Annex to Riverside College Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy
Response to COVID-19, April 2020
There have been significant changes within our setting and within the UK in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
This annex sets out some of the adjustments Riverside College is making in line with the changed arrangements in the college and following advice from government and local agencies.
The current position is that, following the Government announcement, all college sites are closed and timetables have been postponed.
Despite the changes, the College’s Safeguarding Policy is fundamentally the same: the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults always comes first, staff should respond robustly to safeguarding concerns and referrals should continue to be made in line with our established safeguarding procedure. However, due to the current crisis all staff have been briefed to use emergency services as required for immediate risk to harm.
The pressures on children, young people and their families at this time are significant. There will be heightened awareness of family pressures for a variety of reasons including, having to stay within the household, through financial hardship or health anxiety. These areas should be considered in terms of setting any work for students to undertake at home (including recognising the impact of online learning and ability to access on line resources). Staff may be aware of the mental health of both students and their parents or carers, and should refer to safeguarding about any emerging concerns.
We have undertaken a scoping exercise to identify the most vulnerable students and individual arrangements have been made with either students, parents/carers and/or social care who have an attached social worker and those with an EHCP. We are working in partnership with the local authority to contribute to the wider picture, which involves daily updates to Milorad Vasic, Director for People, Halton Borough Council.
For students subject to a Child Protection Plan and Child In Need Plan, and who have an allocated social worker:
Contact will be made by the safeguarding as agreed with the family and social worker. Where families have requested this to be specific times per week, this has been discussed and agreed with the allocated social worker.
For students who are Looked after Children and recent Care Leavers:
Contact will be made by the health and wellbeing team who will make contact as often as agreed with the student, carer and social worker.
For students with an EHCP:
Support Workers and Learning Support Advisors will maintain regular contact as agreed with student and parents / carers. Support can be delivered through individual arrangements based on curriculum activity.
For students on the edge of social care involvement or pending allocation of a social worker, or identified as high risk:
Contact will be made by the health and wellbeing team once per week for a welfare check.
NB Contact will be made remotely through email/Microsoft Teams/telephone calls/social media or other appropriate methods.
The college arrangements continue in line with our Safeguarding Policy.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead is:
Thalia Bell – email@example.com
The Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead is:
Donna Elston – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Safeguarding Officers are:
Anna Hopwood – email@example.com
Vicky Jones – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jayne Barker – Jayne.email@example.com
We will be operating during normal business hours, 9am – 4pm (Mon – Friday)
We have confirmed the arrangements to contact the LADO at the local authority remain unchanged. For more information on this please contact HRUnit@riversidecollege.ac.uk
Staff will continue to follow the safeguarding procedures and advise the safeguarding leads immediately about concerns they have about any child, whether in college or not. COVID-19 means a need for increased vigilance due to the pressures on services, families and young people, rather than a reduction in our standards.
If you have access to STAR please continue to log confidential comments as you normally would. If you do not have access to STAR to log confidential comments please email concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org where a member of the safeguarding team will respond to the concern and log on ProMonitor. This email address is monitored by all safeguarding staff.
Normal safeguarding procedures apply for referrals to children’s services. This contact will go through a member of the safeguarding team (listed above) who will follow appropriate measures in seeking the appropriate and necessary support.
Should a child or young person be at risk of significant harm and local agencies are not able to respond, the college will immediately follow the safeguarding children partnership escalation procedure.
Allegations or concerns about staff
With such different arrangements in place, young people could be at greater risk of on line abuse. We remind all staff to maintain the view that ‘it could happen here’ and to immediately report any concern, no matter how small, to the safeguarding team.
Any agency staff or volunteers working with students during college closure will complete an induction to ensure they are aware of the risks and know how to take action if they are concerned.
New staff or volunteers
All new starters must have an on line induction. They must read the college Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy, the Positive Behaviour Policy, the Whistleblowing Policy and the staff Code of Conduct. The DSL or deputy will ensure new recruits know who to contact if worried about a child or young person and ensure the new starters are familiar with the child protection procedure.
All new starters or volunteers need to confirm that they have read Part I and Annex A of Keeping Children Safe in Education
Peer on peer abuse
We recognise the potential for abuse to go on between young people, especially in the context of a college closure or partial closure. Our staff will remain vigilant to the signs of peer-on-peer abuse, including those between young people who are not currently attending our provision. Extra care should be taken where groups have mixed age, developmental stages, are attending other education establishments as an interim measure and similar. When making contact with these families our staff may ask about relationships between learners.
Young people will be using the internet more during this period. The College may also use online approaches to deliver training or support. Staff will be aware of the signs and signals of cyberbullying and other risks online and apply the same child-centred safeguarding practices as when students are learning at the College. The College continues to ensure appropriate filters and monitors are in place. The College has taken on board the guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre on safe remote learning and guidance for safer working practice from the Safer Recruitment Consortium.
It is extremely important that professional boundaries do not slip during this exceptional period and protocols for on line working have been issued. Staff need to refer to current college policies in relation to this (see below)
Students accessing remote learning will receive guidance on keeping safe online and know how to raise concerns with the college, Childline, the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEOP. This guidance is available on our College website.
Restrictions to movement and contact with other people means pupils are more likely to be at risk of mental health problems. Individual academies should make pupils and their families aware of where further support can be found. The Department for Education have produced guidance to support parents:
The following organisations can also provide support:
www.kooth.com – Free online emotional wellbeing and counselling with self-help articles
Parents and Carers
Parents and carers will receive information about keeping students safe online with peers, the College, other education offers they may access and the wider internet community. We have set out the College’s approach, including the sites students will be asked to access and set out who from the college (if anyone) their student is going to be interacting with online. Parents have been offered the following links via our College website:
- Internet matters – for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- Net-aware – for support for parents and careers from the NSPCC
- Parent info – for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- Thinkuknow – for advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online
- UK Safer Internet Centre – advice for parents and carers
- Free additional support for staff in responding to online safety issues can be accessed from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline at the UK Safer Internet Centre