Sections 27 and 47 of the Children Act 1989 places duties on a number of agencies, including local education authorities , to assist local social service departments acting on behalf of children in need or inquiring in to allegations of child abuse. Because of the duty explicitly placed on LEAs , Academies are indirectly subject to the provisions of these sections of the act.
As well as this statutory duty, schools have a pastoral responsibility towards their pupils. Clearly pupils can not learn effectively unless they feel secure and in any case, they have a fundamental right to be protected from harm or abuse.
Statements and Objectives
The Principal and the Lead Child protection teacher will be the “ responsible people ” in dealing with issues of child abuse.
In the case of a child coming to school in need of immediate medical treatment, then the child will be referred to Gainsborough Hospital. If in the opinion of the Principal, there are indications that the cause of the problem may be related to child abuse the hospital will be informed and they will then initiate any child abuse investigation.
In less serious/obvious cases, teachers will endeavour to be alert for the signs of abuse, be it neglect, physical injury, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.
Where teachers see signs which concern them, they will immediately report this to the Lead Child protection teacher or if the Principal is absent or involved – the deputy headteacher.
The teacher will not investigate suspected abuse.
The Principal/deputy headteacher, preferably in the presence of the Lead Child protection teacher, will seek information from the child with tact and sympathy, in accordance with the procedures laid down by the local Area Child Protection Committee. The emphasis will be on listening to the child and recording the time, date, place, people present and details of the conversation.
The Principal will make the decision as to whether a referral should be made. However, any suspicion of child abuse, even in the absence of physical evidence, will be brought to the attention of one of the statutory protective services – on the premise that it is better to be safe than sorry in cases of this nature.
The Principal will first check the child protection register. This is to be kept up to date by the Lead Child Protection teacher in school and it’s contents are to be strictly confidential. A large register is kept by the local child protection panel and this must also be consulted to see if the child is named at risk.
The parents will not normally be informed of any referral to Social Services, nor need they be present at any interview of the child.
When a referral is made the Principal will make sure there is no misunderstanding :
- the reason for making the referral;
- his or her expectation of the agency to which the referral has been made;
- the action to be taken by the agency receiving the referral;
- the action to be taken and by whom, if the agreed plan is not carried out.
All verbal communications will be confirmed in writing within twenty-four hours.
The Principal will inform the child protection team at County Offices in Lincoln in serious cases. They are responsible for issues of child abuse.
Detailed written records of all communication/interviews/action taken will be kept. These will be timed, dated and signed and records kept while the pupil remains at the school.
Records may be kept either manually or on computer. Manual records are exempt from the Education ( school records ) Regulation 1989. Records kept on computer are exempt from the disclosure provisions of the Data protection act 1984.
On occasions it will be found after investigation that allegations or suspicions are not substantiated. In these cases the Principal may acknowledge any distress or inconvenience caused through this task will normally be undertaken by the social services.
If there is ever an allegation of abuse made against a member of staff, the Principal, or in the case where the Principal is accused – the governors, will consider carefully the appropriate course of action in each instance. Suspension will not be automatic.
In reaching a decision, the Principal or governors will take into account the :-
- seriousness and plausibility of the allegation;
- risk of harm to the pupils concerned or to other pupils;
- possibilities of tampering with the evidence;
- interests of the person concerned;
- interests of the school;
- advice sought from the LEA .
After following all the above procedures in the case where a member of staff is accused, only then can suspension take place. Where allegations made against a member of the school staff are found to be false and malicious, the governing body will decide what action, if any, is appropriate after careful consideration of the case in all it’s aspects.
The Principal and Lead Child Protection Teacher will receive appropriate training in order to know :-
- how to identify the signs and symptoms and when to make a referral;
- the local ACP/LEA child protection procedures and the designated head teachers role within them;
- the role and responsibilities of the investigating agencies and how to liaise with them;
- the requirements of record keeping;
- the conduct of a child protection conference and how the designated teacher or other member of staff can make an appropriate contribution to it.
Child protection issues will be the subject of strict confidentiality which will be well understood to all staff.
The Academy will attempt to help parents to understand its responsibility for the welfare of all pupils and make them aware of it’s child protection policy.
Pupils will be made aware of relevant local or national telephone helplines.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Pupils whose names are on the child protection register will be constantly monitored by the Principal and Lead Child Protection teacher.
Monitoring of any child abuse cases which may arise and evaluation of the effectiveness of the policy and procedures within the Academy, will take place continuously at an informal level and periodically, as time permits, will be undertaken formally by the teaching staff and Governors.
This policy was agreed by the staff and the full governing body .
It will be reviewed by all staff and governors in accordance with new guidelines when issued.