COVID 19

COVID-19 Safeguarding update- March 2021

On Monday 22nd February 2021, The Prime Minister announced the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. This included a direction that from 8th March 2021, all pupils should attend school.

This addendum applies from the start of the 8th March 2021 as all children return to our schools.

·       We will ensure that where we care for children on site, we have appropriate support in place for them.

·       We will take advice and work with the local safeguarding partners.

·       We will refer to the Government guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing and continue to follow the advice from Public Health England on handwashing and other measures to limit the risk of spread of coronavirus.

·       We will continue to have regard to the statutory safeguarding guidance keeping children safe in education (as amended, Jan 2021).[1]

·       Key contacts remain as per the school Safeguarding Policy.

Where we refer to vulnerable children, this means those who are categorised by the DfE’s list of vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings. Eligibility for free school meals is not necessarily a determining factor in assessing vulnerability.

We 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.

 

Concern over returning to school

In circumstances where a parent is hesitant about or does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and school will explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.

Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting COVID19, the school or the social worker will talk through these anxieties with the parent/carer following the advice set out by Public Health England.

We will support pupils and families, by liaising with our Educational Welfare Officer to provide the best guidance for each individual circumstance.

We will encourage all pupils to attend a school.

 

Attendance monitoring

 

We expect all pupils to attend school.

 

Parents or carers are expected to contact the school on the first day of the illness and inform us of the reason for absence so that the correct attendance codes can be used in every case of absence. We expect parents or carers to make contact to make us aware of the status of any COVID-19 tests that have become necessary and to update the school on the welfare of the pupil. 

 

From 8th March 2021, we will record attendance in accordance with the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended)[2] for all pupils. 

A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they: 

 

  • have symptoms or have had a positive test result 
  • live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact 
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) 

 

The advice for pupils who have been confirmed as clinically extremely vulnerable is to shield and stay at home as much as possible until further notice. They are advised not to attend school while shielding advice applies nationally. 

 

For children self-isolating or quarantining or shielding – we will use code X. 

 

In compliance with the Remote Education, Temporary Continuity Direction[3] will provide remote education to pupils who are unable to attend school because they are complying with government guidance or legislation around coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

Also, we will offer pastoral support to pupils who are: 

 

  • self-isolating 
  • shielding
  • vulnerable (and off-school)

 

The Department for Education expects schools to grant applications for leave in exceptional circumstances. This should be recorded as code C (leave of absence authorised by the school) unless another authorised absence code is more applicable.

 

Where pupils are not able to attend school, as they are following clinical or public health advice related to coronavirus (COVID-19), the absence will not be penalised. 

 

Reporting concerns

All staff and volunteers continue to act on any concerns they have about a child immediately. It is still vitally important to do this, both for children at school and those at home.

All staff continue to work with and support children’s social workers, where they have one, to help protect vulnerable children.

 

D/DSL arrangements

We have a trained DSL or Deputy (DDSL) on site wherever possible. Details of contacts are listed on websites. If a D/DDSL is unavailable, schools contact the Trust Safeguarding Lead.

 

Peer-on-peer abuse

We continue to follow the principles set out in part 5 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ when managing reports and supporting victims of peer-on-peer abuse.

Staff should continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – about both children attending school and those at home.

Investigations will be carried out in-line with trust procedure wherever possible. Should this not be possible, support will be gained from the Trust Safeguarding Lead and support gained for victims.

 

Concerns about a staff member, supply teacher or volunteer

We continue to follow the principles set out in part 4 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Staff continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – whether those concerns are about staff/supply teachers/volunteers working on site or remotely.

Trust procedures remain in place in raising concerns and the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) will be involved in such incidents. We continue to refer adults who have harmed or pose a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We continue to refer potential cases of teacher misconduct to the Teaching Regulation Agency. We will do this using the email address Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk for the duration of the COVID-19 period, in line with government guidance.


Online Safety

We continue to have appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place in school and continue to use our technical support team to provide support 24/7.

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.

Online teaching should follow the same principles as set out in our staff code of conduct and online safety policy.

Our schools will ensure any use of online learning tools and systems is in line with privacy and data protection/GDPR requirements.

 

Mental Health

If any pupil, parent or carer has concerns about mental health and wellbeing, they should contact  the school.

Staff and volunteers will be aware of the possible effects that this period may have on pupils’ mental health. They will look out for behavioural signs, including pupils being fearful, withdrawn, aggressive, oppositional, or excessively clingy, to help identify where support may be needed.

School will continue to provide support wherever possible (TIS, draw and talk, lego therapy etc) and refer to external agencies (Headstart, Dreadnought, CAHMs etc). At times, these may need to take place over the phone or virtually, depending on the given circumstances at that time. Wherever possible, support will be given face-to-face.

We also signpost all pupils, parents/carers and staff to other resources to support good mental health at this time.

Staff and volunteers will be alert to mental health concerns in children who are at home and at school, and act on these immediately.

 

Supporting children not in school as they are following clinical or public health advice related to coronavirus (COVID-19

Bridge Schools Trust is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all its Children and Young people.

 

Where the DSL has identified a child to be on the edge of social care support, or who would normally receive pastoral-type support in school, they should ensure that a robust communication plan is in place for that child or young person. Details of this plan must be recorded on My Concern, as should a record of contact have made. The communication plans can include remote contact, phone contact, door-step visits. Other individualised contact methods should be considered and recorded. The school and its DSL will work closely with all stakeholders to maximise the effectiveness of any communication plan. This plan must be reviewed regularly and where concerns arise, the DSL will consider any referrals as appropriate.

We recognise that school is a protective factor for children and young people, and the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of pupils and their parents/carers.

 

Supporting children in school

Bridge Schools Trust is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all its students.

Our schools will continue to be a safe space for all children to attend and flourish.

We will refer to the Government guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing[4] and continue to follow the advice from Public Health England on handwashing and other measures to limit the risk of spread of COVID-19.

We will ensure that where we care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children on site, we ensure appropriate support is in place for them. This will be bespoke to each child and recorded on My Concern

Our schools will ensure that appropriate support is offered to all students with respect to their mental health.

 

Elective Home Education (EHE)

Bridge Schools Trust will encourage parents to send their children to school, particularly those who are vulnerable.

Where an application is made, schools will consider whether a parent’s decision to educate at home gives greater cause for concern compared to remaining in school.

Where we feel that there is additional cause for concern the Designated Safeguarding Lead will then consider making a referral to the local authority in line with existing procedures. This will happen as soon as the school becomes aware of a parent’s intention, or decision, to home educate.

We will work with local authorities and, where possible, coordinate meetings with parents to seek to ensure EHE is being provided in the best interests of the child.

If a parent wants to admit their child to school, we will follow our normal processes for in-year admissions applications.

 

Contingency planning

Bridge Schools Trust will ensure that for individuals or groups of self-isolating pupils and pupils who are shielding, we follow government guidance related to coronavirus (COVID-19), remote education plans. We will continue to operate as normally as possible. In the event that restrictions in schools are needed to help contain the spread of the virus, we will refer to the contingency framework[5], which has been updated and outlines how schools should operate in the event of any restrictions.

 

Support from the Trust

The Trust Safeguarding Lead will provide support and guidance as appropriate to enable the DSL to carry out their role effectively.

This includes, remotely accessing Child Protection files for the purpose of quality assurance, support, guidance and direction.

The Trust Safeguarding Lead will ensure that as children return to give Designated Safeguarding Leads and their deputies more support to:

       support staff and pupils with new safeguarding and welfare concerns

       handle referrals to children’s social care and other agencies where appropriate


Staff and volunteer recruitment

We continue to recognise the importance of robust safer recruitment procedures, so that staff and volunteers who work in our school are safe to work with children.

We continue to follow our safer recruitment procedures, and part 3 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. When carrying out DBS checks and right to work checks, we follow the latest guidance from the DBS, Home Office and Immigration Enforcement as appropriate (for example, with regards to the process for verifying documents). We will inform candidates about the intended process as soon as reasonably practicable.

We continue to do our usual checks on new volunteers, and do risk assessments to decide whether volunteers who aren’t in regulated activity should have an enhanced DBS check, in accordance with paragraphs 183-188 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’.

 

Safeguarding training and induction

We make sure staff and volunteers are aware of changes to our procedures and local arrangements.

New staff and volunteers will continue to receive a safeguarding induction in line with the expectations of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. Termly safeguarding training updates continue for all staff including additional sessions for D/DDSLs (including supervision).

 

Monitoring arrangements

This addendum will be reviewed as guidance from our local safeguarding partners or the Department for Education is updated, and as a minimum half termly, by the Trust Safeguarding Lead. At every review, it will be approved by the Board of Trustees.

 

Links with other policies

Safeguarding and Child Protection policy

Staff code of conduct policy

Health and safety policy

Online safety policy

Behaviour policy

Anti-bullying policy

Whistleblowing policy

Home/school agreement




COVID-19 Safeguarding update - January 2021

This addendum applies from the start of the Spring Term 2021 during the National Lockdown. It reflects the latest advice from the DfE and our local safeguarding partners. We will continue to update this addendum where necessary, to reflect any updated guidance locally and/or Nationally.

The considerations below are to be used alongside the standing policy, health and safety measures, checklists and risk assessments which are updated appropriately. This information was disseminated to all Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs), Heads, Staff, Governors, Trustees and wider communities during W/C 18/01/21. Unless covered here, our normal child protection and safeguarding policy continues to apply.

In this addendum, where we refer to measures to protect pupils who are at home, this means those who are learning at home for reasons to do with coronavirus – for example, due to the attendance restrictions during national lockdown, or if they need to self-isolate when they would otherwise still be attending.

Where we refer to vulnerable children, this means those who are categorised by the DfE’s list of vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings. Eligibility for free school meals is not necessarily a determining factor in assessing vulnerability.

Senior leaders know who our most vulnerable children are. They have the flexibility to offer a place to those on the edge of receiving children’s social care support.

We 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.

Core Safeguarding Principles

We follow the statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education.

We always have regard for these important safeguarding principles:

• The best interests of children must come first
• If anyone has a safeguarding concern about any child, they should act on it immediately
• A Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or Deputy (DDSL) will be available at all times
• It’s essential that unsuitable people don’t enter the school workforce or gain access to children
• Children should continue to be protected when they are online

Reporting Concerns

All staff and volunteers continue to act on any concerns they have about a child immediately. It is still vitally important to do this, both for children at school and those at home.

All staff continue to work with and support children’s social workers, where they have one, to help protect vulnerable children.

D/DSL arrangements

We have a trained DSL or Deputy (DDSL) on site wherever possible. Details of contacts are listed on websites. If a D/DDSL is unavailable, schools contact the Trust Safeguarding Lead.

Monitoring attendance

We continue to take our attendance register. We will follow guidance from the Department for Education on how to record attendance (including for pupils learning remotely) and what data to submit.

During the National lockdown, only vulnerable children and children of critical workers will attend school in person. Where any child we expect to attend school doesn’t attend, or stops attending, we will:
• Follow up on their absence with their parents or carers, following all guidance nationally and clarifying where appropriate with our local Educational Welfare Officer.
• Notify their social worker, where they have one.

Peer-on-peer abuse

We continue to follow the principles set out in part 5 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ when managing reports and supporting victims of peer-on-peer abuse.

Staff should continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – about both children attending school and those at home.

Investigations will be carried out in-line with trust procedure wherever possible. Should this not be possible, support will be gained from the Trust Safeguarding Lead and support gained for victims.

Concerns about a staff member, supply teacher or volunteer

We continue to follow the principles set out in part 4 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Staff continue to act on any concerns they have immediately – whether those concerns are about staff/supply teachers/volunteers working on site or remotely.

Trust procedures remain in place in raising concerns and the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) will be involved in such incidents. We continue to refer adults who have harmed or pose a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We continue to refer potential cases of teacher misconduct to the Teaching Regulation Agency. We will do this using the email address Misconduct.Teacher@education.gov.uk for the duration of the COVID-19 period, in line with government guidance.

Risk Assessments

We have risk assessments for children with a social worker, and other children who we have safeguarding concerns about, for circumstances where the child is at home. These are verified by our Area Executive Headteachers.

Each child has an individual plan, which sets out:

• How often the school will make contact and the frequency of this
• Which staff member(s) will make contact – as far as possible, this will be staff who know the family well
• How staff will make contact – this will be over the phone, TEAMs/text/email doorstep visits, or a combination of all
• Reasons for vulnerability and potential risk rating

We have agreed these plans with children’s social care where relevant, and will review them regularly.

If we can’t make contact, we triage the situation with our Trust Safeguarding Lead and involve other professional agencies which may include the Educational Welfare Officer, Social Care Teams, School Nursing Team, MARU, The Police.

Safeguarding all children

Staff and volunteers are aware that this difficult time potentially puts all children at greater risk.

Staff and volunteers continue to be alert to any signs of abuse, or effects on pupils’ mental health that are also safeguarding concerns. They act on concerns immediately in line with the Trust procedures.

Our schools maintain contact with children who are at home. Staff will try to speak directly to children at home to help identify any concerns. They will use school phones and devices to make calls home.

Staff and volunteers will look out for signs like:

• Not completing assigned work or logging on to school systems
• No contact from children or families
• Seeming more withdrawn during any class check-ins or video calls

Online Safety

We continue to have appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place in school and continue to use our technical support team to provide support 24/7.

Where staff are interacting with children online, they continue to follow our existing staff code of conduct and online safety policy.

Further clarification over online safety was provided to parents/carers on 18/01/21, where lessons learned so far from remote learning were communicated. The  outcome from this is detailed in the Trust Newsletter available in 'Documents' below.

Staff continue to be alert to signs that a child may be at risk of harm online, and act on any concerns immediately, following our reporting procedures.

We make sure children know how to report any concerns they have back to our school, and signpost them to other sources of support too.

We make sure parents and carers:

• Are aware of the potential risks to children online and the importance of staying safe online
• Know what our school is asking children to do online, where relevant, including what sites they will be using and who they will be interacting with from our school
• Are aware that they should only use reputable online companies or tutors if they wish to supplement the teaching and resources our school provides
• Know where else they can go for support to keep their children safe online

This is communicated via school newsletters/blogs and emails.

Mental Health

If any pupil, parent or carer has concerns about mental health and wellbeing, they should contact the school.

Staff and volunteers will be aware of the possible effects that this period may have on pupils’ mental health. They will look out for behavioural signs, including pupils being fearful, withdrawn, aggressive, oppositional, or excessively clingy, to help identify where support may be needed.

School will continue to provide support wherever possible (TIS, draw and talk, lego therapy etc) and refer to external agencies (Headstart, Dreadnought, CAHMs etc). At times, these may need to take place over the phone or virtually, depending on the given circumstances at that time. Wherever possible, support will be given face-to-face.

We also signpost all pupils, parents/carers and staff to other resources to support good mental health at this time.

When setting expectations for pupils learning remotely and not attending school, teachers do bear in mind the potential impact of the current situation on both children’s and adults’ mental health.

Staff and volunteers will be alert to mental health concerns in children who are at home, and act on these immediately.

Staff and volunteer recruitment

We continue to recognise the importance of robust safer recruitment procedures, so that staff and volunteers who work in our school are safe to work with children.

We continue to follow our safer recruitment procedures, and part 3 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. When carrying out DBS checks and right to work checks, we follow the latest guidance from the DBS, Home Office and Immigration Enforcement as appropriate (for example, with regards to the process for verifying documents). We will inform candidates about the intended process as soon as reasonably practicable.

We continue to do our usual checks on new volunteers, and do risk assessments to decide whether volunteers who aren’t in regulated activity should have an enhanced DBS check, in accordance with paragraphs 183-188 of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’.

Safeguarding training and induction

We make sure staff and volunteers are aware of changes to our procedures and local arrangements.

New staff and volunteers will continue to receive a safeguarding induction in line with the expectations of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. Termly safeguarding training updates continue for all staff including additional sessions for D/DDSLs (including supervision).

Monitoring arrangements

This policy will be reviewed as guidance from our local safeguarding partners or the Department for Education is updated, and as a minimum half termly, by the Trust Safeguarding Lead. At every review, it will be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Links with other policies:

Safeguarding and Child Protection policy
Staff code of conduct policy
Health and safety policy
Online safety policy
Behaviour policy
Anti-bullying policy
Whistleblowing policy
Home/school agreement (attached below)

School specific policies are available at this link School Policies and whole Trust policies are available at this link Trust Policies.

Documents

View the following documents within your web browser or download to read later

Communication to parents and carers Spring Term 180121 Final.pdf
Communication to parents and carers Spring Term 180121 Final.pdf
Home-School Agreement.pdf
Home-School Agreement.pdf

 

 

 

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