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Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare Of Pupils – including
GILSLAND CHURCH OF ENGLAND PRIMARY SCHOOL
Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Pupils – including
Date: September 2014
Date of Review: September 2015
Whole School Policy on Safeguarding
School : Gilsland Church of England Primary School
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
To ensure staff understand the different types of child abuse.
To raise awareness of staff regarding the signs of abuse.
To ensure staff are aware of their own responsibilities regarding the Child Protection procedures.
To ensure staff are aware of the role of the Designated Teacher Child Protection.
To recognise the dilemmas of confidentiality.
To provide support for both staff and parents/carers who have experienced disclosure and for pupils who have disclosed.
To provide further training for staff and include discussion of child protection issues in programme of induction for new staff.
It is recognised that “because of their day-to-day contact with individual children during school terms, teachers and other school staff are particularly well placed to observe outward signs of abuse, changes in behaviour, or failure to develop.”
Working Together – Under The Children Act, 1989.
Therefore teachers have a clear responsibility to watch for such indicators and, when they appear, quickly and effectively alert the relevant authorities in line with the Cumbria Child Protection Procedures as endorsed by the Local Safeguarding Children Board
Gilsland Church of England Primary School fully recognises the contribution it can make to protect children and support pupils in school. There are three main elements to our policy:
Prevention: we will create a positive atmosphere in school and through the curriculum and where appropriate through assemblies offer support to pupils.
Protection: we will follow agreed procedures, ensuring relevant staff are trained and supported to respond appropriately and sensitively to Child Protection concerns.
Support: we will offer support to pupils and school staff who may have been abused.
This policy applies to all pupils in Reception – Year 6 and to all staff who work on the school site.
We recognise that for children, high self-esteem, confidence, supportive friends and clear lines of communication with a trusted adult helps prevention.
Our school will therefore:
- establish and maintain an ethos where children feel secure and are encouraged to talk and are listened to. This will be achieved by regular, daily contact with teaching staff, the use of PSHE time, the use of SEAL in assembly themes.
- ensure that children know there are adults in the school they can approach if they are worried or in difficulty. This will be achieved through use of the teaching staff.
- Include in the curriculum activities and opportunities for PSHE which equip children with the skills they need to stay safe from abuse. This will include work on the themes explored through the SEAL programme in PSHE and assemblies.
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 person for Child Protection is Christine Boucetla, Headteacher.
It is the role of the Designated Teacher for Child Protection to take appropriate action with regard to a disclosure or other evidence of a Child Protection issue. This might include:
speaking with parents of the child
having a professional conversation with Children’s Services
completing a referral to Children’s Services
It is the duty of the Headteacher to ensure Safeguarding procedures are in place and are met in accordance with Section 175 of the Education Act (2002). In the event of the Headteacher’s absence the Headteacher may delegate responsibility for safeguarding to the deputy Child Protection teacher.
The governing body in accordance with Section 175 of the Education Act (2002) has the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people. Governors will not be privy to details relating to specific safeguarding situations on the grounds of confidentiality.
All staff including teaching and non-teaching staff have been given basic awareness training by the Designated Teacher. The school’s duties and responsibilities with regard to safeguarding is included in the school’s prospectus. All staff have access to a copy of this policy and are familiar with the school policies and procedures.
The way a verbal disclosure is handled is critical to good child protection practice.
A teacher may receive a disclosure from the child experiencing the abuse or from another child or from the child’s parent or carer. The following guidelines will be of help if a case of abuse or neglect is brought to your attention.
If a child has been seriously injured or neglected then she/he should never be left in a position of continuing danger. The teacher should:
inform the Child Protection Teacher who will arrange for medical treatment (should this be necessary) and alert the appropriate Social Services team;
record the incident/disclosure and pass this on to the DTCP.
All concerns must be referred to the DTCP. An individual teacher must not directly contact Social Services as even an inquiry can become a referral for action at their discretion.
A written account must be prepared as soon as possible after the disclosure.
Staff must not contact parents or carers where abuse or neglect is suspected or alleged.
Listen to the child. If you are shocked by what they tell you, try not to show it. Take what they say seriously. Children rarely lie about abuse and to be disbelieved adds to the traumatic nature of the disclosing. Children may retract what they have said if they meet with revulsion or disbelief.
Accept what the child says. Be careful not to burden them with guilt by asking “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
Try not to ask leading questions as this can later be interpreted as putting ideas into the child’s mind. Use phrases like “Tell me what happened” rather than “Did X to Y to you?” Be aware that your note of the disclosure may need to be used in subsequent court proceedings.
Note the time, date, place and people who were present as well as what was said. This is a verbatim report and should not include subjective opinions.
You are not expected to be an expert in counselling but use your listening skills and respond sensitively.
Stay calm and reassure the child that they have done the right thing in talking to you. It is essential to be honest with the child, so do not make promises you may not be able to keep, like “I’ll stay with you” or “Everything will be all right now”.
Do not promise confidentiality: you have a duty to refer a child who is at risk. A false promise of confidentiality will betray the trust placed in you. Explain to the child that in order to safeguard her/him you will need to talk to someone else and that person may be obliged to act. Tell the child who you will talk to and let her/him know when this will occur.
Try to alleviate any feelings of guilt that the child displays. Use phrases like “You’re not to blame” or “You’re not alone, you’re not the only one this sort of thing has happened to”.
Acknowledge how hard it must have been for the child to tell you what happened.
Empathise with the child – do not tell them what they should be feeling.
React to the pupil only as far as is necessary for you to establish whether or not you need to refer this matter – do not ‘interrogate’ them for full details.
Do not criticise the perpetrator: the pupil may love him/her and reconciliation may be possible.
Do not ask the pupil to repeat everything to another member of staff. Your written record should suffice.
Remind the pupil of what you have to do next and to whom you have to talk.
Inform the designated teacher for child protection.
Try to see the matter through yourself and keep in contact with the pupil.
Ensure that if a Social Services interview is to follow, the pupil has a ‘support person’ present if they wish (possibly yourself).
Make some very brief notes at the time and write them up in full later.
Do not destroy your original notes in case they are required by a court.
Record the time, date, place, any noticeable non-verbal behaviour and the words used by the child. If the child uses their family’s own private sexual words, record the actual words used, rather than translating them into ‘proper’ words.
Draw a diagram to indicate the positioning of any bruising.
Be objective in your recording: include statements and observable things, rather than your own interpretations or assumptions.
Make sure that you continue to support the child, providing time and a safe space throughout the process of investigation and afterwards.
Get some support for yourself, without disclosing confidential information about the child to colleagues.
Recording observations made by staff
Schools can play a vital role in helping abused children and those who are suspected of being abused, by the effective monitoring and recording of certain aspects of the child’s progress and behaviour in school. This is particularly important when there has been no actual disclosure of abuse or when the child has communication problems. Teachers should make a note of:
puzzling statements or stories from the child;
marks on the child’s body;
changes in appearance;
changes in patterns of attendance;
refusal/reluctance to do certain subjects such as PE
These notes must be given to the designated teacher who will keep them in a secure place.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Some signs and symptoms are common to all forms of abuse e.g. low self-esteem or changes in behaviour.
On their own, the signs and symptoms do not necessarily indicate abuse, but they must be recorded, as many cases of abuse are identified only when one person’s observation of apparently insignificant signs is considered alongside other information.
Some forms of abuse have no overt signs. Young children often communicate their distress through their behaviour, whereas older children may become adept at hiding signs of abuse. A child who is abused may still show no classic signs and symptoms. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
What is child abuse?
Generally, a child is abused or at risk of abuse by a parent or carer when his or her basic needs are not met through avoidable acts of omission or commission. Basic needs include the need for safety, protection, love, warmth, security, stimulation, food and medical treatment when necessary.
Child sexual abuse is the involvement of children or young people in sexual activity for the gratification of more mature, able and powerful people.
Definitions and recognition of abuse
In offering guidance on the recognition of abuse and neglect, it is important to appreciate that the issues are complex and that the resulting inquiries are, even when handled sensitively, extremely disruptive to family life. It is important, therefore, that all staff make sure they follow the correct school procedures when a case of abuse is suspected or alleged.
This occurs when a child suffers significant harm through physical injury inflicted, or not avoidably prevented, from a person of any age who is a family or household member or a person acting in a professional or caring capacity to the child.
Physical abuse can result from hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, biting, scalding, burning, poisoning or suffocation. Other signs may include multiple bruising (possibly of different ages), outline bruising (handmarks etc.), bitemarks or ligature marks.
It must be remembered that injuries alone may not be conclusive evidence of physical abuse.
Suspicion should be aroused by:
unexplained injuries or burns, particularly if they are recurrent;
an explanation is incompatible with an injury;
more than one explanation of the injury is given;
there is a refusal to discuss injuries;
there are injuries of different ages;
untreated injuries or lingering illness not attended to;
shrinking from physical contact;
there is a history of previous physical abuse;
where parents show no concern or their explanation is vague;
if adults deny responsibility for inflicting the injury when none has been suggested;
fear of returning home or parents being contacted;
fear of undressing;
fear of medical help;
over compliant behaviour or a ‘watchful’ attitude;
deterioration in work;
significant changes in behaviour without explanation;
unexplained patterns of absences which may serve to hide bruises or other physical injuries.
Emotional abuse occurs when a child suffers significant harm through the severe and persistent denial, by parents or other household members of professionals or those acting in a caring capacity to the child, of love, warmth, affection, stimulation or encouragement or when a child is repeatedly subjected to scorn, ridicule, rejection and criticism.
Where the abuse to a child is exclusively emotional, the effects will be seen in the child’s behaviour, social interactions and self-esteem, rather than in their physical state. Many children do at times, display signs which may indicate emotional abuse but which are the result of other stressful experiences e.g. family split, bereavement. One must, therefore, be sure to distinguish the difference.
For emotional abuse to be said to be present, the effect on the child has to be attributed to the actions of the child’s parents or carers.
Signs which may suggest abuse include:
excessive behaviour in terms of rocking, headbanging etc.;
fear of new situations;
inappropriate emotional responses to painful situations;
social isolation – does not join in/has few friends;
desperate attention-seeking behaviour;
This occurs when a child suffers significant harm through the severe and persistent denial of adequate care, supervision or protection from a person of any age who is a family or household member or a person acting in a professional or caring capacity to the child. This may include failure to provide food, warmth, shelter, protection from harm or to seek medical treatment when necessary. Persistent neglect will result in impairment to physical, emotional and intellectual development.
Signs which may suggest neglect include:
failure to attend to the child’s health needs;
constant hunger or the inability to thrive and grow at the expected rate for the child’s age;
poor personal hygiene;
frequent lateness or non-attendance at school;
poor social relationships;
compulsive stealing or scrounging;
children who are unresponsive or watchful.
This is the actual or likely sexual exploitation of a child or adolescent. It occurs when a child suffers significant harm through involvement in sexual activities with a person of any age who is a family or household member or who has been acting in a professional or caring capacity to the child and who has used the trusting nature of their relationship to sexually exploit the child. Sexual abuse includes looking, touching, exposing or fondling to full genital penetration. It also includes revealing indecent material such as pornography to the child, as well as obscene language or terminology and the misguiding of a child by suggestion or indecent provocation of any kind.
Sexual abuse may come to light in a number of ways – through direct allegation by the child, through a third party allegation or through children displaying signs and symptoms indicative of sexual abuse.
Signs may include:
bruises, scratches, burns or marks on the body;
scratches, abrasions, bleeding or persistent infections in the anal or genital regions;
recurrent psychosomatic features e.g. abdominal pains.
Suspicion should be aroused by:
excessive preoccupation or an awareness inappropriate to the child’s age with sexual matters e.g. inappropriate knowledge of adult sexual behaviour, drawings or vocabulary;
repeated engagement in appropriate sexual play with peers;
running away from carers;
refusal to stay with certain people or go to certain places;
aggressiveness, anger, anxiety, tearfulness;
withdrawal from friends;
Encopretia (spreading or placing of faeces in obvious places);
wetting/soiling where a child was previously clean and dry;
tiredness, lethargy, listlessness;
unexplained gifts of money.
A copy of this policy and a summary document entitled ‘Basic procedures – Childs Protection in School’ will be issued to all staff working on the site. Staff should be encouraged to keep the summary document available in case of emergencies. A copy is displayed on the staff room notice board.
Details of our Child Protection Procedures will be published in the prospectus which is issued to all parents new to the school.
Action to be taken
Where teachers see signs which cause them concern they may have the opportunity to seek information from the child with tact and sympathy. If not, or if the child’s response does not dispel suspicion, teachers should immediately make their suspicions known to the Designated Teacher (or in her absence the Early Years Manager).
However, if a pupil does disclose an allegation of abuse it must always be reported to the Social Services Department. In the event of this happening staff must follow the following procedures:
- when the child discloses allegations of abuse staff should make it clear that they will have to refer this to the Designated Teacher
- listen carefully and allow them to say what they need to say
- further brief questions may be asked but try to keep them open and avoid leading questions
- staff should report concerns immediately to the Designated Teacher. As soon as possible the member of staff should write down exactly what has been reported, sign and date this report and pass it to the Designated Teacher
- members of staff should maintain confidentiality by not discussing the allegations with anyone else.
School staff should not make any enquiries of parents or guardians which are liable to impede investigations. It is for the statutory agencies – Social Services, or the Police or the NSPCC to investigate suspected abuse.
Having made the decision that a referral is appropriate the Designated Teacher must immediately refer in the following manner:
Telephone local Children’s Services Office for a professional consultation:
Complete a Children’s Services Referral form and send without delay to the appropriate Social Services Department:
Children’s Services Advice and Access
3 Alfred Street North
The following information will be requested:
- Child’s full name, address, sex and date of birth
- Parent/guardian name(s) and telephone number
- Name of teacher making the referral
- Nature of the abuse/incident including times and dates
- Grounds for suspicion or details of disclosure
- Action taken
All action should be recorded in a confidential file which must include copies of all letters and reports, details of telephone conversations, any contact with parents or guardians and all relevant case details. These may be relied upon in any court proceedings and their accuracy is therefore essential. The confidentiality of such information is a high priority and therefore all written material including Child Protection Conference Reports are kept in separate secure files currently held by the Designated Teacher.
There may be occasions when the Social Services or Police wish to interview a child on school premises without parental knowledge. This will occur when the parent is the suspected abuser or suspected to have colluded in the abuse. In such cases the child should be offered the support of a teacher at their request. If the child does not wish a member of staff to be present then it is permissible for the interview to go ahead without a school representative.
Child Protection Conferences
Invitations to Child Protection Conferences are addressed to the Headteacher but it is for the Head/Designated Teacher to decide who is most appropriate to attend these and core group meetings. Requests to attend court hearings should be given priority.
The Headteacher will also assist or be responsible for the compilation of relevant written reports requested at Child Protection conferences.
The Headteacher/Designated person for Child Protection will be trained in ‘Level Two Child Protection: Core Groups and Conferences’ in order to support attendance at, and writing reports for, Child Protection conferences.
Training and Support
Our school will ensure that the Headteacher/Designated Teacher attend relevant training. The DTCP has completed Level One and Level Two training on safeguarding. In addition all teaching staff will receive Level One Basic Training.
Staff will be kept informed and updated on current Child Protection Procedures in relevant meetings and INSET.
New staff meet with the DTCP as part of their induction programme. This meeting covers such issues as clarifying the school procedure; ensuring the member of staff knows where to find and subsequently reads the Child Protection Procedures file; guidance regarding not being alone with pupils and appropriate physical contact when pupils are stressed, for example if involved in one to one’s with pupils, to ensure other staff know when and where this is happening.
CRB checks should be carried out on all appointments, including volunteers working directly with children for a period in excess of one day.
A personal copy of the Child Protection Policy Statement must be given to each new member of staff. Each time the file is updated, staff will be informed by the DTCP and asked to read the amendments.
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. Confidentiality must be maintained to protect both staff and children.
School staff must always be respectful and mindful of the personal dignity and privacy of the child. If a member of staff has knowledge of confidential information concerning a child, that person should never, under any circumstances, be tempted to discuss this with anyone other than designated people. Where abuse has been disclosed or discovered in school, it is likely that many people will know something about it. The Headteacher/Designated Teachers can reduce gossip and speculation, in school (and possibly also the local community) by explaining the importance of discretion to all staff and by dealing firmly with any infringement of this policy.
The following points should be born in mind by the school:
- precautions must be taken to ensure that information is only given to the appropriate person;
- if abuse is suspected, information should be given only to strictly relevant people such as the Headteacher/Designated Teacher;
- other members of staff need know only enough to prepare them to act with sensitivity to a distressed pupil. They do not need to know details;
- all personnel working within a school should be aware of the confidential nature of personal information about a child and the means of maintaining that confidentiality;
- personal information about a child’s family should be regarded as confidential;
- any disclosure by a child should be led by the child at his/her own pace, without pressure for detail from the teacher;
- the child should be kept informed of who knows, and what they know, at each stage of the procedures.
Staff should note reporting suspicions in good faith according to the procedure outlined above is an activity for which they enjoy the status of ‘qualified privilege’, exempting them from liability for civil action for slander and libel provided the strictest confidentiality is maintained and that no information concerning suspicions or knowledge subsequently acquired as the result of reporting such suspicions or information is communicated to persons not directly and professionally involved with the child’s well-being.
Records, Monitoring and Transfer
Children about whom there are concerns may be monitored by all or some of the teachers or key support staff for example the class teacher may well notice bruising or other injuries while the child is getting changed for PE. Information to staff is on a need to know basis assessed by the Designated Teacher for Child Protection. All sensitive files are held separately and by the Designated Teacher in a locked filing cabinet.
Well kept records are essential to good child protection practice. Our school is clear about the need to record any concerns held about a child or children within our school, the status of such records and when these records should be passed over to other agencies.
If a child leaves or transfers them the receiving school would be informed and confidential files passed on.
Supporting Pupils at Risk
Our school recognises that children who are abused or who witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self worth and to view the world in a positive way. This school may be the only stable, secure and predictable element in the lives of children at risk. Whilst at school, their behaviour may still be challenging and defiant and there may be moves to consider suspension or exclusion from school.
It is also recognised that some children who have experienced abuse may in turn abuse others. This requires a considered, sensitive approach in order that the child can receive appropriate help and support.
The school will endeavour to support pupils through:
- the curriculum to encourage self-esteem and self-motivation
- the school ethos which promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and which gives all pupils and adults a sense of being respected and valued
- the implementation of school behaviour policy
- a recognition of the causes of poor behaviour
- regular liaison with other professionals and agencies who support the pupils and their families
- a commitment to develop productive, supportive relationships with parents whenever it is in the child’s interests to do so
- the development and support of a responsive and knowledgeable staff group trained to respond appropriately in child protection situations.
Allegations against members of staff
In cases where an allegation is made against a teacher or other member of school staff, it is vital that the allegation should be reported to the Headteacher. In the event of the Headteacher being under suspicion, the member of staff should report the matter to the Chair of Governors who, in turn, should report the matter to the Local Education Authority.
If there is room for reasonable doubt staff owe it to the children in their care to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect in accordance with the procedures outlined above. Whilst panic and prejudice should obviously be avoided if we err at all it should be on the side of vigilance.
Guidelines for Self-Protection
Anyone who works with children either in a voluntary or professional capacity must be aware of the vulnerability of their position. False allegations of abuse do occur from time to time and staff are well advised to take some simple precautions in the best interests of:
a) the children who look to us for leadership, guidance and protection and
b) adults who have care of the children.
In the event of an injury to a pupil, accidental or otherwise, ensure that it is recorded and witnessed by another adult.
Keep a record of any false allegations a pupil makes against you or other staff. This should include anything from: “You’re always picking on me” to “You hit me” or comments such as “Don’t touch me”. If is too difficult to keep a record of every incident, use professional judgement and make notes in those circumstances where you might feel threatened or be concerned about any follow up.
If a pupil touches you or talks to you in a sexually inappropriate way or place, record what happened and ensure that another adult also knows. As it could be a totally innocent touch, do not make the child feel like a criminal. However, remember that ignoring this or allowing it to go on may place you in an untenable situation.
If you take pupils on journeys, always have two adults along. If it is an overnight trip, always check rooms in pairs.
Do not place yourself in a situation where you are spending excessive amounts of time alone with one pupil away from other people. If you are interviewing a pupil alone, ensure that the door is left open or that you are visible through a glass panel.
If you are in a residential setting, never, under any circumstances, take a pupil or pupils into your bedroom.
Never do something of a personal nature for pupils that they can do for themselves e.g. buttoning/unbuttoning clothing or any activity that could be misconstrued.
Do not go into toilets alone with pupils where they are able to do this for themselves. Inform another member of staff should it be necessary to do so.
Be mindful of how and where you touch pupils.
If you must physically restrain a pupil for any reason, be aware that it could be misinterpreted as assault.
Never keep suspicions of inappropriate behaviour or abuse by a colleague to yourself.
Be careful of the nature of remarks which you might make to pupils, these can often be misconstrued/misunderstood and might place you in a very untenable position.