Safeguarding Policy Statement
My Online Schooling Ltd. aims to assure the safe education provision for all its pupils. Safeguarding the welfare of its pupils is part of our core business and all staff must be aware of their responsibilities.
- Aims and Objectives
- Child Protection Procedures
- Dealing with Disclosures of Abuse
- Monitoring and Record-keeping
7. Appendix 1 – Specific Safeguarding Issues
This policy has been developed in accordance with the principles established by the Education Act 2002 and the Children’s Act 2004 and in line with the following government publications and statutory and other guidance:
- Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children’, DfE (2015)
- “Keeping children safe in education” Statutory guidance for schools and colleges July 2015
- Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards – as relevant to each child in our care
- The Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations 2015 Departmental advice for nonmaintained special schools (August 2015)
- London Child Protection Procedures and Practice Guidance (March 2016)
- The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- MyOnlineSchooling Data Protection Policy.
- Guidance for Safer Working Practices for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education Settings, DCSF, October 2015
- ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’, DfE (March 2015)
- ‘Information Sharing: Advice for practitioners’, DfE (March 2015)
MyOnlineSchooling believes that children and young people can reach their full learning potential.
MyOnlineSchooling recognises our legal and moral duty to promote the well-being of children and young adults and protect them from harm and respond to safeguarding concerns. Through their day-to-day contact with pupils and correspondence with families, the staff at the school have a role to play in noticing safeguarding concerns and working with parents and appropriate agencies.
We have a responsibility for the care, welfare and safety of the pupils receiving our service and we will carry out this duty through our teaching and learning, extracurricular activities, pastoral care and extended school activities. In order to achieve this, all members of staff in this school, in whatever capacity, will at all times act proactively in child welfare matters especially where there is a possibility that a child may be at risk of harm, we will act immediately.
We believe that every child regardless of age or background has, at all times and in all environments, a right to feel safe and protected from any situation or practice that results in that child being physically or psychologically damaged.
MyOnlineSchooling seek to adopt an open and accepting attitude towards children as part of their responsibility for pastoral care. The school encourages pupils and parents to talk about any concerns and will see school as a safe place if there are any difficulties in any situation.
Children’s worries and fears will be taken seriously if they seek help from a member of staff. However, staff cannot offer secrecy if concerns are such that referral must be made to the appropriate agencies in order to safeguard the child’s welfare. MyOnlineSchooling recognises that ensuring the wellbeing of children is everyone’s responsibility. Members of staff at MyOnlineSchooling are encouraged to adopt a ‘it could happen here’ mentality to combat complacency, ensure vigilance and to always act with the best interests of the child in mind. This policy applies to all pupils across all age groups studying at MyOnlineSchooling. MyOnlineSchooling will ensure that all staff and volunteers feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice in regards to children and such concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
When at school, MyOnlineSchooling will endeavour to support every pupil through:
- The content of the curriculum.
- The school ethos which promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and gives pupils a sense of being valued, where their needs are paramount and their interests underpin all child protection work.
- The school behaviour policy which is aimed at supporting all pupils in the school. The school will ensure that the pupil knows that some behaviour is unacceptable but they are valued and not to be blamed for any abuse which has occurred.
- Liaison with other agencies that support the pupil such as Children’s Social Care (CSC), Child and Adult Mental Health Service (CAMHS), education welfare service and educational psychology service. Section 10 of the Children Act (2004) requires a local authority to make arrangements to promote co-operation between itself and its relevant partners and other organisations who are engaged in activities relating to children. MyOnlineSchooling is committed to contributing to inter-agency working in line with ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (2015) and providing additional support to children subject to Child Protection plans.
- Ensuring that, where a pupil who has a child protection plan leaves, their information is transferred to the new school immediately and that the child’s social worker or local authority is informed.
- Liaison with parents to ensure that the relevant Local Authority is informed where Elective Home Education is taking place. MyOnlineSchooling will proactively contact Local Authorities during the registration of a new pupil to ensure the safety of pupils.
In our school, if we have suspicions that a child’s physical, sexual or emotional well-being is being, or is likely to be, harmed, or that they are being neglected or abused, we will follow the procedures set out by the statutory guidance for schools and colleges: Keeping children safe in education (July 2015), ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ Revised Guidance March (2015), the London Child Protection Committee, “London Child Protection Procedures, Revised Guidance March 2016” (www.londonscb.gov.uk) and the procedures issued by Mid and West Wales Safeguarding Board, if we come into contact with alleged or suspected cases of child abuse.
As a consequence, we:
- assert that teachers and other members of staff in the school are an integral part of the child safeguarding process;
- accept totally that safeguarding children is a key priority for all members of staff in the school, and wholly compatible with their pedagogic responsibilities;
- recognise that safeguarding children in this school is a responsibility for all staff, including Directors and board members;
- have designated a senior member of staff with knowledge and skills in recognising and acting on child protection concerns. Tom Crombie will act as a source of expertise and advice, and is responsible for co-ordinating action within the school and liaising with other agencies;
- ensure through training and supervision that all staff in the school are alert to the possibility that a child is at risk of suffering harm, and know how to report concerns or suspicions;
- share our concerns with others who need to know, and assist in any referral process;
- ensure that all members of staff who have suspicion that a child may be suffering, or may be at risk of suffering harm, refer such concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Leader (DSL), who will refer to the appropriate Children’s Services.
- safeguard the welfare of children whilst in the school and take positive measures to address bullying making our expectations of behaviour explicit, especially where this is aggravated by sexual or racial factors, disability or special educational needs. At MyOnlineSchooling online bullying is the main concern and are proactive in monitoring and acting whenever behaviours do not meet our expectations;
- ensure that all staff are aware of the child protection procedures where appropriate, the Local Authority where the student resides, and act on any guidance or advice given by them;
- guarantee that MyOnlineSchooling’s recruitment and selection of paid employees and volunteers ensures that all people who work in our school are suitable to work with children following safer recruitment guidelines according to the requirements of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ DfE (2015).
- will act swiftly and make appropriate referrals where an allegation is made that a member of staff has committed an offence against a child, harmed a child, or acted in a way that calls into question their suitability for working with children.
1.02 Designated Member of Staff
The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) for Child Protection is the Director, Tom Crombie. The DSL will carry out the role in accordance with responsibilities outlines in Appendix B of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (2015).
Throughout this document we refer to ‘parent’. This term also extends to a pupil’s carer or if the pupil is attending the school as a result of a referral by another school or a Local Authority then the delegated person within that organisation who stands “in loco parentis” to the pupil or who is the main contractual contact with MyOnlineSchooling.
MyOnlineSchooling cannot take any responsibility for the actions or conduct of any third party who may come into contact with the child as a result of the provision of MyOnlineSchooling lessons or technology. In these cases, the Parent must ensure appropriate supervision of the child. E.g.: The installation of a broadband connection into a pupil’s home by a third party contractor.
2. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
MyOnlineSchooling’s overall aim for this policy is to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and any vulnerable adults we are helping to educate. The emphasis is on prevention through the use of robust procedures, support and guidance for staff and pupils and working to ensure unsuitable people do not work with children.
We will always work in the best interests of the child or vulnerable adult. In situations where abuse is suspected, our paramount responsibility is to the child or vulnerable adult.
This will be achieved by:
- continuing to develop awareness in all staff of the need for Child Protection (particular care should be taken with children with disabilities and SEN) and their responsibilities in identifying abuse;
- ensuring that all staff are aware of referral procedures within the company;
- monitoring children who have been identified as “at risk” or vulnerable;
- ensuring that outside agencies are involved where appropriate and communication between parties is clear and concise;
- creating an environment where children feel secure, have their viewpoints valued, are encouraged to talk and are listened to.
In order to ensure that children are protected whilst at this school, we will ensure that our staff are carefully selected, screened, trained and supervised.
MyOnlineSchooling operates safe recruitment practices. This will include following the DfE requirements in checking that applicants are registered appropriately, obtaining references and enhanced DBS checks. In particular:
- before appointing someone, follow up each reference with a telephone call or personal contact during which we will discuss the applicant’s suitability to work with vulnerable children;
- we will ensure that we complete an enhanced DBS check and the taking up of references for all adults with access to children at this before their starting work, and prior to confirmation of appointment.
In addition, we will ensure that the following checks are satisfactorily completed before a person takes up a position in the school:
- identity checks to establish that applicants are who they claim to be;
- academic qualifications, to ensure that qualifications are genuine and appropriate;
- professional and character references prior to offering employment;
- satisfy conditions as to health and physical capacity;
- previous employment history will be examined and any gaps accounted for.
MyOnlineSchooling will maintain a single central record covering all staff. This information will be stored securely. This record will ensure training and any necessary checks are kept up to date.
3.02 Induction and Training
All new members of staff will receive induction training prior to their starting in work at MyOnlineSchooling, which will give an overview of the organisation and its purpose, values, services and structure in addition to procedures for identifying and reporting abuse and procedures relating to confidentiality issues.
All new staff at the school (including volunteers) will receive a copy of this policy within one week of commencing work at the school and will be required to sign to confirm they have read and understood it. The school will provide this training through the DSL. Staff will be issued with a School Handbook and Teacher Information Pack which will outline the code of conduct their responsibility in regards to safeguarding pupils and information on staff/pupil relationships and communications. This will be provided to all staff on induction and updated annually.
3.03 Safeguarding in School
As well as ensuring that we address child protection concerns, we will also ensure that children who attend the school are kept safe from harm whilst they are in the school environment.
To this end, this policy must be seen in light of:
- ‘Personal, Social and Health Education’ which detail the ways in which child protection issues will be addressed through the curriculum;
- ‘Safe recruitment’ and Staff Code of Conduct;
- ‘Health & Safety’;
- ‘Allegations against members of staff’
3.04 Liaison with other agencies
MyOnlineSchooling will endeavour to contribute effectively and efficiently to any inter-agency cases in line with the requirements set out in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (2015).
MyOnlineSchooling will strive to develop effective links with relevant agencies and co-operate as required with their enquiries regarding safeguarding matters including attendance and written reports at initial case conferences, core groups and safeguarding review conferences;
MyOnlineSchooling shall notify the relevant Children and Family Services team if:
- it should have to exclude a pupil on the safeguarding register (whether fixed term or permanently);
- there is an unexplained absence of a pupil on the child protection register of more than one day duration from school or as agreed.
3.05 Photographing Children
MyOnlineSchooling will not allow images of pupils to be used on school websites, publicity, or press releases, without expressed permission from the parent/carer.
3.06 Communication with parents
In the event that it becomes necessary to involve other agencies in any matter, MyOnlineSchooling will:
- Undertake appropriate discussion with parents prior to involvement of another agency unless the circumstances preclude this.
- Ensure that parents have an understanding of the responsibility placed on the school and staff for safeguarding by setting out its obligations in the school’s terms and conditions.
The school and all members of staff will ensure that all data about pupils is handled in accordance with the requirements of the law including any national and local guidance.
Any member of staff who has access to sensitive information about a child or the child’s family must take all reasonable steps to ensure that such information is only disclosed to those people who need to know.
Regardless of the duty of confidentiality, if any member of staff has reason to believe that a child may be suffering harm, or be at risk of harm, their duty is to forward this information without delay to the designated member of staff for child protection.
3.08 Conduct of Staff
The school has a duty to ensure that professional behaviour applies to relationships between staff and children, and that all members of staff are clear about what constitutes appropriate behaviour and professional boundaries.
Members of staff are required to work in a professional way with children at all times. The online nature of teaching at MyOnlineSchooling presents its own potential issues. All staff should be aware of the dangers inherent in:
• working alone with a child;
- Sending and receiving messages through the MyOnlineSchooling classroom software; teachers should always save any messages they are concerned about and forward these to the DSL. Teachers should also routinely save their private messages.
- cultural and gender stereotyping;
- dealing with sensitive information;
- giving to, and receiving gifts from, children and parents/carers;
- contacting children through private telephones (including phone texting), e-mail, instant messaging, or social networking websites;
- disclosing personal details inappropriately;
- meeting pupils outside school hours or school duties.
If any member of staff has reasonable suspicion that a child is suffering harm, and fails to act in accordance with this policy and Mid and West Wales Safeguarding Board procedures, we will view this as misconduct, and take appropriate action.
4. CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES
Procedures within MyOnlineSchooling
Any member of staff with a cause for concern relating to Child Protection should immediately discuss it with the Director, Tom Crombie. If the concern relates to a disclosure or to the safety of the child, then the DSL should be alerted immediately. Allegations of child abuse must always be given the highest priority and be referred immediately to the DSL. If, at any point, there is a risk of immediate serious harm to a child, a referral should be made to children’s social care and the Police immediately. Anybody can make the referral.
The DSL will then decide on an appropriate course of action (based on SCB guidelines).
The DSL will arrange for the following files to be secured:
- the Sound file for the lesson from the central servers;
- the Lesson script from MyOnlineSchooling’s network;
- the Lesson graphic slides from MyOnlineSchooling’s network;
All the above files will be electronically copied and held securely in the MyOnlineSchooling safe, separately from their academic file.
If the child leaves MyOnlineSchooling, the DSL will make contact with the DSL at the new school and ensure that the child protection file is forwarded in an appropriate manner.
In the event of an incident, the DSL will contact the Parent to report the incident. Allegations of child abuse will always be given the highest priority and be referred immediately to the Parent. Within 24 hours a report will be submitted to the Parent.
MyOnlineSchooling will endeavour to assist the Parent in all aspects related to the incident.
- Visits by MyOnlineSchooling staff to pupil homes, PRUs, etc.: Any staff that might undertake a visit to pupils will carry identifying documents – identifying them as authorised personnel of MyOnlineSchooling, and detailing contact details that can be used to validate any such claim.
- All MyOnlineSchooling staff have Enhanced Record Checks as provided by the DBS for both working with children and vulnerable adults.2 These are stored in the single central record at MyOnlineSchooling offices.
- Allegations against MyOnlineSchooling staff: Teachers must protect themselves by following guidance from MyOnlineSchooling con staff conduct, especially when working with pupils, and staff should bear in mind that even perfectly innocent actions could sometimes be misconstrued. All our lessons are recorded and recordings and any information held will be used in all investigations.
- If anyone makes an allegation that any member of staff may have:
- committed an offence against a child; or,
- placed a child at risk of significant harm; or,
- behaved in a way that calls into question their suitability to work with children;
- If an allegation is made against a Director, the other Directors will gather information about the allegation and report the details to the Local Authority without delay.
- Teachers who hear an allegation of abuse or who have any cause for concern that has Child Protection repercussions against another member of staff, should report the matter immediately to the DSL so that all internal procedures can be followed.
- Any pupils that are deemed as vulnerable by MyOnlineSchooling will be subjected to continued observation during their time at MyOnlineSchooling. Their progress will be monitored by the Designated teacher for looked after and vulnerable pupils. If a negative trend is identified in during a pupil’s progress, it will be investigated and appropriate interventions will be enacted to halt this.
5. DEALING WITH DISCLOSURES OF ABUSE/ SUPPORTING THE PUPIL AT RISK
We recognise that some children adopt abusive behaviours and that these children must be referred on for appropriate support and intervention. The school is also alert to the possibility of peer to peer abuse and has procedures in place for dealing with any issues. If there is any case of child-on-child abuse both children will be referred to the relevant Children and Family Services team. We also recognise that children may be at risk from parents or carers who choose Elective Home Education for their children in order to facilitate / disguise abuse. We will work with Local Authorities to ensure that such children can be readily identified and referred to the appropriate agency. MyOnlineSchooling will check during the admissions process that parents have informed their Local Authority that they intend to home education their children. Under legislation, this is not the responsibility of MyOnlineSchooling however, this check will ensure that the Local Authority are aware that a pupil is being home educated and thus, reduce the possible risk for the child. In addition, it will allow for effective sharing of information between the Local Authority and MyOnlineSchooling.
We recognise that children who are abused or witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self-worth and to view the world as benevolent and meaningful. They may feel helplessness, humiliation and some sense of self-blame.
The school will endeavour to support the pupil through:
- The content of the curriculum to encourage self-esteem and self- motivation;
- The school ethos which (i) promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment (ii) gives pupils a sense of being valued;
- MyOnlineSchooling’s Behaviour Policy which is aimed at supporting vulnerable pupils. All staff will agree on a consistent approach, which focuses on addressing the behavioural element of any misdemeanours in a way which does not damage the pupil’s sense of self-worth. The school will ensure that the pupil knows that some behaviour is unacceptable but s/he is valued and not to be blamed for any abuse which they have suffered;
- Liaison with other agencies which support the pupil such as Children and Family Services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the Educational Psychology Service, Behaviour Support Services and the Education Welfare Service;
- A commitment to develop productive and supportive relationships with parents whenever it is in a pupil’s best interest to do so;
- Recognition that children’s home circumstances can render them in need of support and protection;
- Vigilantly monitoring children’s welfare, keeping records and notifying Children and Family Services as soon as there is a concern.
- Where the suspected abuse is by another child/young person, both children (i.e. suspected abuser and abused) must be referred.
- When a pupil on the safeguarding register leaves MyOnlineSchooling, information will be transferred to the new school or the relevant Local Authority immediately.
Staff will receive training about what to do and how to behave if a child makes a disclosure of abuse. If a child chooses to tell a member of staff about possible abuse, there are a number of measures that should be taken to support the child:
- stay calm and be available to listen;
- listen with the utmost care to what the child is saying;
- Do not promise confidentially to the pupil involved. Inform the child that you cannot keep the information confidential and that this information will now have to be passed on;
- reassure the child and let them know they were right to inform us;
- discuss normally without pressurising and without using leading questions. If at all possible, try not to question what the child is telling you – this can confuse and complicate the child’s memory of the event;
- don’t put words into the child’s mouth but note the main points carefully;
- repeating back the words used by the child indicates that you have listened carefully and have acknowledged/validated the child’s thoughts and feelings;
- keep a full record and timeline of events – date, time, what the child did, said, etc;
• if the pupil report is in a private classroom message please then copy and paste the full message into a word document
For types of Child Abuse and their symptoms please refer to Appendix Two.
6. MONITORING AND RECORD KEEPING
It is essential that accurate records be kept where there are concerns about the welfare of a child. These records are kept in secure, confidential files, locked in the MyOnlineSchooling safe and on a secure partitioned limited access area of the MyOnlineSchooling network. If the child leaves MyOnlineSchooling, the DSL will make contact with the DSL at the new school and ensure that the child protection file is forwarded in an appropriate manner.
It is important to recognise that regulations published in 1989 do not authorise or require the disclosure to parents/carers/LEA mentors of any written information relating to Child Protection. MyOnlineSchooling will disclose such information to the Parent as appropriate.
Staff must keep the DSL informed of:
- regular poor attendance & punctuality;
- changed or unusual behaviour;
- any concerns about health and emotional well-being of the pupil;
- deterioration in educational progress;
- discussions with parents/mentors about concerns relating to the pupil or a lack of engagement of parents;
- any incident of pupil on pupil abuse (including serious bullying);
When there is suspicion of significant harm to a child and a referral is made as much information as possible will be given about the nature of the suspicions and the child. Use of previous records (if available) may prove to be particularly useful in this respect.
Reports may be needed for Child Protection Case conferences or the criminal/civil courts. Consequently, records and reports should be:
- factual (no opinions);
- non-judgemental (no assumptions);
- clear; · accurate;
7. THE ROLE OF THE DESIGNATED CONTACT
Key aspects of the role of the designated teacher are:
- to ensure that all staff are aware that Tom Crombie the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) responsible.
- to refer promptly all causes for concern to the appropriate named LA mentor;
- to refer promptly all cases of suspected child abuse to the appropriate named Parent;
- to maintain and update as necessary the Child Protection Monitoring List to be held by Tom Crombie
- to organise training (and keep appropriate records) on Child Protection within the company;
- to ensure that all staff know about and have access to Safeguarding guidelines;
- to co-ordinate action where a cause for concern has been raised;
- to co-ordinate action where child abuse is suspected;
- to liaise within the company concerning the collection of initial referral reports;
- to liaise with the Parent concerning the collection of initial referral reports;
- to facilitate and support the development of a whole company policy on Child Protection;
- to attend case conferences or to nominate an appropriate member of staff to attend on his/her behalf;
- to maintain records of case conferences and other sensitive information in a secure confidential file and to disseminate information about the child only on a “need to know” basis;
- to pass on records to the Parent, as appropriate, regarding children at risk;
- to raise staff awareness and confidence on child protection procedures and to ensure new staff are aware of these procedures;
- to keep up to date with current practice by participating in training on the latest legislation and best practice wherever appropriate.
8. APPENDIX 1
Specific Safeguarding Issues
8.1 Children Missing Education
At MyOnlineSchooling we take our duty towards children at risk of missing education very seriously, recognising not only that all children, regardless of their circumstances are entitled to a full time education which is suitable for their individual needs, but also that a child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect including Child Sexual Exploitation (see below)
- all MyOnlineSchooling pupils missing from education (CME) can be tracked; and
- those enrolled MyOnlineSchooling pupils at risk of becoming missing from education are identified and reported to our LA client quickly and efficiently.
“Keeping Children Safe in Education” (2015) and “Working Together to Safeguard Children” (2015) place a duty on all agencies to work together to promote the welfare of children and to share information. This principle underpins this policy and there is an expectation that all agencies will work together to ensure that children do not “slip through the net” and become missing.
Children fall out of the education system for a wide range of reasons some examples of which are below:
- they fail to start appropriate provision and hence never enter the system;
- they cease to attend, due to exclusion (e.g. illegal or unofficial exclusions) or withdrawal; or
- they fail to complete a transition between providers (e.g. being unable to find a suitable school place after moving to a new Local Authority).
MyOnlineSchooling undertakes to inform the relevant Local Authority of any pupil who is going to be deleted from the School’s admissions register where they:
- have been taken out of school by their parents and are being educated outside the school system e.g. home education;
- have been certified by the school medical officer as unlikely to be in a fit state of health to attend school before ceasing to be of compulsory school age, and neither he/she nor his/her parent has indicated the intention to continue to attend the school after ceasing to be of compulsory school age;
- are in custody for a period of more than four months due to a final court order and the proprietor does not reasonably believe they will be returning to the school at the end of that period; or, • have been permanently excluded.
MyOnlineSchooling also undertakes to inform the relevant Local Authority where they have knowledge of children who have been removed from mainstream education in order to receive Elective Home Education in order to assist the Local Authority in their duty to follow up with any child who might be in danger of not receiving an education and who might be at risk of abuse or neglect.
MyOnlineSchooling also undertakes to inform the local authority of any pupil who fails to attend school regularly, or has been absent without the school’s permission for a continuous period of 5 school days or more.
8.2 Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
The Statutory Guidance on Safeguarding Children and Young People from Child Sexual Exploitation 2009 defines CSE as:
“Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive something (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing and/or another or others performing on them sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can be via the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example, being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.”
As part of our duty of care to prevent CSE, MyOnlineSchooling will:
- ensure that absence information is cross-referenced with risk assessments for individual children and young people.
- staff are given training and information on warning signs, and impact, of child sexual exploitation, to ensure timely and accurate victim identification
8.3 Domestic Abuse
The definition below (The UK’s cross-government definition of domestic abuse) includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
From March 2013, the definition of domestic violence includes young people under 18. This definition of domestic violence and abuse now covers teenage relationship abuse and states:
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
Children and young people witnessing domestic abuse
Witnessing domestic abuse is distressing and scary for a child, and causes serious harm. Children living in a home where domestic abuse is happening are at risk of other types of abuse too. Children can experience domestic abuse or violence in lots of different ways. They might:
- see the abuse
- hear the abuse from another room
- see a parent’s injuries or distress afterwards
- be hurt by being nearby or trying to stop the abuse
MyOnlineSchooling takes steps to ensure that all staff are aware of the signs of domestic violence and know to refer any pupil they think may be at risk to the School’s Designated Person.
Children who witness domestic abuse may:
- become aggressive
- display anti-social behaviour
- suffer from depression or anxiety
- not do as well at school or display erratic attendance, homework completion, unusual deterioration in organisational skills (due to difficulties at home or disruption of moving to and from refuges etc.)
8.4 Teenage Relationship Abuse
MyOnlineSchooling is aware that the British Crime Survey 2009/10 found that the 16-19 year age group were most likely to suffer abuse from a partner and as such recognises its duty to raise awareness of this type of abuse.
MyOnlineSchooling recognises the responsibility of the School to consider relationship abuse as a Child Protection issue and is committed to:
- make pupils and staff aware of the seriousness of teenage relationships (there is often a failure to recognise this because they are more likely to be short-lived but this does not mean that they cannot be as abusive as adult relationships).
- take steps to identify pupils at risk of teenage relationship abuse and ensure that all pupils know that they can disclose such abuse to a member of staff who will take their concerns seriously and will help them to access the support they need.
8.5 Forced Marriage
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.
The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.
The UK Government’s guidelines make clear the important distinctions between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage:
‘An arranged marriage is one in which the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses’.
The guidelines remind practitioners that ‘ignoring the needs of victims is not an option. Forced marriage affects people from many communities and cultures’.
Forced marriage is an abuse of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It is also an abuse of the basic human rights of children, young people and adults as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and is directly contrary to important provisions set out in relevant domestic human rights legislation in England and Wales.
MyOnlineSchooling ensures that:
- all staff receive training and support on this issue to ensure that they recognise the presenting symptoms, how to respond if there are concerns and where to turn for advice
- MyOnlineSchooling staff will seek advice and help through the Forced Marriage Unit and/or locally (to the relevant pupil) through the local police Child Protection or Domestic Abuse Unit, the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) or the children’s social care service of the relevant Local Authority.
Characteristics that may indicate forced marriage
While individual cases of forced marriage, and attempted forced marriage, are often very particular, they are likely to share a number of common and important characteristics, including:
- An extended absence from school/college, including truancy;
- A drop in performance or sudden signs of low motivation;
- Excessive parental restriction and control of movements;
- A history of siblings leaving education to marry early;
- Poor performance, parental control of income and students being allowed only limited career choices;
- Evidence of self-harm, treatment for depression, attempted suicide, social isolation, eating disorders or substance abuse; and/or
- Evidence of family disputes/conflict, domestic violence/abuse or running away from home.
MyOnlineSchooling also recognises the need for sensitivity on the part of our staff in identifying instances of forced marriage as any of the potential indicators above in isolation may not be linked to forced marriage and MyOnlineSchooling staff are committed to guarding against making assumptions about an individual pupil’s circumstances or act on the basis of stereotyping.
8.6 Female Genital Mutilation
At MyOnlineSchooling we are fully cognisant of our duty to cooperate with other agencies and work together to protect and support those at risk of, or who have undergone, FGM.
FGM is a criminal offence – it is child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls, and therefore should be treated as such.
In the UK, FGM tends to occur in areas with larger populations of communities who practise FGM, such as first-generation immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. These areas include London, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Crawley, Reading, Slough and Milton Keynes. Since MyOnlineSchooling’s pupils can come from anywhere in the UK and c.30% of our pupils are international, we take our duty to raise awareness of this practice throughout our pupil and staff populations very seriously.
MyOnlineSchooling is committed to complying with the current mandatory reporting duty and recognises that the professional who identifies FGM/receives the disclosure must report (usually by the end of the next working day).
We understand that:
- FGM is not a religious practice
- FGM occurs mostly to girls aged from 5 – 8 years old; but up to around 15
- FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985
- It has been an offence since 2003 to take girls abroad for the purpose of subjecting them to FGM
- Criminal penalties include up to 14 years in prison
Reasons for this cultural practice include:
- Cultural identity – An initiation into womanhood
- Gender Identity – Moving from girl to woman – enhancing femininity
- Sexual control – reduce the woman’s desire for sex
- Hygiene/cleanliness – unmutilated women are regarded as unclean
Risk Factors include:
- low level of integration into UK society
- mother or sister who has undergone FGM
- girls who are withdrawn from PSHE
- a visiting female elder from the country of origin
- being taken on a long holiday to the family’s country of origin
- talk about a ‘special’ event or procedure to ‘become a woman’
High Risk Time for FGM
As this procedure often takes place in the summer (as the recovery period after FGM can be 6 to 9 weeks), MyOnlineSchooling staff are alert to the possibility of FGM as a reason why a girl in a high risk group is absent from school or where the family request an ‘authorised absence’ for just before or just after the summer school holidays and undertake to cross-reference absence records and “request for absence” forms with girls deemed to be at risk of this practice.
Although it can sometimes be difficult to identify girls before FGM takes place, where girls from these high risk groups return from a long period of absence with symptoms of FGM, MyOnlineSchooling staff will seek advice from the police or social services especially where post-FGM symptoms are identified
(recognising that staff may find it more difficult than in a mainstream school to use physical symptoms in this way and may need to be aware of online discussions about the following or disclosures re the following to peers or staff members)
Post-FGM Symptoms include:
- difficulty walking, sitting or standing
- spend longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
- unusual behaviour after a lengthy absence
- reluctance to undergo normal medical examinations
- asking for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.
10.8 Faith abuse
This refers to certain kinds of child abuse linked to faith or belief and includes:
- belief in concepts of witchcraft and spirit possession
- demons or the devil acting through children or leading them astray (traditionally seen in some Christian beliefs)
- the evil eye or djinns (traditionally known in some Islamic faith contexts) and dakini (in the · Hindu context)
- ritual or muti murders where the killing of children is believed to bring supernatural benefits or the use of their body parts is believed to produce potent magical remedies
- use of belief in magic or witchcraft to create fear in children to make them more compliant when they are being trafficked for domestic slavery or sexual exploitation.
MyOnlineSchooling is committed to raising awareness amongst staff and pupils of the risks associated with faith abuse and will:
- promote understanding that the above beliefs are not confined to one faith, nationality or ethnic community and also that not all those who believe in witchcraft or spirit possession harm children
- ensure that lack of confidence in challenging the faith or beliefs of others or a desire for cultural sensitivity do not in any way impede the safeguarding of our pupils
- ensure that staff and pupils alike know that this is a child protection issue and that any signs of abuse linked to witchcraft or magic will be treated seriously and sensitively and that support will be given through the appropriate channels
Sexting is the sending of obscene, pornographic videos/images or material to their friends or boy / girlfriends via mobile phones.
Young people are often not sufficiently aware of the potentially negative consequences of their actions in this regard; once taken and sent, the sender has lost control of these images and these images could end up anywhere. They could be seen by a child’s future employers, their friends or even by paedophiles.
By having in their possession, or distributing, indecent images of a person under 18 on to someone else – young people are not even aware that they could be breaking the law as these are offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
As such, MyOnlineSchooling are committed to ensuring that:
- all staff and pupils are aware of the criminal implications of sexting and the gravity of such behaviour
- that staff treat any disclosures of sexting as a safeguarding and child protection issue and refer it immediately to the DSL. The DSL will in turn, inform the Police of such matters.
- any pupil affected who may be extremely distressed is given the appropriate pastoral care and support (being aware that the pupil may even need immediate protection or a referral to social services)
- staff are aware of the significant new powers and freedoms for teachers and schools under the revised Education Act 2011* to seize and search an electronic device if they think there is good reason for doing so
* For more information about the Act go to:
Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially
Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime to the UN Convention (2000) (ratified by the UK on 6 February 2006) defines trafficking as:
- “Trafficking of persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
- The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth (a) above have been used;
- The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in (a) above;
- “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.
Children are trafficked for many reasons, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, labour, benefit fraud and involvement in criminal activity such as pick-pocketing, theft and working in cannabis farms. There are a number of cases of minors being exploited in the sex industry.
Children trafficked into the country may be registered at a school for a term or longer, before being moved to another part of the UK or abroad. This pattern of registration and de-registration may be an indicator that a child has been trafficked. However, practitioners should always bear in mind that not all children who go missing from education have been victims of trafficking. For example, there may be instances of children from communities that move around – Gypsy, Roma, traveller or migrant families – who collectively go missing from school.
As such and because of MyOnlineSchooling’s uniquely online offer which is regularly accessed by pupils for several terms as a means of keeping them in education at a time when they are unable (or unwilling) to access mainstream schooling, we endeavour to:
- identify pupils on roll at risk of having been trafficked into the UK or
- who are living outside of the UK and are at risk of being trafficked between countries
- keep up-to-date records of at-risk pupils’ and regularly analyse patterns of registration and attendance
- refer any pupils thought to be at risk via the School’s DLS to the appropriate authority
- all addresses including holiday addresses will be recorded by admin staff in case patterns emerge that suggest large numbers of children are moving in and out of the same address
8.8 Preventing Radicalisation
MyOnlineSchooling recognises its duty, under Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015), to protect children from the risk of radicalisation as part of our wider safeguarding duties, as with other forms of harm and abuse. During the process of radicalisation, it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people being radicalised.
Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism, defined by the government as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.” Also included in this definition are calls for the death of members of British armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.
Although MyOnlineSchooling recognises that it can be very difficult to identify a susceptible individual, we endeavour to:
- make staff and pupils aware of the specific background factors which can contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer
- include units of learning on the collective Prevent duty in the PSHE curriculum
- be alert changes in children’s behaviour which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection and treat such pupils in the same manner as for any child protection issue by referring immediately to the School’s DP and acting according to school safeguarding procedures
- be alert to any use of the School’s closed social media platform (myMyOnlineSchooling) which may contribute to the radicalisation of pupils or indicate any pupils at risk
- ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet via MyOnlineSchooling and that suitable filtering is in place.
8.9 Private Fostering
Private fostering is when a parent makes arrangements for their child (who is under 16, or under 18 if they are disabled) to live with someone who isn’t a close relative (a close relative is an aunt/uncle, grandparent, brother/sister or step-parent), for longer than 28 days.
The person who has been asked to look after the child is known as a private foster carer. MyOnlineSchooling recognises its legal duty to tell the relevant Local Authority if it becomes aware of any private fostering arrangement.
There could be lots of reasons for this:
- A family crisis
- A parent being ill
- Teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Children coming from abroad for education or health care
- Children living with a friends’ family because their parents have separated or divorced or after an argument at home
However, MyOnlineSchooling is committed to always putting the needs of the child first and as such recognises the need of the Local Authority to be able to check that the child is safe and being well looked after and that the accommodation and care being given is satisfactory.
MyOnlineSchooling fully recognises its statutory duty to promote pupils’ wellbeing, and the clear role it plays in preventing drug misuse as part of our pastoral responsibilities. With reference to the Government’s Drug Strategy 2010 we ensure that school staff have the information, advice and power to:
- Provide accurate information on drugs and alcohol through education and targeted information, including via the FRANK service;
- Work with local voluntary organisations, health partners, the police and others to prevent drug or alcohol misuse.
MyOnlineSchooling will ensure that:
- pupils have access to and knowledge of up-to-date information on sources of help including local and national helplines (including FRANK for drugs, NHS Smoking Services for tobacco and Drinkline for alcohol), youth and community services and drug services.
- If the child is felt to be at risk the Safeguarding Policy will come into effect and social services may need to be contacted.
MyOnlineSchooling is committed to responding to drug-related incidents mindful of the need to balance the needs of the individual pupils concerned with the wider school community.
We recognise that drug use can be a symptom of other problems and are ready to involve or refer pupils to other services when needed, ensuring that staff are aware of the relevant youth and family support services available in their local area.
MyOnlineSchooling is also fully committed to role it can play in early intervention by identifying pupils at risk of drug misuse. The process of identifying needs aims to distinguish between pupils who require general information and education, those who could benefit from targeted prevention, and those who require a detailed needs assessment and more intensive support and will bring to bear the full weight of our pastoral knowledge of each and every one of our pupils.