Safeguarding Students at The Polesworth School
I wanted to take this opportunity to draw attention to our child protection and safeguarding arrangements. This is one of my key areas of responsibility and one which I take very seriously. Indeed, as a school we recognise that while our primary aim is to help our students achieve to the very best of their ability, sometimes circumstances, either inside or outside of school, can affect their health and happiness, making it increasingly difficult for them to gain the most from their school experience. In rare cases, students may be considered to be at risk of serious harm and on these occasions the school is obliged to intervene.
Our Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy, which is available to download from our website, outlines our aims of providing a safe, secure environment for our students and of ensuring our students know that there are adults in school who are there to help them if they are worried about their safety or the safety of others.
In order to meet these aims we have a number of staff who are designated safeguarding leads. These are the key members of staff who students, parents, other staff members or anyone in the community can turn to if they have a safeguarding concern about one of our students. Each of these individuals have received full training on how to deal with Child Protection concerns and will liaise closely with the student and their families, to deal with emerging issues sensitively and confidentially. Those members of staff can be found here.
Sometimes it is necessary to refer a case to Children’s Social Care, if we feel that a student is at risk of serious harm. On these rare occasions, we follow the Local Authority guidelines on how to make a referral. This process is outlined in more detail on the Warwickshire Safeguarding Adults and Children’s Board website at www.safeguardingwarwickshire.co.uk. Throughout the entire process we work closely with the student, their family and Children’s Social Care to help resolve the issues of concern.
In my recent assembly to all year groups I addressed two key themes that the government have recently highlighted as national areas of concern in terms of safeguarding children. The issues of peer on peer sexual harassment and sexual violence and understanding consent have both been in the news recently and I wanted to ensure that students have the knowledge and understanding about these issues to help keep themselves and their friends safe. As such, students were all reminded about the importance of respecting others and ensuring their comments and actions towards peers are appropriate. Students were reminded that the school has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and sexual violence among students and were reassured that any student experiencing this would be supported fully in reporting such behaviour. Sexually inappropriate behaviour will never be viewed as banter and will always be taken seriously by staff members. This topic and appropriate staff responses to it have also been addressed in staff training earlier in the school year.
However, it was the theme of ‘consent’ that perhaps resulted in the most post-assembly discussion and if your child has suddenly come home stating that they don’t have to drink the cup of tea you made them, which has since gone cold on the kitchen counter, then I’m afraid, I have to take full responsibility for that, having shown them the following YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ
I urge you to have a look at this clip to get a sense of one of the ways we are trying to encourage our students to consider the importance of consent. This is a particularly high profile topic, not just nationally but internationally at the moment and is one which is important for all students of all ages to take on board in order to keep themselves and others safe. While it may not be relevant to them currently, it will certainly be relevant in the future and ensuring that students know that they have a right to decide who makes physical contact with them is as important as students knowing that no means no.
My assemblies concluded with some reminders of what we do as a school to help our students to stay safe and went on to reiterate the support in place for them, should they find themselves in need. This included a reminder of our confidential email service firstname.lastname@example.org which is available for all students and through which we guarantee an email response within one working day of being contacted. I also reminded students of the list of useful support numbers which can be found in school planners if they want help out of school hours or from an external source.
Lastly, I highlighted the ‘Click CEOP’ report abuse button that can be accessed on the Home page of the school’s website for students to report online safety concerns directly via an email. Of course, it is our hope that our students will never need these services but I hope you will agree that it is crucial they are aware of them for if or when the need arises.
Miss K Downing
Deputy Headteacher and Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)