ST. Mary’s College
POLICY FOR SAFEGUARDING STUDENTS AGED UNDER 18 & VULNERABLE ADULTS
This statement outlines the safeguarding and child protection policy applying to all staff, including volunteers, at the ST. Mary’s College in Cardiff. Everyone working at the school shares the objective to keep children and young people (U18s) safe by accepting a shared safeguarding responsibility.
The school views safeguarding as being about:
- building and not compromising relationships between U18s and adults;
- ensuring appropriately safe systems are in place for the well-being of U18s;
- encouraging U18s to behave in a responsible manner;
- having clear procedures in place should things go wrong.
This policy serves all: whatever their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, U18s and vulnerable adults in our care deserve to be protected. This document is made available on our website so that parents and partner agencies are made aware of how we aim to meet commitment to safeguarding. It will be reviewed annually, but more often if an incident or new legislation makes this necessary. Review will include brainstorming, risk assessment and benchmarking against the safeguarding initiatives of other schools. All stakeholders, including students, will have the opportunity to contribute to review.
This policy aims to outline how the school will:
- promote a positive school environment where U18s can learn, feel safe and be safe;
- prevent unsuitable people from gaining access to or working with U18s in our care;
- promote safe practice and challenge unsafe practices;
- identify grounds for concern about the welfare of U18s in our care and take appropriate action to keep them safe;
- contribute to an effective partnership with parents and safeguarding agencies.
This policy follows statutory guidance and advice set out in the Department of Education publication ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (July 2015) issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, and the Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools Regulations 2011). All staff are required to read and demonstrate understanding of Part 1 of ‘Keeping children safe in Education’.
It is recognised that some adults are vulnerable to abuse. Accordingly, the procedures also apply to allegations of abuse and the protection of vulnerable adults and guidance is taken from ‘No Secrets’ (Dept.of Health 2000) which defines vulnerable adults as ‘those adults who are or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness.’ The definition of ‘vulnerable adults’ includes (but is not exclusive to):
- learning difficulties
- physical impairments
- sensory impairments
- mental health needs
- age-related frailty
- brain injuries
- drug or alcohol problems
2 SAFEGUARDING ROLES & RESONSIBILITIES OF SCHOOL STAFF
All adults working in, or on behalf of the school have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes a responsibility to be alert to possible abuse and to report/record all concerns and disclosures to those identified with safeguarding responsibilities within the school – see 2.5 below.
Staff induction will include expectation/responsibility of all staff and what is considered acceptable and what is not. They will also receive safeguarding training during their induction period and regularly thereafter so they can contribute to keeping children safe. Safeguarding is a responsibility shared by all.
2.1 Roles and Responsibilities of the Principal / Owner
The Principal / Owner will ensure that:
- the school has an effective safeguarding policy and procedures in place and that they are in agreement with locally agreed inter-agency procedures;
- the policies and procedures are available to parents via the School website or by email on request;
- the school is compliant with safe recruitment procedures and ensures that appropriate checks are carried out on staff and volunteers;
- there are procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against staff and volunteers which are compliant with locally agreed inter-agency procedures;
- there is a Designated Senior Person (DSP) who is designated to take responsibility for dealing with safeguarding issues and supports him/her in dealing with safeguarding at the school and in dealing with other agencies;
- sufficient time and resources are allocated to enable DSP and other staff to discharge their safeguarding responsibilities;
- staff undertake safeguarding training and where appropriate training in safer recruitment, including refresher training;
- any deficiencies or weaknesses in regard to safeguarding arrangements which are brought to their attention are addressed without delay;
- safeguarding policies and procedures are reviewed annually;
- where safeguarding provisions are provided by a separate body, the school will seek assurances that the body concerned has appropriate policies and procedures in place regarding safeguarding children and arrangements in place to liaise with the school on these matters where appropriate;
- provision is made for safeguarding files to be stored securely, but separate from main student files.
2.2 Roles and Responsibilities of the Director of Studies
The Director of Studies will ensure that:
- the policies and procedures adopted by the school are fully implemented and followed by all staff;
- all staff and volunteers feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice with regards to children, and concerns are addressed sensitively and effectively in a timely manner;
- the child’s safety and welfare is addressed throughout their course;
- Education Welfare Staff and Social Workers are informed immediately when a child who is subject to a protection plan goes missing (DSCB Safeguarding Children procedures 13.39);
- Staff undertake appropriate induction and training and refresher courses.
2.3 Roles and Responsibilities of the Designated Senior Person
The DSP is a senior member of staff who coordinates the school’s safeguarding and child protection arrangements: the role includes:
Training, knowledge & skills:
- recognise how to identify signs of abuse and when a referral is appropriate;
- have a working knowledge of how Cardiff Local Safeguarding Children Board operates, particularly the conduct of a child protection case conference, and is able to attend and contribute effectively when called upon;
- maintains an updated copy of, or link to the Cardiff Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures and other related local and national documents, and ensure that other staff are able to access these;
- ensures that all staff and volunteers have access to and understand this policy and are able to recognise and report concerns via training or as part of induction;
- able to keep detailed, accurate, secure written records of referrals / concerns;
- attend refresher training every two years;
- develop links with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies.
Referrals, tracking and monitoring:
- refer allegations or cases of suspected abuse:
- to the police and/or social services
- in cases of radicalisation to the Police (see the school’s Prevent Policy)
- act as a source of support and advice within the school when deciding whether to make a referral and liaise with relevant agencies;
- maintain an overview of all children where there are concerns i.e. children who have a CAF, Child in Need plan, Child Protection Plan, Looked After Plan, or there is a ‘concerns’ file;
- liaise with the Principal / Owner and Director of Studies to ensure continuity;
- liaise with the Principal / Owner and Director of Studies to ensure the school’s safeguarding policy is updated and reviewed annually;
- ensure that parents see copies of this policy and are made aware that referrals may be made and the role of the school in this process;
- when a child leaves the school, liaise with the Principal / Owner to ensure that a child’s protection / safeguarding file is copied for the new establishment and sent there as soon as possible, but separately from the main file.
2.4 Roles and Responsibilities of other School Staff & Volunteers
- undertakes appropriate training to carry out responsibilities effectively and do refresher training every 3 years;
- have an understanding of how the school safeguards and promotes the welfare of children, including their role and responsibilities and how to report disclosures and concerns;
2.5 Staff with specific Safeguarding Responsibilities
- Designated Principal : Mrs Judith Walklett
- Director of Studies:Mr Marek Stasiewski
- Designated Senior Person: Miss Irum Subtain
2.6 Other key safeguarding contacts
· Police Link Officer – DS Mark Henderson 02920 527272
· Childline 0800 1111
· Childrens’ Services 02920 536490
· Social Worker (ongoing cases) 02920 536400
· Children’s Action Point (office hours M-F 0830-1700) 02920 536490
· Children’s Action Point (outside office hours) 02920 788570
· Prevent police contact (DS Julie Driscoll, Wales Extremist & Counter-terrorism unit)
02920 527306 x34462
3 SAFE SCHOOL ETHOS & CULTURE
ST Mary's College adopts an open and accepting attitude towards children as part of our responsibility for pastoral care. Children, parents and staff must feel free to talk about any concerns, and must be listened to, and should see the school as a safe place. Children’s worries and concerns must be listened to and taken seriously, and children with concerns should be encouraged to seek help from school staff. The school will therefore ensure that:
- an ethos where children feel secure and are encouraged to talk, and are taken seriously and listened to and responded to appropriately is established and maintained;
- children are involved in the decision-making that affects them;
- children know there are adults at the school whom they can approach if they are worried or have difficulties and the school has well-developed listening systems;
- posters are displayed which detail contact numbers for appropriate support services and child protection helplines e.g. Childline;
- there is a clear written statement of the standards of behaviour and the boundaries of appropriate behaviour expected of staff and students that is understood and endorsed by all;
- positive and safe behaviour is encouraged among students, and staff are alert to changes in student behaviour that may be an indicator of abuse.
- effective working relationships are established with colleagues from partner agencies;
- being aware that the personal and family circumstances and lifestyles of some children may lead to an increased risk of neglect and abuse;
- staff are appropriately trained in safeguarding according to their roles and responsibilities, have regular opportunities for safeguarding briefings and records kept of all training undertaken
- safe recruitment procedures are followed to make sure all appropriate checks are carried out on staff who work with children;
- · any groups using school premises for the provision of services to children have their own safeguarding policies, or adopt the policies of the school.
3.1 Safeguarding as part of the curriculum
Learning materials should regularly explore topics such as bullying (including cyberbullying), domestic violence, the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, gangs and youth violence, terrorism and so on, and calm, rational discussion should be encouraged. Any extreme views expressed by students should be challenged.
3.2 Vulnerable children
Children who fall into the following categories are considered vulnerable.
- Disabled or with special educational needs
- Living in a known domestic abuse situation
- Affected by known parental substance abuse
- Asylum seekers
- Vulnerable to being bullied, or engaged in bullying
- Living in temporary accommodation
- Living transient lifestyles
- Living in chaotic, neglectful and unsupportive home situations
- Vulnerable to discrimination and maltreatment on grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or sexuality
- At risk of sexual exploitation
Special consideration may include the provision of safeguarding information, resources and support in community languages and accessible formats.
3.3 Working with parents & carers
We recognise the importance of working with parents/guardians to educate as well as safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The school will ensure that:
- we work with parents/guardians positively, openly and honestly;
- parents are encouraged to discuss concerns about welfare and safety, and that they are listened to and taken seriously;
- we will provide parents/guardians with information about the support available from the school to keep children safe;
- up-to-date and accurate information is kept about students (i.e. names and contact details of the person with whom the child normally lives, those with parental responsibility, emergency contact details, name and contact details of GP, any relevant court orders or other factors that may impact on the safety and welfare of the child;
- information given to us by the children themselves, their parents or carers or by other agencies will remain confidential and only disseminated on a need-to-know basis. For the sake of confidentiality, this information will not be stored electronically;
- it is made clear to parents/carers that the school has a duty to record and share safeguarding concerns with partner safeguarding agencies. Such records will be kept securely, apart from main student records and only accessible to key staff with safeguarding responsibilities.
- where we have reason to be concerned about the welfare of a child, we will always seek to discuss with parents/guardians first, however there may be occasions when this is not possible.
4 ADDRESSING SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS
Key points to remember for taking action are:
- in an emergency, take whatever action is necessary to help the child, for example, dial 999;
- report your concern to DSP immediately or as soon as possible;
- if DSP is not available, ensure the information is shared with the most senior person at the school on that day and ensure action is taken to report the concern to Children’s Social Care;
- 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 your concerns (see Appendix 6);
- seek support for yourself if you are distressed.
All staff should make themselves familiar with and follow the Cardiff Local Safeguarding Procedures: https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/resident/health-and-social-care/children/child-protection/pages/child-protection.aspx (see Appendix 7)
It is not the responsibility of school staff to investigate welfare concerns or determine the truth of any disclosure or allegation; this is the responsibility of Children’s Social Care. All staff however have a duty to recognise concerns and maintain an open mind. Consequently, all concerns regarding the safety and welfare of students will be recorded and discussed with DSP, or another senior member of staff in the absence of DSP, prior to any discussion with parents/guardians.
4.1 If you suspect a child at risk of harm
You will find information about abuse and neglect in Appendix 3. There will be occasions when you suspect that a child may be at serious risk, but you have no ‘real’ evidence. The child’s behaviour and/or appearance may have changed, their attendance at school may have dropped, their ability to concentrate and focus may have altered, or you may have noticed physical but inconclusive signs. In these circumstances, you should try to give the child the opportunity to talk. The signs you’ve noticed may be due to a variety of factors and it is fine to ask the child if they are alright or if you can help in any way. Ensure you record these early concerns using Appendix 6. If a child or adult does begin to reveal that a child is being harmed, you should follow the advice in 4.2.
4.2 If information is disclosed to you
It takes a lot of courage for a child, parent, carer or other significant adult to disclose that they are worried or have concerns. They may feel ashamed, the 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 child or adult talks to you about any risks to a child’s safety or wellbeing, you will need to tell them that you must pass the information on and that you are not allowed to keep it secret. When to tell them is a question of professional judgement. If you jump in immediately the child or adult making the disclosure may think you don’t want to listen, if you leave it till the very end of the conversation, your students may feel you have misled them into revealing more than they should. During your conversation with the child or adult:
- allow them to speak freely listen to what is said without interruption and without asking ‘leading questions;
- keep questions to a minimum and of an open nature i.e. ‘Can you tell me what happened next?’, not ‘Did he hit you?’
- remain calm and do not over-react – the child or adult may stop if they feel they are upsetting you;
- give reassuring nods or words of comfort – ‘I’m so sorry this has happened to you’ ‘I want to help’ ‘This isn’t your fault’ ‘You’re doing the right thing in talking to me’:
- do not be afraid of silences – remember how hard this must be for them;
- under no circumstance ask investigative questions such as how many times it happened;
- at an appropriate time stress that in order to help them you must pass this information on;
- do 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 or adult for not disclosing earlier. Saying ‘I do wish you’d told me when this started’ may be interpreted as that they’ve done something wrong;
- tell the child or adult what will happen next – they may agree to go with you to see the DSP. Otherwise, let them know that someone will contact them shortly that day;
- report verbally to the DSP;
- write up the conversation as soon as possible and hand it to the DSP
- seek peer support if you feel distressed, but don’t share details with anyone who doesn’t need to know;
- feel free to discuss the disclosure further with the DSP.
- Staff must immediately inform the DSP if there is:
- any suspicion that a child is in any way injured, marked or bruised which is not readily explained;
- any explanation given which appears inconsistent or suspicious;
- any behaviour which gives rise to a suspicion that the child may have suffered harm;
- any concerns that a child is presenting signs or symptoms of abuse or neglect;
- any significant change in a child’s behaviour including non-attendance for no apparent reason;
- any hint of disclosure about or by a child;
- any concerns about person(s) who may pose a risk to children;
- information which indicates that the child is living with someone who does not have parental responsibility for them (private fostering).
4.3 Role of DSP following identification of concerns
The DSP will:
- assess any urgent medical needs of the child;
- consider whether the child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm;
- check whether the child is currently subject to a Child Protection Plan (CPP) or has previously been subject to a plan, has a CAF or is open to a Multi-Agency Team (MAT);
- confirm whether any previous concerns have been raised by staff;
- consider whether the matter should be discussed with the child’s parents/carers or whether to do so may put the child at further risk of harm (see below);
- if unsure that a child protection referral should be made, seek advice from Children’s Social Care.
4.4 Notifying parents
The school will normally seek to discuss any concerns about a child with their parents. This must be handled sensitively and the DPS 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, then advice will first be sought from Children’s Social Care.
4.5 Referral to Children’s Social Services
The DSP will make a referral to Children’s Social Care First Contact Team if it is believed that a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm. If a referral to Social Care is not considered appropriate, consideration should be made to what support the child and family need. The school will consider what support could be offered within the school. It may be useful to undertake a CAF to clarify the child’s needs/strengths and the support required and/or make a referral to other services. Full written records of the information that the received, detailing the actions taken or not taken and the reasons why or why not will be made.
4.6 Action following referral
The DSP or other appropriate member of staff will:
- maintain contact with the allocated Social Worker;
- contribute to the Strategy discussion and/or the Strategy meeting;
- provide a report for, attend and contribute to any Initial and Review Child Protection Conference;
- share the content of this report with the parent and, if appropriate the child, prior to the meeting;
- attend Core Group meetings for any child subject to a Child Protection plan or Child in Need meeting for any child subject to a Child in Need plan;
- where a child on a Child Protection Plan moves from the school or goes missing, immediately inform the key worker in Social Care.
4.7 Confidentiality & Sharing information
The school will operate in line with ‘Information Sharing: guidance for practitioners and managers’ (2008) DCSF, being mindful of the seven golden rules for information sharing – see Appendix 4.
Staff should only discuss concerns with the DSP, DOS or Principal/Owner, depending on who is the subject of concern. That person will then decide who else needs to have the information and they will disseminate it on a need-to-know basis.
Wherever possible, consent will be sought to share information. However, where there are safeguarding concerns about a child, information will be shared with the appropriate organisations such as Children’s Social Care. In most cases, concerns will be discussed with parents and carers prior to the referral taking place unless doing so would increase risk.
Records of concerns, documentation and other written information will be stored in a locked facility and any electronic information will be password protected and only made available to relevant individuals. Safeguarding information will be stored separately from a child’s school file and the school file will be ‘tagged’ to indicate that separate information is held.
The school’s policy on confidentiality and information-sharing is available to parents on request.
4.8 Support for those involved in a safeguarding/child protection issue
Child neglect and abuse is devastating for the child and can also result in distress and anxiety for staff who become involved. We will support the children and their families and staff by:
- taking all suspicions and disclosures seriously;
- nominating a link person who will keep all parties informed and be the central point of contact;
- where a member of staff is the subject of an allegation made by a child, a separate link person will be nominated to avoid any conflict of interest;
- responding sympathetically to any child or member of 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 helplines, counselling or other avenues of external support;
- following the procedures laid down in our whistle-blowing, complaints and disciplinary procedures;
- co-operating fully with relevant statutory agencies.
4.9 Safeguarding individuals from radicalisation
Please refer to the school’s Prevent policy.
In respect of safeguarding individuals from radicalisation, the school works to the Prevent element of the Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy, and where deemed appropriate seeks external support for learners through referrals to the Channel Programme – although as this is aimed primarily at British nationals this is unlikely in the school’s context. It is recognised that radicalisation can occur in an individual from any section of society and is not particular to any racial, ethnic or social group. It is further recognised that in many instances the process of radicalisation is essentially one of grooming by others.
5 SAFER RECRUITMENT & SELECTION OF SCHOOL STAFF
The school has adopted robust recruitment and vetting procedures that minimise the risk of employing people who might abuse children, or are otherwise unsuitable to work with them. We complete a full range of checks which are carried out to minimise the possibility of children and young people suffering harm from those they consider to be in a position of trust.
We ensure that all appropriate measures are applied in relation to everyone who works in the school e,g. volunteers and staff employed by contractors. This is an essential part of creating a safe environment for children and young people.
Safer practice in recruitment means thinking about and including issues to do with child protection and safeguarding at every stage in the process. This includes obtaining and scrutinising and verifying academic or vocational qualifications, previous employment history, verifying health and physical capacity for the job, as well as resolving any discrepancies or anomalies in references.
It also includes ensuring that advertising, job descriptions and interview processes include safeguarding, together with DBS checks and checks on right to work in the UK.
In line with statutory requirements:
- enhanced DBS is required for all new appointments to the school’s workforce;
- checks are made against the prohibited list;
- a single central record is kept that details checks carried out on staff;
- all new appointments who have lived outside the UK are subject to additional checks as appropriate;
- supply staff have undergone necessary checks to ensure their suitability for the post: identity checks will be carried out on all appointments.
5.9 ‘Extended school’ and practices or activities on our site we will check that they have appropriate procedures in place
Where extended school activities are provided by and managed by the school, our own safeguarding 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 children attend offsite activities, we will check that effective risk assessment arrangements are in place.
6 ALLEGATIONS AGAINST TEACHERS, OTHER STAFF & VOLUNTEERS
Schools are safe environments for the majority of children and the majority of those who work with children have their safety and welfare at heart. However, everyone working at the school should be mindful that some individuals seek access to children in order to abuse them, and that the nature of abuse means that children do not always disclose. It is crucial that everyone is aware of these issues, and the need to adopt ways of working and appropriate practice to reduce the danger of allegations. It is also important that everyone knows how to raise concerns about what may seem to be poor or unsafe practice by colleagues. Such concerns will be listened to, taken seriously and acted on quickly and in a fair and consistent way that provides effective protection for the child while supporting the person who is the subject of allegations.
ST. Mary’s College will always follow the Cardiff Safeguarding Children’s Procedures; allegations against Staff, Carers & Volunteers where a staff member or volunteer working at the school is subject of an allegation that they have:
- behaved in a way that has harmed a child;
- possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
- behaved towards a child or children in ways that they could pose a risk.
6.1 If you have concerns about a colleague
Staff who are concerned about the conduct of a colleague towards a child are undoubtedly placed in a very difficult position. 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. All concerns of poor practice or concerns about a child’s welfare brought about by the behaviour of colleagues should be reported to the Principal/Owner or should be addressed to the DSP.
6.2 Initial actions following an allegation
- The person who has received an allegation, or witnessed an event will immediately inform the DPS, and make a record to include time, date, place of incident, persons present, what was said etc.. This should be signed and dated.
- · In the event the allegation is against the Principal/Owner, the matter will be reported to the DPS who will proceed as the ‘Head Teacher’
- · The DPS will where appropriate take steps to secure the immediate safely (including medical treatment) of children
- · DPS may need to clarify any information regarding the allegation. However, it is not the DPS’s place to interview at this stage.
Some allegations will be so serious as to require immediate intervention by Children’s Social Care the
· The DSP, DOS or Principal/Owner should immediately discuss the allegation with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) to discuss the nature and context of the incident and agree on course of action.
· DSP will inform the Principal/Owner of any allegation against school staff.
· Consideration will be given throughout to the support and information needs of students, parents and staff.
6.3 Staff who are the subject of an allegations
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, but misunderstandings and misinterpretation of events can and do happen. A child may also make an allegation against an innocent party because they are too afraid to name the real perpetrator. We must accept that some adults do pose a serious risk to children’s welfare and safety and we must act on every allegation made. Staff who are the subject of an allegation
Have the right to have their cases dealt with fairly, quickly and consistently, and to be kept informed of its progress. Suspension is not mandatory, nor is it automatic but, in some cases, staff may be suspended when this is deemed to be the best way to ensure that children are protected.