COVID-19 school closure arrangements for Safeguarding and Child Protection at St Winifred’s Catholic Primary School

  1. Context

 From 20th March 2020 parents were asked to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and for schools to remain open only for those children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response – who absolutely need to attend. Schools and all childcare providers were asked to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home. This addendum of the St Winifred’s Safeguarding, and Child Protection policy follows the updated DfE guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education issued on 27th March 2020.

The details of our individual safeguarding arrangements are set out in the following areas:

  1. Context
  2. Vulnerable children
  3. Attendance monitoring
  4. Designated Safeguarding Lead
  5. Reporting a concern
  6. Safeguarding Training and induction
  7. Safer recruitment/volunteers and movement of staff
  8. Online safety in schools and colleges
  9. Children and online safety away from school and college
  10. Supporting children not in school
  11. Supporting children in school
  12. Peer on Peer Abuse

 

ROLE NAME CONTACT NUMBER EMAIL
Designated safeguarding lead Margaret Hanrahan O2088578792 Headteacher@swcps.lewisham.sch.uk
Deputy designated safeguarding lead Fiona Cullen O2088578792 fcullen1.209@lgflmail.org
Headteacher Margaret Hanrahan O2088578792 Headteacher@swcps.lewisham.sch.uk
Chair of governors John Ryan   ryantribe@ntlworld.com

 

  1. Vulnerable children

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children and young people up to the age of 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Those who have a social worker include children who have a Child Protection Plan and those who are looked after by the Local Authority.

A child may also be deemed to be vulnerable if they have been assessed as being in need or otherwise meet the definition in section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Those with an EHC plan will be risk-assessed in consultation with the parents, to decide whether they need to continue to be offered a school or college place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. This could include, if necessary, carers, therapists or clinicians visiting the home to provide any essential services.

Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home.

Eligibility for free school meals in and of itself should not be the determining factor in assessing vulnerability.

Senior leaders at St Winifred’s know who our most vulnerable children are. They have the flexibility to offer a place to those on the edge of receiving children’s social care support.

St Winifred’s will continue to work with and support children’s social workers to help protect vulnerable children. This includes working with and supporting children’s social workers and the local authority virtual school head (VSH) for looked-after and previously looked-after children.

The lead person for this will be: Fiona Cullen.

 There is an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend an education setting, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at risk. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and St Winifred’s will explore the reasons for this directly with the parent. Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting COVID19, St Winifred’s or the social worker will talk through these anxieties with the parent/carer following the advice set out by Public Health England.

If the decision is to remain at home the DSL will make telephone contact at least weekly with carers of Looked After Children to offer support and advice. Fiona Cullen will contact the parents of those the school has deemed vulnerable and the parents of those children with EHC plans.

  1. Attendance monitoring

Local authorities and education settings do not need to complete their usual day-today attendance processes to follow up on non-attendance. St Winifred’s and social workers will agree with parents/carers whether children in need should be attending school – St Winifred’s will then follow up on any pupil that they were expecting to attend, who does not. St Winifred’s will also follow up with any parent or carer who has arranged care for their child(ren) and the child(ren) subsequently do not attend.

To support the above, St Winifred’s will, when communicating with parents/carers and carers, confirm emergency contact numbers are correct and ask for any additional emergency contact numbers where they are available. In all circumstances where a vulnerable child does not take up their place at school, or discontinues, St Winifred’s will notify their social worker.

 

  1. Designated Safeguarding Lead

St Winifred’s school has a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and a Deputy DSL. The Designated Safeguarding Lead is: Margaret Hanrahan. The Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead is: Fiona Cullen.

The optimal scenario is to have a trained DSL (or deputy) available on site. Where this is not the case a trained DSL (or deputy) will be available to be contacted via phone – for example when working from home.

Where a trained DSL (or deputy) is not on site, in addition to the above, a senior leader will assume responsibility for co-ordinating safeguarding on site. This might include liaising with the offsite DSL (or deputy) and as required liaising with children’s social workers where they require access to children in need and/or to carry out statutory assessments at the school.

It is important that all St Winifred’s staff and volunteers have access to a trained DSL (or deputy). Each day, staff will be made aware of the DSL on site through a rota. The DSL will continue to engage with social workers, and attend all multi-agency meetings, which can be done remotely.

  1. Reporting a concern

Where staff have a concern about a child, they are to firstly phone the DSL or Deputy DSL who will at all times be available whilst the school is open. Once discussed the member of staff must complete a concern sheet.

Staff are reminded of the need to report any concern immediately and without delay.

Where staff are concerned about an adult working with children in the school, they should report the concern to the headteacher. If there is a requirement to make a notification to the headteacher whilst away from school, this should be done verbally and followed up with an email to the headteacher. Concerns around the Headteacher should be directed to the Chair of Governors: John Ryan.

  1. Safeguarding Training and induction

DSL training is very unlikely to take place whilst there remains a threat of the COVID 19 virus. For the period COVID-19 measures are in place, a DSL (or deputy) who has been trained will continue to be classed as a trained DSL (or deputy) even if they miss their refresher training. All existing school staff have had safeguarding training and have read part 1 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019). The DSL should communicate with staff any new local arrangements, so they know what to do if they are worried about a child.

Where new staff are recruited, or new volunteers enter St Winifred’s, they will continue to be provided with a safeguarding induction. If staff are deployed from another education or children’s workforce setting to our school, we will take into account the DfE supplementary guidance on safeguarding children during the COVID-19 pandemic and will accept portability as long as the current employer confirms in writing that:

  • the individual has been subject to an enhanced DBS and children’s barred list check
  • there are no known concerns about the individual’s suitability to work with children
  • there is no ongoing disciplinary investigation relating to that individual

Upon arrival, they will be given a copy of the receiving setting’s child protection policy, confirmation of local processes and confirmation of DSL arrangements.

At St Winifred’s, it is not anticipated that any new staff will arrive during the period of school closure.

  1. Safer recruitment/volunteers and movement of staff

It remains essential that people who are unsuitable are not allowed to enter the children’s workforce or gain access to children. When recruiting new staff, St Winifred’s will continue to follow the relevant safer recruitment processes for their setting, including, as appropriate, relevant sections in part 3 of Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019) (KCSIE).

In response to COVID-19, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has made changes to its guidance on standard and enhanced DBS ID checking to minimise the need for face-to-face contact. Where St Winifred’s are utilising volunteers, we will continue to follow the checking and risk assessment process as set out in paragraphs 167 to 172 of KCSIE. Under no circumstances will a volunteer who has not been checked be left unsupervised or allowed to work in regulated activity. St Winifred’s will continue to follow the legal duty to refer to the DBS anyone who has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult. Full details can be found at paragraph 163 of KCSIE.

St Winifred’s will continue to consider and make referrals to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) as per paragraph 166 of KCSIE and the TRA’s ‘Teacher misconduct advice for making a referral. During the COVID-19 period all referrals should be made by emailing Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk

Whilst acknowledging the challenge of the current National emergency, it is essential from a safeguarding perspective that any school is aware, on any given day, which staff/volunteers will be in the school or college, and that appropriate checks have been carried out, especially for anyone engaging in regulated activity. As such, St Winifred’s will continue to keep the single central record (SCR) up to date as outlined in paragraphs 148 to 156 in KCSIE. This will be completed remotely by Dina Newman, Senior Admin Officer.

St Winifred’s has made the decision that no existing or new volunteers will be allowed on site during school closure.

  1. Online safety in schools and colleges

St Winifred’s will continue to provide a safe environment, including online. This includes the use of an online filtering system. Where students are using computers in school, appropriate supervision will be in place.

  1. Children and online safety away from school

 It is important that all staff who interact with children, including online, continue to look out for signs a child may be at risk. Any such concerns should be dealt with as per the Child Protection Policy and where appropriate referrals should still be made to children’s social care and as required, the police. Online teaching should follow the same principles as set out in the MAT code of conduct.

St Winifred’s will ensure any use of online learning tools and systems is in line with privacy and data protection/GDPR requirements. Below are some things to consider when delivering virtual lessons, especially where webcams are involved:

  • No 1:1s, groups only
  • Staff and children must wear suitable clothing, as should anyone else in the household.
  • Any computers used should be in appropriate areas, for example, not in bedrooms; and the background should be blurred.
  • The live class should be recorded so that if any issues were to arise, the video can be reviewed.
  • Live classes should be kept to a reasonable length of time, or the streaming may prevent the family ‘getting on’ with their day.
  • Language must be professional and appropriate, including any family members in the background.
  • Staff must only use Google Classroom to communicate with pupils.
  • Staff should record, the length, time, date and attendance of any sessions held.

St Winifred’s staff are not using webcams or any other recording device to communicate with pupils working from home. Emails are sent to parents and carers rather than children.

 

  1. Supporting children not in school

St Winifred’s is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all its Children and Young people. Where the DSL has identified a child to be on the edge of social care support, or who would normally receive pastoral-type support in school, they should ensure that a robust communication plan is in place for that child or young person. Details of this plan must be recorded as should a record of contact have made. The communication plans involve phone calls, text messages or emails.

If staff are using personal phones to communicate with parents they should ensure that they take steps to hide their personal phone numbers.

St Winifred’s and its DSL will work closely with all stakeholders to maximise the effectiveness of any communication plan. This plan must be reviewed regularly (at least once a fortnight) and where concerns arise, the DSL will consider any referrals as appropriate.

The school will share safeguarding messages on its website.

St Winifred’s recognises that school is a protective factor for children and young people, and the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of pupils and their parents/carers. Teachers at St Winifred’s need to be aware of this in setting expectations of pupils’ work where they are at home.

St Winifred’s will ensure that where we care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children on site, we ensure appropriate support is in place for them.

 

  1. Supporting children in school

St Winifred’s is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all its students. St Winifred’s will continue to be a safe space for all children to attend and flourish. The Headteacher will ensure that appropriate staff are on site and staff to pupil ratio numbers are appropriate, to maximise safety.

 

St Winifred’s will ensure that where we care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children on site, we ensure appropriate support is in place for them. This will be bespoke to each child. Where St Winifred’s has concerns about the impact of staff absence – such as our Designated Safeguarding Lead or first aiders – will discuss them immediately with the local authority.

 

  1. Peer on Peer Abuse

St Winifred’s recognises that during the closure a revised process may be required for managing any report of such abuse and supporting victims. Where a school receives a report of peer on peer abuse, they will follow the principles as set out in part 5 of KCSIE and of those outlined within of the Child Protection Policy. The school will listen and work with the young person, parents/carers and any multiagency partner required to ensure the safety and security of that young person communicating by phone, text or email.

Concerns and actions must be recorded on MY CONCERN and appropriate referrals made.

 

  1. Support from the local authority

St Winifred’s will continue to follow guidance in regards to referrals to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) or the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

St Winifred’s will be responsive to the changing and evolving situation during the COVID-19 pandemic and will seek the support of the local authority in response to changing government guidelines.

 

Policy written: 1st April 2020

PDF Version