SAFEGUARDING & CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

Please note this policy is currently under review and revised policy will be posted in Summer 2017

A.       Named staff/personnel with specific responsibility for Child Protection

 

Academic Year

 

Designated Child Protection Person & ‘Back-Up’ or Deputy DCPP

 

Nominated Governor

2013/2014

 

 

Nicola Brogan -  DCPP

Caroline Dunne – Deputy DCPP

 

 

Richard Bramwell

 

2014/2015

2015/2016

2016/2017

 

Nicola Brogan – DCPP

Melanie Backhouse – Deputy DCPP

Georgina Bradley – Deputy DCPP

 

 

Richard Bramwell

September 2016+

Louise Geere

 

 

 

 

 

 

B.       Training for Designated Staff in School

Name of Staff Member / Governor

Date when last attended CHILD PROTECTION Training

Provided by Whom (e.g. RBSCB, Governor Support Services, Attendance & Safeguarding Team

Refer to full staff training list

 

C.       Whole School Child Protection Training (all staff should receive induction and an update every 3 years)

Who attended (e.g. all teaching and welfare / support staff,  Governors, volunteers)

Date

Training Delivered by

Refer to full staff training list

 

D.       Review dates for this policy

 

Review Date

Changes made

By whom

June 2014

Updated so as to fully reflect and ensure we have a Whole School Policy for Safeguarding and Child Protection in line with ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education’ (DCSF 2007), Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013) and Greater Manchester Multi-Agency Child Protection procedures and with regard for ‘Keeping Safe in Education’ (DfE April 2014)

Nicola Brogan & FGB

June 2015

 

As above

 

 

 

 

1.       PURPOSE OF A CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

 

1.1.  An effective whole school Child Protection policy is one which provides clear direction to staff and others about expected codes of behaviour in dealing with Child Protection issues.  An effective policy also makes explicit the school’s commitment to the development of good practice and sound procedures.  This ensures that Child Protection concerns and referrals may be handled sensitively, professionally and in ways which prioritise the needs of the child.

 

2.       INTRODUCTION

 

2.1.  Through its Mission Statement, visions and values…

Our School Mission Statement

Through Quality First Teaching, an exciting curriculum and its meaningful relationships and engagement with families and the community, Woodland Community Primary School aims to equip all with the skills needed to exist within our increasingly diverse world.

Woodland Community Primary School.....achievement and excellence for all

Through our Mission Statement, the values that underpin all we do at Woodland Community Primary School are that…

  • we will be a welcoming school to all
  • we will always have the highest expectations and aspirations for all our pupils
  • we will always put children first and aspire to give them the best foundations for life
  • we will strive to develop in our pupils respect for themselves, each other and the communities in which they live
  • we will accept, value and welcome differences and diversity
  • we will understand the ‘whole child’ and adapt our practices to reflect this
  • we will always act with integrity, honesty and transparency
  • we will encourage and build strong relationships with all our stakeholders and aim to involve them in all major decisions about our school
  • we will encourage creativity and risk taking in all aspects of school life
  • we will be both reflective and evaluative about our school and it’s performance, so that we always strive to be the best we can be!

Through our Mission Statement and our values, we are Woodland Community Primary School, aim to…

  • meet the social, emotional and academic needs of every individual child
  • make our school a safe, secure and healthy place, by providing nurture and support for all
  • prepare all our children for a happy and successful life
  • empower children with the skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes which we help them become valued members of their wider communities
  • develop independence and self-confidence with pupils, giving them the skills and abilities required to articulate their views, beliefs and feelings accurately and appropriately
  • encourage good behaviour and self disclipne in all children
  • communicate effectively with all our stakeholders, working in partnership with them all
  • provide a dynamic curriculum, with experience-rich learning opportunities that combine hard work with lots of fun
  • make our school the centre of the community

And finally, and most importantly,

  • ensure that each and every child exceeds their own expectations of themselves!

         …Woodland Community Primary school fully recognises the contribution it can make to       protect children and support pupils in school

2.2.  There are three main elements to our Child Protection Policy.

        (a)    Prevention: 

 A positive school atmosphere, teaching and pastoral support to pupils.

        (b)    Protection:

By following agreed procedures, ensuring staff are trained and supported to respond appropriately and sensitively to Child Protection concerns.

        (c)    Support:

To pupils and school staff and to children who may have been abused.

 

  1. This policy applies to all staff, volunteers and visitors in school.

 

3.       SCHOOL COMMITMENT

3.1. We recognise that high self- esteem, confidence, peer support and clear lines of communication with trusted adults helps all children, and especially those at risk of or who are suffering abuse.

Our school will therefore:

(a)    Establish and maintain an ethos where children feel secure and are encouraged to talk, and are listened to. This will be achieved through the values and aims shared above, through a curriculum and whole school provision that engenders nurture, trust and mutual respect from and within all stakeholders.

(b)    Ensure that children know that there are adults in the school who they can approach if they are worried or are in difficulty

(c)    Include in the curriculum activities and opportunities for PSHCE which equip children with the skills they need to stay safe and / or communicate their fears or concerns about abuse

(d)    Include in the curriculum material which will help children develop realistic attitudes to the responsibilities of adult life, particularly with regard to childcare and parenting skills

(e)    Ensure that every effort will be made to establish effective working relationships with parents and colleagues from other agencies.

 

Please refer to our Whole School Curriculum overview / plan and our Nurture Policy for more detail around provision at Woodland. Any further information relating to any aspects of our school curriculum and provision is available upon request from the Headteacher. 

 

4.       FRAMEWORK

 

Education staff have a crucial role to play in helping identify welfare concerns and indicators of possible abuse or neglect, at an early stage: referring those concerns to the appropriate organisation … …, contributing to the assessment of a child’s needs using the Children’s Needs and Response Framework and, in particular, using and embedding the Common Assessment Framework as an early intervention assessment tool. They will also be well place to give a view on the impact of treatment or intervention on the child’s care or behaviour.’

 

4.1   Child Protection is the responsibility of all adults and especially those working with children.  The development of appropriate procedures and the monitoring of good practice are the responsibilities of the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB).

 

4.2    What is the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB - www.rbscb.org)?

      

  The Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) is the key statutory mechanism for agreeing how organisations in Rochdale will co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Rochdale.

 

5.       ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

5.1.  All adults working with or on behalf of children have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.  There are, however, key people within schools and the Local Authority who have specific responsibilities under Child Protection procedures.  The names of those carrying these responsibilities in school for the current year are listed on the cover sheet of this document.

 

5.2   The Headteacher (Designated Child Protection Person) will take lead responsibility for  

         dealing with all child protection issues; will provide advice and support to others.  The

         Headteacher will also liaise with the Local Authority, parents and work with other

         agencies.  The Headteacher may delegate elements of this work to other staff members if                   

         she deems it appropriate.  If the Headteacher cannot attend a Child Protection

        Conference or an Emergency Strategy Meeting, only a member of the Senior Leadership

        Team will attend in her place.

5.3.  The Governing body is accountable for ensuring that Woodland Community Primary School, has effective policies and procedures in place in accordance with this guidance, and for monitoring the school’s compliance with them. Neither the governing body, nor individual governors, have a role in dealing with individual cases or a right to know details of cases (except when exercising their disciplinary functions in respect of allegations against a member of staff). The Governing Body of Woodland Community Primary School have found it helpful for an individual member of the governing body to champion child protection issues within the school, liaise with the head teacher about them, and provide information and reports to the governing body. However, it is not usually appropriate for that person to take the lead in dealing with allegations of abuse made against the head teacher. That is the role of the chair of governors or, in the absence of a chair, the vice or deputy chair. Whether the governing body acts collectively or an individual member takes the lead, it is helpful if all members of the governing body undertake training about child protection to ensure they have the knowledge and information needed to perform their functions and understand their responsibilities.

5.4   Who is available within the Local Authority to offer advice and support?

         Attendance & Safeguarding Team – Tel: 01706 715638

         Safeguarding Unit (Conference & Reviewing Officers - Tel: 0800    

         226 5500

         Children’s Social Care – Access & Support Team – Tel: 0845 226 5570

         Out of Hours, Emergency Duty Social Worker – Tel: 01706 354836

         Police, PPPIU – Tel: 0161 856 8067/9442

       

        See ‘Safeguarding Children & Safer Recruitment in Education’(DCSF2007)

        There should already be a hard copy in school but, if not, it can be

        accessed at: www. teachernet.gov.uk

 

6.       PROCEDURES

 

          Where it is believed that a child is suffering from, or is at risk of significant harm, we will follow the Greater Manchester Child Protection Procedures (2013) located at www.rbscb.org

 

          Refer to attached Procedural Guide for details of how we record, report and deal with Child Protection Concerns and issues

 

7.       TRAINING AND SUPPORT

 

7.1.  Our school will ensure that the Head Teacher, the Designated Child Protection Person and the nominated governor for Child Protection attend training relevant to their role’ at regular intervals. The Designated Child Protection Person will also attend Multi-Agency Child Protection training within this timescale.

 

  • All staff, as part of induction training will have in school procedures and policies shared and explained to them.
  • They will also have the Safer Working Practices document and other nationally recognised and/or locally recommended publications shared with them.  This documents will be stored electronically on the school Intranet so as to allow constant access by all staff members.
  • Basic Safe Guarding training will be periodically delivered on a 3 year cycle or as and when deemed necessary if sooner.  Reactive training will be delivered as deemed appropriate and to the appropriate members of school staff for example, Child Sexual Exploitation Training.
  • The Designated Child Protection Persons will be actively encouraged to attend the regular Safeguarding Lead networks and meetings led by the Local Authority Safeguarding Lead

 

 

 

8.       CONFIDENTIALITY

 

8.1.  Confidentiality is an issue which needs to be discussed and fully understood by all those working with children, particularly in the context of Child Protection.  A copy of the school’s confidentiality policy will be shared with all adults within the school, including Governors

 

 

8.2   Professionals can only work together to safeguard children if there is an exchange of relevant information between them.  This has been recognised in principle by the courts. Any disclosure of personal information to others, [including Children’s Social Care Services], must always have regard to both common and statute law.  Children will be advised of the need to share information if the child protection officer/lead sees this as appropriate.

 

8.3   Normally, personal information should only be disclosed to third parties (including other agencies) with the consent of the subject of that information (Data Protection Act 1998, European Convention on Human Rights, Article 8).  Wherever possible, consent should be obtained before sharing personal information with third parties.  In some circumstances, consent may not be possible or desirable but the safety and welfare of a child dictate that the information should be shared.  The law permits the disclosure of confidential information necessary to safeguard a child or children.  Disclosure should be justifiable in each case, according to the particular facts of the case, and legal advice should be sought if in doubt.

 

 

         

9.       RECORDS AND MONITORING

 

  1. Well-kept records are essential to good Child Protection practice.  Our school is clear about the need to record any concerns held about a child or children within our school, the status of such records and when these records, or parts thereof, should be shared with other agencies.

 

What system does your school have for recording concerns about the welfare

or behaviour of a child?

  • Within each classroom at Woodland Community Primary School, there is a Safeguarding Chronology Book – this is a bound notebook, with carbonised pages where all adults in school are able to record any concerns that they have about a pupil, but which does not constitute a safeguarding concern.  These concerns may involve such things as a change in physical or emotional presentation, a child being unusually over tired or making comments relating to home circumstances changing.  At least once a week, a DCPP will collect all entries from all books, leaving a copy within the books in classrooms.  These entries will be considered, any appropriate action taken, and all stored within the Safeguarding Records.
  • When it becomes apparent there are Child Protection concerns an early concern or ‘Pink’ form is completed by staff, dated and passed immediately to the Head teacher.  This form will be signed upon receipt by the Head teacher, and a record of action filled in by them.  This ‘Pink Form’ will then be stored securely and confidentially in the Safeguarding records.
  • Safeguarding records, are they kept separate from other school records in a locked drawer in the head teacher’s office.
  • Staff do not have open access to the information contained in Child Protection/ Safeguarding files and it is at the head teacher’s discretion what and if any information is shared.
  • Teachers are informed by the Head teacher which children within their classes/groups are subject to a Child Protection Plan, those who are LAC and those who are known to Children’s Social Care as part of our information sharing with regards to Vulnerable Data Groups – reasons behind a child being any of the above, is shared totally at the discretion of the Head teacher.
  • Teacher-held notes become part of school record when a concern has been raised regarding a child.
  • It is the role of the Headteacher/Designated Child Protection Officer to collate concerns and when all indicators indicate there is due concern regarding a child referral is made to the appropriate bodies.
  • The staff are only informed of the relevant steps which have been taken following a concern being raised, as the Head teacher deems appropriate.
  • If a child transfers or leaves the school all records are kept at the school the Headteacher informs the school receiving, initially by telephone, if there are any child protection issues and records are passed on and signed for should it be deemed appropriate.

 

 

10.     CHILD PROTECTION CONFERENCES AND RELATED MEETINGS

 

The school will endeavour to attend all meetings around child protection, safeguarding and child welfare issues, these will include ‘Team Around the Child’ meetings; ‘Child in Need’ meetings; CAF meetings; ‘Targeted Support Services’ Panel meetings; Looked After Child’ reviews and PEP meetings; Child Protection Case Conferences & Reviews, and Emergency Strategy meetings.  They will write and contribute appropriate reports and updates within the given time frames, using the RCSB guidelines to support this.

 

The Head teacher will determine, depending upon level of concern or need, who is the most appropriate member of school staff to attend meetings. Only the Head teacher or other DCPP will attend all Child Protection Case Conferences & Reviews; LAC Reviews and linked court hearings if required; PEPs and Emergency Strategy Meetings.  Equally only the Head teacher or other DCPP will write reports for these meetings.  All reports and minutes of meetings will be stored securely within Safeguarding Records.

 

Appropriate training will be provided to support staff to produce relevant, concise and professional reports for all meetings linked to Safeguarding, particularly for Child Protection Conferences – such training will use in-school, in-house expertise and that sourced from and approved by the RBSCB.

 

 

11.     SUPPORTING PUPILS AT RISK

 

 11.1Our school recognises that children who are abused or who witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self-worth and to view the world in a positive way.  This school may be the only stable, secure and predictable element in the lives of children at risk.  Whilst at school, their behaviour may still be challenging and defiant and there may even be moves to consider exclusion from school, yet Woodland Community Primary School will endeavour, alongside work with and support from other agencies, to view every child as an individual and take into account their ‘life story’ and build an educational experience that acknowledges and pays regards to this.

 

It is also recognised that some children who have experienced abuse may in turn abuse others.  This requires a considered, measured and sensitive approach in order that the child can receive appropriate help and support and be given the opportunity to succeed at our school.

 

11.2 This school will endeavour to support pupils through:

 

(a)    The curriculum, to encourage self-esteem and self-motivation;

(b)    The school ethos which is formed with Nurture at its heart and that promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and which gives all pupils and adults a sense of being respected and valued;

(c)    A consistent approach, which recognises and separates the cause of behaviour from that which the child displays.  This is vital to ensure that all children are supported within the school setting;

(e)    Regular liaison with other professionals and agencies who support the pupils and their families, in-line with appropriate confidentiality parameters;

(f)     A commitment to develop productive, supportive relationships with parents, whenever possible and so long as it is in the child’s best interests to do so;

(g)    The development and support of a responsive and knowledgeable staff group trained to respond appropriately in Child Protection situations.

 

11.3 This policy should be considered alongside other related policies in school.    

These are….

 

  • Special Educational Needs Policy
  • School Health & Safety Policies
  • Staff Codes of Conduct – Guidance for Safe Working Practice for the  

                                            Protection of Children and Staff in Education 

                                            Settings (updated September 2012)

                                            Keeping Children Safe in Education (April 2014)

  • Behaviour Management Policy (including Anti Bullying Policy)
  • Positive Handling Plans
  • E-safety Policy & Statement
  • Allegations of Abuse Against Staff Procedures
  • Learning & Teaching Policy
  • Safer Recruitment Policies and procedures

 

11.4 We recognise that, statistically, children with behavioural difficulties and disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. School staff who work, in any capacity, with children with profound and multiple disabilities, sensory impairment and/or emotional and behaviour problems will need to be particularly sensitive to signs of abuse.

 

It must also be stressed that in a home environment where there is domestic abuse, drug or alcohol misuse, children may also be particularly vulnerable and in need of support or protection.

         

 

SCHOOL CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES

 

1.     What Should Staff/Volunteers Do If They Have Concerns About A Child or Young Person in School?

 

Education professionals who are concerned about a child’s welfare or who believe that a child is or may be at risk of abuse should pass any information to the Designated Child Protection Person (DCPP) in school; this should always occur as soon as possible and certainly within 24 hours.

 

        The Designated Child Protection Person is: Nicola Brogan

 

The Deputy Designated Child Protection Person is: Caroline Dunne / Rachel Clair & Mel Backhouse

 

It is these senior colleagues who are responsible for taking action where the welfare or safety of children or young people is concerned.  If staff are uncertain about whether their concerns are indeed ‘Child Protection’ then a discussion with their DCPP will assist in determining the most appropriate next course of action[1]:

 

          Staff should never:

  • Do nothing/assume that another agency or professional will act or is acting.
  • Attempt to resolve the matter themselves.

 

What should the DCPP consider right at the outset?

  • Am I dealing with ‘risk’ or ‘need’? (By definition, a child at risk is also a child in need. However, what is the priority / level and immediacy of risk / need and consider the Children’s Needs and Response Framework?)
  • Can the level of need identified be met:
  • In or by the school or by accessing universal services/without referral to the MASS or other targeted services?
  • By working with the child, parents and colleagues?
  • By completion of a CAF with parents/carers/child & other professionals
  • What resources are available to me/the school and what are their limitations?
  • Is the level of need such that a referral needs to be made to the Multi Agency Screening Service requesting that an assessment of need be undertaken? (Section 17 Child in Need referral)
  • Is the level and/or likelihood of risk such that a Child Protection referral needs to be made (i.e. a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm? (Section 47 Child Protection referral)
  • What information is available to me: Child, Parents, Family & Environment?
  • What information is inaccessible and, potentially, how significant might this be?
  • Who do/don’t I need to speak to now and what do they need to know?
  • Where can I access appropriate advice and/or support?
  • If I am not going to refer, then what action am I going to take? (e.g. time‑limited monitoring plan, discussion with parents or other professionals, recording, etc)

 

2.     Feedback to Staff Who Report Concerns to the Designated Child Protection Person

 

The Designated Child Protection Person will decide which information needs to be shared, when and with whom – this may involve not being able to offer any feedback or information. The primary purpose of confidentiality in this context is to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.

 

3.    Thresholds for Referral to the Multi Agency Screening Service (MASS)

 

Where a Designated Child Protection Person considers that a referral to the MASS may be required, there are two thresholds for (and their criteria) and types of referral that need to be carefully considered:

 

  1. Is this a Child In Need?

 

Under section 17 (s.17(10)) of the Children Act 1989, a child is in need if:

  1. S/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity to achieve or maintain, a reasonable standard of health or development, without the provision of services by a local authority;
  2. His/her health or development is likely to be impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of such services;
  3. S/he has a disability

 

  1. Is this a Child Protection Matter?

 

Under section 47(1) of the Children Act 1989, a local authority has a duty to make enquiries where they are informed that a child who lives or is found in their area:

  1. is the subject of an Emergency Protection Order;
  2. is in Police Protection; or where they have
  3. there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.

 

Therefore, it is the ‘significant harm’ threshold’ that justifies statutory intervention into family life. A professional making a Child Protection referral under s.47 must therefore provide information which clearly outlines that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.

The Designated Child Protection Person will make judgements around ‘significant harm’, levels of ‘need’ and when to refer. (Children’s Needs and Response Framework)

 

 

4.       Making Referrals to the MASS (Guidance for the Designated   

           Child Protection Person)

 

          (i)       Child In Need/Section 17 Referrals

The DCPP should look with other services as part of the Early Help Strategy to complete a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and copy this to: karen.donnelly@rochdale.gov.uk

 

  • This is a request for assessment/support/services and, as such, you must obtain the consent of the parent(s) (and child/young person where appropriate),  this should be identified on the CAF
  • Where a parent/child/young person refuses to consent, you should make clear your ongoing plans and responsibilities in respect of support, monitoring etc, and the possibility of a Child Protection referral at some point in future if things deteriorate or do not improve. (This is not about threats or saying that this is inevitable but about openness and transparency in dealings with parents).

 

          (ii)      Child Protection

 

Use the multi agency referral form for referrals to the Multi Agency Screening Service where it is considered that a child may be at risk of or suffering significant harm.

 

  • You do not require the consent of a parent or child/young person to make a Child Protection referral
  • A parent should, under most circumstances, be informed by the referrer that a Child Protection referral is to be made. The criteria for not informing parents are:
  1.    Because this would increase the risk of significant harm to a child(ren), to another member in the family home or to a professional; or
  2.    Because, in the referrer’s professional opinion, to do so might impede an investigation that may need to be undertaken;
  3.     Because there would be an undue delay caused by seeking consent which would not serve the child’s best interests.

 

                 See the Greater Manchester Child Protection Procedures on the     

                 RBSCB website for the occasions when parents/carers should not

                 be informed.

 

Fear of jeopardising a hard won relationship with parents because of a need to refer is not sufficient justification for not telling them that you need to refer. To the contrary, this lack of openness will do little to foster ongoing trust, particularly as the source of referrals will be disclosed to parents except in a limited number of circumstances. If you feel that your own or another adult’s immediate safety would be placed at risk by informing parents then you should seek advice and/or make this clear on the referral or in any telephone contact with the Multi Agency Screening Service.

 

5.       The MASS Responses to Referrals and Timescales

 

          In response to a referral, the MASS may decide to:

 

  • Provide advice to the referrer and/or child/family;
  • Refer on to another agency who can provide services;
  • Undertake an Assessment;
  • Convene a Strategy Meeting for referrals under Section 47 of the Children Act;
  • Provide support services under Section 17;
  • Convene an Initial Child Protection Conference;
  • Accommodate the child under Section 20 (with parental consent);
  • Make an application to court for an Order;
  • Suggest to referring agency that a CAF be completed.

6.       Feedback from the MASS 

 

The MASS has 24 hours within which to make a decision about a course of action in response to a referral. If you do not receive any (same day) verbal feedback following an urgent Child Protection referral, and where this places school / a child(ren) in a vulnerable position, you should ask to speak to the relevant Team Manager at MASS (0845 226 5570) or the Education Safeguarding Officer (01706 925384)

 

7.       Risk Assessment ‘Checklist’

 

  1. Does/could the suspected harm meet the RBSCB definitions of abuse?
  2. Are there cultural, linguistic or disability issues?
  3. I am wrongly attributing something to impairment?
  4. Does the chronology indicate any possible patterns which could/do impact upon the level of risk?
  5. Are any injuries or incidents acute, cumulative, episodic?
  6. Did any injuries result from spontaneous action, neglect, or intent?
  7. Explanations consistent with injuries/behaviour?
  8. Severity and duration of any harm?
  9. Effects upon the child’s health/development?
  10. Immediate/longer term effects?
  11. Likelihood of recurrence?
  12. Child’s reaction?
  13. Child’s perception of the harm?
  14. Child’s needs, wishes and feelings?
  15. Parent’s/carer’s attitudes/response to concerns?
  16. How willing are they to cooperate?
  17. What does the child mean to the family?
  18. What role does the child play?
  19. Possible effects of intervention?
  20. Protective factors and strengths of/for child (ie resilience/vulnerability)
  21. Familial strengths and weaknesses?
  22. Possibilities?
  23. Probabilities?
  24. When and how is the child at risk?
  25. How imminent is any likely risk?
  26. How grave are the possible consequences?
  27. How safe is this child?
  28. What are the risk assessment options?
  29. What are the risk management options?
  30. What is the interim plan?

 

APPENDIX 1: TAKING ACTION ON CHILD WELFARE/PROTECTION CONCERNS IN SCHOOL

 

 

 
   

 

 

The Designated Child Protection Person in School is : Nicola Brogan

The Deputy DCCP is :   Gerogina Bradley & Mel Backhouse

 

AAPPENDIX 2: TALKING AND LISTENING TO CHILDREN

 

If a child wants to confide in you, you SHOULD

  • Be accessible and receptive;
  • Listen carefully and uncritically, at the child’s pace;
  • Take what is said seriously;
  • Reassure children that they are right to tell;
  • Tell the child that you must pass this information on;
  • Make sure that the child is ok ;
  • Make a careful record of what was said (see Recording).

 

 

You should NEVER

  • Investigate or seek to prove or disprove possible abuse;
  • Make promises about confidentiality or keeping ‘secrets’ to children;
  • Assume that someone else will take the necessary action;
  • Jump to conclusions, be dismissive or react with shock, anger, horror etc;
  • Speculate or accuse anybody;
  • Investigate, suggest or probe for information;
  • Confront another person (adult or child) allegedly involved;
  • Offer opinions about what is being said or the persons allegedly involved;
  • Forget to record what you have been told;
  • Fail to pass this information on to the correct person (the Designated Child Protection Person).

 

Children with communication difficulties, or who use alternative/augmentative communication systems

  • While extra care may be needed to ensure that signs of abuse and neglect are interpreted correctly, any suspicions should be reported in exactly the same manner as for other children;
  • opinion and interpretation will be crucial (be prepared to be asked about the basis for it and to possibly have its validity questioned if the matter goes to court).

 

Recordings should

  • State who was present, time, date and place;
  • Be written in ink and be signed by the recorder;
  • Be passed to the DCPP or Head Teacher immediately (certainly within 24 hours);
  • Use the child’s words wherever possible;
  • Be factual/state exactly what was said;
  • Not include abbreviations, shortened versions of names, acronyms etc
  • Differentiate clearly between fact, opinion, interpretation, observation and/or allegation.

 

What information do you need to obtain?

  • Schools have no investigative role in Child Protection (Police and Children's Social Care will investigate possible abuse very thoroughly and in great detail, they will gather evidence and test hypotheses – leave this to them!);
  • Never prompt or probe for information, your job is to listen, record and share information;
  • Ideally, you should be clear about what is being said in terms of who, what, where and when;
  • The question which you should be able to answer at the end of the listening process is ‘might this be a Child Protection matter?’;
  • If the answer is yes, or if you’re not sure, record and pass on immediately to the Designated Child Protection Person /Head Teacher/.

 

If you do need to ask questions, what is and isn't OK?

  • Never asked closed questions i.e. ones which children can answer yes or no to e.g. Did he touch you?
  • Never make suggestions about who, how or where someone is alleged to have touched, hit etc e.g. Top or bottom, front or back?
  • If we must, use only ‘minimal prompts’ such as ‘go on … tell me more about that … tell me everything that you remember about that … … ‘
  • Timescales are very important: ‘When was the last time this happened?’ is an important question.

 

What else should we think about in relation to disclosure?

  • Is there a place in school which is particularly suitable for listening to children e.g. not too isolated, easily supervised, quiet etc;
  • We need to think carefully about our own body language – how we present will dictate how comfortable a child feels in telling us about something which may be extremely frightening, difficult and personal;
  • Be prepared to answer the ‘what happens next’ question;
  • We should never make face-value judgements or assumptions about individual children. For example, we ‘know  that [child…………] tells lies’;
  • Think about how you might react if a child DID approach you in school. We need to be prepared to offer a child in this position exactly what they need in terms of protection, reassurance, calmness and objectivity;

 

Think about what support you could access if faced with this kind of situation in school.

 

[1] Detailed information on possible signs and symptoms of abuse can be found at www.rbscb.org  in the Greater Manchester Child Protection Procedures