CHILD PROTECTION POLICY AMENDMENTS FOR RESPONSE TO THE ROYAL SCHOOL CLOSURE DUE TO COVID-19 OUTBREAK MARCH 2020
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.
At The Royal School staff are monitoring children in at least one of four ways on a regular basis. Within the school setting as part as the group attending school, via zoom conferencing, with telephone calls and via a password protected school virtual learning environment.
As part of the new arrangements:
- All staff have DSL and Deputy DSL mobile number in order to remain in contact if they are not on site.
- Staff are reminded weekly by email of policy regarding reporting to DSL if anything concerns them during contact with child or families: Referrals to be emailed via DSL through Early Help and MASH team using online form.
- Whilst on site at least two DBS checked adults who are familiar with he school safeguarding procedures are to supervise children even if numbers are extremely low. One of the supervisors must be a Royal School staff member who’s normal duties involve teaching or supervising children (Teacher, teaching assistant or playworker).
- Contact with children with a social worker occurs weekly via a telephone call/zoom conference if they are self-isolating or not attending.
- Information will be sent to all parents about keeping children safe online while working from home.
- Protocol sent to staff about contacting parents/families during school closure with particular reference to remote teaching and live meetings:
- All zoom conferences must involve two members of staff and the conference must be set to end when staff members leave.
- All messages between pupils, parents, class teachers and teaching assistants is through the virtual learning environment. Children and parents do not have access to staff emails or telephone numbers.
- All urgent contact goes through email@example.com. Parents have been informed that teaching staff will respond to messages weekly and urgent matters should not be sent through the VLE
- ELSA resources will be available for all children and ELSA sessions where possible will be delivered by the an ELSA trained staff member via zoom with the Headteacher or the child’s teacher in attendance (online) as an observer.
Vulnerable children definition
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 Local Authority and 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.
Staff know who our most vulnerable children are. The Headteacher has the flexibility to offer a place to those on the edge of receiving children’s social care support or with an underlying reason that means that it is in the best interest of the child to be on site at school when balanced with the risk of contracting or spreading COVID19.
Should vulnerable children stay at home during the school closure?
The Royal School 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: Charlotte Beale
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 The Royal School will explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.
Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting COVID19, The Royal School or the social worker will talk through these anxieties with the parent/carer following the advice set out by Public Health England.
The Royal School will encourage our vulnerable children and young people to attend a school, including remotely if needed.
Local authorities and education settings do not need to complete their usual day-to- day attendance processes to follow up on non-attendance.
The Royal School and social workers will agree with parents/carers whether children in need should be attending school – will then follow up on any pupil that they were expecting to attend, who does not. 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.
Reporting a concern
Where staff have a concern about a child, they should continue to follow the process outlined in the school Safeguarding Policy.
Staff are reminded of the need to report any concern immediately and without delay.
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
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 The Royal School 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.
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.