Safeguarding Pupils | Child Protection and Child Abuse Procedure
All members of staff including volunteers should be aware of the procedures to be followed and the support which is available, should they be concerned about the welfare of a boy.
The School's safeguarding policies and procedures are consistent with the requirements of the Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Inter-agency Procedures for Safeguarding Children and Young People (incorporating Working Together to Safeguard Children) (2010), and also with Dealing with Allegations of Abuse Against Teachers and Other Staff (2011).
The Children Act demands the need for the voice of the child to be heard at all times. It is the intent of the Act to create free channels for anxieties of all kinds to be expressed and sympathetically dealt with.
* to ensure that staff are able to identify children at risk
* to ensure that children considered to be at risk receive the necessary care and support they need
* to work with individual practitioners and agencies concerned with child protection
* to establish an ethos of mutual support amongst all staff, so that any questions and concerns may be shared
* to observe safeguards for the selection and appointment of staff
The School's Child Protection Officers are Mr Peter Watts, Mrs Sue Salmon and Mr Don Cameron, all of whom are trained by the Local Safeguarding Children's Board at Level 3 every two years.
As part of the School's commitment to safeguarding the boys in its care, all members of staff including volunteers receive training at the appropriate level depending on their role within the school. Child Protection and Safeguarding training forms an integral part of the Induction process for all new staff. Update training in Child Protection Procedures and Safeguarding is provided annually. Similar training is also provided to Prefects and Chapel Wardens on appointment.
The Governor responsible for Child Protection matters is Mr R A L Leach. The School's safeguarding policies and procedures are reviewed annually by the Governing body and amended as appropriate. Regular meetings between the designated governor and the Child Protection Officers review the efficiency with which the relevant policies and procedures are operating and any deficiencies or weaknesses are remedied without delay.
Staff should be concerned (on questioning) when:
* explanation for injuries is superficially plausible, but may be inappropriate, or inaccurate in detail
* given varying explanations of an injury
* vague explanations are offered, eg: "fell off bike", "bruises easily"
* a history of repeated episodes is evident.
Action to be taken:
It is the responsibility of each member of staff to be observant and to make known their concerns through the appropriate channels.
On hearing a complaint from a child, it is important to limit any questioning to the minimum necessary for clarification, avoiding leading questions. As soon as the allegation has been made, no further questions should be asked. The matter will be referred immediately to the Headmaster and to one of the members of staff responsible for Child Protection. This must be done, and the written record passed on the same day.
If the Headmaster or one of the Child Protection Officers is the subject of the allegation or concern, the Chairman of Governors and the nearest local Social Care and Health office which deals with child protection should be contacted. This is based at Bath Road, Sturminster Newton, Dorset (Tel: 01258 472652). The latter might be the only point of contact when the staff member feels that to inform the former would be inappropriate.
An allegation mistakenly made, whether or not for frivolous or malicious reasons, can jeopardise the career of a member of staff and damage can sometimes be irretrievable. Equally, a genuine complaint can be swept aside on the pretext that it is frivolous or malicious, and this can be damaging to the child.
The circumstances should be kept strictly confidential until one of the Child Protection Officers has referred the matter, possibly informally (without giving names in the first instance) in the event of unsubstantiated suspicions, to the Social Care and Health department for advice and/or further action. The Child Protection Officer should not make their own decision over what appear to be borderline cases, but rather the doubts and concerns will be discussed with the local authority designated officer (LADO).
If the allegation concerns a member of staff or boy, the person suspected of abuse must not be approached on the matter.
If the police decide to take the case further and the allegation is against a member of staff, it is possible that he or she might be suspended or, where the circumstances are considered to warrant it, dismissed. The school will always consider alternative arrangements that would achieve the same result as suspension. This could include either redeployment so that the member of staff does not have direct contact with the child concerned, or by providing an assistant to be present when the individual has contact with children. Accommodated staff who are being investigated following an allegation will be provided with alternative accommodation away from children. Accommodated staff who are suspended will be required to remain off-site for the duration of their suspension and will be provided with alternative accommodation away from children.
The School should not make any statement about an allegation without consulting Social Care and Health and police. This includes statements to parents.
It is the School's responsibility to take appropriate care over the welfare of any boys who are involved in an investigation.
Points to be borne in mind by staff and senior boys when dealing with allegations of abuse:
1. Always stop and listen straightaway to someone who wants to tell you about incidents or suspicions of abuse.
2. If you can, write brief notes of what they are telling you, while they are speaking. These may help later, if you have to remember exactly what was said. Keep your original notes, however rough they are.
3. It is what you wrote at the time that may be important later, not a tidier and improved version you wrote up afterwards. If you do not have the means to write at the time, make notes of what was said as soon as possible afterwards.
4. Never make a promise that you will keep what is said confidential or secret. If you are told about abuse, you have a responsibility to report it, so that action can be taken. Give reassurance that only those who need to know will be told.
5. Do not ask leading questions that might give your own ideas of what might have happened (eg: "Did he/she do X to you?").
6. Ask "What do you want to tell me?" or "Is there anything else you want to say?"
7. Immediately tell one of the Child Protection Officers, unless he or she is himself accused or suspected of abusing. Do not tell other adults or young people what you have been told. (If someone has made an accusation to you about the Headmaster or Child Protection Officer, you should contact the local Social Care and Health office, and ask them what to do next.)
8. Discuss with the Child Protection Officer whether any steps need to be taken to protect the person who has told you about the abuse. This may need to be discussed with the person who told you.
9. Never attempt to carry out an investigation of suspected or alleged abuse by interviewing people or asking other people, such as parents. Social Care and Health and police staff are the people trained to do this. You could cause more damage and interfere with possible criminal proceedings.
10. Within 24 hours, one of the Child Protection Officers should refer the matter to the local Social Care and Health department (helped by your notes). Follow their guidance about what to do next. Their statutory responsibility is to initiate any necessary investigations, and they will want relevant school staff to assist in the way appropriate to the circumstances, and will advise on this. If you feel your concerns have not been dealt with seriously, you should contact Social Care and Health yourself.
11. Never think abuse is impossible in your school or that an accusation against someone you know well and trust is bound to be wrong. The School has a Whistleblower Policy in place and those who report in good faith are protected by it.
12. Children and young people often tell other young people, rather than staff or other adults, about abuse. Senior boys are trained to know the main points on dealing with allegations of abuse.
Peter Watts BSc
Deputy Head (Pastoral)