Buckholme Towers School (including EYFS) Policy for Safe Working Practice and Staff conduct 

For the Safeguarding of Children and Staff at Buckholme Towers School

Overview

Excellent relationships between staff and pupils are at the heart of any good school. At Buckholme Towers we recognise the need for, and desirability of, warm, friendly and respectful social and professional contacts between staff and pupils; indeed, it is one of the best and most important things about the School. Staff can play a crucial role in shaping the lives of the pupils in their care and their interaction can be supportive, affirming and inspiring. All members of staff are expected to act professionally and to seek to provide a safe and supportive environment, which secures the well-being and the very best outcomes for those in their care. It is recognised that achieving these aims is not always straightforward. Much relies on pupil and staff interactions where tensions and misunderstandings can occur. It is here that staff behaviour can give rise to allegations being made against them. Allegations may be genuine, malicious or misplaced. They may arise from differing perceptions of the same event, but when they occur, they are inevitably distressing and difficult for all concerned. In all cases it cannot be sufficiently stressed that trustworthiness, integrity and good sense are required to ensure that nothing is done either to take advantage of or abuse the children and young people in our care, or even to appear to do so by rash and poorly considered actions.

This guidance has been produced to help staff establish the safest possible learning and working environments where an atmosphere of trust exists in which colleagues can conduct their professional lives with confidence. The aims are to safeguard young people and reduce the risk of staff being falsely accused of improper or unprofessional conduct. Whilst every attempt has been made to cover a wide range of situations, it is recognised that any such guidance cannot cover all eventualities. There may be times when professional judgements are made in situations not covered by this document, or which directly contravene the guidance given. It is expected that in these circumstances staff will always advise their senior colleagues of the justification for any such action already taken or proposed.

Underpinning Principles

  • The welfare of the child is paramount (Children Act 1989).
  • All members of staff are responsible for their own actions and behaviour and should avoid any conduct which would lead any reasonable person to question their motivation and intentions.
  • All members of staff should work, and be seen to work in an open and transparent way.
  • All members of staff should discuss and/or take advice promptly from their appropriate line manager or another senior member of staff over any incident, which may give rise to concern.
  • Records should be made of any such incident and of decisions made/further actions agreed, in accordance with the School’s policy for keeping and maintaining records.
  • All members of staff should apply the same professional standards regardless of gender or sexuality.
  • All members of staff should be aware that breaches of the law and other professional guidelines could result in criminal or disciplinary action being taken against them.

Guidance

This Guidance is taken from the ‘Guidance for Safe Working Practice for the Protection of Children and Staff in Educational Settings’ produced by IRSC for the DfES. The full Guidance with further advice can be found on the Teachernet website. (www.teachernet.gov.uk)

1.     Duty of Care

Teachers and other education staff are accountable for the way in which they exercise authority; manage risk; use resources; and protect pupils from discrimination and avoidable harm. All members of staff, whether paid or voluntary, have a duty to keep young people safe and to protect them from physical and emotional harm. This duty is in part exercised through the development of respectful, caring and professional relationships between staff and pupils and behaviour by all members of staff that demonstrates integrity, maturity and good judgement.

2. Exercise of Professional Judgement

This guidance cannot provide a complete checklist of what is, or is not, appropriate behaviour for staff. It does highlight however, behaviour that is illegal, inappropriate or inadvisable. There will be occasions and circumstances in which staff have to make decisions or take action in the best interests of the child or young person which could contravene this guidance or where no guidance exists. Individuals are expected to make judgements about their behaviour in order to secure the best interests and welfare of the children in their charge and in so doing, will be seen to be acting reasonably.

3. Power and Positions of Trust

As a result of their knowledge, position and/or the authority invested in their role, all adults working with children and young people in education settings are in positions of trust in relation to the young people in their care. A relationship between a member of staff and a pupil cannot be a relationship between equals. There is potential for exploitation and harm of vulnerable young people and all members of staff have a responsibility to ensure that an unequal balance of power is not used for personal advantage or gratification. Wherever possible, staff should avoid behaviour, which might be misinterpreted by others, and report and record any incident with this potential. Certain individuals, e.g. Deputy Head and Headmaster, have a privileged position as ultimate counsellors, etc., in which it is reasonable that they can be seen to have a potential known relationship with the pupils in their care. Where a person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust with a child under 18, it is an offence for that person to engage in sexual activity with or in the presence of that child, or to cause or incite that child to engage in or watch sexual activity.

4. Confidentiality

Members of staff may have access to confidential information about pupils in order to undertake their everyday responsibilities. In some circumstances staff may be given additional highly sensitive or private information. Reference may also be made to private circumstances in staff meetings. The spirit of confidentiality must be fully observed. They should never use confidential or personal information about a pupil or her/his family for their own, or others’ advantage (including that of partners, friends, relatives or other organisations). Information must never be used to intimidate, humiliate, or embarrass the pupil. Confidential information about a child or young person should never be used casually in conversation or shared with any person other than on a need to know basis. In circumstances where the child’s identity does not need to be disclosed the information should be used anonymously. There are some circumstances in which a member of staff may be expected to share information about a child, for example when abuse is alleged or suspected. In such cases, individuals have a duty to pass information on without delay, but only to those with designated child protection responsibilities. If a member of staff is in any doubt about whether to share information or keep it confidential he or she should seek guidance from a senior member of staff. Any media or legal enquiries should be passed to senior management.

5. Propriety and Behaviour

All members of staff have a responsibility to maintain public confidence in their ability to safeguard the welfare and best interests of children and young people. They should adopt high standards of personal conduct in order to maintain the confidence and respect of their peers, pupils, parents and the public in general. An individual's behaviour, either in or out of the workplace, should not compromise her/his position within the work setting.

6. Dress and Appearance

A person's dress and appearance are matters of personal choice and self-expression. However, staff should consider the manner of dress and appearance appropriate to their professional role which may be different to that adopted in their personal life. Staff should ensure they are dressed decently, safely and appropriately for the tasks they undertake. Those who dress or appear in a manner which could be considered as inappropriate could render themselves vulnerable to criticism or allegation. (please refer to staff dress code)

7. Gifts

Staff need to take care that they do not accept any gift that might be construed as a bribe by others, or lead the giver to expect preferential treatment. There are occasions when children or parents wish to pass small tokens of appreciation to staff e.g. at Christmas or as a thank-you and this is acceptable. However, it is unacceptable to receive gifts on a regular basis or of any significant value. Similarly, it is inadvisable to give such personal gifts to pupils. This could be misinterpreted as a gesture either to bribe, or single out the young person. It might be perceived that a 'favour' of some kind is expected in return. Any reward given to a young person should be on the basis of the agreed practice within the School, consistent with the school policy, recorded and not based on favouritism.

8. Infatuations

All members of staff need to be aware that it is not uncommon for pupils to be strongly attracted to a member of staff and/or develop a heterosexual or homosexual infatuation, although rare at a young age. All situations should be responded to sensitively to maintain the dignity of all concerned. Staff should also be aware that such circumstances always carry a high risk of words or actions being misinterpreted and for allegations to be made against staff. A member of staff, who becomes aware that a pupil may be infatuated with themselves or a colleague, should discuss this at the earliest opportunity with a senior colleague so that appropriate action can be taken. In this way, steps can be taken to avoid hurt and distress for all concerned.

9. Social Contact

Staff should not establish or seek to establish social contact with pupils for the purpose of securing a friendship or to pursue or strengthen a relationship. Even if a young person seeks to establish social contact, or if this occurs coincidentally, the member of staff should exercise her/his professional judgement in making a response and be aware that such social contact could be misconstrued. Staff should not give their personal details such as home/mobile phone number; home or email address to pupils unless the need to do so is agreed with senior management.

10. Physical Contact

There are occasions when it is entirely appropriate and proper for staff to have physical contact with pupils, but it is crucial that they only do so in ways appropriate to their professional role. A 'no touch' approach is impractical for most staff and may in some circumstances be inappropriate. When physical contact is made with pupils this should be in response to their needs at the time, of limited duration and appropriate given their age, stage of development, gender, ethnicity and background. Appropriate physical contact in schools may occur most often with younger pupils. It is not possible to be specific about the appropriateness of each physical contact, since an action that is appropriate with one child in one set of circumstances may be inappropriate in another, or with a different child. Staff should therefore use their professional judgement at all times. Physical contact should never be secretive, or for the gratification of the adult, or represent a misuse of authority. If a member of staff believes that an action could be misinterpreted, the incident and circumstances should be recorded as soon as possible and, if appropriate, a copy placed on the child’s file. Physical contact, which occurs regularly with an individual child or young person, is likely to raise questions unless the justification for this is part of a formally agreed plan (for example in relation to pupils with Learning difficulties or physical disabilities). Any such contact should be the subject of an agreed and open school policy and subject to review. Where feasible, staff should seek the child's permission before initiating contact. Staff should listen, observe and take note of the child's reaction or feelings and – so far as is possible - use a level of contact which is acceptable to the child for the minimum time necessary. Extra caution may be required where it is known that a child has suffered previous abuse or neglect. In the child's view, physical contact might be associated with such experiences and lead to staff being vulnerable to allegations of abuse. It is recognised that many such children are extremely needy and seek out inappropriate physical contact. In such circumstances staff should deter the child sensitively by helping them to understand the importance of personal boundaries. The general culture of 'limited touch' should be adapted, where appropriate, to the individual requirements of each child. Children with special needs may require more physical contact to assist their everyday learning. The arrangements should be understood and agreed by all concerned, justified in terms of the child's needs, consistently applied and open to scrutiny.

11. Physical Education and other activities which require physical contact.

Some staff, for example, those who teach PE and games, or who offer music tuition will on occasions have to initiate physical contact with pupils in order to support a child so they can perform a task safely, to demonstrate the use of a particular piece of equipment/instrument or assist them with an exercise. This should be done with the pupil's agreement. Contact under these circumstances should be for the minimum time necessary to complete the activity and take place in an open environment (see section 17, one-to-one situations, below). Staff should remain sensitive to any discomfort expressed verbally or non-verbally by the child.

12. Showers and Changing

Young people are entitled to respect and privacy when changing clothes or taking a shower. However, there may need to be an appropriate level of supervision in order to safeguard young people, satisfy health and safety considerations and ensure that bullying or teasing does not occur. This supervision should be appropriate to the needs and age of the young people concerned and sensitive to the potential for embarrassment. All members of staff therefore need to be vigilant about their own behaviour, ensure they follow agreed guidelines and be mindful of the needs of the pupils.

13. Pupils in Distress

There may be occasions when a distressed pupil needs comfort and reassurance. This may include age - appropriate physical contact. Staff should remain self-aware at all times in order that their contact is not threatening, intrusive or subject to misinterpretation. Where a member of staff has a particular concern about the need to provide this type of care and reassurance he/she should seek further advice from a senior manager.

14. Behaviour Management

All pupils have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. Corporal punishment is unlawful in all schools. Equally, staff should not use any form of degrading treatment to punish a pupil. The use of humour can help to defuse a situation. The use of sarcasm, demeaning or insensitive comments towards pupils is not acceptable in any situation.

15. Care, Control and Physical Intervention

The circumstances in which staff can intervene with a pupil are covered by the 1996 Education Act. Staff may legitimately intervene to prevent a pupil from committing a criminal offence, injuring themselves or others, causing damage to property, engaging in behaviour prejudicial to good order and to maintain good order and discipline. Staff should have regard to the health and safety of themselves and others. Under no circumstances should physical force be used as a form of punishment. The use of unwarranted physical force is likely to constitute a criminal offence. In all cases where physical intervention is deemed necessary, the incident and subsequent actions should be documented and reported.

16. Sexual Contact with Young People

Any sexual behaviour by a member of staff with or towards a child or young person is both inappropriate and illegal. Children and young people are protected by the same laws as adults in relation to non-consensual sexual behaviour. They are additionally protected by specific legal provisions regardless of whether the child or young person consents or not. This includes the prohibition on adults in a position of trust. The sexual activity referred to does not just involve physical contact including penetrative and non-penetrative acts. It may also include non-contact activities, such as causing children to engage in or watch sexual activity or the production of pornographic material. 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' defines sexual abuse as "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’. There are occasions when adults embark on a course of behaviour known as 'grooming' where the sole purpose is to gain the trust of a child, and manipulate that relationship so sexual abuse can take place. Staff should be aware that conferring special attention and favour upon a child might be construed as being part of a 'grooming' process, which is an offence.

17. One to One Situations

There are inevitably many situations in which a member of staff may find him/herself in a one to one situation with a pupil. In many cases this reflects the willingness of staff and pupil to give extra time to work; this may also reflect the sharing of hobbies, enthusiasms, etc. In each case it must be assumed that staff will recognise the full extent of their professional responsibility to the young in their care and the need for caution in situations, which could be misinterpreted, by pupil or parent. Staff working in one to one situations with children and young people may be more vulnerable to allegations. Teachers and others should recognise this possibility and plan and conduct such meetings accordingly. Where possible, such meetings should be conducted in a room with visual access or with the door open, or in a room or area which is likely to be frequented by others. Every attempt should be made to ensure the safety and security needs of both staff and pupils are met. Pre-arranged meetings with pupils away from the school premises should not be permitted unless approval is obtained from their parent and the Headmaster or other senior colleague with delegated authority.

18. Transporting Children

In certain situations, e.g. out of school activities, staff or volunteers may agree to transport children. Wherever possible and practicable it is advisable that transport is undertaken other than in private vehicles, with at least one adult additional to the driver acting as an escort. In unavoidable circumstances staff taking unaccompanied children in their car should try to ensure that the journey is known to a senior member of staff. Staff should ensure that their behaviour is safe and that the transport arrangements and the vehicle meet all legal requirements. They should ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy and appropriately insured and that the maximum capacity is not exceeded. Wherever possible, written permission from parents should be sought when pupils are transported in cars.

19. Educational Visits etc.

Staff should take particular care when supervising pupils in the less formal atmosphere of a residential setting or out of school activity. During school activities that take place off the school site or out of normal school hours, a more relaxed discipline or informal dress and language code may be acceptable. However, all members of staff remain in a position of trust and need to ensure that their behaviour cannot be interpreted as seeking to establish an inappropriate relationship or friendship. Where out of school activities include overnight stays, careful consideration needs to be given to sleeping arrangements. Pupils, staff and parents should be informed of these prior to the start of the trip.

20. Aid and Administration of Medication

Buckholme Towers has trained first aiders/appointed persons. Teachers may volunteer to undertake this task but it is not a contractual requirement. Staff should receive appropriate training before administering first aid or medication. When administering first aid, wherever possible, staff should ensure that another adult is present, or aware of the action being taken. Parents should always be informed when first aid has been administered. Pupils may need medication during school hours. In circumstances where children need medication regularly a health care plan should be drawn up to ensure the safety and protection of pupils and staff. With the permission of parents, the children should be encouraged to administer the medication themselves. If a member of staff is concerned or uncertain about the amount or type of medication being given to a pupil, this should be discussed with the appropriate senior colleague at the earliest opportunity.

21. Curriculum

Some areas of the curriculum can include or raise subject matter which is sexually explicit, or of an otherwise sensitive nature. Care should be taken to ensure that resource materials cannot be misinterpreted and clearly relate to the learning outcomes identified by the lesson plan. This plan should highlight particular areas of risk and sensitivity. The curriculum can sometimes include or lead to unplanned discussion about subject matter of a sexually explicit or otherwise sensitive nature. Responding to pupils' questions can require careful judgement and staff may wish to take guidance in these circumstances from a senior member of staff. Care should also be taken to abide by the School’s policy on sex and relationships education and the wishes of parents. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of any sex education provided (but not from the biological aspects of human growth and reproduction necessary under the science curriculum).

22. Photography, Videos and Mobile Phones

Many school activities involve recording images. These may be undertaken as part of the curriculum, extra school activities, for publicity, or to celebrate achievement. All members of staff need to be aware of the potential for these aspects of teaching to be misused for pornographic or 'grooming' purposes. Careful consideration should be given as to how these activities are organised and undertaken. Staff should remain sensitive to any children who appear uncomfortable and should recognise the potential for misinterpretation. Using images of children for publicity purposes will require the age - appropriate consent of the individual concerned and their legal guardians. Images should not be displayed on websites, in publications or in a public place without such consent. The definition of a public place includes areas where visitors to the school have access. It is recommended that when using a photograph, the following guidance should be followed:

  • if the photograph is used, avoid naming the pupil
  • if the pupil is named, avoid using their photograph
  • schools should establish whether the image will be retained for further use
  • images should be securely stored and used only by those authorised to do so.

Staff are not permitted to use their mobile phones whilst teaching in the classroom or outdoors, on playground duty or when supervising children at lunch etc. When not on duty members of staff are free to use their personal mobile devices in the staff room. Staff are strongly advised not to use the camera on their personally owned mobile phone. Staff should always use school owned cameras and adhere to the School’s policy on photography which outlines where parental permission is required. If a personal phone is used inadvertently, or as a last resort, any images must be uploaded to the School network at the earliest opportunity and deleted from the phone with no copies having been kept or transmitted elsewhere. Under no circumstances should a member of staff enter changing rooms carrying a mobile phone or camera.

23. Internet Use

Under no circumstances should adults in school access inappropriate images. Accessing child pornography or indecent images of children on the internet, and making, storing or disseminating such material, is illegal and, if proven, will invariably lead to the individual being barred from work with children and young people. Using school equipment to access inappropriate or indecent material, including adult pornography, is likely to give cause for concern particularly if as a result, pupils might be exposed to inappropriate or indecent material.

24. PROMOTION OF WELFARE AND EQUALITY OF TREATMENT

The ethos of Buckholme Towers School is to promote the social and moral well-being of each and every child, to teach pupils to take care of and to value themselves and to think in terms of making a positive contribution to society as adults. Our pupils regularly take part in a large number of charitable activities. We see this as making an important contribution towards the development of the whole person enabling him/her to grow up to value society and make a personal contribution to it. Buckholme Towers School is committed to equal treatment for all, regardless of sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity. We aim to create a friendly, caring and perceptive environment in which every individual is valued. We endeavour to contribute positively towards the growing autonomy, self-esteem and safety of each pupil.

25. Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is the mechanism by which staff can voice their concerns, made in good faith, without fear of repercussion. Buckholme Towers School is fully supportive of this mechanism. Staff should acknowledge their individual responsibilities to bring matters of concern to the attention of senior management and/or relevant external agencies. This is particularly important where the welfare of children may be at risk.

26. Sharing Concerns and Recording Incidents

All staff should be aware of the school's safeguarding procedures, including procedures for dealing with allegations against staff. In the event of an incident occurring, which may result in an action being misinterpreted and/or an allegation being made against a member of staff, the relevant information should be clearly and promptly recorded and reported to senior staff. Early discussion with a parent or guardian could avoid any misunderstanding. All members of staff who are the subject of allegations are advised to contact their professional association. Members of staff should feel able to discuss with their line manager any difficulties or problems that may affect their relationship with pupils so that appropriate support can be provided or action can be taken.

27. Prevent Duty

 The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTSA 2015) requires all schools in the exercise of their functions, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.” This duty is known as the PREVENT duty.

It is recognised that there is no simple way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to an extremist ideology. Staff should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour, use their professional judgement in identifying children who might be at risk of radicalisation and consult with the DSL if they have concerns. The DSL undertakes Prevent awareness training and is able to provide advice and support to other members of staff on protection of children from radicalisation. The School follows DfE Guidance as follows:

  • Risk assessment: We assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support of extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology
  • Working in Partnership: When appropriate, we use our links with the LSCB to seek advice, support and guidance, drawing on multi agency expertise.
  • Training: Staff are trained to identify factors that could help make people vulnerable to radicalisation.

28. Disqualification by Association

Staff should comply with the requirements of Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 and report to the DSL if they or others who live in their households are or become “disqualified.” The grounds for disqualification include, in summary:

  • being on the DBS Children’s Barred List
  • being cautioned for, convicted of, or charged with certain violent and sexual criminal offences against children and adults, at home or abroad;
  • being the subject of certain other orders relating to the care of children
  • refusal or cancellation of registration relating to childcare or children’s homes or being prohibited from private fostering;
  • living in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or works

29. MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF THIS POLICY

The Headteacher and the school monitor and evaluate its child protection policy and procedures through the following activities:

  • Senior leadership team discussion sessions with children and staff
  • Pupil questionnaires
  • Scrutiny of attendance data
  • Regular analysis of a range of risk assessments
  • Regular analysis of appropriate provision for the fulfilment of other safeguarding responsibilities relevant to the school.
  • Logs of bullying and/or racist behaviour incidents are reviewed regularly by the senior leadership team and proprietors
  • Regular review of parental concerns and parental questionnaires

Reviewed by SLT October 2015

Next Review October 2016

Reviewed by all staff January 2016