The media is full of coverage of the coronavirus but be assured the Trust has developed a contingency plan for schools in line with DFE guidelines. I will keep you updated on any developments that will affect our school, in the meantime school is running as normal. Thank you for your support as we work in the best interests of all pupils.
Our Commitment to Keeping Your Child Safe
This page is all about safeguarding our children – keeping them safe in every way within our community, and helping them to learn about how they can keep themselves safe.
Pupils concerns are listened to at this school and taken seriously.
As well as educating the children in our care, the staff and governors of St Joseph’s take the safeguarding and well-being of all of its pupils seriously, and ensure systems are in place to support this.
The children are encouraged to speak to staff if they have anything that is upsetting them either at school, at home or elsewhere. The children are listened to in a sensitive and encouraging manner, and any emerging issues are dealt with appropriately. ‘Worry monsters’ are also located around school.
The school has a robust School Recruitment and Selection Policy which is followed. Appropriate staff and governors have undergone Safer Recruitment Training. References are scrutinised so that relevant questions can be asked at all interviews and appointments are not made until any outstanding issues have been satisfied. People applying for jobs are made aware at the outset, that a fully enhanced police check will be undertaken before work can commence.
All of St Joseph’s staff, governors and volunteers have been CRB/DBS checked, and a record of this information is kept in school. We also ensure external bodies who have access to the school site have undertaken relevant checks with their staff.
We have a fully compliant Child Protection Policy which is reviewed annually. All staff receive Child Protection training regularly, and we have four ‘Designated Safeguarding Officers’ in school who oversee any child protection issues. Governors also receive an overview on the child protection procedures. We have a designated Safeguarding Governor who meets regularly with the Senior Leadership team, to ensure policies and processes are followed.
All staff and volunteers undergo a robust induction programme, which explains what code of conduct is acceptable when working with children and young people; child protection information and who to contact if they have any concerns; safety procedures of the school site. Induction is accompanied by direct supervision of all staff to ensure that codes are fully understood and followed as part of the contract whether paid or voluntary.
The school can only be accessed by the main entrance once the pupils are in school at 9.00 am. The external doors are all locked down and can only be opened from the inside. Visitors to school have to sign in/out and wear a visitor badge at all times. They are given a Visitors Information Leaflet which explains school security, child protection, use of mobile phones as well as other information useful to them. They will be escorted to where they need to be/who they need to meet within school. Any strangers on site will be challenged accordingly.
The safety and wellbeing of young people is our greatest priority. Our school is one of many in County Durham that will be taking part in a new project aimed at providing extra support to young people who are affected by or witness domestic abuse in their home lives.
Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for a young person. They can often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent’s injuries and distress afterwards, or be physically hurt themselves.
A new project, called Operation Encompass, aims to support children affected in any way by domestic abuse. The project is a joint initiative involving Durham County Council, Durham Police and schools across the county.
A major part of the project is the training of school staff, known as a ‘key adults’ in each school to liaise with police and work with the young people affected.
Starting from January 2017, following any serious domestic abuse incident being reported into Durham Police, specialist staff will identify which school that child attends, make contact with the school and communicate relevant and necessary information. This will ensure that the school is made aware at the earliest possible opportunity and they can subsequently provide support in a way that means the child feels safe and supported.
I believe our school’s involvement in this project demonstrates our commitment to providing the best possible care and support for our pupils.
Personal mobile phones are not allowed to be used by visitors on school premises other than the school office or staff room. If individuals are seen using their phone, they will be challenged and told to stop. Staff are also not allowed to use their mobile phones during the school day on site other than the school office or staff room. Please refer to the schools mobile phone policy.
Health and Safety audits are carried out on a regular basis to ensure the safety of the building. Action plans are put in place to address any emerging issues.
All staff are expected to be vigilant and report any concerns regarding adults in or around the school.
Our school actively engages with the Durham Local Safeguarding Board.
Managing complaints against staff
Local Authority Designated Officers (LADOs) have the responsibility of managing and overseeing allegations made against those who work or volunteer with children. If the allegation relates to the person in their personal life, for example, as a parent/relative/friend, a MASH referral should be made. However, if the allegation relates to their working/volunteering role, you should instead make a LADO referral or request LADO advice directly from the LADO Service. The contact details are:
Contact the Durham LADO here
Safeguarding Children Statement
At St Joseph’s the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our children is our highest priority. Parents and families send their children to our school each day, trusting us to provide a secure environment in which their children will flourish. We do everything we can to ensure that this expectation is a reality in our school.
In order to do this, a wide range of measures are put in place:
Health and Safety
The school has a health and safety policy, which is monitored each term by the relevant members of the school governing body.
We have regular H&S inspections and meetings to ensure we are compliant with all Health and Safety responsibilties. The Headteacher, School Business Manager, Caretaker and Governors with responsibility for Health and Safety oversee this comprehensive list.
Any concerns from staff are reported to any of the above and an initial examination takes place immediately, assessing what remedial action needs to take place. Our children are also encouraged to be involved with the Health and safety in school and report any concerns they may have.
On at least a termly basis, there is a fire drill to practice efficient evacuation from the buildings. The school conducts an annual Fire Risk Assessment and receives regular visits from the Fire Service and the Local Authority Fire Officers.
There is also an Emergency incident plan that details what staff and parents should do in the case of emergencies.
In addition to the Health and Safety Policy there are policies and risk assessments in place regarding Food and Drink and Food and Hygiene. These determine safe practices in school and the Kitchen/ Dining Room.
We have key trained members of staff, designated to oversee first aid and there are a number of first aid kits situated around school.
Where there is any cause for concern, staff deal with children with the utmost sensitivity and always seek guidance from a member of the school leadership team. Wherever necessary, parents will be contacted or asked to come into school immediately so that they are part of the decision making process for such matters.
In the case of an emergency, the school will call for emergency treatment first before contacting the parent.
St Joseph’s is a secure site with door access controls and visitor sign in systems. We have clear routines and procedures in place, but the site is only as secure as the people who use it and the whole school community has a responsibility to help us maintain security. Our children and parents are crucial to this process and we encourage you to report any concerns to the school office. All gates should be closed behind you.
Excellent attendance is expected of all children. However, in the event that a child is unwell parents are asked to report absence by 9.30 am on the first day using our main school number 01325 300337.
On occasions where a child’s attendance and punctuality causes concern, the school may work closely with the Local Authority’s Attendance officer. Attendance rates are reported each term to the LA, annually to the government, and to all parents. Positive systems are in place to encourage children to attend regularly and punctually, and the school is aware of its right to issue fixed penalties to parents who do not ensure good attendance and punctuality.
In exceptional circumstances, leave of absence may be requested in writing by submitting a letter to the head at least 30 days in advance, and explaining in detail what the exceptional circumstances are.
Appointment and induction of staff and work placements
All staff appointed to work in school have a criminal records search called a DBS check. This search highlights people who have a criminal record or if previous allegations have been made against them. If any member of staff is found to have a criminal record, the appointment is reconsidered by the school with support and advice from the Local Authority.
Several members of school staff and the school’s governing body have received training on Safer Recruitment and all appointment panels where the candidates are external applicants will be attended by at least one appropriately trained member.
Induction of volunteers
St Joseph’s has an extensive volunteer recruitment process which includes application and interview stages.
All volunteers must also have DBS clearance. For any extended contact with children, when children may be left alone with an adult, or when an adult visitor may be in and around the school building, a full DBS search will be conducted. Visitors who do not yet have clearance will under no circumstance be left alone with a child or group of children.
The designated adults for Child Protection/Safeguarding are Mrs Brown, Mrs Bernadette Rizzi-Allen and Mr Hunt and the designated governor is Mrs Wood.
There is a detailed Child Safeguarding Policy, which is available on our policies page.
It is the Governing Body’s duty to ensure the policy is reviewed annually and any deficiencies within the policy addressed immediately. Certain governors and all staff have had appropriate child protection training, which is updated at least every three years.
Physical restraint: This school follows advice that physical restraint may be used if there is the possibility that a child may be about to cause harm to him/ herself or to another. On no occasion will any form of physical contact be used as a punishment.
All allegations of abuse by or complaints of a teacher will be dealt with following clear procedures, initially by the Headteacher. For any complaints about the Headteacher the Chair of Governors should be contacted directly.
We work very closely with the Durham Safeguarding Children’s board. You can link to their website from here to find lots of valuable information.
The Design of the Curriculum
The curriculum deals with safeguarding in two key ways.
Firstly, the curriculum – through cross-curricular topics and planning around Personal, Social and Health Education – discusses relevant issues with the children. Specific topics include such themes as Drugs, Sex and Relationships and Stranger Danger. Children are encouraged to explore and discuss these issues together and with their teachers/learning support assistants. We also discuss a wide range of issues around safety and well-being on a very regular basis in assemblies.
Secondly, the curriculum is designed so that safety issues within the subject are discussed and safe practices taught, such as using equipment properly in PE and Design and Technology. At all times there has to be appropriate staffing levels and when the curriculum is taken out of school, appropriate and agreed pupil/adult ratios are maintained. The lead adult always assesses visits as to the level of risk and all trips are authorised by the Educational Visit Coordinator (EVC) and the Headteacher.
Risk assessments are conducted for all activities beyond the school grounds, and these are signed off by the Educational Visits Coordinator and Headteacher.
Children should be encouraged to use the internet, but at all times in a safe way. Pupils must never be left unattended whilst online and teachers should ensure that this does not happen. If any adult or child suspects misuse, either by a teacher or child, the issue must be reported to the Head Teacher without delay.
Disability Equality Scheme and Equal Opportunities
At St Josephs we work to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. All children are given equal access to the school and its curriculum and all are considered equal in the learning partnership.
When children have special needs we make arrangements to inform parents and design specific programmes. We ensure that the outcomes for all groups of children allow them to reach their full potential.
Children with physical needs and disabilities must be able to take a full and active part in every lesson and activity, and every measure is taken to ensure this.
Good behaviour is essential in any community and we have high expectations for this. Our policy shows our strong emphasis on positive approaches, but also our clear boundaries in responding to behaviour choices that threaten the learning, wellbeing or safety of others.
Our definition of bullying is:
“When we talk about bullying, we mean one or more people repeatedly behaving in an intimidating or aggressive way, with the intention of causing emotional or physical harm to another person.”
The school’s response to this is unequivocal. We do not tolerate bullying in our school community, and as soon as we are aware of an issue we act promptly and effectively.
Adults must be informed immediately and action will be taken.
Our children know that we pride ourselves on being a ‘telling school’. If any child tells us that they feel they are being bullied, they know that we will support them and deal with the problem very quickly. Although bullying in this school is rare the school always acts swiftly with a process of investigation, communication and action. Bullies will not be tolerated.
St Joseph’s uses images of children, both on our website and in press releases. However parents are given the option at intake to refuse use of their child’s image. Parents can change their preferences at anytime by requesting a consent form from the office.
If members of staff ever have any concerns about people working within the school, paid or unpaid, they have a professional duty to inform the Headteacher or Governing body accordingly. This can be done in writing or verbally but staff should be prepared to discuss issues in the confidence that any such matter will be dealt with sensitively and with the highest appropriate level of confidentiality.