The pupil loses or gains weight.
  • The pupil appears neglected, e.g, dirty, hungry, inadequately clothed.
  • The pupil is reluctant to go home, or has been openly rejected by his/her parents or carers.

 Duty of the School

The School has a responsibility to:

  1. Provide an environment free from any abuse or discrimination.
  2. Provide a designated teacher for child protection as part of the SMT.
  3. Respect each pupil’s rights to privacy regarding abuse but within the requirements of this policy.
  4. Train all staff to be aware of the possibility of abuse and potential signs to observe.
  5. Nurture each pupil’s self-esteem and confidence at all times.
  6. Educate pupils to respect everyone, to develop personal safety skills and to become well rounded members of society.
  7. Liaise with Social Services if abuse requiring referral is suspected.
  8. Inform parents of the School’s Child Protection Policy in the admissions pack for new parents.
  9. Transfer information to any new school when a pupil on the child protection register, or about whom there have been child protection concerns in the preceding year, leaves. If the School does not know where the pupil has moved to, then the Placing Authorities Child Protection Officer will be contacted.
  10. Implement and monitor an anti-bullying policy.
  11. Implement a policy on physical intervention.

Duty of Employees

Every employee of the School is under a general duty to:

  1. Protect children from abuse.
  2. Be aware of the School’s child protection procedures and to follow them
  3. Know how to access and implement the procedures, independently if necessary.
  4. Keep a sufficient record of any significant complaint, conversation or event.
  5. Report any matters of concern to the Designated Officer.
  6. Undertake appropriate training including refresher training at three-yearly intervals.

Procedures

Initial Complaint

A member of staff suspecting or hearing a complaint or abuse must not investigate it beyond the point at which it is clear that there is an allegation. In particular, the member of staff must:

  • Listen carefully to the child and keep an open mind. Staff should not take a decision as to whether or not the abuse has taken place.
  • Not ask leading questions, that is, a question which suggests its own answer (see appendix 1).
  • Reassure the child but not give a guarantee or absolute confidentiality and explain the need to pass the information to the Designated Officer who will ensure that the correct action is taken.
  • Keep a sufficient written record of the conversation. The record should include the date, time and place of the conversation, that a complaint has been made, and the essence of what was said and done by whom and in whose presence. The record should be signed by the person making it and should use names, not initials. The record must be kept securely and handed to the Designated Officer.

Preserving Evidence

All evidence (for example, scribbled notes, and mobile phones containing text messages, clothing, and computers) must be safeguarded and preserved in a confidential place.

Reporting

All suspicion or complaints of abuse must be reported to the Proprietor.

The Proprietor will brief key staff on all cases, and will report to the relevant governing bodies if necessary.

Action by the Designated Person

The action to be taken will take into account:

  1. The nature and seriousness of the suspicion or complaint. A complaint involving a serious criminal offence will always be referred to the Proprietor or the police without further investigated within the School.
  2. The wishes of the pupil, who has complained, provided that the pupil is of sufficient understanding and maturity and properly informed. However, there may be times when the situation is so serious that decision need to be taken, after all appropriate consultation, that override a pupil’s wishes.
  3. The wishes of the complainant’s parents provided they have no interest which is in conflict with the pupil’s best interests and that they are properly informed. Again, it may be necessary, after all appropriate consultation, to override parental wishes in some circumstances. If the Designated Person is concerned that disclosing information to parents would put a child as risk, he or she will take further advice from the relevant professionals before making a decision to disclose.
  4. Duties of confidentiality, so far as applicable.
  5. The lawful rights and interests of the school community as a whole including its employees and its insurers.
  6. If there is room for doubt as to whether a referral should be made, the Designated Person may consult with other appropriate professionals on a no names basis without identifying the family. However, as soon as sufficient concern exists that a child may be at risk of significant harm, a referral will be made without delay. If the initial referral is made by telephone, the Designated Person will confirm the referral in writing to Social Care within 24 hours. If no response or acknowledgement is received within three working days, the Designated Person will contact the Social Care again.

Referral Guidelines

A referral to the Social Care or police will not normally be made where:

  1. The complaint does not involve a serious criminal offence.
  2. A referral would be contrary to the wishes of a pupil complainant who is of sufficient maturity and understanding and properly informed, and contrary also to the wishes of the complainant’s parents.
  3. The case is one that can be satisfactorily investigated and dealt with under the School’s internal procedures, the parents being kept fully informed, as appropriate. If, however, during the course of the internal procedures if appears that the situation is more serious, the Designated Officer will again consider whether a referral should be made.

When making a referral of a case of suspected or alleged abuse, the Designated Officer will ask to be informed of the timing of the strategy discussion between the statutory agencies which will decide whether and how to investigate. The Designated Officer will clarify with the investigating agencies when, how and by whom the parents and the pupil will be told that a referral has been made. A member of staff, either the Designated Officer or the member of staff who knows the pupil best, will be prepared to contribute to the strategy discussion the School’s knowledge of the pupil.

External Agencies

Whether or not the School decides to refer a particular complaint to the Social Care or the police, the complainant (in the case of a pupil this means the pupil and his/her parents) will be informed in writing or their right to make a complaint or referral to the Social Care or the Child Protection Unit of the police and will be provided with contact names, addresses and telephone numbers, as appropriate.

Allegations Against Staff

The School has procedures for dealing with allegations against staff (and volunteers who work with children) that aim to strike a balance between the need to protect children from abuse and the need to protect staff and volunteers from false or unfounded allegations.

A School employee including the Proprietor who is the subject of an allegation of abuse may be asked to take leave of absence or may be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. This is decided by the Proprietor of key staff as appropriate. Suspension will not be an automatic response to an allegation. Full consideration will be given to all the options, subject to the need to ensure;

  • The safety and welfare of the pupils or pupil concerned.
  • The need for a full and fair investigation.

Further guidance to staff who might be faced with hearing an allegation about a colleague and amplification about such allegations are found in Appendix 6.

Allegations Against Pupils

A pupil against whom an allegation of abuse has been made may be suspended from the School during the investigation and the School’s policy on behaviour, discipline and sanctions will apply.

Suspected Harm From Outside the School

A member of staff who suspects that a pupil is suffering harm from outside the School should seek information from the child with tact and sympathy using “open” and not leading questions. A sufficient record should be made of the conversation and it he member of staff continues to be concerned he or she refer the matter to the Designated Officer.

Recruitment

Please refer to the School’s written ‘Recruitment and Selection Policy’ which fully encompasses the safe recruitment procedures as set out in chapters 3 and 4 “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”.

Complaints

If a parents (or a pupil aged 16+) considers that the School has not operated this policy correctly, he or she may submit a complaint under the School’s formal complaints procedure, a copy of which is available on request.

Monitoring

The Proprietor will regularly monitor the operation of this police and its procedures.

Review

This Police will be reviewed annually by the Proprietor and key staff.

Approval

This policy was approved at a meeting of the Proprietor and key staff during December 2014.

Appendix 1 – Guidelines For All Employees

  • All staff (teaching and support) have a responsibility to protect each pupil from abuse, this means that if you have a concern about a pupil, you should talk to your line manager, or Proprietor appropriate.
  • Any lesson or activity may raise the sensitive issue of child abuse, be alert to the impact of the issues raised.
  • Respect a pupil’s right to privacy so that only the people who need to know are party to details of any possible abuse to that pupil. In the first instance this is only the Designated Officer.
  • It is important for all pupils to acquire and develop skills for personal safety. This will primarily be delivered via SPD but all teaching staff in any lesson or activity can contribute to pupils’ understanding.
  • Because of their day to day contact with individual pupils, teachers and other staff in the education service are particularly well placed to observe outward signs of abuse, changes in behaviour or failure to develop. Bruises, lacerations and burns may be apparent, particularly when children change their clothes for physical education and sports activities. Possible indicators or physical neglect, such as inadequate clothing, poor growth, hunger or apparently deficient nutrition, and of emotional abuse, such as excessive dependence or attention-seeking, may be noticeable. Sexual abuse may exhibit physical signs, or lead to a substantial behaviour change including precocity or withdrawal. These signs and others can do no more that give rise to suspicion – they are not in themselves proof that abuse has occurred. But teachers should be alert to all the signs. The appointment of a Designated Officer should not be seen as diminishing the role of all members of staff in being alert to signs of abuse and being aware of the procedures to be followed, including those in cases where an accusation is made against a member of the school’s staff.
  • Observe the following ground rules (especially in registration times and SPD lessons).
  • Create a climate of safety, so that each pupil feels secure when participating in the activities. Each pupil will be encouraged to listen to others and to share their own opinions and insights. Ground rules will be established in all lessons.
  • Encourage pupils not to make assumptions about each other. This will be specifically inculcated via the SPD schemes of work.
  • Don’t force anyone to answer or become involved in something they find emotionally uncomfortable.
  • Usually let pupils work in friendships pairs/groups.
  • Don’t allow pupils to put each other down or discuss other pupil’s responses outside the pair/group. Encourage them to listen and behave sympathetically.
  • Circulate so that you can be aware of what is happening.
  • All teaching staff should seek to develop relationships whereby any abuse would be likely to be disclosed. Any prolonged breakdown in relationship should be discussed with your line manager.

When Abuse Is Suspected ….

…. the first question to ask yourself is always – “is the pupil safe?”

The Safety of the Pupil Over-Rides Confidentiality

(N.B. do NOT offer a pupil confidentiality)

Always immediately see the Designated Officer to discuss concerns or suspicions. He/she can always contact the Social Care Duty Team Manager to discuss concerns without a formal referral being made.

Concerns must be formally logged. Remember that teachers often know the pupil (and sometimes the parents and home) exceptionally well and teacher’s training and experience mean that they are well placed to make observations and professional judgements regarding a pupil’s welfare. The record should differentiate between a “one-off incident” that requires immediate action and initially lower level concerns that build up to for a picture of concerns. The later …..

  • Can take place over time.
  • Can take place in different school settings.
  • Should be shared between staff (academic, pastoral, medical, etc)

Make a written note of the details as soon as possible (see appendix 4). This is likely to ensure accuracy in recalling events later if this should be necessary.

There is no such thing as a “gut feeling”, evidence is based on sound professional judgement and evidence which can be documented.

Make clear the reasons for your concerns. REMEMBER; School staff clarify issues, Police and Social Services investigate.

These notes must be passed to the Designated Officer and no one else keeps a written or electronic copy, (the author may keep a secure copy until the matter in closed).

Guidance When Talking With A Pupil When Child Protection Issue Is A Possibility:

DO….

  • Believe the pupil – remember that often a pupil will make some attempt to “tell” in the early stages of abuse. If they are not heard they may never try again.
  • Be accessible and receptive.
  • Listen carefully and ask open questions to clarify (eg, who, what, when, where, how).
  • Take is seriously (eg, This is very serious, I’m sat that has happened to you) – abused children are often threatened by the perpetrator that they will not be believed. Listen without value judgements and show the child that you take their problem seriously. Tell the child that you believe him/her. Choose a place to talk where you will not be interrupted.
  • Reassure the pupil they are right to tell, (eg, I’m glad you told me, that was the right thing to do).
  • Reassure the pupil it was not their fault. The threats that children live under to keep the secret are very powerful and they will be frightened of the consequences of telling.
  • Reassure the child they have done the right thing.
  • Tell them they are not to blame.
  • Offer on-going support.
  • Do not tell the child how they should feel.
  • Validate their feelings and just listen.
  • Avoid asking questions.
  • Feedback what they say (if you need to respond verbally)
  • Negotiate getting help – tell the pupil you are going to get help for them and their family. Prepare them for the fact that you MUST INVOLVE OTHERS.
  • Explain that you cannot personally protect them….. but will support them in telling the right people to make sure it does not happen again.
  • Report – all suspicions or disclosures immediately.
  • Immediately make careful handwritten and dated records of what was said – using the pupil’s own words and including questions you asked.

DO NOT ….

  • Jump to conclusions.
  • Ask any leading questions.
  • Try to let the pupil to disclose – let the pupil talk and ask only the questions you need to know to clarify immediate safety. The pupil should not be repeatedly interviewed and the police/social services interview will form the basis of evidence needed to protect the pupil.
  • Once a disclosure has occurred the reassure, etc, but terminated the discussion as soon as possible as it is easy to corrupt evidence that the police will later want to use.
  • Speculate or accuse anybody.
  • Ask leading questions whatsoever (eg, was it your parent etc or any questions requiring a YES/NO answer).
  • Make promises that you cannot keep.

Appendix 2 – Types of Abuse

The categories of significant harm defined in “Working Together to Safeguard Children” 1999 are used for the Register and statistical purposes.

Neglect

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.

Many involve the parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and or clothing; failure to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect, or unresponsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.

Physical Abuse

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 feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after. This situation is commonly described using terms such as fabricated and induced illness or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy.

Emotional Abuse

The persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent effects on the child’s emotional development.

May involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature signs of developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse in involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur.

Sexual Abuse

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.

Activities may involve physical contact including penetrative, (eg, rape or buggery) or non-penetrative acts. They may include noncontact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Appendix 3 – Recognising Abuse

Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse

Children under the age of five may:

  • Become insecure or cling to a parent in a fearful way
  • Show extreme fear of a particular person
  • Cry hysterically when their nappy is changed
  • Become hysterical when clothing is removed, particularly underclothes
  • Have some physical signs in the genital or anal: smell of semen etc
  • Have soreness or bleeding in the throat, anal or genital areas
  • Regress to much younger behavioural pattern
  • Behave in a way sexually inappropriate to their age, being obsessed with sexual matters as opposed to normal exploration
  • Stare blankly, seem unhappy, confused, sad
  • Become withdrawn, stop eating, have chronic nightmares, begin wetting again when previously dry
  • Play out sexual acts in too knowledgeable a way with dolls or other children
  • Produce drawings of sex organs such as erect penises
  • Stop enjoying activities with other children, such as stories or games
  • Seem to be bothered or worried, but won’t tell why as if keeping a secret
  • Change from being happy and active to being withdrawn and fearful
  • Repeat obscene words or phrases said by the abuser
  • Say repeatedly that they are bad, dirty or wicked
  • Become aggressive and hurtful
  • Act in a sexually inappropriate way towards adults

Children from the ages of five to twelve may:

  • Hint about secrets they cannot tell
  • Say a friend has a problem
  • Ask if you will keep a secret if they tell you something
  • Begin lying, stealing, blatantly cheating in the hope of being caught
  • Have unexplained sources of money
  • Have terrifying dreams
  • Start wetting themselves
  • Exhibit sudden inexplicable changes in behaviour, such as becoming aggressive or withdrawn
  • Stop enjoying previously liked activities, such as music, sports, art, scouts or guides, going to summer camp, gym club
  • Be reluctant to undress for P.E.
  • Become fearful of or refuse to see certain adults for no apparent reason, show dislike of a particular babysitter, relative or other adult
  • Act in a sexual way inappropriate for their age
  • Draw sexually explicit pictures depicting some act of abuse
  • Seem to be keeping a secret, something which is worrying them
  • Have urinary infections, bleeding or soreness on the genital or anal areas
  • Have soreness or bleeding in the throat
  • Have chronic ailments, such as stomach pains or headaches
  • Take over the parent role at home, seem old beyond their years (if a victim of incest)
  • Become severely depressed, even attempt suicide
  • Have a poor self-image, self-mutilate
  • Continually run away
  • Regress to younger behaviour, such as thumb-sucking, surrounding themselves with previously discarded cuddly toys
  • Show discomfort when walking
  • Say they are no good, dirty, rotten
  • Be wary, watchful
  • Repeat obscene words or phrases which may have been said during the abuse
  • Attempt to sexually abuse another child
  • Talk or write about sexual matters
  • Find excuses not to go home or to a friend’s house after school (places where abuse may be happening)
  • Act in a sexually inappropriate way towards adults

Young people from the age of twelve onwards may:

  • Be chronically depressed
  • Be suicidal
  • Use drugs or drink to excess
  • Self-mutilate, show self-hatred
  • Have unexplained pregnancies
  • Experience memory loss
  • Become anorexic or bulimic
  • Run away frequently
  • Be inappropriately seductive
  • Be fearful about certain people like relatives or friends
  • Assume the role of parents in the house to such an extent that they do all the cooking, cleaning, child minding and are taking care of everyone’s needs except their own
  • Not be allowed to go out on dates or have friends around
  • Have soreness/bleeding in the genital or anal areas or in the throat
  • Fine excuses not to go home or to a particular place
  • Have a recurring nightmare/be afraid of the dark
  • Be unable to concentrate, seem to be in a world of their own
  • Have a “friend who has a problem” and then tell you about the abuse of a friend
  • Have chronic ailments such as stomach pains and headaches
  • Sexually abuse a child, sibling or friend
  • Exhibit a sudden change in school/work habits, become truant
  • Be withdrawn, isolated, or excessively worried
  • Have outbursts of anger or irritability
  • Be fearful or undressing for gym
  • Have unexplained sums of money
  • Act in a sexually inappropriate way towards adults

Possible Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained injuries or burns, particularly if they are recurrent
  • Improbable excuses given to explain injuries
  • Refusal to discuss injuries
  • Untreated injuries
  • Admission of punishment which appears excessive
  • Fear of parents being contacted
  • Bald patches
  • Withdrawal from physical contact
  • Arms and legs kept covered in hot weather
  • Fear of returning home
  • Fear of medical help
  • Self-destructive tendencies
  • Aggression towards others
  • Chronic running away

Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Physical, mental and emotional development lags
  • Admission of punishment which appears excessive
  • Over-reaction to mistakes
  • Inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations
  • Neurotic behaviour (e.g. rocking, hair twisting, thumb-sucking
  • Self-mutilation
  • Fear of parents being contacted
  • Extremes of passivity or aggression
  • Drug/solvent abuse
  • Chronic running away
  • Compulsive stealing
  • Scavenging for food and clothes

Possible Signs of Neglect

  • Constant hunger
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Constant tiredness
  • Poor state of clothing
  • Emaciation
  • Frequent lateness or non-attendance at school
  • Untreated medical problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Neurotic behaviour (e.g. rocking, hair twisting, thumb-sucking)

Appendix 4 – Records & Reports

Specific Concerns

Any member of staff who has a concern about a pupil should make a written note.   This must be passed on to the Designated Person (although a personal copy may be kept in a secure place). The note should be timed, dated and signed, with your name printed alongside the signature.

Notes must be made as soon as possible and certainly within 24 hours of the incident giving rise to the concern. This is important in case the note is needed for submission to court.

Notes should

  • Be factual
  • Use a pupils’ own words where possible
  • Be a record of what you saw and heard

Professional opinions are acceptable but only if you state the facts or observations upon which your opinion is based.

Nagging Doubts about a Pupil’s Safety and Welfare

Sometimes, things which seem to be significant or trivial, at the time, turn out to be vital pieces of information later.

  • If there has been no specific incident or information, make a written note. Try to identify what is really making you feel worried
  • Date, time and sign the note. Print your name alongside your signature
  • Pass the note to the Designated Person. You may keep a copy in a secure place, until the matter is closed
  • Monitor the child

 

Remember: Record observations as factually as possible

If several notes have been made about the child, the Designated Person will seek advice through an “early warning” meeting.

Copies of child protection information will be kept by the school until the pupil’s 24th birthday.

Good Practice

Good practice for keeping child protection records includes noting the date, event and action taken in cases of suspected abuse or when the pupil is placed on the child protection register. This is amplified in the section “How should notes and reports be made” which follows. Reports prepared for child protection conferences should focus on the pupil’s educational progress and achievements, attendance, behaviour, participation, relations with other children, and, where appropriate, the pupil’s appearance. If relevant, reports should include what is known about the pupil’s relations with his or her family and the family structure. Reports should be objective and based on evidence. They should distinguish between fact, observation, allegation and opinion. Reports may be available to the pupil’s parents at the child protection conference.

Child protection records can be kept on computer and are exempt from the disclosure provisions or the Data Protection Act 1984. For manual records, the Education (School Records) Regulations 1989 exempt information relating to a child abuse from the requirement of disclosure. However, in cases of alleged child abuse which comes to court, the court may require the school to provide its child protection records.

When a pupil on the child protection register changes school, New Direction will transfer the information to the pupil’s new school immediately and will inform the key worker.

Sharing Information With Other Schools/Agencies

Conversations between Designated Personnel at different schools (e.g. sharing concerns or asking for information about sibling groups) are perfectly acceptable. Any relevant child protection information coming to light should be carefully logged.

Child protection information is confidential and will not be kept on the pupil’s school file. We have a separate, secure filing system for child protection concerns. The filing system is easily available to the Designated Person. Parents do not have automatic access to the child protection file. Our files are in the Proprietor’s study and access is via the Proprietor.

If a child protection file has been started for a pupil who moves school, the entire contents of the file will be sent to the receiving school/college. This information will be sent under separate cover to the ordinary school file, in a sealed envelope to the Head Teacher, marked “Strictly Confidential”.

If a pupil moves without a forwarding address for home and school and no contact is received from a new school within twenty-one days, the Placing Authority’s Designated Officer for Child Protection will be informed.

What Kind Of Information Will Be Recorded?

If a referral is made to Social Services, or the Police, a written note – or a completed interagency referral form – will be kept by the school of all the information passed. Copies will be sent to Social Services, confirming the referral, and to the Placing Authority’s Lead Officer for Child Protection.

Not all child protection information results in a referral. A record will be made of any information, including hearsay and “nagging doubts”, which give cause for concern about a pupil, much of this information may not appear to be very significant on its own, but it could contribute to a “jigsaw” picture of abuse that should not be ignored. This information should be passed to the Designated Member of Staff so that it can all be kept together.

If a child protection record is started for an individual pupil, the record will have a front sheet in the file which records the pupil’s name, date of birth, address and information about family members.

If more than one file exists, in relation to an individual child, this is noted on each file. Also, each file should be dated, and indicate the number of volumes e.g. January 1996, Vol 1 of 3.

How Should Notes and Reports Be Made?

It is impossible to say, at the time of making a child protection note, who will eventually have access to it, or when. It may be consulted months or even years after it was written. Always bear in mind that someone who is a complete stranger to you and your school may need to read your record at some stage in the future.

Ideally logs of incidents should be typed. Hand written notes should be clearly legible and written in ink. All notes and reports must contain the following.

  • Date of the incident
  • Date and time of the record being made
  • Name and date of birth or the child(ren) concerned

A factual account of what happened, and the location where the incident took place (include the actual words spoken by the child where possible).

  • A note of any other people involved (e.g as witnesses)
  • Action taken, any future plans (monitor and review)
  • Any other agencies informed
  • Printed name or the person making the record
  • Job title of the person making the record
  • Signature (print name alongside)

The source of the information should be identified, e.g. “Mrs Smith, a lunch supervisor, informed me that …..” or “I saw John in the playground at break time…..”

Information should be factual or based on fact. Record what you saw, heard etc. And try not to be vague or woolly (e.g. “Janet was crying and rocking” rather than, “Janet was upset”).

Opinion is acceptable provided that you can give some justification for holding it (e.g. “Peter ran and hid under the table when his mother arrived to take him home, and clung to me when I tried to get him out. He appeared to be frightened.”)

Make a note of what you have done with the information (e.g. “I consulted the Proprietor and she said she would….”)

Try to avoid educational jargon (e.g. “He is on SEN Stage 3”) which someone from another agency would not necessarily understand.

Access to Child Protection Information

Access to the information on file will be on a need-to-know basis among the staff. This can only be decided on a case-by-case basis. The confidentiality of the pupil and family will be respected as far as possible, but the welfare of the child is paramount. It would be unlikely that every member of staff needs to know the details of the case. Generally speaking, the closer the day-to-day contact with the child, the more likely the need to know an outline of the case. The school report to the child protection conference should be shared with the parent(s) before the conference takes place. All information must be shared with Social Services and/or Police and Health, as appropriate, where there is concern that a child is at risk of significant harm.

Child protection information will not ordinarily be shared with agencies other than these statutory agencies, e.g. information should not be released to solicitors etc. Where such as request is made, we will seek the advice of our lawyers.

How Long Information Should Be Kept

The Local Authority and Social Care will keep information about the child for many years, so anything reported to Social Services and copied to the Placing Authority will still be available. There is no need to keep a copy of material sent to a new school, unless, at the discretion of the Designated Teacher, there are exceptional reasons for doing so.

Copies of child protection information will be kept by the school until the pupil’s 24th birthday.

Appendix 6 – Allegations Regarding A Member Of Staff

The person hearing an allegation will aim to involve the pupil in any decision to take the allegation further, taking into account their age, understanding and risk of harm.

Confidentiality will not be promised.

Such allegations will always be treated seriously, even if they are suspected to be mischievous. Details must be recorded in writing, signed and dated by the person who receives the allegation (not the pupil). The Designated Officer must be informed immediately.

The Proprietor will consider whether the suspension of the member of staff would be appropriate. This will not be automatic. The Proprietor will consider all the circumstances and take advice.

Appendix 7 – Avoiding Unwise Practice

Guidance Relating To Child Protection Allegations

The context in which the alleged incident occurred may provide important information; this includes:

  • Normal duties (e.g. Teacher disciplining pupil in whole class; incident away from the whole class scenario; etc)
  • Environment (e.g. special needs group; field trip; etc)
  • Standards applied to member of staff (e.g. role in the school; code of conduct; school training on restraint; etc)
  • Conduct of member of staff (e.g. previous concerns; past disciplinary action; exemplary professional behaviour, etc)
  • Conduct of the pupil (e.g. characteristic and uncharacteristic behaviour, previous allegations made; etc)
  • Special circumstances (e.g. on-going dispute with family; pupil’s special learning needs or current social needs; etc)
  • Perspective of the person making the allegation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 8 – Types of Allegations

Physical Abuse

The most common type of allegation relates to physical abuse. When excessive use of force or an assault is perceived to have occurred, the complainant claims ill treatment by a professional. Any of the following can be regarded as physical assault; punching, kicking, smacking, slapping, shaking or throwing a missile at a pupil. Teachers do have the right to restrain pupils, but restraint must not be excessive and must not constitute a punishment. NEW DIRECTION has a policy on using physical restraint, and everyone should be aware that any physical contact could be misinterpreted. Tapping a pupil on the shoulder to secure attention may not normally be abusive, but if it is done soon after an earlier disagreement, it could be interpreted as assault.

Sexual Abuse

Allegations of sexual abuse include (attempted) sexual assault, the possession and use of pornographic material, inappropriate language and behaviour, and inappropriate use of text messaging and other electronic communications. Activities that, although not overtly abusive, could be interpreted as a member of staff “grooming” a child for sexual purposes may need special consideration, e.g. inviting pupils home, seeing a pupil socially, offering lifts, etc.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse and neglect refers to both acts of commission (e.g. racist remarks, bullying, including sarcasm) and omission (e.g. failing to address homophobic comments or bullying in others, and failure to protect a child from danger on a school trip),

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 9 – Other Issues

Degree of Risk

A further issue is to consider whether a pupil is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. The age and vulnerability of the pupil, the degree of force used, the frequency and nature of the harm, and the impact that all of these may have made on a person’s health and development, need to be taken into account. Whether the pupil is at risk may not become clear until the investigation has begun.

A trivial allegation does not have to result in a child protection referral, but the danger is that what may appear to be a trivial incident to a teacher, may be significant to the person involved and may still constitute an assault. It is best therefore to consult further.

False/Malicious Allegations

Only if it can be shown that an allegation is demonstrably false, it is not necessary to make a referral.

A malicious allegation implies a deliberate act to deceive. Evidence to prove this intention has to be available. An unfounded allegation means that an incident was misinterpreted in some way, and evidence needs to be available to disprove the allegation.

Some allegations may later be considered “unsubstantiated”. That is when there is not sufficient evidence; it does not imply either guilt or innocence.

A false allegation could still lead to the decision to make a referral to social services, if a parent agrees that a child is in need of support. It may be that the pupil has experienced abuse elsewhere or has tried to discredit a member of staff as an act of displacement.

This Policy was updated September 2016 – Review Date September 2017