Safeguarding children

Introduction

Teaching Talent is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. All staff placed by Teaching Talent are expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure they are alert to possible child abuse and neglect, and to familiarise themselves with arrangements for safeguarding children in the schools where they are placed. A glossary of some key terms used in the policy is included at Appendix 1.

What are my responsibilities?

When placed in a new setting you should take the following steps as soon as possible:

  • Find out who the designated senior person for child protection is in the school.
  • Ask to see a copy of the school’s child protection policy and procedure. Although policies often give similar messages, there may be local variations you need to know about, so it is important that you read and understand it.
  • Find out whether the school has a Code of Conduct for staff. Similarly, it is essential that you have read and understood it.
  • Ask whether there is specific information that you should have about any of the children you may be working with.
  • You should also have read and signed this policy, and read the government guidance ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’.

When might you be worried?

Concerns about child abuse and neglect

You may become worried about child abuse during the course of your duties. For example, a child might tell you something directly that indicates the possibility that they have been abused or neglected. Sometimes child abuse comes to light when a child tells a friend that they are being harmed, who then tells a member of staff. Alternatively, you might notice other signs, such as injuries to a child that seem unlikely to have happened accidentally. Some children’s behaviour changes when they are upset or frightened or they may act in a way that is markedly different from their peers. A list of some possible signs of abuse is included at Appendix 2.

Alternatively, you may become concerned about the behaviour of another member of staff or a volunteer. This could be as a result of something that could be poor practice, or a child protection concern. Although the overwhelming majority of staff strive to work in safely and professionally, there have been instances where staff have behaved harmfully towards children.

If you are worried about possible child abuse you should always talk your concerns through with the designated senior person (formerly known as the designated teacher). You should do this as soon as possible, the same day you become concerned. Similarly, if you are worried about the behaviour of a member of staff, whether this is about possible poor practice or abuse, you should talk through your concerns with the designated senior person. If she/he agrees with you that there is a possibility abuse may have happened or is likely to take place, they will contact Children’s Social Care the same working day.

You should make an accurate, detailed record of your concerns as soon as possible.

Allegations against staff

Schools have a clear duty to take seriously any allegations that a member of staff may have abused or neglected a child. If an allegation is made, the school will initially consult with, or make a referral to Children’s Social Care for the authority in which the school is located.
If an allegation is made against a member of staff place by Academics, we will work together with the school, the local authority and the police as required under national and London Guidance.

Outline of the Child Protection Process Initial action by Children’s Social Care

Children’s Social Care will decide whether the referral information warrants investigation as possible child abuse. If so, they will seek information from other organisations that may have knowledge of the child.

Strategy Meeting / Discussion

This is a key stage in the process. Children’s Social Care will meet with other relevant professionals, including the school, to confirm whether the situation requires (or continues to need) investigation, and if so, plan the next steps. Where the allegation involves a possible crime, the police will take part in the meeting. In urgent cases, this process can take the form of a strategy discussion by telephone.

Investigation

The strategy meeting (above) decides on the nature and timing of an investigation. The investigation may involve one or more of the following processes, depending on the circumstances:

  • Investigation of suspected abuse, which may concern physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect. Children’s Social Care has lead responsibility.
  • Investigation of a possible crime. The Police have responsibility for investigating crimes, such as suspected physical or sexual assault.
  • Disciplinary process. This may be used when the person who is thought to have harmed a child is a paid worker or volunteer in a position of trust.
  • It may also be necessary for the child to be medically examined, and/or interviewed jointly by the police and Children’s Social Care.

Child Protection Conference

The Child Protection Conference brings together the professionals who have knowledge of the case. The aim is to share information and form a view about the level of risk to the child. If the child is thought to be at continuing risk of significant harm, she/he becomes the subject of a child protection plan. The conference agrees the outline of the child protection plan, and the core group. NB From 1st April 2008, all local authorities will have phased out use of the child protection register. In practice the process is substantially unchanged, as Children’s Social Care will maintain a list of children who are the subjects of child protection plans instead of keeping a child protection register.

Appendix 1: Some Key Definitions Child

A child is defined in law as a person who has not yet reached the age of 18 years. Designated Senior Person
All schools are required by law (Education Act 2002) to have someone in this role. In the unlikely event that the school hasn’t named someone as designated senior person, the role defaults to the head teacher. She/he is responsible for ensuring proper procedures and policies are in place and are followed with regard to child protection issues and acts as a dedicated resource available for other staff, volunteers and governors to draw upon. Most schools will have one or more staff who deputise for this role if the designated senior person is off site.

Children’s Social Care

This term is used in current government guidance to describe the part of the local authority with responsibility for making assessments of children ‘in need’ and leading an investigation when there are reasonable grounds for believing a child is at risk of significant harm through abuse or neglect. This is commonly called ‘Children’s Services’ in many local authorities, and was formerly known as ‘Social Services’.

Key Terms in Working Together 2006 Child Protection

The process of protecting individual children identified as either suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare