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Child Protection Policy

Introduction

 

‘Education staff have a crucial role to play in helping identify welfare concerns and indicators of possible abuse or neglect at an early stage’

 Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006

 

Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 places a statutory responsibility on the governing body to have policies and procedures in place that safeguard and promote the welfare of children[1] who are pupils of the school.

We recognise that all adults[2] at this school have a full and active part to play in protecting and safeguarding the children in our care, and that the pupils’ welfare is our paramount concern.

This policy takes into account the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures

 

Aims

 

  • To provide a caring, positive, safe and stimulating environment that cares for the social, physical and moral development of the individual child. The governing body takes seriously its legal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and to work together with other agencies in so doing.

     

  • To provide an environment in which pupils feel safe, secure, valued and respected; and where they feel confident and know how to approach responsible adults if they are in difficulties.

     

  • To develop effective working relationships with all other agencies involved in safeguarding children.

     

Procedures and Responsibilities

 

School procedures for safeguarding children are in line with Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures, which may be accessed at www.mscb.org.uk

A copy of ‘What to do if you are worried about a child being abused’ is available for all staff to read. This may also be downloaded at:

www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/DFES-04320-2006 

The school has a Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator (DCPC), who has undertaken basic child protection training delivered through the Medway Safeguarding Children Board and the one-day DCPC training provided by the Local Authority (LA). They will attend refresher training provided by the Local Authority every two years. 

The school operates a system in which they have a Designated Child Protection Co-coordinator (DCPC) and a Deputy Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator. These are currently the Head and Deputy Head. Their training is staggered and the person who has the most up to date training becomes the DCPC and the other the Deputy.

It is the responsibility of the DCPC to ensure that all adults in school receive a copy of the policy and follow the schools internal child protection procedures and Medway Council’s record keeping procedures. All child protection records will be kept in a secure place away from school files, e.g. a locked cabinet in the head teacher’s office.  It is also the responsibility of the DCPC to make any referrals necessary to Medway Council’s Social Care via Customer First.

All adults who work in schools are legally required to participate in child protection training at least every three years. Opportunities will be provided to receive training consistent with Medway Safeguarding Children Board’s standards, in order to develop their understanding of the signs and indicators of abuse, and their knowledge regarding what to do if they feel a child may be suffering abuse. Volunteers working in our school are provided with detailed information relating to Child Protection which makes it clear what the school’s processes and procedures are.

All members of staff, volunteers and governors know how to respond to a pupil who discloses abuse, and they are familiar with procedures to be followed (see below).

All members of staff have updates on their child protection training in line with Medway recommendations.

If a child chooses to tell a member of staff about alleged abuse, there are a number of things that must be done to support the child:

 

  • Do not make promises e.g. to keep secrets

  • Stay calm and be available to listen.

  • Listen with the utmost care to what the child is saying.

  • Question minimally without pressurising; only using open questions.

  • Do not put words in the child’s mouth but note the main points carefully.

  • Keep a full record - date, time, what the child did, said etc; on Medway Council’s ‘record of concern’ form using a body map if appropriate. See Appendix 1

  • Re-assure the child and let them know that they were right to inform us.

  • Inform the child that this information will now have to be passed on.

  • Immediately inform the DCPC or deputy DCPC

     

    All parents/carers are made aware of the school’s responsibilities in regard to child protection procedures through publication of the school’s child protection policy. Reference will be made to it in a prospectus/brochure and home school agreement.

    Our DCPC will ensure a systematic means of monitoring children known or thought to be at risk of harm, they will ensure that we contribute to assessments of need and support plans for those children.

    We acknowledge the need for effective and appropriate communication between all members of staff in relation to safeguarding pupils.

    Our DCPC will ensure a structured procedure within the school, which will be followed by all of the members of school community in cases of suspected abuse.

    Our policy and procedures will be reviewed annually and updated by the governing body, which will ensure that they are in line with Medway Safeguarding Children Board’s policies and procedures.

     

    Supporting children

    We recognise that a child who has been abused or neglected, who witnesses abuse or lives in an abusive environment may feel helpless and, or humiliated. They may blame themselves, have low self-esteem and find it difficult to see the world as a positive place.

    We recognise that the school may provide the only stability in the lives of children who have been abused or who are at risk of harm.

    We accept that research demonstrates the behaviour of a child in these circumstances may range from that which is perceived to be normal to that which is aggressive or withdrawn.

    We will provide, across the curriculum, opportunities, which equip children with the skills they need to stay safe from harm and to know to whom they should turn for, help. We will promote a school ethos that is positive and supportive, and a secure environment, which provides all pupils and adults with a sense of being respected and valued.

     

    Supporting staff

    We recognise that staff working in the school who have become involved with a child who has suffered harm, or who appears likely to suffer harm, may find this situation stressful and upsetting.

    We will support such staff by providing an opportunity to talk through their anxieties with the DCPC, and to seek further support. This could be provided by, for example, the headteacher, by The School Workforce Team, Medway Council (01634 332471), The Occupational Health Service, through the Medway Counselling Service, Care First, and/or a teacher/ trade union representative as appropriate.

    We understand that staff should have access to advice on the boundaries of appropriate behaviour. The document ‘Guidance for Safe Working Practices for the Protection of Children and Staff in Education Settings’ provides advice on this and the circumstances that should be avoided in order to limit complaints against staff of abuse of trust and/or allegations of physical or sexual abuse made against staff. These matters form part of staff induction and are referred to in the staff handbook.

    We recognise that DCPC’s should have access to support and appropriate workshops, courses or meetings as organised by the Local Authority.

     

    Confidentiality

    We recognise that all matters relating to child protection are confidential, however, a member of staff must never guarantee confidentiality to a pupil, nor should they agree to keep a secret. Where there is a Child Protection concern it must be passed immediately to Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator, at least within 24hours of the concern being noticed.

    The Head Teacher or DCPC will disclose personal information, including the level of involvement of other agencies, about a pupil to other members of staff only on a ‘need to know’ basis.

    All staff must be aware that they have a professional responsibility to share information with other agencies in order to safeguard children.

     

    Safe staff

    Checks will be undertaken on all adults working in the school to establish the suitability of a person to work with children corresponding to Medway Council’s Safe Recruitment procedures. Records of these checks will be kept in accordance with Section 4.5 of ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education’ DfES 2006, each recruitment selection group and interview panel will have a ‘Safer Recruitment’ trained member.

    All school staff should take care not to place themselves in a vulnerable position with a child. It is always advisable for interviews or work with individual children or parents to be conducted with or in view of other adults.

    All staff understand that they are employed in a ‘Position of Trust’ and that inappropriate behaviour with or towards children is unacceptable. It is an offence for a person in a position of trust to have a sexual relationship with a child under 18, even if the relationship is consensual. This applies where the child is in full-time education and the person works in the same establishment even if s/he does not teach the child. Sexual Offences Act 2003

    If an allegation is made against another member of staff, the member of staff receiving the allegation will immediately inform the headteacher or the most senior teacher if the headteacher is not present. The headteacher or most senior teacher will then consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer (Clare Wilkes 01634 331229) if he is not available contact Education Safeguarding Co-ordinator (Joanne Cook 01634 331017).

    If the allegation made to the member of staff concerns the headteacher, the person receiving the allegation will immediately inform the chair of governors who will consult the Local Authority, (as above) without notifying the headteacher first.

    The school will follow the Local Authority procedures for managing allegations against staff, a copy of which can be found in the staff room.

    Where another body provides services or activities separately, using the school premises, the Governing Body will ensure that the body concerned has appropriate policies and procedures in place in regard to safe recruitment and safeguarding children.

    All visitors coming into contact with children are required to have a valid CRB check. Where a visitor does not have a current CRB check they are to be escorted around the school at all times

     

    Whistle blowing

    All staff should be aware of their duty to raise concerns about the attitude and actions of colleagues. If necessary, they should speak to the Chair of the Governors or consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer (Clare Wilkes 01634 331229) if he is not available contact Education Safeguarding Co-ordinator (Joanne Cook 01634 331017). See also Medway Council Whistle blowing procedures, if you are unhappy with the response you have received please contact Office for Standards in Education or contact the Department for Education and Skills (0870 000 2288 or complaints.peu@dfes.gsi.gov.uk).

     

    Links to other policies

    The child Protection Policy should be read alongside and in conjunction with other policies regarding the safety and welfare of children and these together make up the suite of policies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in this school.

     

  • Physical intervention/positive handling: Our Positive Handling or Behaviour Policy states that staff may only use physical intervention as a last resort. We understand that physical intervention of a nature that causes injury or distress to a child may be considered under child protection or disciplinary procedures.

  • Anti-bullying: Our policy on the prevention and management of bullying is set out in a separate policy and acknowledges that to allow or condone bullying may lead to consideration under child protection procedures.

  • Racist incidents: Our policy on racist incidents is set out in a separate anti-racism or equal opportunities policy and acknowledges that repeated racist incidents, or a single serious incident, may lead to consideration under child protection procedures.

  • Health and safety: Our health and safety policy, set out in a separate document, reflects the consideration we give to the protection of our children both physically, within the school environment, for example in relation to internet use; and when away from the school for example when undertaking school trips and visits.

  • Safe recruitment: Our policy, which sets the vetting requirements for all staff, that wish to work in our school whether paid or voluntary. All staff will have an Enhanced CRB check before starting and then at least every three years

     

 

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FGM is a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls, and is therefore part of child protection. Professionals have a responsibility to ensure that families know that FGM is illegal, and should ensure that families know that the authorities are actively tackling the issue. This knowledge alone may deter families from having FGM performed on their children, and save girls and women from harm.

 

UK legislation - FGM is illegal in the UK

 

In England the practice is illegal under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

It is also an offence to assist a girl or woman to mutilate her own genitalia.

It is an offence for anyone to perform FGM in the UK or to assist a girl to perform FGM

on herself in the UK.

 

There are four types of FGM

 

  1. Clitoridectomy – partial or total removal of the clitoris
  2. Excision – partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without the excision of the labia majora
  3. Infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening
  4. All other harmful non-medical procedures to female genitalia.

 

The practice is normally carried out on girls between the ages of 4 and 13, although the majority of cases are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8.

 

There are a range of potential indicators that a child or young person may be at risk of FGM, which individually may not indicate risk but if there are two or more indicators present this could signal a risk to the child or young person.

 

Victims of FGM are likely to come from a community that is known to practise FGM. Professionals should also note that the girls and women at risk of FGM may not yet be aware of the practice or that it may be conducted on them, so sensitivity should always be shown when approaching the subject.

 

There remains a duty for all professionals to act to safeguard girls at risk – with four key issues to consider:

  1. An illegal act being performed on a female, regardless of age
  2. The need to safeguard girls and young women at risk of FGM
  3. The risk to girls and young women where a relative has undergone FGM
  4. Situations where a girl may be removed from the country to undergo FGM

 

Indications that FGM may be about to take place soon

 

The age at which girls undergo FGM varies enormously according to the community.

The procedure may be carried out when the girl is newborn, during childhood or adolescence, at marriage or during the first pregnancy. However, the majority of cases of FGM are thought to take place between the ages of 5 and 8 and therefore girls within that age bracket are at a higher risk.

 

It is believed that FGM happens to British girls in the UK as well as overseas (often in the family’s country of origin). Girls of school age who are subjected to FGM overseas are thought to be taken abroad at the start of the school holidays, particularly in the summer holidays, in order for there to be sufficient time for her to recover before returning to her studies.

 

 

 

There can also be clearer signs when FGM is imminent:

 

  • It may be possible that families will practise FGM in the UK when a female family elder is around, particularly when she is visiting from a country of origin.
  • A professional may hear reference to FGM in conversation, for example a girl may tell other children about it.
  • A girl may confide that she is to have a ‘special procedure’ or to attend a special occasion to ‘become a woman’.
  • A girl may request help from a teacher or another adult if she is aware or suspects that she is at immediate risk.
  • Parents state that they or a relative will take the child out of the country for a prolonged period.
  • A girl may talk about a long holiday to her country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent

Indications that FGM may have already taken place

 

There are a number of indications that a girl or woman has already been subjected

to FGM:

  • A girl or woman may have difficulty walking, sitting or standing.
  • A girl or woman may spend longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet due to difficulties urinating.
  • A girl may spend long periods of time away from a classroom during the day with bladder or menstrual problems.
  • A girl or woman may have frequent urinary or menstrual problems.
  • There may be prolonged or repeated absences from school.
  • A prolonged absence from school with noticeable behaviour changes (e.g. withdrawal or depression) on the girl’s return could be an indication that a girl has recently undergone FGM.
  • A girl or woman may be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations.
  • A girl or woman may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

 

It is important that professionals look out for signs that FGM has already taken place so

that:

  • the girl affected can be offered help to deal with the consequences of FGM
  • enquiries can be made about other female family members who may need to be safeguarded from harm;
  • criminal investigations into the perpetrators, including those who carry out the procedure, can be considered to prosecute those breaking the law and to protect others from harm.

 

Reasons given for practising FGM:

 

  • It brings status and respect to the girl.
  • It preserves a girl’s virginity/chastity.
  • It is a rite of passage.
  • It gives a girl social acceptance, especially for marriage.
  • It upholds the family honour.
  • It gives the girl and her family a sense of belonging to the community.
  • It fulfils a religious requirement believed to exist.
  • It perpetuates a custom/tradition.
  • It helps girls and women to be clean and hygienic.

 

 

 

Short-term implications for a girl’s health and welfare

 

The short-term consequences following a girl undergoing FGM can include:

  • severe pain;
  • emotional and psychological shock (exacerbated by having to reconcile being subjected to the trauma by loving parents, extended family and friends);
  • haemorrhage;
  • wound infections, including tetanus and blood-borne viruses (including HIV and Hepatitis B and C);
  • urinary retention;
  • injury to adjacent tissues;
  • fracture or dislocation as a result of restraint;
  • damage to other organs;
  • death.

Talking about FGM

 

FGM is a complex and sensitive issue that requires professionals to approach the subject carefully. When talking about FGM, professionals should:

 

  • ensure that a female professional is available to speak to if the girl would prefer this;
  • make no assumptions;
  • give the individual time to talk and be willing to listen;
  • create an opportunity for the individual to disclose, seeing the individual on their own in private;
  • be sensitive to the intimate nature of the subject;
  • be sensitive to the fact that the individual may be loyal to their parents;
  • be non-judgemental (pointing out the illegality and health risks of the practice, but not blaming the girl or woman);
  • get accurate information about the urgency of the situation if the individual is at risk of being subjected to the procedure;
  • take detailed notes;
  • use simple language and ask straightforward questions;
  • use terminology that the individual will understand, e.g. the individual is unlikely to view the procedure as ‘abusive’;
  • avoid loaded or offensive terminology such as ‘mutilation’ (see Appendix B for
  • terms used in different languages that may be useful);
  • use value-neutral terms understandable to the woman, such as:

“Have you been closed?”

“Were you circumcised?”

“Have you been cut down there?”

Be direct, as indirect questions can be confusing and may only serve to reveal any underlying embarrassment or discomfort that you or the patient may have. Give the message that the individual can come back to you if they wish;

 

Things to be aware of in dealing with cases of FGM

 

For many people, prosecuting their family is something they simply will not consider. If the girl is from overseas, fleeing potential FGM and applying to remain in the UK as a refugee is a complicated process and may require professional immigration advice (see www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum for more information about the asylum application process). Professionals need to be extremely sensitive to these fears when dealing with a victim or potential victim from overseas, even if they have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or a right of abode, as they may not be aware of their true immigration position. These circumstances make them particularly vulnerable.

 

Do not allow any investigation of their immigration status to impede police enquiries into an offence that may have been committed against the victim or their children. UK

Border Agency officials and police officers may choose to establish an agreement or protocol about how any two simultaneous investigations may work.

Other risk factors include:

  • where the family is less integrated within UK society
  • where the mother or other women in the extended family have also been subject to FGM
  • where a girl has been withdrawn from sex education lessons and there is a reluctance for her to be informed about her body and her rights.

 

Summary

It is illegal in the UK to subject a girl or woman to FGM or to assist a non-UK person to carry out FGM overseas. For the purpose of the criminal law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, FGM is mutilation of the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.

 

FGM is prevalent in 28 African countries as well as in parts of the Middle East and Asia. It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at high risk of FGM in the UK each year and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences, although its true extent is unknown due to the hidden nature of the crime. FGM is practised by families for a variety of complex reasons but often in the belief that it is beneficial for the girl or woman. FGM constitutes a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls, and has severe short-term and long-term physical and psychological consequences.

 

As FGM is a form of child abuse, it should be dealt with according to our existing Child Protection Policy. This means completing a cause for concern sheet immediately and returning it immediately to either the DCPC or Deputy DCPC in their absence.

 

Do not reveal that any enquiries might be related to FGM, as this could increase the risk to the girl. Do not engage at this stage with the pupil’s family or others within the community. The Designated Child Protection Person will share any concerns that the school has with Children’s Social Care. Children’s Social Care may approach the police for assistance and there might be a joint investigation. Particular attention may be given to other family members who might also be at risk.

 

Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

 

Walderslade Primary School values the fundamental freedom of speech, expression of beliefs and ideology and tolerance of others which are the core values of our democratic society. However, all rights come with responsibilities and free speech or beliefs designed to manipulate the vulnerable or which advocate harm or hatred towards others will not be tolerated. Walderslade Primary School seeks to protect its students and staff from all messages and forms of violent extremism and ideologies including those linked to, but not restricted to the following: Far right/ Neo Nazi, White Supremacist ideology, extremist Islamic ideology, Irish Nationalist and Loyalist paramilitary groups and extremist Animal Rights groups.

 

Walderslade Primary School is clear that exploitation and radicalisation will be viewed as a safeguarding concern and will be referred to the appropriate safeguarding agencies.

 

Review: March 2018