Child protection policy
The aim of this policy and the accompanying guidelines is to protect and maintain the welfare of all pupils at The British School of Amsterdam and to adhere to Dutch national procedures relating to child protection. In so doing we also ensure that members of staff at The British School of Amsterdam are protected and supported in the administration and application of the Child Protection Policy. All information and communication within the area of Child Protection must be treated with strict confidentiality.
Child Protection covers four main categories:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse (including Sexual exploitation)
1.1. The role of all school staff
Any member of staff who has a concern about a child’s welfare should follow the referral processes set out below.
All staff members should be aware of the systems within the school which support Child Protection and these will be explained to them as part of staff induction as well at the start of every school year. This will include this policy, the Safeguarding Policy, Staff Code of Conduct and the role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and deputy DSLs.
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, sharing information and taking prompt action.
On the basis of his or her knowledge and experience the professional bears a direct responsibility for the development and health and safety of the child with whom he or she comes into contact, either directly or indirectly, in the course of his or her profession.
In a case where child abuse (or neglect/concern related to child protection), has been identified, the professional bears the responsibility that the overall aim of reporting is to ensure that the abuse stops as quickly as possible.
The professional should be capable of identifying signs given by pupils and their environment as possible indications of child abuse. He or she is required to maintain his or her knowledge and expertise in this regard by means of independent study or further training and instruction.
1.2. Roles and responsibilities
For the purpose of this policy and within the language of child protection practice. The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) with responsibility for Child Protection is Helen Rigelsford (Child Protection Officer).
Each head of school and the Principal is a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead (DDSL) and their deputies will will take on this role in their absence (shown in brackets):
Early Years: Mrs Claudia van der Laar Newson (Mrs Linda Nagieh)
Infant School: Ms Lynn Welsh-Boucard (Miss Hannah Williams)
Junior School: Mr Stuart May (Miss Abi Byrne)
Senior School: Mrs Alison Mitchell (Mr Christian Nicolson)
The Supervisory Board member with responsibility for Safeguarding and Child Protection is Mrs Hiske van Hövell . (She is on the Education, Welfare and HR Working Group and will also carry out regular audit checks of the Single Central Register which is held with Human Resources.)
All personnel at The British School of Amsterdam (including visitors, volunteers and students on placement) are required to report instances of actual or suspected child abuse, including neglect, to either the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead (at the site at which they work) responsible for Child Protection.
Helen Rigelsford (DSL) is the focal point for staff that have child protection concerns and is the first point of contact for external agencies pursuing child protection investigations.
It is the responsibility of the DSL to decide on the action to be taken, including whether outside agencies/ Social Care Teams are contacted or a Melding made, and to oversee that a record is kept of the action taken by the School. The school is also able to seek advice from Edwin Herzberg, Qualified Provider of Child Protection Training (Trainer Inzake Kindermishandeling).
The School recognises its responsibility to attend Child Protection conferences with outside agencies.
1.3. What staff should look for
All members of staff should be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect so that they are able to identify cases of children who may be in need of help or protection. Types of abuse and neglect are annexed to this policy.
Members of staff working with children are advised to maintain an attitude of it can happen here where child protection is concerned. When concerned about the welfare of a child, a staff member should always act in the best interest of the child. Knowing what to look for is vital to the early identification of abuse and neglect.
Recognising abuse and neglect
Obvious non-accidental injuries, wounds or marks which are not consistent with the explanation given and incidents reported by the child or others must always be reported to the head of school immediately.
The following risk indicators may be significant in the light of other concerns and must always be discussed with the head of school. However, these factors should not be seen in isolation but must be considered within the context of your knowledge of the child and their family. They might indicate possible problems:
- Unusual tiredness, inadequate clothing, poor personal hygiene, changes in appetite, reluctance to change for PE
- Unexplained absence, persistent lateness, reluctance to go home
- Sudden behaviour/mood changes (acting out, bullying, hyper-activity, attention seeking)
- Being withdrawn, isolation from other children, regressing to the behaviour of a younger child, lack of concentration, signs of depression, obsessive behaviour, failure to seek comfort when hurt
- Low self esteem, self injury, unease or unusual behaviour with men/women, soiling, inappropriate sexualised play/drawings, the sexual harassment of other children
- Staff should report any incident of sexualised play to the relevant head of school, even if it seems to be part of the natural maturing process. It is important that HoS have all information about sexualised play in order that a full picture of frequency and type of play can be taken into account so that a full picture can be built of the child and his/her possible needs.
Things said by or about children
- That they have been beaten, hit with an implement, improbable/inconsistent explanations
- That they are “picked on” or treated differently from their siblings
- That they are worried about a friend
The carer/child relationship
- Constant negative comments about the child
- The parent/carer hitting the child publicly or the child’s apparent fear of the carer
- Persistent failure to collect the child
- Sudden changes in the parental attitude towards staff
- The child assuming responsibility for the adult
- Alcohol or substance abuse by the parent/carer.
Points to consider
- Children from all cultures are potentially subject to abuse and neglect. Cultural factors neither explain nor condone children being placed at risk of significant harm – the needs of the child as an individual must be the basis for investigation.
- Children with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities are statistically at a greater risk of abuse because they often have a greater physical dependency upon adult, or they may have less social contacts beyond their families and may not have the capacity to verbalise their worries and concerns. These children are also at greater risk of being left out or bullied and may need more access to mentoring and support.
- Staff must be sensitive to the needs and vulnerability of children whose names are already subject to Child Protection Plans and those who are Looked After in Public Care.
- Advice from the Department of Education for the UK, What to do if you are worried a child is being abused – advice for practitioners, provides more information and understanding and ways of identifying abuse and neglect. Examples of potential signs of abuse and neglect are highlighted throughout the advice and will be particularly helpful for staff. Staff should also refer to Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019 (Annex A). The NSPCC (based in the UK and in English) and Veilig Thuis (based in the Netherlands) websites also provide useful additional information on the types of abuse and what to look out for.
If staff are unsure they should always speak to a the Principal or a head of school.
2. Child protection procedure
2.1. What to do if you suspect abuse
Whenever a member of staff suspects abuse, or a child volunteers information, they must:
- Seek information tactfully and carefully, listen, take notes of the discussion immediately afterwards and ACT QUICKLY.
- Not promise the child that they can keep the information confidential
- Inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)or a Deputy DSL
- Be discreet
Concerns are always shared, however minor.
2.2. How to report concerns
If a member of staff is concerned about an incident, however minor, it is recorded on the school’s Child Protection Concern Form (White Form, available in each staffroom CP folder). Record as much detail as possible on the blue form, recounting exactly what was said or seen, what you said and the background to the concern.
The form must be signed and dated and then handed to the Designated Lead or Deputy Designated Lead as soon as possible who then signs and retains in a centralised, secure file.
2.3 What happens next - consultation
The Designated Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Designated Designated Lead decides what happens next. The DSL/DDSL will meet with the member of staff to consult and establish:
- whether the signs observed are recognised by others
- whether others have observed additional signs
- whether the signs observed have also led others to suspect child abuse
- which subsequent steps need to be taken
The Designated Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead will also decide how to allocate duties and responsibilities with regard to the steps to be taken.
The DSL or DDSL normally speaks to the parent/carer before making a formal referral but, if she believes this might place the child or a member of staff at immediate risk, she will not alert the parent/carer. Staff raising concerns about a child will be told what has happened as a result of their report.
The DSL/DDSL responsible for child protection and who has been involved in the consulting procedure will make a written record of the consultation and is then legally obliged to follow the Dutch Meldcode. It is important to note that under the Dutch Meldcode, a child/minor being witness to domestic violence is considered abuse in itself as it causes significant harm to the child/minor.
2.4 Care Team meeting
Following Consultation, the DSL/DDSL will share concerns with the school Care Team to decide on further action. Note: within the BSA – under Care Team we understand the Principal (DSL), the Head of School (DDSL), the CPO (nb NOT the LSCo) and any therapists involved with the child. On occasion other relevant members of staff (for example the class teacher) may also be included on the care team
2.5 Speaking to parents and outside agencies
The Care Team will decide who will speak to parents (usually the DL and/ or Head of School).
After speaking to the parents, the DL/DDL will decide whether to complete a Melding to Velig Thuis (VT) or whether to make a formal referral to a Therapist, the School Doctor, the OKA or another relevant outside agency.
Note: The possibility to make a report to VT without first having conducted a conversation with the parent/guardian is only possible when:
- The safety of the child, the parents/carers, yourself or any other individual is threatened
- If you have good reason to believe that the parent will break contact with you upon hearing the information
The Care team will decide which member of staff (usually the Head of School (DDL)) will coordinate the ongoing care, including communicating the outcome of the referral to the parents and the class teacher. All communications and meeting notes will be kept on the Child Protection File.
If at any point it becomes apparent that the suggested referrals are not having an impact, the Care team will instigate a melding to VT for further support.
(See translation of Dutch Meldcode below (5) for details of the basis for this procedure)
2.7 Instances where children are at risk of abuse by other children
The school recognises that children may be at risk from peer-on-peer abuse. In these circumstances, the procedure will remain the same as above, except that the parents of both children should be involved, and advice sought from VT if the Care team decide that there is a likelihood that the abuse is actual. The school will use its pastoral system to ensure that both children are supported and that staff are supported in dealing with the situation. This may also lead to a review of the school’s safeguarding procedures. Peer on peer abuse can involve bullying, sexting, sexual violence, sexual harassment, initiation ceremonies.
2.8 Strategic opportunities for staff to raise concerns
As well as the duty on all staff to report any concerns of child abuse, the school will regularly table the discussion of Child Protection at Management Meetings and within CPD and Supervision Meetings (see CPD policy). If in doubt, please consult the Designated Lead/ Deputy Lead for advice.
2.9 Allegations against staff
In the event that an allegation of child abuse is made against a member of staff/volunteer, in the interest of both parties the named person may be suspended on full pay until the allegation has been fully investigated by members of the Management Team and or the member of the Supervisory Board/ and all other relevant parties and the allegation is either proven or disproven.
The amended Youth Services Act (Wet of Jeugdhulpverlening) stipulates that professionals have an obligation to report child abuse committed by others who work in the same organisation. Upon receiving such a report, the management of the organisation is obliged to inform either the police or Veilig Thuis immediately to ask them for advice. In a case where a member of staff/professional is thought to be guilty of child abuse the step plan does not apply.
Information concerning individual children and/or families must only be divulged to those who are lawfully entitled to this. Staff are required to speak to the DSL and be aware of the danger of placing a child or colleague at risk.
All records pertaining to Child Protection should be written accurately, signed and dated, using the school’s White Forms and File Note template, and stored securely in the Head of School’s Office. Copies of the white forms should not be made. In the case of children moving from the school these must be sent under separate cover to the receiving school, in which case one copy only may be made of the white form. The original is kept at the school.
Data Protection: The child’s parents should be informed of the information we are collecting and processing as far as possible, unless there is a real concern that a child may be at risk from greater harm by informing a parent/carer. In the case where a parent cannot be informed, the school will ensure that the reasons for this are noted on the records.
2.11. Staff training
All staff will receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training at least once per year the start of every year to provide them with the relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively. In addition staff members will receive safeguarding and child protection updates, as required.
All staff should be aware of the early help process and understand their role in it. This includes identifying emerging problems, liaising with the DSL or the relevant deputy DSL, sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment and, in some cases, acting as the lead professional in undertaking an early help assessment.
All staff should know what to do if a child tells them he/she is being abused or neglected. Staff should know how to manage the requirement to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality whilst at the same time liaising with the relevant professionals such as the DSL or the relevant deputy DSL. Staff should never promise a child that they will not tell anyone about the allegation – as this may ultimately not be in the best interest of the child.
Staff will take part in annual refresher sessions so that everyone is ware of the guidelines and procedures within this policy, and any updates. Outside providers who work within the school (Peripatetic music teachers, club providers and enrichment providers) will also be counted as staff in the training cycle.
All staff will be provided with the opportunity to read Stage 1 and Annex A of the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Guidelines that have been republished in May 2018, and will understand what is meant by peer on peer abuse.
The school's induction scheme for new members of staff includes information about the Child Protection Policy, The Safeguarding Policy, The Behaviour Policy, and the Attendance Policy.
Specific training to cover an emerging need or crisis will also be given.
3. What staff should do if they have concerns about safeguarding/CP practices within the school
All staff and volunteers should feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice and potential failures in the school’s safeguarding regime and that such concerns will be taken seriously by the Management Team.
Appropriate whistleblowing procedures, which can be found in the staff handbook, are in place for such concerns to be raised with the Management Team.
4. Flow chart of actions
5. The step plan within the Dutch Meldcode (reporting practice)
Step 1: Noticing signs of child abuse / neglect / or the witnessing domestic violence by a minor
Noticing difficulties in the development of a child, and discussing these with parents/guardians is an important aspect of the professionalism of all teachers and managers. This professionalism is expected in every contact with a child/minor and his/her parents/guardians. When attention is given to signals of child abuse/neglect/domestic violence this is often accompanied by a feeling that ‘something is not quite right’ beforehand. The observed signals, as well as any further information provided by parents, form the basis of any further action.
Step 2: Collegiate discussion / consultation
The teacher or member of staff who first noticed the signs of child abuse/neglect/domestic violence will first discuss these with relevant colleagues, the learning support coordinator or the member of management responsible for child protection (the head of site or in his/her absence, the deputy head of site). Relevant colleagues (other than management member or learning support coordinator) might be the child’s preceding teacher, or the teachers of any siblings. If necessary the learning support coordinator (in consultation with a member of management) can seek contact with the school doctor, other relevant outside agencies or they can choose to seek anonymous advice from Veilig Thuis (VT) the advice and reporting centre for child abuse/neglect/domestic violence.
Steps 3 and 4: Risk assessment regarding the (possible) abuse / neglect / domestic violence taking place and working with Multidisciplinary Agencies
This step is to consider the signs, the information gathered from colleagues and the child, the information from any conversation with parents, with Care Team for the school. The nature and severity of the signs and the risk of (further) child abuse/neglect/domestic violence are considered within the Care Team. The expertise of the various parties present is combined to be of greatest effect. From this discussion a fitting course of action is agreed and carried out, having at its heart, the support of the child, the parents/guardians and the class teacher and the aim that any abuse must stop as soon as possible.
Step 5: Decisions: Offering Support, and case specific advice for the class teacher
The Care Team organises the necessary help and referrals for parents/guardians/minor and gives case specific advice to the class teacher. In addition there is discussion about whether an official ‘melding’ (report) is to be made to VT and by whom. If a ‘melding’ (report) is made, VT will discuss what the care team should do following it, within the possibilities of what can be offered in order to protect the child/family members from (the risk of) child abuse/neglect/domestic violence. Within the care team an agreement is reached as to who will inform the parents of the outcome of the discussion and, if relevant, the ‘melding’ (report) to VT.
Note: The possibility to make a report to VT without first having conducted a conversation with the parent/guardian is only possible when:
· The safety of the child, the parents/carers, yourself or any other individual is threatened
· If you have good reason to believe that the client will break contact with you upon hearing the information
Step 6: Follow up
When the Care Team has offered support/referrals to the family, they also discuss within the team who is going to be responsible for coordinating the care moving forwards. The care team follows the effects of the support/referrals offered, and adjusts this as necessary. If it becomes apparent that it is still necessary, make a ‘melding’ (report) to VT if the child abuse/neglect/domestic violence is ongoing or starts again. Finally, after care is offered to the family/members of staff involved and an evaluation is made by the Care Team of how the case was handled. (Stappenplan translated by Helen Rigelsford November 2012)
Types of abuse and neglect
All staff 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.
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 another child or children (peer-on-peer abuse)
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.
It is now a must (compulsory) that all staff read Part 1 and Annex A (including Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between children in Schools) the link to which can be found here.
Date of last review: June 2019
|Date of next review: June 2020|
This conforms to Standard of the UK Government’s British Overseas School Standard 3 and 4, regarding welfare, health and safety and the suitability of proprietor and staff