1.1 The health, safety and welfare of all children (defined as those under 18 years) are of paramount importance to all the adults who work in the school. The children have the right to protection, regardless of age, gender, race, culture or disability. They have a right to be safe in the school.
1.2 Child abuse takes a variety of forms and can be undertaken by adults or children:
· Physical abuse involves the hitting, shaking or other treatment of a child that can cause actual bodily harm.
· Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child into sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware what is happening. This includes non-contact situations, such as showing children pornography.
· Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of children, such as frightening them, or putting them in positions of danger. It is also an abuse to convey to children the feeling that they are worthless or unloved.
· Children are abused also if they are neglected. This could involve failure to provide proper food and warmth, but it might also be failure to see to the emotional well being of the child.
1.3 We recognise that abuse and neglect can result in underachievement. We strive to ensure that all the children make good educational progress. The atmosphere within the school is one that encourages all children to do their best. We provide opportunities that enable the children to take and make decisions for themselves.
1.4 From an appropriate age, the teaching of personal, social and health education helps to develop appropriate attitudes in the children, and makes them aware of the impact of their decisions on others. We also teach them how to recognise different risks in different situations, and how to behave in response to them.
1.5 The wellbeing of young adults (defined as those over 18 years) is also important to the school management and the principles of this policy will be applied to them equally, with additional appropriate levels of consideration. For example they students may be married, not be living at home and have their own families and parental contact on these matters would not be normal.
2 Aims and objectives
2.1 The aims are:
• to provide a safe environment for children to learn in;
• to establish what actions the school can take to ensure that children remain safe, at home as well as at school;
• to raise the awareness of all staff to these issues, and to define their roles and responsibilities in reporting possible cases of abuse;
• to identify children who are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm;
• to ensure effective communication between all staff on child protection issues;
• to set down the correct procedures for those who encounter any issue of child protection.
3 Staff responsibilities
3.1 It is the responsibility of the Education Director to ensure the following:
• that appropriate policies and procedures are adopted to safeguard children in the school;
• that appropriate training and familiarisation of this policy is implemented to all involved;
• that these policies are implemented by all staff;
• that sufficient resources and time are allocated for staff to carry out their responsibilities effectively;
• that all staff and adult helpers in the school are able to voice their concern if they feel that a child is vulnerable, or that there are any particular practices that are unsafe.
3.2 There is a named person designated as the Child Protection Coordinator (Mr Ali Bah). The coordinator is guided by two principles:
• The welfare of the child is always paramount.
• Confidentiality should be respected as far as possible.
3.3 All staff have a responsibility to report to the Child Protection Coordinator any concern they have about the safety of any child in their care. In the absence of the Child Protection Coordinator, concerns must be shared with Mrs Fatou Cham. In the unlikely event that all Senior Staff are out of school and unobtainable and it is felt that the child is in danger then the class teacher will seek advice from the Centre Director.
4 Employment and recruitment
4.1 We will do all we can to ensure that all those working with children in the school are suitable people. This involves scrutinizing local recruits for teaching and other posts and any volunteers who are likely to work with individual children, verifying their identity and obtaining references, as well as the mandatory Police checks (in The Gambia) or Basic Disclosure or Level 1 check as part of the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS in UK).
5 Procedure to be followed if an adult has concerns about a child
5.1 Any action taken by the named Child Protection Coordinator when dealing with an issue of child protection must be in accordance with the Gambian Law as described in the Children’s Act 2005.
5.2 All adults in the school share responsibility for keeping the children safe. We may on occasion report concerns that, on investigation, prove unfounded.
5.3 Abuse in School
Bullying of one child by one or more other children in school is considered as abuse and staff should act to prevent this. Hitting or fighting is to be treated in a similar way. It may be necessary to inform parents of both the victim and the guilty children, but normal appropriate school discipline measures should be adequate to prevent further incidents.
Serious or repeated events, or any abuse involving an adult, must be reported to the Child Protection Co-ordinator who may escalate this to the school management team as appropriate.
5.4 Abuse outside of School
If teachers suspect that a child in their class may be a victim of abuse, they should not try to investigate, but should immediately inform the Child Protection Coordinator about their concerns. Abuse can be of a physical, sexual or emotional nature. It can also be the result of neglect. Staff must not keep to themselves any information about abuse that a child gives them; they are required by law to pass this information on. An allegation made by any child of abuse at home will be treated in a similar way.
5.5 Provided the Child Protection Coordinator has good evidence and confidence that there may be grounds of the teacher’s suspicions then a referral to the Police or Department of Social of Welfare will be made, normally without first informing parents. This action may have significant impact on the parents; school and the community at large so must be discussed and agreed firstly with the Sunrise Centre Director and Charity Trustees.
5.6 If a referral is made, Staff are required to attend and participate in any case conferences and meetings held.
6 Physical restraint
6.1 There may be times when adults, in the course of their school duties, have to intervene physically in order to restrain children and prevent them from coming to harm. Such intervention will always be the minimum necessary to resolve the situation. The Education Director will require the adult(s) involved in any such incident to report the matter to him or her immediately, and to record the matter in writing.
7 Allegations against staff
7.1 If an allegation is made against a member of the school staff (or a volunteer helper), it will always be investigated by the Education Director or Centre Director (if appropriate), or, in the case of the allegation being against the Centre Director, by the one of the other Charity Trustees. If it is felt, after these initial investigations, that a further enquiry is needed, then the member of staff will be suspended. Suspension is a neutral act, and in no way implies that the person is guilty of any wrongdoing. However, it is acknowledged that this would be distressing for the person concerned, and the school will do all it can to balance the interests of any individual with that of the need to keep children safe. The school will seek advice from the Authority on these matters, and comply with national and locally agreed guidance.
8 Staff training
8.1 All staff in the school receive regular training to raise their awareness of abuse, and to improve their knowledge of the child protection procedures that have been agreed locally. The maximum period before refresher training must take place is three years.
9.1 We regard all information relating to individual child protection issues as confidential, and we treat it accordingly. We pass information on to appropriate persons only.
9.2 The files we keep on children are open to those children's parents. Information from third parties will not be disclosed without their prior consent. Access to these files may be withheld in certain prescribed cases where there are instances of actual or alleged abuse. Working notes are not subject to disclosure, but will be summarised and then kept on file. These guidelines are in line with the safeguards on disclosure of information.
10 Monitoring and review
10.1 The Trustees will ensure that the school has a senior member of staff designated to take lead responsibility for dealing with child protection issues. Trustees will regularly monitor and review any incidents detailed in the interventions book.