The purpose of this policy statement is:
- to protect children and young people who receive STEM Venturi’s services from harm. This includes the children of adults who use our services
- to provide staff and volunteers, as well as children and young people and their families, with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of STEM Venturi, including senior managers and directors, paid staff, volunteers, sessional workers, agency staff and students.
This policy has been drawn up on the basis of legislation, policy and guidance that seeks to protect children in England, namely:
- Children Act 1989
- United Convention of the Rights of the Child 1991
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
- Children Act 2004
- Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
- Relevant government guidance on safeguarding children
We believe that:
- children and young people should never experience abuse of any kind
- we have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people, to keep them safe and to practise in a way that protects them.
Abuse can be:
- physical abuse, for example beating or punching;
- emotional abuse, for example rejection and denial of affection;
- sexual abuse, for example sexual assault or encouraging a child to view pornographic material;
- neglect, for example failure to provide appropriate care including warmth or medical attention.
We recognise that:
- the welfare of children is paramount in all the work we do and in all the decisions we take
- all children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation have an equal right to protection from all types of harm or abuse
- some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
- working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- valuing, listening to and respecting them
- appointing a nominated child protection lead for children and young people, and a lead trustee/board member for safeguarding
- adopting child protection and safeguarding best practice through our policies, procedures and code of conduct for staff and volunteers
- developing and implementing an effective online safety policy and related procedures
- providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support, training and quality assurance measures so that all staff and volunteers know about and follow our policies, procedures and behaviour codes confidently and competently
- recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made
- recording, storing and using information professionally and securely, in line with data protection legislation and guidance
- sharing information about safeguarding and good practice with children and their families via leaflets, posters, group work and one-to-one discussions
- making sure that children, young people and their families know where to go for help if they have a concern
- using our safeguarding and child protection procedures to share concerns and relevant information with agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers appropriately
- using our procedures to manage any allegations against staff and volunteers appropriately
- creating and maintaining an anti-bullying environment and ensuring that we have a policy and procedure to help us deal effectively with any bullying that does arise
- ensuring that we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place
- ensuring that we provide a safe physical environment for our children, young people, staff and volunteers, by applying health and safety measures in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
- building a safeguarding culture where staff and volunteers, children, young people and their families, treat each other with respect and are comfortable about sharing concerns.
All staff are required to report to the nominated child protection lead any concern or allegations about practices or the behaviour of colleagues which are likely to put students at risk of abuse or other serious harm. There will be no retribution or disciplinary action taken against a member of staff for making such a report provided that it is done in good faith.
A member of staff suspecting or hearing a complaint of abuse:
- must listen carefully to the child/young person and keep an open mind. Staff should not take a decision as to whether or not the abuse has taken place;
- must not ask leading questions, that is, a question which suggests its own answer;
- must reassure the child/young person but not give a guarantee of absolute confidentiality. The member of staff should explain that they need to pass the information to a Senior Member of STEM Venturi who will ensure that the correct action is taken;
- must keep a sufficient written record of the conversation. The record should include the date, time and place of the conversation and the essence of what was said and done by whom and in whose presence. The record should be signed by the person making it and should use names, not initials. The record must be kept securely and handed to a Senior Member of the STEM Venturi team.
All evidence, (for example, scribbled notes, mobile phones containing text messages, clothing, computers), must be safeguarded and preserved.
All suspicion or complaints of abuse must be reported to the Nominated Child Protection Lead or if the complaint involves the Nominated Child Protection Lead, you should report to Social Services or the Child Protection department of the local police.
Action following a report
The action to be taken will take into account:
- the nature and seriousness of the suspicion or complaint. A complaint involving a serious criminal offence will always be referred to Social Services or the Police without further investigation by STEM Venturi.
- the wishes of the student who has complained, provided that the student is of sufficient understanding and maturity and properly informed. However, there may be times when the situation is so serious that decisions may need to be taken, after all appropriate consultation, that override a student’s wishes;
- the wishes of the complainant’s parents, provided they have no interest which is in conflict with the student’s best interests and that they are properly informed. Again, it may be necessary, after all appropriate consultation, to override parental wishes in some circumstances.
If the Senior Lead is concerned that disclosing information to parents would put a child or young person at risk, he or she will take further advice from the relevant professionals before making a decision to disclose;
- duties of confidentiality, so far as applicable;
- the lawful rights and interests of STEM Venturi as a whole including its employees and its insurers;
- If there is room for doubt as to whether a referral should be made, the Senior Lead may consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer or other appropriate professionals on a no names basis without identifying the family. However, as soon as sufficient concern exists that a child or young person may be at risk of significant harm, a referral will be made without delay (and in any event within 24 hours). If the initial referral is made by telephone, the Senior Lead will confirm the referral in writing to Social Services within 24 hours. If no response or acknowledgment is received within three working days, the Senior Lead will contact Social Services again
A referral to Social Services or the Police will not normally be made where:
- the complaint does not involve a serious criminal offence; and
- a referral would be contrary to the wishes of a student complainant who is of sufficient maturity and understanding and properly informed, and contrary also to the wishes of the complainant’s parents; and
- the case is one that can be satisfactorily investigated and dealt with under STEM Venturi internal procedures, the parents being kept fully informed, as appropriate. However, if during the course of the internal procedures, it appears that the situation is more serious, the Senior Lead will again consider whether a referral should be made.
Whether or not STEM Venturi decides to refer a particular complaint to Social Services or the Police, the parents and student will be informed in writing of their right to make their own complaint or referral to the Social Services Department or the Child Protection Unit of the police and will be provided with contact names, addresses and telephone numbers, as appropriate.
Allegations against staff
STEM Venturi has procedures for dealing with allegations against staff (and volunteers who work with children and young people) that aim to strike a balance between the need to protect children and young people from abuse and the need to protect staff and volunteers from false or unfounded allegations. These procedures follow the guidance in the DfE guidance Dealing with allegations of abuse against teachers and other staff (DfE-00061-2011) and should be used where the member of staff or volunteer has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed a child or young person, or may have harmed a child or young person;
- possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child or young person; or
- behaved towards a child or young person in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm if they work regularly or closely with children or young people.
Suspension will not be an automatic response to an allegation.
Full consideration will be given to all the options, subject to the need to ensure:
- the safety and welfare of the students or student concerned; and
- the need for a full and fair investigation.
If a member of staff tenders his or her resignation, or ceases to provide his or her services, any child protection allegations will still be followed up by STEM Venturi. Resignation will not prevent a prompt and detailed report being made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority in appropriate circumstances.
Allegations against students
A student against whom an allegation of abuse has been made may be suspended from STEM Venturi. STEM Venturi will take advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer on the investigation of such allegations and will take all appropriate action to ensure the safety and welfare of all students involved including the student or students accused of abuse. If it is necessary for a student to be interviewed by the Police in relation to allegations of abuse, STEM Venturi will ensure that, subject to the advice of the Local Authority Designated Officer, parents are informed as soon as possible and that the student is supported during the interview by an appropriate adult.
Suspected harm from outside STEM Venturi
A member of staff who suspects that a student is suffering harm from outside STEM Venturi should seek information from the child or young person with tact and sympathy using “open” and not leading questions. A sufficient record should be made of the conversation and if the member of staff continues to be concerned, he or she should refer the matter to the Nominated Child Protection Lead.
Parents will normally be kept informed as appropriate of any action to be taken under these procedures. However, there may be circumstances when the Nominated Child Protection Lead will need to consult the Local Authority Designated Officer and/or the Principal before discussing details with parents.
Secure STEM Venturi premises
STEM Venturi will take all practicable steps to ensure that the premises are as secure as circumstances permit. There may be occasions where the sessions are held in premises that are open to the public. In this instance, session leaders will ensure that children under their care are within eyesight at all times. A STEM Venturi employee will supervise regular trips to the toilet.
Nominated child protection lead
Name: Holly Davies
Trustee/Senior lead for safeguarding and child protection
Name: Holly Davies
NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000
This policy statement came into force on the 20th July 2020.
We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually. This policy statement and accompanying procedures were last reviewed on 20th July 2020.
Signed: Date: 20th July 2020