SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN POLICY AND PROCEDURES

Trained Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL) for St. George International School & Preschool (SGIS):

Justin Kilcullen-Nichols

Principal – principal@stgeorgeschool.eu

Andriana Chomakovska

Head of Administration – a.chomakovska@stgeorgeschool.eu

Deputy Safeguarding Leads

Head of Head of Primary School – head.primary@stgeorgeschool.eu

Head of Secondary School – head.secondary@stgeorgeschool.eu

Head of High School – head.high.school@stgeorgeschool.eu

 

WHAT IS ‘SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN’?

‘Safeguarding Children’ means doing everything possible to keep children and other vulnerable young people safe from suffering any significant physical, emotional, sexual or any other harm. It involves actively promoting the welfare of children and young people so that the need for protection is reduced. It is the responsibility of every adult and senior student at SGIS.

‘Significant harm’ is defined in UK as being the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention by statutory bodies. As a school with students aged from 3 (?) to 19 (?), SGIS fully accepts that it has an important part to play in safeguarding each one of its students. To be effective, however, the SGIS Safeguarding Policy requires each adult and student within the school to understand the policy and participate in its implementation. This includes all teaching and non-teaching staff, volunteers, directors, visitors and contractors working at the school as well as the students themselves.

PRINCIPLES OF THE POLICY 

Saint George International School and Preschool bases its safeguarding policy on the following principles:

  • The Safeguarding Policy for SGIS is the responsibility of the Board, who approve and review the Policy annually. The Board member with particular responsibility for Safeguarding is the SGIS CEO. The Policy is managed by the Senior DSL, currently the school Principal. He will ensure the policy is applied, training given, necessary documents drawn up, detailed records kept, and keep a central record of all reported Safeguarding concerns and action taken.
  • All personnel at SGIS will abide by the Staff Code of Conduct. In accordance with the Code they will always act toward students in a professional, respectful and friendly manner, and always seek to do what is in the student’s best interests.
  • George International School and Preschool and its staff are an important part of the wider safeguarding system for children and other young people.
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families and carers has a role to play in safeguarding children. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all those acting on behalf of SGIS should make sure their approach is child-centred. This means that they should consider, at all times, what is in the best interests of the child.
  • No single professional can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances. If children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns and sharing information appropriately by taking prompt action on the concerns by contacting one of school’s Safeguarding Leads or, in their absence, one of their Deputies.
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this document as: protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s health or development; ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
  • SGIS will ensure that the environment of the school is one where anyone reporting Safeguarding concerns is assured of a supportive response from the DSLs and Senior Staff, and that any honest mistakes will be accepted as an unavoidable part of an effective Safeguarding process.

APPLICATION

The policy is applied in respect of every child/student at SGIS, but concerns must be raised immediately in the following cases as examples:

  • A child who appears to be without supervision or parental care outside of school;
  • A child who is suspected of being a victim of physical, mental or sexual abuse, violence, exploitation, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, radicalisation or any other inhumane or humiliating attitude or punishment inside or outside the family;
  • A child who is in a danger of damaging their physical, moral, intellectual and social development;
  • A child who is missing much of his/her schooling and seems at risk of dropping out of school or a child who has dropped out of school.

All personnel are reminded that abuse can also be on-line, or electronic (e.g. sexting) and often occurs out of school, not just within school. Abusers can be adults, but can also be fellow students. All suspicions must be reported to the DSLs or Deputies.

GOALS OF THE POLICY:

By following and applying the safeguarding children policy Saint George International School and Preschool aims to:

  • Ensure we practice safer recruitment including vetting of all staff and volunteers, checking their suitability to work with children.
  • Raise awareness of child protection issues, equipping students with the skills needed to keep themselves safe.
  • Raise awareness of Safeguarding by training all adults at SGIS regularly on the issues and procedures involved.
  • Develop and apply procedures for the identification and reporting of cases of abuse or of questionable cases which require investigation.
  • Support students who have been or are being abused.
  • Create a safe environment in which the children can learn and develop.
  • Create an atmosphere where no person feels afraid to raise a concern regarding safeguarding of students.

SOURCES

The policy is written in accordance with the Convention of the UN for the Children’s Rights, the Family Code, the Child Protection Law, the Law for Preschool and School Education, the Law for Protection of Personal Data, and best practice from ‘Keeping Children safe in Education’, Sept 2016(UK), ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ March 2015 (UK) as well as the ‘Prevent Duty Guidance: England and Wales’ July 2015 (UK).

DEFINITIONS:

All school staff and other adults at the school should be aware that abuse, neglect and safeguarding issues are rarely standalone events that can be covered by one definition or label. In most cases, multiple issues will overlap with one another. The following definitions may help in identifying some of the more common forms of abuse.

Abuse: a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults or by another child or children.

Physical abuse: a form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional abuse: the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Neglect: the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Radicalisation: the preparation or persuasion of young people to engage in, or help other engage in, or encourage others to engage in, acts of terrorism, is now regarded as a form of abuse. The UK ‘Prevent Duty: Departmental advice for schools and childminders’ (June 2015) gives more details.

 

PROCEDURES:

  1. Reporting cases:

All adults at SGIS must be vigilant for any signs or notifications which might indicate possible abuse. Any child might become a victim of abuse, but personnel should be particularly watchful in the case of SEN students, who are often especially vulnerable. Any suspicions of abuse concerning any student must be reported without delay to one of the Designated Leads or (in their absence) to one of their Deputies. Such action must be taken if any adult:

  • Suspects that the child is hurt or has traces (bruises) which cannot be explained as normal hits or scars received during play, or when the explanation given by the child does not correspond with the injury.
  • Notes changes in behaviour of the child which raise concerns – for example sudden bursts of violence, crying for no apparent reason, withdrawn behaviour, touching themselves or others in inappropriate places, disturbing drawings and role-play etc…
  • Has concerns that the child might be suffering from lack of care, bad treatment or emotional ill-treatment;
  • Has concerns that the child demonstrates symptoms which suggest that the child is being ill-treated or is neglected;
  • Notes significant changes in the performance of the child at school (academic and behavioural) which are inexplicable;
  • Receives information regarding abuse of a child from the child’s classmate, another pupil, a parent or from a member of the community;
  • Receives a disclosure of abuse directly from the student involved (see the specific guidance which follows for this situation, below.)

In such cases the concerned adult should immediately report to one of the designated Safeguarding Leads or to one of the Deputies appointed with an order of the Principal of the school if the above people are not present. The adult making the report should fill in an Incident/Concern Report (Appendix 1 to the current policy). The reports are registered with an entry number and are stored in the Incoming Correspondence Register. The adult making the report should NOT try to investigate the matter, or discuss it with anyone other than the Safeguarding Leads or Deputies.

On their part, the designated Safeguarding Leads urgently consider the information they have received and if justified make a report on behalf of Saint George International School and Preschool within 24 hours to the regional “Child Protection” Department of the “Social Assistance” Directorate, according to the current address of the child. This Department then takes over the investigation of the concern. If the information received does not justify a referral to the local authorities, the DSL will decide what other action to take and keep a record of their discussions and conclusions. The DSLs will differentiate between those students who have suffered or are in danger of suffering significant harm, and other students who are in need of additional help or support, where different agencies may need to be approached.

If any member of the school personnel feels that the action taken by the DSLs is inadequate, the school makes it clear that anyone can make a report directly to the appropriate Child Protection Department. Any member of staff taking this step will not be subject to any disciplinary action, unless it is found that they were motivated by malice or mischief. (See Whistleblowing Policy)

The child protection departments are parts of the territorial structures of the Agency for Social Assistance (ASA). A list of the territorial structures of the ASA can be found at http://www.asp.government.bg/viz-spis-k.

The Police Department nearest to the child’s current address is also contacted. Police protection is an urgent measure which is taken when there is an immediate danger for the child’s life or health, as well as when there is an immediate danger that the child is involved in a crime.

The actions of the respective institutions engaged with the investigations and the actions on a specific report are schematically described in Appendix 2 to the current policy.

All staff and other adults at SGIS must remember that:

  • All personnel are responsible for sharing any information about the protection of children with the above mentioned responsible persons and possibly (subsequently) with other professionals (with the parents’ consent);
  • All personnel are reminded that sharing any information about the children and their family is only used in a professional context;
  • All personnel must recognise that the school is not responsible for investigation. Suspected cases of abuse should be reported to the local authority by the Safeguarding Leads in accordance with Bulgarian law which may, or may not, take action.
  • Always stop and listen straight away to anyone who wants to tell you about incidents or suspected abuse.
  • When questioning a child, try not to use leading questions such as ‘Did this happen at home?’ or ‘who hit you?’, instead try ‘Where did this happen?’ or ‘how did you get that mark?’. Always try to use open questions which begin with ‘where’, ‘how’, ‘describe to me’, ‘explain to me’.
  • Do not interrogate the child. Do not make them repeat to you what they might have already shared with another person. You need as much information from the child as it is enough to describe and report the case for further investigation from the authorized bodies.
  • Try not to show signs of shock, horror or surprise. Do not express your emotions and do not make any judgments about the supposed abuser;
  • If the child trusts you and asks you to keep the information secret, it important to clarify confidentially issues. You can only guarantee that you will only pass on information to the minimum number of people who must be told in order for action to be taken; only people who have a clear ‘need to know’. Reassure the child that you will take steps to ensure that they are protected from any retaliation or unnecessary stress that may occur after disclosure has taken place.
  • At this stage do not inform the parents, or anyone else apart from the Designated Safeguarding Leads. The persons in charge will decide when it is best for this to be done;
  • The information connected with child protection is CONFIDENTIAL and shall be shared only with those who need to have it in order to do their job in an adequate and professional manner. The decision for sharing this information is taken by the school Principal. The pedagogical and the non-pedagogical personnel are informed by the Designated Safeguarding Leads The pedagogical and the non-pedagogical personnel can address the Designated Safeguarding Leadsin case they have clarifying questions or comments.
  • It is important that written notes are kept concerning any verbal (oral) reports of suspected abuse. Notes must be written up as soon as possible after hearing the oral report, as far as possible using the exact words spoken by the student if a disclosure of abuse has been made.
  1. Cooperation:

After the Designated Leads have informed the regional (by place of residence) child protection departments at the territorial structures of the Agency for Social Assistance (in short – partnering organizations), Saint George International School and Preschool guarantees a continuous cooperation over the case, depending on the needs of the partnering organizations.

  1. Confidentiality:

Protection of confidentiality of all written documents on a specific case will be ensured:

  • Including documents from observations made in the course of time, all documents dealing with the case will be stored in a separate folder which is stored in the office of the Administration Manager
  • If the case needs to be brought to the knowledge (without details) of teachers who teach the child and the child’s future teachers, this will be done by the Principal who will have due regard to confidentiality of the documents.
  1. Partnership with parents:
  • Saint George International School and Preschool identifies the security and the protection of children as a main priority and of fundamental importance. The child’s safety and well-being should always be subject to protection. This is the reason why a positive, open and honest partnership with the parents is needed. We guarantee that the relationships with the parents are respectful and polite. We respect the parents’ right of personal to a private life and we guarantee confidentiality unless the parents give their explicit permission for sharing information needed for protection of the child’s rights and life;
  • When the school management has reported to a certain institution without informing the parents, this shall happen only in accordance with the legal obligations, defined with the Child Protection Law;
  • The policy for safeguarding and child protection is public and shared with the school community via the school website.
  1. Support for the child:
  • The school shall continue to support the child and to work together with other institutions engaged with the family as required;
  • Special arrangements at school may be needed to support victims of peer on peer abuse. The Principal will make these arrangements having due regard for the circumstances of each case;
  • When taking subsequent actions on a specific case, those will be explained to the relevant children in a manner which is age-appropriate and easy to understand;
  • The school Principal will decide which staff to inform of specific details, as far as they are necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child.
  • The school will endeavour to support the child through:

– The content of the curriculum

– The school values

  • The school behaviour policy which is partly aimed at supporting vulnerable pupils in the school.

– Liaison with other agencies as appropriate.

  1. Child protection and school programme:

Topics on children’s rights and violations against these rights, as defined by the or is this the Convention on the Rights of the Child, are planned to be taught during PSHE lessons using material appropriate for the age of the child in all Year Groups.

  1. Safeguards for students regarding the pedagogical and non-pedagogical specialists (i.e. Teaching and non-Teaching staff):
  • Saint George International School and Preschool follows the requirements of the Law for Preschool and School Education and the accompanying national standards connected with the employment of teachers. The process of selection and hiring is described in the school Procedure for selection, hiring and dismissing of personnel, according to which the criminal record certificate, which each employee presents before signing the labour contract, is a part of the measures taken for preventing the access to the children of a person who might be of risk for them. Teachers hired from the UK are subject to an enhanced DBS disclosure through COBIS. In the case of staff who have worked abroad for many years since leaving the UK, or who are from third countries, the school needs to make a reasonable decision, based on an assessment of risk and a consideration of all the information available, as to whether other checks of suitability from the countries worked in may be an acceptable alternative.
  • As a further safeguard for students in the case of UK Citizens, the appropriate agencies in UK, such as DBS or NCTL, will be notified immediately in cases where a teacher’s links with SGIS are terminated under any circumstances when Safeguarding concerns or suspicions of Safeguarding concerns have been raised
  • The pedagogical and the non-pedagogical specialists and other volunteers and contractors perform their duties in a professional manner, according to their job descriptions, all school regulations, policies and procedures, including the school community Code of Ethics.
  • The pedagogical and the non-pedagogical specialists and other adults at the school shall not be put in a situation which makes them vulnerable towards false claims for abuse. Any fear that any adult at the school might be vulnerable needs to be reported to the school Principal in order that he takes the appropriate measures for mitigating/eliminating the risk both for the employee and for the children. If the risk is connected with a certain child and a certain case, a copy from the information will be kept in the child’s record. According to the situation and if appropriate, the parents shall be notified by the Principal.
  • Each member of school staff or any other adult at the school who has fears that the behaviour of a colleague is or might be interpreted as a risky for the children, needs to inform the school Principal immediately. If the fears are about the Principal himself, the CEO of the owning company should be informed about the case. The school will not take action against any whistle-blower who makes an honest mistake. (See the Whistleblowing Policy)
  • If an allegation of abuse is made against a teacher of other member of staff or volunteer, by a student, the allegation will be taken seriously. It must be referred to the DSLs for their consideration and action. However, the Principal of the school (whether or not he or she is a DSL) must also be involved immediately as arrangements may need to be made in school to support the student (and the member of staff until the outcome of the investigation is known). Suspension of the member of staff on full pay is an option available to the Principal, but is only to done if there is no other way to ensure the smooth running of the school while keeping the two parties apart during school hours. Relevant advice from KCSIE and WT will be taken into account. The DSLs will almost certainly make a referral to the external Child Protection agency and to the Police if a crime may have been committed. If the allegation is found to be justified, action will be taken against the member of staff according to the Labour Code, and the school Regulations, in addition to any action taken by the police or other external agencies. If the allegation is found to be false, discipilary action against the student making the false accusation will be decided by the Principal.
  • Childcare (concerning this service of the school).
  1. Safe Internet.

Refer to the internet policy and the social media policy of St. George International School & Preschool.

  1. Support for the pedagogical and the non-pedagogical personnel:

The work on child protection might be difficult, exhausting and extremely stressful. In this regard the employees may address the principal for providing the support needed.

At the beginning of each school year training on child protection, including the ‘Prevent’ Strategy, on line safety and this Safeguarding policy is delivered according to an order of the school Principal to every member of staff, director, volunteer, regular contractor etc. A written record of attendance is kept. The Designated Leads for Safeguarding themselves will attend specialised training or on-line training in Safeguarding every year, the content of their training as set out in Annex B of KCSIE.

  1. Hot lines:
  • For children – tel. 116 111 which is free for the entire country provides advice and support for the child at any time. The child can call 24/7. The child does not need to tell their name;
  • 080013322 is a telephone line where teachers or employee can seek for help if they know that a child has a dependence on drugs;
  • 02/ 971 3000 is a telephone line which provides some advice on the use of the Internet by children. The same telephone line might be used if an adult detects a site for child pornography on the Internet;
  • Reporting for a missing child might be done to 116 000. This is a universal line for all members of the European Union and is free.
  1. Personnel and Policy for Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures:

The entire pedagogical and non-pedagogical personnel receive a copy of the current policy via their work e-mail account. All staff will also receive e-copies of Part one of and Annex A of KCSIE 2016, and ‘Working Together to Keep Children Safe’. Copies of the latest versions of these documents will be placed in the Staff Common Room, and attention is drawn to any amendments during regular staff training on Safeguarding. This is particularly important to ensure full understanding, even by members of staff not yet fluent in English.

The policy is also sent to new members of the staff who are required to confirm that they have acquainted themselves with it. The policy becomes a part of the declaration which the new coming teachers/employees sign upon starting work. The declaration is provided to the teacher/employee by the payroll specialist and is stored in the personal file of the teacher/employee.

In addition, as a part of the normal staff induction, one of the Designated Leads for Safeguarding will meet with all new employees/volunteers at the start of each academic year to ensure that this Policy and its integral procedures are clearly understood by those new members of staff. The new members will also attend the whole staff training sessions. (See Induction Policy)

Teachers and employees who do not follow the current Policy for Security and Protection of the Child, are subject to disciplinary measures according the Labour Code of the Republic of Bulgaria.

This policy is voted and accepted by the Pedagogical Council with a Protocol №…/… and takes effect from the first day of 2017/2018 school year.

Note: This policy is revised on an annual basis, but If needed, the current Policy can be updated at any time.  

Written by Justin Kilcullen-Nichols 1.9.17

To be revised on the 31st June 2018.

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