Safeguarding Children

Safeguarding Children & Young People
Child Protection Policy for Somerset Natural Learning Academy
9 Lambrook Street, Glastonbury

(revised November 2013)

This document must be read in conjunction with the Code of Practice, which sets out the safeguarding procedures for working with children and young people

Preamble: The Somerset Natural Learning Academy generally works with children and young people in school contexts, where we benefit from the support, supervision and behaviour management of teachers and teaching assistants employed by the school.

Nonetheless, those working on behalf of SNLA in either a paid or volunteer context, have significant access to children and young people. Often this is within small group situations.

The necessity to safeguard children applies both to all individuals and organisations working in the UK and other countries where children may face different or additional risks of abuse or exploitation. These safeguards should include a child protection policy and procedures for dealing with issues of concern or abuse. For the purposes of child protection legislation the term ‘child’ refers to anyone up to the age of 18 years.

This policy document should be read in conjunction with SNLA Code of Practice.

INTRODUCTION

The aim of this policy is to safeguard and promote the welfare, safety and health of children and young people with whom we work and to protect them from harm caused by emotional, physical and sexual abuse or neglect. The safety and general welfare of children and young people is our  paramount duty and no activity or employee of SNLA should compromise that principal. This policy and the Code of Practice has four objectives:

  1. to set out the procedures and safeguards that will ensure that children are not put at risk of emotional physical or sexual harm or neglect either deliberately or inadvertently as a consequence of the activities of those working on behalf of the  Somerset Natural Learning Academy;
  2. to set out employee recruitment and review procedures and safeguards to ensure that all those working for SNLA have no history that indicates they may be a risk to children and are of an appropriate character to work with children;
  3. to contribute to the general well-being and safeguarding of young people by ensuring that all those working on behalf of SNLA are trained to be aware of the signs of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect and to know how to respond if they suspect abuse or neglect is taking place;
  4. to ensure that the highest standards apply in the interactions between adults working on behalf of SNLA and children;

The director of SNLA will endeavour at all times to work within the remit of current Child Protection Legislation. Specifically, our work will be informed by the following principles & practices:

  • All children and young people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs have the right to protection from abuse.
  • The principles and practices set out in this document apply to all those who are employed by SNLA, those who are sub-contracted to work for SNLA and all volunteers.
  • All those who are employed by SNLA, or sub-contracted to work for SNLA and all volunteers are to be issued with and receive training in the Code of Practice insofar as they have any contact with children or young people as part of their involvement with SNLA.
  • All concerns and allegations of abuse will be responded to – this will usually require a referral to children’s services and, in emergencies, the police.
  • A commitment to safer recruitment, selection and vetting in line with the guidance set out in this document and in line with the guidance set out in the ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education 2007’ document (Department for education and skills).
  • All staff and volunteers involved with children have a responsibility to be mindful of issues related to children’s safety and welfare and a duty to report and refer any concerns.

There are three main elements to  Child Protection practice.

  1. Prevention through the learning opportunities and support offered to children and young people and by fostering a protective ethos. By following the Code of Conduct and Child Protection Policy as set out in this document. By ensuring that all individuals and groups working with SNLA adhere to the Code of Practice.
  2. Protection by following agreed procedures, ensuring staff and volunteers are appropriately recruited, trained and supported to respond appropriately and sensitively to Child Protection concerns.
  3. Support to children and young people who may have been abused.

SNLA’S  COMMITMENT

We recognise that high self-esteem, confidence, supportive friends and clear lines of communication with a trusted adult helps all children, and especially those at risk of, or suffering abuse.

SNLA will therefore:

Maintain an ethos where children and young people feel secure and are encouraged to talk, and are listened to.

Ensure that children and young people know that the adults they are working with can be approached if they are worried or are in difficulty.

Ensure that wherever possible every effort will be made to establish effective working relationships with parents and colleagues from other agencies.

FRAMEWORK

Organisations working with children and young people do not operate in isolation. The welfare of children is a corporate responsibility of the local authority, working in partnership with other public agencies, the voluntary sector and service users and carers. All local authorities have a particular responsibility towards children and families most at risk of social exclusion, (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006)

Child Protection is the responsibility of all adults, especially those working with children. The development of appropriate procedures and the monitoring of good practice are the responsibilities of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards. (LSCB)

THE ROLE OF THE DIRECTOR(S)

The director(s) recognise their responsibility with regard to child protection and safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

He/she/they will

  • Designate a director for child protection who will oversee SNLA’s Child Protection issues.
  • Ensure an annual report is made to the director(s) on child protection matters to include changes affecting Child Protection Policy and Procedures, Child Protection training received, and the reporting of any incidents. A copy of the completed review will be kept available for monitoring purposes.
  • Ensure that this Policy is reviewed annually.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

All adults working with or on behalf of children have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The designated child protection person for SNLA is Chris Trwoga. In any event, the director with responsibility for Child Protection will be informed of any suspicions of abuse with immediate effect.

TRAINING AND SUPPORT

Trustees will ensure that the designated person attend training relevant to their role. All those employed on a permanent basis by SNLA or serving as long-term volunteers must have basic awareness training in Safeguarding and Child Protection on an on-going 3 yearly basis.

PROCEDURES

Where it is believed that a child is suffering from, or is at risk of, significant harm, we will follow the procedures set out in the South West Child Protection Procedures (www.swcpp.org.uk) and the LSCB documents which can be found on www.somersetsafeguardingchildrenboard.org.uk and on Six (Somerset Information Exchange).

These procedures make it clear that the welfare of the child is of paramount importance. This takes precedence over sensitivities about relations with parents, the likely reaction of other parents and the community and any wish a child might have for confidentiality. Members of staff not following the procedures put themselves and the child concerned at risk. As long as the procedures are adhered to, members of staff will receive the full support of the directors.

CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURE CHECKLIST FOR STAFF & VOLUNTEERS

If:

  • A child discloses abuse, or
  • A member of staff suspects a child may have been abused, or
  • A third party expresses concern
  • A staff member witnesses an abusive situation involving another staff member

The member of staff MUST: RECORD AND REPORT

  • Respond without showing any signs of disquiet, anxiety or shock.
  • Enquire sensitively about how an injury was sustained or why a child appears upset.
  • Confidentiality must not be promised to children or adults in this situation.
  • Observe carefully the demeanour of behaviour of the child or young person.
  • Record in detail what has been seen and heard.
  • Do not interrogate or enter into detailed investigations: rather, encourage the child to say what he/she wants until enough information is gained to support the referral.
  • Asking Questions – Staff are understandably anxious about what questions they can ask if they are concerned about a child, or if the young person tells them something they are concerned about. The emphasis, must be on listening. Future investigations may be compromised by appearing to interrogate any child or young person they think may have been abused.

Questions you can ask:

Tell me (Tell me what happened)

Explain (explain what you meant by……….

Where did this happen/where were you……

When did this happen……….

It is not the role of the member of staff or volunteer to establish the credibility of any information that is given or to investigate the abuse themselves. Rather, it is to express an interest and to demonstrate a willingness to listen.

Then REPORT to the designated person or director without delay. In an emergency report the matter to the relevant social services or the police. Treat the matter as confidential with regard to people who have no right to the information.

The Children’s Social Care Department and CAIT (Children Abuse and Investigation Team – Police) are the only agencies that can investigate allegations of abuse.

PROFESSIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY

Confidentiality is an issue, which needs to be discussed and fully understood by all those working with children, particularly in the context of Child Protection. The only purpose of confidentiality in this respect is to benefit the child.

No adult must ever guarantee confidentiality to any child or young person. Staff should make the child aware that if they disclose information about harm to themselves or others, then certain actions need to be taken.

RECORDS AND MONITORING

Well-kept records are essential to good Child Protection Practice. SNLA will record any concerns held about a child or young person, the status of such records, and when these records should be passed over to other agencies.

SNLA will:

Keep clear written records of any reported incident concerning children or young people where there is cause for concern. Where SNLA is working with children or young persons in a school context they must report any incident directly to the school, as well as making their own record. It will be the responsibility of SNLA’s designated Child Protection person to follow up the matter, in writing, to the school.

These incidents might include –

  • A child or young person reporting physical, sexual or emotional abuse by a person in the employ of SNLA or a Volunteer working for SNLA.
  • A child or young person reporting physical, sexual or emotional abuse by an adult or other young person, whilst in the care of SNLA or in any other context.
  •  Compromising behaviour or remarks from a child or young person towards another child, young person or adult.
  • Behaviour or comments inappropriate to the age of the child or young person of a sexual nature.
  • Sexual bullying by a child or young person towards another child or young person.
  • Signs of physical abuse in the form of unexplained bruising or other injuries. This is particularly important when a child or young person arrives with what may be previously unreported injuries.

Written notes/records of any Child Protection issues regarding individual children or young persons will be kept in a locked cabinet in the SNLA office.

SNLA should ensure that Child Protection information is passed on to Children’s Social Care and the school. SNLA will retain the record for a period of 5 years in the case of incidents that concern staff or volunteers working on behalf of SNLA. For incidents where there is the possibility of litigation or legal action against SNLA or its director(s) the records should be stored in accordance with the advice of SNLA’s solicitor.

MULTI AGENCY REFERRAL

Where, following an assessment of a situation, it is considered immediate protective action is required, a child protection referral must be made by the Child Protection Designated Person or the Deputy Designated person. This referral will be by telephone to Somerset Direct (0845 345 9122).

GUIDANCE FOR CHILD PROTECTION REFERRAL

This prompt sheet will help you bring together all necessary information before referring an incident to the Child Protection Agency.

Before the Designated Child Protection person makes a referral through the locally agreed procedures, they will need the following information to hand. An employee of SNLA must not over-zealously seek to obtain information that a child is unwilling to disclose and when working with a school or other organisation should refer the matter to them.

Child’s details

  • Full name
  • Age and Date of birth. (if known)
  • Address and telephone number. (if known)

Family details

  • Names of parents and/or carers. (if known)
  • Ethnicity and cultural background and where appropriate information about the need for interpreters

Context

  • How has the child or young person come into contact with SNLA?
  • How long have they been known to SNLA?
  • What information has been provided to SNLA by other agencies? e.g. by the school?
  • Which school does the child or young person attend?
  • Behaviour – how does the child present at the activity? Check for any repeated patterns of behaviour, or sudden changes of behaviour. Do these relate to a change in circumstances at home?
  • Relationship with school (if known): good, non-existent, volatile?

The Cause for Concern
A clear, factual account of the circumstances leading to a cause for concern, including any times, dates and witnesses. Include as much detail as you can.

History
Have you had previous concerns with regard to the child(ren) involved? Have you made previous referrals?

Physical injury
Where your concern is about physical injury, make sure you note where on the body the injury is and describe shape and size. Be careful to record the factual evidence – i.e. what you can actually see, not your opinion of how the injury may have been sustained.

Sexual abuse
Are your concerns about the child’s behaviour? If so give as much detail as possible. State exactly what the child has been doing. Don’t just report  ‘sexualised behaviour’, give details. Has the child disclosed? If the child discloses to you or to a member of your staff, record in as much detail as possible what was said, who was there and the child’s emotional state throughout the disclosure. Make sure any hastily written notes are signed and dated and kept securely. Handwritten notes are useful evidence should the case go to court at a later date.

Emotional abuse
Referrals re emotional abuse usually involve a number of concerns arising from both contact with the child and contact with the parents. Emotional abuse can cause impairment in the child’s development, and such children may have very low self-esteem and self-image. Emotional abuse is hard to evidence so detail a number of events that have led to your concerns.

Neglect
If you are to refer a child because of possible neglect, always refer the issue to the school. The Children Act 1989 talks about how the persistent neglect of very basic needs is likely to cause and impairment in the child’s development.

Informing the parent
In most cases it is agreed that it is better to tell the parent that you intend to refer to Children’s Social Care or the Police but think it through; if you think telling may put the child at more risk, take advice first. If in doubt, ring Somerset Direct (0845 3459122) and discuss with the Duty Social Worker.

Making the referral
Once the Designated Child Protection Person has all the necessary information in front of them, they will be able to make a child protection referral with confidence, following the South West Child Protection Procedures (www.swcpp.org.uk).   Record all your actions and responses from other agencies.

SAFE Employment
When recruiting staff and volunteers, SNLA must ensure all appropriate checks are made. Before any member of staff, paid agent (e.g. self-employed Forest School Leader) or volunteer is allowed to work alone with, have significant access to, or have the main responsibility for running an activity with children or young people on behalf of SNLA the following checks must be made: –

  • CV with 2 professional referees (teacher, police, appropriate employer.). Both references must be taken up.
  • 3 Proofs of identity, including a photograph, such as a current driving license or passport and clear proof of present address such as a recent utility bill.
  • An enhanced DBS clearance check must be made. If the person holds an existing, current DBS clearance it must clearly state that it clears the person to work in school contexts (i.e. as a Somerset Supply Teacher or other educational contexts.) and the person must provide verifiable evidence of appropriate, regular work with children during the term of the DBS clearance in a professional or other appropriate context such as a registered charity or church organisation.
  • Hold qualifications evidencing the necessary competence to run the activities for which they have been employed or volunteered.
  • A current First Aid certificate if they are to lead activities.
  • All new recruits, paid or otherwise will not be allowed to run an activity with children or young people until they have gone through an appropriate induction period of not less that 4 activity sessions.

SNLA must have sight of original documents. Photocopies will be taken and retained for as long as the individual is in the employ of SNLA.

GUIDANCE INFORMING THE CODE OF PRACTICE

All situations should be avoided where an employee, volunteer or other representative of SNLA is alone with a child or young person. In all working context at least two adults will be present.

In some instances SNLA may employ a person on a casual basis to deliver specific training. In all instances where adults have not been subjected to the above checks they must be supervised at all times by a trusted adult.

SNLA must ensure that there is sufficient staff (male/female balance) to run all activities. Activities will be postponed or cancelled where they cannot be adequately staffed.

SNLA staff and volunteers must be role models for children: courteous, friendly and kind. No member of staff should make suggestive or discriminatory or other inappropriate comments.

SNLA staff and volunteers should respect children at all times regardless of their sex, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.

No member of SNLA staff, Volunteer or any person delivering training on behalf of SNLA must ever allow or engage in inappropriate verbal or physical contact of any description.

SNLA staff and volunteers should be firm and fair with children and young people. Favouritism must be avoided at all times, as should singling out alleged troublemakers.

SNLA staff will not allow children, young people or adults to engage in abusive activities such an initiation rites, ridiculing or bullying.

SNLA must develop an ethos that allows staff to feel comfortable and caring enough to point out any inappropriate attitudes or behaviour to each other.

SNLA must encourage children to trust their own feelings about adult behaviour and to assert their right to determine (within sensible limits) the behaviour with which they are comfortable.

SNLA staff and volunteers will not work alone with children. The Code of Practice stipulates that an adult from the school should be present at all times. Where this is not possible a second trusted adult must be present.

SNLA staff and volunteers should report disclosures or concerns to the designated Child Protection Officer usually the director.

Staff and Volunteers should never trivialise child abuse issue.

SNLA member of staff or volunteer should never drive a child home.

SNLA staff or volunteer will, under no circumstances, take a young person to their home. In any one-to-one situation you put yourself at risk of false allegations.

PROCEDURES TO FOLLOW IF AN ALLEGATION IS MADE AGAINST A MEMBER OF STAFF OR VOLUNTEER

Never let allegations by a child or young person go unrecorded or unreported, including any made against you. In all instances the Child Protection Officer must be informed.  If the allegation concerns the Child Protection Officer, then the SNLA director must be informed.

In all situations the Local Authority Designated Officer for Allegations Management, must be informed.  The contact details for the Local Authority Designated Officer are: cwinter@somerset.gov.uk or telephone 01823 355697.

If you receive a disclosure it is important to reassure the child that what he says will be taken very seriously and everything possible done to help.

This policy should be read in conjunction with SNLA’s related policy documents:

  1. The Outdoor Learning Handbook
  2. The Code of Practice
  3. Related Health & Safety Procedures

Useful Publications  (All available from DCSF website)

  • “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”
  • “Working together to Safeguard Children 2006”
  • “What to do if you are worried a Child is being abused”
  • “Staying Safe Action plan”

Useful Websites

Useful Phone Numbers

  • Somerset Direct  08453459122
  • Safeguarding for Schools Advisor
    (Liz Bidmead) 01823 358269
  • Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) Manager
    (Matthew Turner) 01823 357868

South West Child Protection Procedures Website –

http://www.online-procedures.co.uk/swcpp/