Hexham Community Centre Playgroup
Hexham and Tynedale Community Trust, Hexham Community Centre, Giles Gate, Hexham, NE46 3NP. Providing sessional child care and pre-school education vis the EYFS curriculum to children aged 2 years to 5 years, including funded children. 1.2 Safeguarding children and child protection (Including managing allegations of abuse against a member of staff).
Playgroup is a safe place for children to be. Staff are committed to ensuring children’s safety and well-being in Playgroup and as far s possible outside of Playgroup also. Playgroup abides by the principles, legislation and guidance that underpin the policy set out in Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, ‘What to Do If you are Worried a Child is Being Abused, 2015’ and Working ‘Together to Safeguard Children’. This policy adheres to the Child Protection Laws of 1989, 2004 ad 2006.
It is the duty of all Staff, Committee Members, Trustees, Work Placements and Volunteers to abide by these policies to safeguard and protect all children regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, religion, culture, tradition and socio economic background. It is the duty of the designated persons for child protection to make sure all Staff, Committee Members, Trustees, Work Placements and Volunteers are aware of Playgroup Policies and Procedures concerning child protection.
The Playgroup manager is our designated person for safeguarding. We have 2 more designated people to ensure Playgroup never operate without a designated person for safeguarding on site. The Hexham and Tynedale Community Trust Chair Person, oversees the work of the Playgroup Manager.
We ensure all staff are trained to understand our safeguarding policies and procedures and that parents are made aware of them too. Staff, volunteers and work placements are initially made aware of child protection procedures by an induction process which they must complete when they start work / volunteering / placement with Playgroup. All staff have an up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues. Staff receive training in child protection every 3 years and are expected to extend their knowledge via e-training and other courses made available to them annually. DPs are required to complete training every 2 years and also to extend their knowledge through further training opportunities.
There is a code of conduct given to all staff, volunteers, committee members and work placements as part of their induction training. This is expected to be adhered and will be monitored.
We provide adequate and appropriate staffing resources to meet the needs of children. Applicants for posts within the setting are clearly informed that the positions are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Candidates are informed of the need to carry out ‘enhanced disclosure’ checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service before a post can be appointed. Where applications are rejected because of obtaining information that has been disclosed, applicants have the right to know and to challenge incorrect information. We abide by Ofsted requirements in respect of references, and DBS checks for staff and volunteers, to ensure that no disqualified person or unsuitable person works at the setting or has access to the children. Volunteers do not work unsupervised.
We record information about staff qualifications, and the identity checks and vetting processes that have been completed including:
- the disclosure and barring service reference number;
- the date the disclosure was obtained; and details of who obtained it.
We inform all staff that they are expected to disclose any convictions, cautions, court orders or reprimands and warnings which may affect their suitability to work with children (whether received before or during their employment with us).
Staff training requirements have been set out elsewhere in this policy. Staff training is over seen by the manager through termly supervision sessions and an annual appraisal.
We abide by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) requirements in respect of any person who is dismissed from our employment, or resigns in circumstances that would otherwise have led to dismissal for reasons of a child protection concern.
We have procedures for recording the details of visitors to the setting. We take security steps to ensure that we have control over who comes into the setting so that no unauthorised person has unsupervised access to the children.
We take steps to ensure children are not photographed or filmed on video for any other purpose than to record their development or their participation in events organised by us. Parents sign a multi-level consent form to control exactly how we may use children’s images and have access to records holding visual images of their child.
Staff are also vigilant for any signs that an abuser might display. Staff will be concerned if an adult or young person does any of the following things or a mixture of these things;
- Refuses to allow a child privacy or makes their decisions on personal matters
- Insists on kissing, hugging or wrestling a child when they clearly don’t want them too
- Are overly interested in the sexual development of the child
- Insists on time alone with the child with no interruptions
- Spends most of their spare time with the child and has no interest in spending time with people of their own age
- Offers to babysit children for free or takes them on overnight outings alone
- Buys the child expensive gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason
- Treats a particular child as their favourite
- Picks off a particular child from the group
Staff will respond to ANY concerns that a child is suffering abuse, promptly and robustly. Procedures are set down in; “What to Do if You are Concerned a Child is Being Abused”, “Northumberland Guidance on Safeguarding Children for Early Years and Child Care Providers” and “Working together to Safeguard Children”.
Recognising Signs of Abuse and responding to suspicions of abuse
All staff are trained to recognize signs of abuse. Training is updated regularly and staff are expected to complete extra on line courses to enhance their knowledge to keep children safe.
Details of the definitions of the four types of abuse are set out in an attached sheet. For other key areas where staff may have to take action please see policies; Bullying and achieving positive behavior, Looked after children, Uncollected child, Prevent and British Values.
Sexual exploitation of children
This involves an adult or group of adults who take advantage of the vulnerability of children; girls and/or boys. Children can be groomed to sexual exploitation through the offer of friendship, gifts, money, drugs or alcohol. Staff are trained to recognize signs of an adult who may potentially groom children. Procedures are in place to report this, the same way we would report signs of abuse.
Female Genital Mutilation
This is a procedure that removes part or all of the female external genitalia. This is illegal in the UK. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 Places a statutory duty on teachers and regulated social care and health workers to report to the police where they discover that FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18 years old. All staff are trained to deal with cases of FGM.
Private Fostering Arrangements
A private fostering arrangement occurs when someone other than a parent cares for a child for a period of 28 days or more, with the agreement of the child’s parents. By law, a parent, private foster carer or other persons involved in making private foster arrangements must notify children’s services as soon as possible and where it is suspected by staff that this has not occurred staff must notify children’s services.
Honour Based Violence
Where crimes are committed to protect the ‘honour’ of a family and / or community. All forms of HBV are abuse and if staff suspect a it is occurring or that a child has been a victim of HBV they must talk to the safeguarding lead.
Where a person is forced into a marriage via violence, threats or any other form of coercion. Marriage is only to be entered into with the full and free consent of both parties. Lack of full and free consent can be where a person does not give their consent or is unable to do so, for example; if they have learning disabilities. The Forced Marriage Unit telephone number is: 02070080151, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We acknowledge that abuse of children can take different forms - physical, emotional, and sexual, as well as neglect. See separate sheets for signs of abuse, signs of grooming and the 4 types of neglect.
When children are suffering from physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or experiencing neglect, this may be demonstrated through:
- significant changes in their behaviour;
- deterioration in their general well-being;
- their comments which may give cause for concern, or the things they say (direct or indirect disclosure);
- changes in their appearance, their behaviour, or their play;
- unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse or neglect; and
- any reason to suspect neglect or abuse outside the setting.
We take into account factors affecting parental capacity, such as social exclusion, domestic violence, parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, mental or physical illness or parent’s learning disability.
We are aware of other factors that affect children’s vulnerability such as, abuse of disabled children; fabricated or induced illness; child abuse linked to beliefs in spirit possession; sexual exploitation of children, such as through internet abuse; and Female Genital Mutilation; that may affect, or may have affected, children and young people using our provision.
We also make ourselves aware that some children and young people are affected by gang activity, by complex, multiple or organised abuse, through forced marriage or honour based violence or may be victims of child trafficking. While this may be less likely to affect young children in our care, we may become aware of any of these factors affecting older children and young people who we may come into contact with.
Where we believe that a child in our care or that is known to us may be affected by any of these factors we follow the procedures below for reporting child protection concerns.
Where such evidence is apparent, the child’s key person makes a dated record of the details of the concern and discusses what to do with the member of staff who is acting as the ‘designated person’. The information is stored on the child’s personal file.
We refer concerns to the local authority children’s social care department and co-operate fully in any subsequent investigation. NB In some cases this may mean the police or another agency identified by the Local Safeguarding Children Board. We take care not to influence the outcome either through the way we speak to children or by asking questions of children.
We take account of the need to protect young people aged 16-19 as defined by the Children Act 1989. This may include students or school children on work placement, young employees or young parents. Where abuse is suspected we follow the procedure for reporting any other child protection concerns. The views of the young person will always be taken into account, but the setting may override the young person’s refusal to consent to share information if it feels that it is necessary to prevent a crime from being committed or intervene where one may have been, or to prevent harm to a child or adult. Sharing confidential information without consent is done only where not sharing it could be worse than the outcome of having shared it.
Recording suspicions of abuse and disclosures
Where a child makes comments to a member of staff that give cause for concern (disclosure), or a member of staff observes signs or signals that give cause for concern, such as significant changes in behaviour; deterioration in general well-being; unexplained bruising, marks or signs of possible abuse or neglect; that member of staff:
- listens to the child, offers reassurance and gives assurance that she or he will take action;
- does not question the child;
- makes a written record that forms an objective record of the observation or disclosure that includes: the date and time of the observation or the disclosure; the exact words spoken by the child as far as possible; the name of the person to whom the concern was reported, with the date and time; and the names of any other person present at the time.
These records are signed and dated and kept in the child’s personal file, which is kept securely and confidentially. Information is shared in strict adherence with the document; ‘Information Sharing’ (HM Government 2017) Including ‘7 Golden Rules for Information Sharing’. The member of staff acting as the ‘designated person’ is informed of the issue at the earliest opportunity. Where the Local Safeguarding Children Board stipulates the process for recording and sharing concerns, we include those procedures alongside this procedure and follow the steps set down by the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
For families who may need some extra help
Some families may fulfill a set of criteria where they are deemed to be in need of some extra help that may help them avoid running into difficulties that could lead to worse consequences. For these families we can refer them to the Northumberland Early Intervention Hub for support and advise. The e-mail for this referral is;
We may also be able to carry out an Early Help Assessment to gauge what help is required, make sure the help is sought and to report on progress.
Making a referral to the local authority children’s social care team
We keep a copy of the document ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’ (HMG 2015) alongside the procedures for recording and reporting set down by our Local Safeguarding Children Board.
We also have a copy of the “Northumberland Guidance on Safeguarding Children for Early Years and Childcare Providers – Child Protection Guidance 2010 – 2011”. This document is to be read and used in conjunction with this policy. The document contains procedures for making a referral to the local Children’s Social Care Team, as well as a template form for recording concerns and making a referral.
We also have a copy of “Working Together to Safeguard Children – 2018” This document contains detailed explanations and flow charts of what happens once a referral has been made to social services, how services work together and the outcomes regarding various situations such as Serious Case Reviews. This is currently kept on the deputy manager’s USB stick. We have printed copies of the flow charts contained therein and included these in this policy.
Normal procedure is to call Northumberland Onecall on 01670 536400. Make a note of the time the call is put through and note the name of the person dealing with the concern on the ‘phone. Follow up the call with a written referral within 48 hours using the referral form enclosed in this policy either by secure encrypted e-mail.
Parents are normally the first point of contact. We discuss with parents to gain their view of events, unless we feel this may put the child in greater danger. We inform parents when we make a record of concerns in their child’s file and that we also make a note of any discussion we have with them regarding a concern.
If a suspicion of abuse warrants referral to social care, parents are informed at the same time that the referral will be made, except where the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board does not allow this, for example, where it is believed that the child may be placed in greater danger. This will usually be the case where the parent is the likely abuser. In these cases the social workers will inform parents.
Liaison with other agencies
- We work within the Local Safeguarding Children Board guidelines.
- We have the current version of ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’ available for parents and staff and ensure that all staff are familiar with what they need to do if they have concerns.
- We have procedures for contacting the local authority regarding child protection issues, including maintaining a list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of social workers, to ensure that it is easy, in any emergency, for the setting and children’s social care to work well together.
- We notify the registration authority (Ofsted) of any incident or accident and any changes in our arrangements which may affect the well-being of children or where an allegation of abuse is made against a member of staff (whether the allegations relate to harm or abuse committed on our premises or elsewhere). Notifications to Ofsted are made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made.
Allegations against staff
We ensure that all parents know how to complain about the behaviour or actions of staff or volunteers within the setting, or anyone living or working on the premises occupied by the setting, which may include an allegation of abuse.
We respond to any inappropriate behaviour displayed by members of staff or any other person working with the children, which includes:
- inappropriate sexual comments;
- excessive one-to-one attention beyond the requirements of their usual role and responsibilities, or inappropriate sharing of images.
We follow the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board when responding to any complaint that a member of staff or volunteer within the setting, or anyone living or working on the premises occupied by the setting, has abused a child.
We respond to any disclosure by children or staff that abuse by a member of staff or volunteer within the setting, or anyone living or working on the premises occupied by the setting, may have taken, or is taking place, by first recording the details of any such alleged incident.
We refer any such complaint immediately to the Designated Officer (DO) to investigate: See whistle blowing section below for contact details.
We also report any such alleged incident to Ofsted, as well as what measures we have taken. We are aware that it is an offence not to do this.
We co-operate entirely with any investigation carried out by children’s social care in conjunction with the police. Where the management team and children’s social care agree it is appropriate in the circumstances, the chair/director/owner will suspend the member of staff on full pay, or the volunteer, for the duration of the investigation. This is not an indication of admission that the alleged incident has taken place, but is to protect the staff, as well as children and families throughout the process.
Where a member of staff or volunteer has been dismissed due to engaging in activities that caused concern for the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, we will notify the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) of relevant information, so that individuals who pose a threat to children (and vulnerable groups) can be identified and barred from working with these groups.
If a practitioner, trustee or volunteer has concerns that another member of staff is putting children at risk through poor practice or they have suspicions concerning a member of staff, trustee or volunteer they are legally obliged to inform the designated person. Any concern about malpractice is taken very seriously. There is always a respect for confidentiality of any person concerned with the allegation. Adults who use the whistle blowing procedure should understand that their employment rights are protected. There are systems of support including counselling, other members of staff etc for people following a disclosure. Priority is given to children’s needs and emotional wellbeing and that of the family involved.
If anyone has concerns regarding the conduct of the designated person they should contact any other DP or the chairperson of the trustees, they in turn will contact the Designated Officer.
The DO is Adam Hall
This must be done within 24 hours of an allegation being made.
OFSTED must also be contacted on:
Call: 0300 123 3155 (mon-fri 8am -6pm)
Write to WBHL, Ofsted, Picadilly Gate, Shore Street, Manchester, M1 2WD. Please refer to the “allegations against a member of staff” flow chart for time scales.
It is the trusts responsibility to inform parents and staff od allegations and for suspensions to be made. If the media contact the setting no information is given to them regarding the case. Advice is sought from the trustees, children’s services and the police. Clear records are kept of any allegations made, details of how allegations were followed up and resolved and any action taken and decisions reached. These are kept in the person’s confidential file and a copy given to the individual. These records will be kept until the person reaches normal retirement age, or for 10 years if that is longer.
- All staff are trained in Safeguarding to national legal standards to carry out their jobs.
- All staff read the policies concerning safeguarding.
- All staff have up to date knowledge of safeguarding issues.
The layout of the rooms allows for constant supervision.
We introduce key elements of keeping children safe into our programme to promote the personal, social and emotional development of all children, so that they may grow to be strong, resilient and listened to and so that they develop an understanding of why and how to keep safe. We create within the setting a culture of value and respect for individuals, having positive regard for children’s heritage arising from their colour, ethnicity, languages spoken at home, cultural and social background. We ensure that this is carried out in a way that is developmentally appropriate for the children.
All suspicions and investigations are kept confidential and shared only with those who need to know. Any information is shared under the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
Support to families
We believe in building trusting and supportive relationships with families, staff and volunteers in the group. We make clear to parents our role and responsibilities in relation to child protection, such as for the reporting of concerns, information sharing, monitoring of the child, and liaising at all times with the local children’s social care team. We will continue to welcome the child and the family whilst investigations are being made in relation to any alleged abuse. We follow the Child Protection Plan as set by the child’s social care worker in relation to the setting’s designated role and tasks in supporting that child and their family, subsequent to any investigation. Confidential records kept on a child are shared with the child’s parents or those who have parental responsibility for the child in accordance with the Confidentiality and Client Access to Records procedure and only if appropriate under the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
This policy is reviewed annually and after each training session received by staff who will contribute by writing a focused improvement plan for the review of child protection procedures in Playgroup and the updating of policy as required and to inform staff, committee members, volunteers and work placements.
Call: 01670 536400
Name: Adam Hall
Call: 01670 623979
Early Intervention Team