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Child Protection Policy
IntroductionAcademics Ltd is committed to ensuring their work is consistent with safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. All staff placed by Academics 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:
When might you be worried?
Concerns about child abuse and neglectYou 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 staffSchools 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 Service as required under national and London Guidance.
Outline of the Child Protection Process
Initial action by Children’s Social CareChildren’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 / DiscussionThis 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.
InvestigationThe 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:
Child Protection ConferenceThe 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
ChildA 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 CareThis 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 ProtectionThe 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 of childrenThe process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health or development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care which is undertaken so as to enable children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.
Well-BeingSection 10 of the Children Act 2004 requires local authorities and other specified agencies to co-operate with a view to improving the well being of children in relation to the 5 “Every Child Matters” outcomes.
Appendix 2: Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglectAbuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children. The following categories are used to determine whether abuse has taken place or is likely, and to decide whether a child should become the subject of a child protection plan
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food and clothing, shelter including exclusion from home or abandonment, failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-takers, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Appendix 3: Signs of Child Abuse and NeglectThe following lists are intended as a guide some of the common signs that can indicate that a child is being abused or neglected. A child may, however, show none of these signs, yet still have been abused, or, conversely, display one of these symptoms yet not have been abused. If you have concerns that a child may have been abused, or are in any doubt about whether a child is being ill-treated, you should consult with your manager or designated senior person and if necessary follow the child protection procedures for your agency.
Bruises – some new researchA bruise should never be interpreted in isolation and must always be assessed in context
The neglected childSometimes one becomes worried that a child’s appearance indicates that they are being physically neglected. In deciding what action should be taken it helps to consider the impact any suboptimal care is having on the child together with what else one knows about the family.
Some pointers on responding to children
Main ReferencesWorking Together to Safeguard Children (4th edition).
HM Government, 2006
What to do if you’re worries a child is being abused (2nd edition).
HM Government, 2006
London Child Protection Procedures (second edition).
London Safeguarding Children Board, 2007