Scope and definitions
This addendum applies during the period of school closure due to COVID-19, and reflects updated advice from our 3 local safeguarding partners and local authority (LA) St Helens.
It sets out changes to our normal child protection policy in light of the Department for Education’s guidance Coronavirus: safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers, and should be read in conjunction with that policy.
Unless covered here, our normal child protection policy continues to apply.
The Department for Education’s (DfE’s) definition of ‘vulnerable children’ includes those who: Have a social worker, including children:
- With a child protection plan
- Assessed as being in need
- Looked after by the local authority
Have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
Core safeguarding principles
We will still have regard to the statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education.
Although we are operating in a different way to normal, we are still following these important safeguarding principles:
The best interests of children must come first
If anyone has a safeguarding concern about any child, they should continue to act on it immediately
A designated safeguarding lead (DSL) or deputy should be available at all times (see section 4 for details of our arrangements)
It’s essential that unsuitable people don’t enter the school workforce or gain access to children Children should continue to be protected when they are online
All staff and volunteers must continue to act on any concerns they have about a child immediately. It is still vitally important to do this, both for children still attending school and those at home.
- If concern for immediate danger to a child or family member – ring 999
- If general concern ring Mrs Alison Melling on – 07534139293
- Follow up with written email to DSL – firstname.lastname@example.org
As a reminder, all staff should continue to work with and support children’s social workers, where they have one, to help protect vulnerable children.
DSL (and deputy) arrangements
If our DSL (or deputy) can’t be in school, they can be contacted remotely by: calling 07534139293 Mrs Alison Melling.
Details of all important contacts are listed in the ‘Important contacts’ section at the start of this addendum.
We will keep all school staff and volunteers informed by email as to who will be the DSL (or deputy) on any given day, and how to contact them.
We will ensure that DSLs (and deputies), wherever their location, know who the most vulnerable children in our school are.
On occasions where there is no DSL or deputy on site, a senior leader will take responsibility for co-ordinating safeguarding. This will be Mr Marcus Taylor.
The senior leader will be responsible for liaising with the off-site DSL (or deputy) to make sure they (the senior leader) can:
Identify the most vulnerable children in school
Update and manage access to child protection files, where necessary
Liaise with children’s social workers where they need access to children in need and/or to carry out statutory assessments
Working with other agencies
We will continue to work with children’s social care, and with virtual school heads for looked-after and previously looked-after children.
We will continue to update this addendum where necessary, to reflect any updated guidance from: Our 3 local safeguarding partners
The local authority about children with education, health and care (EHC) plans, the local authority designated officer and children’s social care, reporting mechanisms, referral thresholds and children in need
The following guidance is currently in place:
– Mrs Cara Grocutt is in contact with those children who are on an EHC plan.
As most children will not be attending school during this period of school closure, we will not be completing our usual attendance registers or following our usual procedures to follow up on non-attendance.
The exception to this is where any child we expect to attend school during the closure doesn’t attend, or stops attending. In these cases, we will:
Follow up on their absence with their parents or carers, by Heads of Department calling home. Notify their social worker, where they have one
We are using the Department for Education’s daily online attendance form to keep an accurate record of who is attending school.
We will make arrangements with parents and carers to make sure we have up-to-date emergency contact details, and additional contact details where possible. This has been completed throughout Tower College’s online questionnaire to keyworker parents.
We will continue to follow the principles set out in part 5 of Keeping Children Safe in Education when managing reports and supporting victims of peer-on-peer abuse.
Staff should continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – about both children attending school and those at home.
Concerns about a staff member or volunteer
We will continue to follow the principles set out in part 4 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.
Staff should continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – whether those concerns are about staff/volunteers working on site or remotely.
We will continue to refer adults who have harmed or pose a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
We will continue to refer potential cases of teacher misconduct to the Teaching Regulation Agency. We will do this using the email address Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk for the duration of the COVID-19 period, in line with government guidance.
Support for children who aren’t ‘vulnerable’ but where we have concerns
We have the option to offer places in school to children who don’t meet the Department for Education’s definition of ‘vulnerable’, but who we have safeguarding concerns about. We will work with parents/carers to do this
If these children will not be attending school, we will put a contact plan in place, as explained in section 10 below.
We have contact plans for children with a social worker and children who we have safeguarding concerns about, for circumstances where:
They won’t be attending school (for example where the school, parent/carer and social worker, if relevant, have decided together that this wouldn’t be in the child’s best interests); or
They would usually attend but have to self-isolate Each child has an individual plan which sets out:
How often the school will make contact – this will be at least once a week
Which staff member(s) will make contact – as far as possible, this will be staff who know the family well How staff will make contact – this will be over the phone, doorstep visits, or a combination of both
See our article for help with creating contact plans.
If we can’t make contact, we will contact children’s social care or the police.
Safeguarding all children
Staff and volunteers are aware that this difficult time potentially puts all children at greater risk.
Staff and volunteers will continue to be alert to any signs of abuse, or effects on pupils’ mental health that are also safeguarding concerns, and act on concerns immediately in line with the procedures set out in section 3 above.
For children at home, they will look out for signs like:
Not completing assigned work or logging on to school systems No contact from children or families
Seeming more withdrawn during any class check-ins or video calls
Where children have not engaged with Tapestry or TEAMS home learning systems, teachers will complete a spreadsheet to report who is not online.
Heads of Department will e-mail and call families to verify reasons for not engaging. E.g IT issues, split homes, illness, bereavement, possibly linked to Covid -19.
Where families cannot be contacted, this will be escalated to DSL to keep making calls and then make a welfare check to the home address, if no contact can be made within 24 hours.
If children go offline and no reason is communicated from parents to school or Heads of Department, after two days absence from online learning, this will be escalated to DSL who will try and make contact. Again, if no contact can be made a home welfare check will be made.
Children are likely to be spending more time online during this period – see section 12 below for our approach to online safety both in and outside school. See section 13 below for information on how we will support pupils’ mental health.
Online safety In school
We will continue to have appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place in school.
If IT staff are unavailable, our contingency plan is to contact Resman to investigate and correct the issue.
Online safety Outside school
Where staff are interacting with children online, they will continue to follow our existing staff code of conduct and IT acceptable use policy.
This has been signed by pupils who are over the age of 13. Those pupils under 13 their parents have signed on their behalf. These can be found in policies on the schools website.
Staff have also signed an acceptable use policy and here a few key points to highlight.
Lessons should always be conducted in an environment that is quiet, safe and free from distractions. Any computers/devises used should be in appropriate areas and where possible be against a neutral background
Staff and pupils must wear suitable clothing, as should anyone else in the household. If, upon starting the call, the pupil appears in an inappropriate room (or dress) the lesson should be terminated immediately, a note made and Ms Bingley informed.
Language must be professional and appropriate from all parties, including any family members in the background
Lessons should be during the School day and kept to a reasonable length (30 or 50 minutes is recommended initially), because families may have other demands on their time and their internet access.
The teacher must always be the ‘host’ or initiator of the meeting/lesson.
Staff should remain on the call until the pupils have successfully logged off, not before
Staff should manage behaviour using the same systems that are currently used in School and in line with our policy
The lesson may be terminated at any point if the teacher does not feel comfortable with any aspect of the call
Any concerns resulting from the lesson should be reported immediately by contacting Ms Bingley and DSL (Mrs Melling).
Staff will continue to be alert to signs that a child may be at risk of harm online, and act on any concerns immediately, following our reporting procedures as set out in section 3 of this addendum.
We will make sure children know how to report any concerns they have back to our school, and signpost them to other sources of support too.
Working with parents and carers
We will make sure parents and carers:
Are aware of the potential risks to children online and the importance of staying safe online
Know what our school is asking children to do online, including what sites they will be using and who they will be interacting with from our school
Are aware that they should only use reputable online companies or tutors if they wish to supplement the remote teaching and resources our school provides
Know where else they can go for support to keep their children safe online
Information about the potential dangers of online learning have been communicated to parents through Parent mails. A help sheet has been shared with all children in Years 5 – 11 with links to sites that can support our pupils. Also Heads of Department in their assemblies will be highlighting the services available and teachers in school who can help with online safety and other issues.
Where possible, we will continue to offer our current support for pupil mental health for all pupils. A document has been shared with pupils in Years 5 – 11 with signposting to support and advice.
We will also signpost all pupils, parents and staff to other resources to support good mental health at this time.
When setting expectations for pupils learning remotely and not attending school, teachers will bear in mind the potential impact of the current situation on both children’s and adults’ mental health.
Staff will also be looking to safeguard all who are at home, increasing the concern from just pupils to all family members that are visible through the TEAMS online learning system. To forward on all concerns to DSL and Ms Bingley about anyone’s Mental Health at this time.
Staff recruitment, training and induction
Recruiting new staff and volunteers
We continue to recognise the importance of robust safer recruitment procedures, so that adults and volunteers who work in our school are safe to work with children. We will continue to follow our safer recruitment procedures, and part 3 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.
In urgent cases, when validating proof of identity documents to apply for a DBS check, we will initially accept verification of scanned documents via online video link, rather than being in physical possession of the original documents. This approach is in line with revised guidance from the DBS.
New staff must still present the original documents when they first attend work at our school.
We will continue to do our usual checks on new volunteers and do risk assessments to decide whether volunteers who aren’t in regulated activity should have an enhanced DBS check, in accordance with paragraphs 167-172 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.
Safeguarding induction and training
We will make sure staff and volunteers are aware of changes to our procedures and local arrangements. New staff and volunteers will continue to receive:
A safeguarding induction
A copy of our children protection policy (and this addendum) Keeping Children Safe in Education part 1
Keeping records of who’s on site
We will keep a record of which staff and volunteers are on site each day, and that appropriate checks have been carried out for them.
We will continue to keep our single central record up to date. We will use the single central record to log:
Everyone working or volunteering in our school each day, including staff ‘on loan’
Details of any risk assessments carried out on staff and volunteers on loan from elsewhere
This policy will be reviewed as guidance from the 3 local safeguarding partners, the LA or DfE is updated, and as a minimum every 3-4 weeks by Mrs Alison Melling DSL.