safeguarding support

Safeguarding Updates: Safer Working Practice (Education) Addendum

Well school may be out but the confusion on when and if we reopen still persues…. Therefore, we thought we would do a series of short information bulletins covering various safeguarding topics. It may be useful to bookmark these so that you can easily jump back to them when you are thinking about getting prepared for the review of your safeguarding arrangements, settings policies and procedures for the new academic year.

This first bulletin is around the addendum to the Guidance for Safer Working Practice for those working with children and young people in education settings which was published during lockdown (April 2020). Therefore, this could have meant that some of you may have just missed it, due to competing demands you were juggling with at the time.

The above link will take you to the addendum of the non-statutory (2019) guidance. It seeks to reiterate the underpinning principles of the original document and to ensure that the responsibilities of senior leaders of educational settings towards children and their staff are discharged by raising awareness of illegal, unsafe, unprofessional and unwise behaviour. As this is a non-statutory guidance, it is up to senior leaders, management committees and governors to decide whether to use it as the basis for their code of conduct/staff behaviour guidelines.

To keep things as short and focused as possible. I have bullet pointed the amended sections and main changes below:

3. Responsibilities
States governing bodies should:

  • Update/amend the settings Safeguarding and Child Protection and other related policies in accordance with the DfE guidance of safeguarding children during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Where there is no ‘trained’ DSL on site, a senior member of staff is identified to lead on safeguarding issues
  • Ensure staff understand how to raise a concern and contact designated staff of safeguarding partners if they have a concern about a child, particularly if the normal arrangements have been amended

5. Power and position of trust and authority
Staff should:

  • Always maintain appropriate professional boundaries
  • Avoid behaviour which could be misinterpreted by others and report any such incident to a senior manager

This is as relevant in the online world as it is in the classroom; staff engaging with pupils and/or parents online have a responsibility to model safe practice at all times –  also relates to section 24a: Use of technology for online/virtual teaching

8. Dress and appearance
Staff should:

  • Ensure they are dressed decently, safely and appropriately for the tasks they undertake this also applies to online or virtual teaching or when working with small groups on site. Those who dress or appear in a manner which could be viewed as offensive or inappropriate will render themselves vulnerable to criticism or allegation.
  • In online engagement, wear similar to the clothing they would wear on a normal school day

12. Communications with children (including the use of technology) – also relates to section 24a: Use of technology for online/virtual teaching

15. Intimate/personal care

  • Any changes to the care plan should be made in writing and without delay, even if the change in arrangements is temporary, e.g. staff shortages, changes to staff rotas during the pandemic
  • Intimate and personal care should not be carried out by an adult that the child does not know
  • Anyone undertaking intimate/personal care is in regulated activity and must have been checked against the relevant DBS barred list, even if the activity only happens once; this includes volunteers
  • Volunteers and visiting staff from other schools should not undertake care procedures without appropriate training

Schools should:

  • Update care plans in writing where appropriate e.g. because there are changes to staff rotas
  • Ensure intimate/personal care is provided by staff known to the child
  • Ensure only individuals that have been checked against the relevant DBS barred list are permitted to engage in intimate or personal care
  • Ensure temporary or visiting staff have been trained in intimate and personal care procedures
  • Not allow any adult to assist with intimate or personal care without confirmation from senior leaders

19. One to one situations

  • DfE suggests that if there is only one vulnerable child or child of a critical worker, the school should consider closing and liaise with the local authority to identify alternative provision e.g. a hub school
  • If the school must remain open with only one or two children, there should be more than one member of staff to meet fire safety, first aid, supervision and other emergency procedures.

Schools should:

  • Keep pupil numbers under constant review
  • Ensure risk assessments and emergency procedures are review in the event of lone working/very small numbers on site
  • Liaise with the LA on suitable alternative provision if the school needs to close due to very low pupil numbers

Ensure staff:

  • Work one to one with a child only where absolutely necessary and with the knowledge and consent of senior leaders and parents/carers are aware of relevant risk assessments, policies and procedures
  •  Always report any situation where a pupil becomes distressed, anxious or angry

20. Home visits

Some settings may ask staff to undertake welfare visits. Settings should:

  • Take into account the advice of their LA early years service and/or safeguarding partners when deciding whether these home visits are proportionate and desirable
  • Ensure staff normally undertake home visits with a colleague
  • Always try to give parents/carers advance warning unless there is a good reason not to e.g. safeguarding concern, or at the request of children’s social care. In such cases the visit should be a DSL/DDSL. The purpose of the visit should be clarified and all staff should be aware of the circumstances in which emergency services of partner agencies should be contacted

Schools should ensure staff:

  • Have a clear understanding of the actions that should be taken if the child or parent is at immediate risk
  • Observe social distancing at all times
  • Except in an emergency, never enter a home without the parent/carers consent or when the parent/carer is absent
  • Policies reflect any procedures or guidance issued by the safeguarding partnership

23. First Aid and medication

It is worth noting that in exceptional circumstances, the Managing Health & Safety at Work Regulations do allow an organisation to function without any member of staff being trained in ‘First Aid at Work’. If a school has no trained first aider due to COVID-19, it is the responsibility of school leaders and/ or the employer to identify a senior person on site each day to lead on any crisis or serious incident including the provision of first aid. This decision should be supported by a risk assessment that takes into account the number of staff, children and / or other visitors on site, the proximity of emergency services, any particular risks presented, etc. Risks should be minimised as much as possible, for example by not undertaking high risk or adventurous activities.

  • Staff whose ‘first aid at work’ training is about to or has expired since 16th March 2020 should be aware that the HSE has agreed an extension of 3 months for renewal
  • Depending on the ages of the children accessing the provision, there may need to be at least one person trained in paediatric first aid at all times when children are on site

Schools should:

  • If there is no member of staff available who has completed ‘first aid at work’ training, identify a senior person to be responsible each day review and update first aid, medicines in school and crisis/emergency policies and relevant risk assessments

24a. Use of technology for online/virtual teaching
The narrative of section 24 remains relevant. However, there has been a sharp increase in the use of technology for remote learning since March 2020 and this addendum provides some basic guidelines for staff and school leaders.

  • All settings should review their online safety and acceptable use policies and amend these if necessary, ensuring that all staff involved in virtual teaching or the use of technology to contact pupils are briefed on best practice and any temporary changes to policy/procedures
  • When selecting a platform for online/virtual teaching, settings should satisfy themselves that the provider has an appropriate level of security
  • Wherever possible, staff should use school devices and contact pupils only via the pupil school email address/log in. This ensures that the setting’s filtering and monitoring software is enabled
  • In deciding whether to provide virtual or online learning for pupils, senior leaders should take into account issues such as accessibility within the family home, the mental health and wellbeing of children, including screen time, the potential for inappropriate behaviour by staff or pupils, staff access to the technology required, etc. Virtual lessons should be timetabled and senior staff, DSL and / or heads of department should be able to drop in to any virtual lesson at any time – the online version of entering a classroom
  • Staff engaging in online learning should display the same standards of dress and conduct that they would in the real world; they should also role model this to pupils and parents

The following points should be considered:-

  •  Think about the background; photos, artwork, identifying features, mirrors – ideally the backing should be   blurred
  •  Staff and pupils should be in living / communal areas – no bedrooms
  •  Staff and pupils should be fully dressed
  •  Filters at a child’s home may be set at a threshold which is different to the school
  •  Resources/videos must be age-appropriate –  the child may not have support immediately to hand at home if they feel distressed or anxious about content
  • It is the responsibility of the staff member to act as a moderator; raise any issues of suitability (of dress, setting, behaviour) with the child and / or parent immediately and end the online interaction if necessary
  • Recording lessons does not prevent abuse. If staff wish to record the lesson they are teaching, consideration should be given to data protection issues; e.g., whether parental/pupil consent is needed and retention/storage. If a staff member believes that a child or parent is recording the interaction, the lesson should be brought to an end or that child should be logged out immediately. Staff, parent and pupil AUPs should clearly state the standards of conduct required
  •  If staff need to contact a pupil or parent by phone and do not have access to a work phone, they should discuss this with a senior member of staff and, if there is no alternative, always use ‘caller withheld’ to ensure the pupil/parent is not able to identify the staff

This means schools should:

  •  Review and amend their online safety and acceptable use policies to reflect the current situation
  •  Ensure that all relevant staff have been briefed and understand the policies and the standards of conduct   expected of them
  •  Have clearly defined operating times for virtual learning
  •  Consider the impact that virtual teaching may have on children and their parents/carers/siblings
  •  Determine whether there are alternatives to virtual teaching in ‘real-time’ – e.g., using audio only, pre-recorded lessons, existing online resources
  •  Be aware of the virtual learning timetable and ensure they have the capacity to join a range of lessons
  •  Take into account any advice published by the local authority, MAP or their online safety/monitoring software provide

This means that staff should:

  •  Adhere to their schools’ policy
  •  Be fully dressed
  •  Ensure that a senior member of staff is aware that the online lesson/meeting is taking place and for what   purpose
  •  Avoid one to one situations – request that a parent is present in the room for the duration, or ask a colleague   or member of SLT to join the session
  •  Only record a lesson or online meeting with a pupil where this has been agreed with the headteacher or   other senior staff, and the pupil and their parent/carer have given explicit written consent to do so
  •  Be able to justify images of pupils in their possession

This means that adults should not:

  •  Contact pupils outside the operating times defined by senior leaders
  •  Take or record images of pupils for their personal use
  •  Record virtual lessons or meetings using personal equipment (unless agreed and risk assessed by senior staff)
  •  Engage online while children are in a state of undress or semi-undress

28. Whistleblowing
Schools should:

  • Have a whistleblowing policy in place which is known to all and which has been reviewed/amended in the light of the current pandemic

I hope that this summarised version of the addendum helps in someway to minimise your ever-demanding safeguarding workload. We would love to hear your feedback and do let us know if you would like information bulletin’s on any specific safeguarding areas?

Stay safe and enjoy the sun.

All the best, Yvonne

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