4. Taking Action on Concerns
Key points to remember for taking action are;
All staff should follow the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Procedures. These are can be found found via the school’s website (under Policies, Child Protection Safeguarding) and are also located on the Policies and Procedures page of www.derbyscb.org.uk. The Derby and Derbyshire Thresholds document will support the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and school staff in their decision making about the child’s needs and the appropriate assessment and interventions.
It is not the responsibility of the school staff to investigate welfare concerns or determine the truth of any disclosure or allegation; this is the responsibility of Children's Social Care. All staff however have a duty to recognise concerns and maintain an open mind. Accordingly all concerns regarding the welfare of pupils will be recorded and discussed with the Designated Safeguarding Lead or their deputy or the Learning Mentor with Safeguarding Responsibilities prior to any discussion with parents.
If you suspect a child has emerging, complex/serious needs or there are child protection concerns
Information about abuse and neglect can be found in Appendix 2.
There will be occasions when you suspect that a child may be at risk, but you have no ‘real’ evidence. The child’s behaviour and or appearance may have changed, their attendance at school may have reduced, their ability to concentrate and focus may have altered or you may have noticed other physical but inconclusive signs. In these circumstances, you should try to give the child the opportunity to talk. The signs you have noticed may be due to a variety of factors and it is fine to ask the child if they are alright or if you can help in any way.
Ensure you record these early concerns using on the school form – Appendix 4, then pass this on to the Designated Safeguarding Lead. It may be appropriate to discuss your concerns with the Learning Mentor with Safeguarding Responsibilities, who can advise whether any further action needs to be taken. She may be aware of other issues related to the child, and the concern may provide addition supporting information.
If a child or adult does begin to reveal that a child is being harmed you should follow the advice in the section ‘If information is a disclosed to you’.
If information is disclosed to you
It takes a lot of courage for a child, parent, carer or other significant adult to disclose that they are worried or have concerns. They may feel ashamed, the abuser may have threatened what will happen if they tell, they may have lost all trust in adults, or they may believe, or have been told, that the abuse is their own fault.
If a child or adult talks to you about any risks to a child's safety or wellbeing you will need to let them know that you must pass the information on – you are not allowed to keep secrets. The point at which you do this is a matter for professional judgement. If you jump in immediately the child or adult may think that you do not want to listen, if you leave it till the very end of the conversation, they may feel that you have misled them into revealing more than they would have otherwise.
During your conversation with the child or adult:
If you are unsure you should always have a discussion with the Designated Safeguarding Lead to agree the best way forward.
Staff must always immediately inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) if there is:
Any suspicion that a child is injured, marked, or bruised in a way which is not readily attributable to the normal knocks or scrapes received in play.
Any explanation given which appears inconsistent or suspicious.
Any behaviours which give rise to suspicions that a child may have suffered harm.
Any concerns that a child may be suffering from inadequate care, ill treatment, or emotional maltreatment.
Any concerns that a child is presenting signs or symptoms of abuse or neglect.
Any significant changes in a child’s presentation, including non-attendance.
Any hint or disclosure of abuse about or by a child / young person.
Any concerns regarding person(s) who may pose a risk to children e.g. living in a household with children present.
Any concerns about peer on peer abuse; this should never be tolerated and passed off as banter or part of growing up (see Section 5).
Information which indicates that the child is living with someone who does not have parental responsibility for them (private fostering).
Any concerns that a child is at risk of forced marriage, honour based violence or female genital mutilation (FGM).
Role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead following identification of needs or concerns
The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) will:
The school will normally seek to discuss any needs or concerns about a child with their parents or carers. This must be handled sensitively. Where an early help assessment would benefit the child and their family the most appropriate member of school staff should approach the parent/carer to take this forward. In situations where there are serious/complex needs or child protection concerns the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or the Learning Mentor with Safeguarding Responsibilities will make contact with the parent or carer. However, if the school believes that notifying parents could increase the risk to the child or exacerbate the problem, then advice will first be sought from Children’s Social Care.
Getting help for the child
If a referral to Social Care is not considered appropriate, consideration should be made to what support the child and family need. The school will consider what support could be offered within the school, it may be useful to undertake an early help assessment (EHA) to clarify the child's needs/strengths and the supports required and/or make a referral for other services.
Full written records of the information that the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) received, detailing the actions taken or not taken and the reasons for these will be made.
Using the Early Help Assessment (EHA)
Where parents, carers or children tell us that they require support, or school staff identify that there may be emerging needs and that services might be required an early help assessment (EHA) is likely to be beneficial. In such cases staff will have an open discussion with the parents / carers and child about the support and services that might help and agree how they would be accessed.
Low level needs
Where the school and another service i.e. school nurse, may be able to meet the needs, take swift action and prevent needs escalating, the early help assessment (EHA) pre-assessment checklist and request for support form will be completed to identify and document the needs. This process may identify that an early help assessment may be needed and the action to be taken.
Where the child or parent are likely to require co-ordinated support from a range of early help services, or where there are concerns for a child's well-being or a child's needs are not clear, not known or not being met, staff should discuss the use of the early help assessment with the child and /or their parents or carers. Where a multi-agency response is needed a team around the family (TAF) should be formed to bring together practitioners from the different services so that they, along with the family, can work together to meet the child's needs. The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) will support the staff member in liaising with other agencies, setting up the inter-agency assessment and undertaking the role of lead professional as appropriate.
For more information about the early help assessment process see the DSCB early help page or DSCBs safeguarding children procedures; chapter 1.1 Providing early help.
If early help and/or other support is appropriate, the case should be kept under constant review. At each stage of the process where the child’s situation doesn’t appear to be improving or serious/complex needs or child protection concerns are identified, a referral to Children’s Social Care will be made. See below.
Referral to Children’s Social Care
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 immediately. Anybody can make the referral.
Where it is believed that a child has complex/serious needs or where there are child protection concerns, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) will make a referral to Children’s Social Care. In exceptional circumstances, such as in an emergency or a genuine concern that appropriate action hasn’t been taken, any staff member can refer their concerns directly to Social Care however they should inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) as soon as possible. See Derby and Derbyshire Thresholds document and Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children procedures, chapter 1.2 Making a referral to Children’s Social Care.
If the referral is about a ‘known’ case of female genital mutilation (FGM), in addition to a referral to Social Care, the individual teacher also has a mandatory reporting duty (See Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation; procedural information (2015) Home Office). Under this duty, ‘known’ cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) where a girl under 18 informs the person that an act of female genital mutilation (FGM) has been carried out on her, or where physical signs appear to show that an act of female genital mutilation (FGM) was carried out, must be reported to the Police on 101. This is a personal responsibility in addition to the referral to Children’s Social Care and the professional who identifies female genital mutilation (FGM)/receives the disclosure should make the report by the close of the next working day.
Action following referral
The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or the Learning Mentor with Safeguarding Responsibilities will:
Follow up the referral in writing using the Child Referral Form within 24 hours and attaching any existing assessment i.e. early help assessment
Children’s Social Care should make a decision within one working day of the referral being made about what course of action they are taking and let the school know the outcome. If the information is not forthcoming, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or another appropriate member of staff should follow this up.
Maintain contact with the allocated Social Worker and support them or other agencies following any referral.
Provide a report for, attend and contribute to any initial and review child protection conference.
Share the content of this report with the parent and if appropriate the child, prior to the meeting.
Attend core group meetings for any child subject to a child protection plan or child in need meeting for any child subject to a child in need plan.
Confidentiality and sharing information
The school will operate with regard to HM Government Information Sharing; Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (2015) and Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Boards’ Information Sharing Agreement and Guidance for Practitioners (2015). All staff will be mindful of the seven golden rules to sharing information (please see Appendix 3).
Staff should only discuss concerns with the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Deputy (or the most senior person on the premises if they are unavailable), Headteacher or Chair of Governors (depending on who is the subject of the concern). That person will then decide who else needs to have the information and they will disseminate it on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.
Wherever possible consent will be sought to share information however where there are safeguarding concerns about a child, information will be shared with the appropriate organisations such as Children's Social Care. In most cases concerns will be discussed with parents and carers prior to the referral taking place unless by doing so would increase risk.
The school’s Confidentiality Policy is available to parents and children on request.
All concerns, discussions and decisions made and the reasons for those decisions should be recorded in writing. If in doubt about recording requirements staff should discuss with the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Records of concerns documentation and other written information will be stored in a locked filing cabinet in the Learning Mentor Office, which has a door controlled by keycard access. Any electronic information will be password protected and only made available to relevant individuals. Safeguarding information will be stored separately from the child’s school file and the school file will be ‘tagged’ to indicate that separate information is held.
Copies of these records will be securely sent to any school which the child transfers and a confirmation of receipt obtained.
Support for those involved in a safeguarding/child protection issue
Child neglect and abuse is devastating for the child and can also result in distress and anxiety for staff who become involved. We will support the children and their families and staff by: