The following guidelines are not intended to cover every possible scenario, but to provide a basic framework which should be followed in conjunction with guidance from the teachers with whom you work with.
If you witness an incident that you feel may involve a child protection issue you should report this to the School’s Child Protection Officer and the school will deal with the matter.
If a child discloses something to you, you must pass it on to the school’s Child Protection Officer immediately. Never promise confidentiality to a child, you will have to break that promise, as you have a duty to report your concerns.
It’s important therefore that you tell the child that you will need to tell some people, but only those whose job it is to protect children. Do not investigate, interrogate or decide if the child is telling the truth, just concentrate on listening and passing on the information.
A key part of safeguarding children is to ensure you pay attention to your own safety and ways in which you can ensure that you are not the subject of false allegations of abuse. Adhering to these guidelines is an important way of protecting yourself. Some of the ways that you can avoid finding yourself in such difficult situations include:
- Ensure that your web presence does not contain any inappropriate material either about yourself or about the school. Take care to ensure that social networking sites are secure and do not contain information about you that could compromise you with your pupils.
- Do not use school networks to access any ‘adult’ sites or indeed for any personal use. They should be used to check your university email account and for lesson preparation and related research.
- Do not under any circumstances, however well intentioned, lend your own personal computer equipment to pupils to use. This applies even within a lesson and under supervision.
- If you take your own computer/laptop into school ensure that it does not contain any ‘adult’ material and that all files are password protected. In the event of theft, it is important to safeguard pupil data. Please make sure that you follow the school’s policy on this.
- If you have to take your mobile phone to school please ensure that it is ‘locked’ and on silent at all times. Ensure that it does not contain any ‘adult’ material and that your ringtone (although on silent) is neutral.
- Please ensure that you are familiar with and implement school policy regarding videoing/recording/ photographing/emailing students.
- Be thoughtful about the attire you wear to school (i.e. be particularly careful of slogans or clothes that are overly revealing). Ensure your dress is formal for the first visit, and then follow the conventions of the school after that.
- Ensure that you respect people’s personal space.
- Ensure that your eye contact is appropriate.
- Be careful regarding ‘leaning over’ someone. Care should be taken not only to ensure their personal space but also to protect yourself from touching them or ‘looking down their blouse’ etc.
- Talk with the school about their guidelines on physical contact (whether teachers should ever initiate such contact and if so, in what circumstances and how; also how you should respond if a pupil initiates contact).
On your first visit to a school you should be told about health and safety and fire drill procedures. It is important to make sure you are clear about them and where to find additional information if necessary. Please make sure that you report any accidents immediately, however minor they might appear. If you visit another school, even if only for a short time, please make sure that you know about their health and safety procedures and you report any accidents there immediately.
You should not be left alone with a pupil, pupils or a class at any time. If this happens please inform your contact at the school.