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Covert investigation Child Protection

(58 Posts)
doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 03:10:36

Please help me.... I urgently need advice from anyone who knows safeguarding procedures or has been through a similar experience, my child started primary school this week and I am convinced they have been assessing/testing her psychologically on her first day as part of an investigation. Last year a complaint was made against me to my daughter's nursery school (I don't know what the complaint was because no one will tell me due to confidentiality; only that a complaint was made) and I have had a year of covert investigation from them. I thought now that she had started a new school we would start afresh but I'm convinced they have been assessing her. Is this possible??? Is it correct safeguarding procedure??? I have never had a meeting to discuss a complaint against me, nor have I been visited by social workers/police/health visitor. This can't be happening.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 08-Sep-11 03:31:18

What has convinced you that your dd has been psychologically assessed/tested on her first day at school?

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 03:46:00

I am loathed to get into detail because you can/will see it as me being paranoid but here goes: the first thing she told me was she played in the playground with the teacher but she wasn't allowed to go over a red line on the ground, and where she shouted "Boo" to the teacher (like when you frighten someone) and vice versa. When I picked her up I thought everything was ok, it's only after thinking about this over the past few hours that I really think they were testing her. Please remember I have had A YEAR of investigation (covert) from the last school. I AM paranoid but with very good reason.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 08-Sep-11 03:56:19

I don't want to unnecessarily alarm you or feed your entirely understandable paranoia but a 'covert investigtion' is exactly what it says on the tin and the subject under investigation is the last to know.

However, let's try to look rationally at your Kafka-esque nightmare. Was your dd playing alone with the teacher, or were other children participating in this 'game'?

Was the teacher your dd's class teacher?

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 04:01:51

I presume the other children were there- I haven't questioned my daughter on this: my realisation has come since she went to bed plus I don't want to alarm her or question her too much on anything. But she is in the first intake of kids so there were only around ten children there; the rest begin next week. Yes, class teacher.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 08-Sep-11 04:07:25

I doubt very much that what you described is a form of psychological testing of the kind you suspect.

With regard to the complaint that was allegedly made against you last year, how were you made aware of it?

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 04:14:53

by the woman who made it. A "friend" of mine who asked for the name of her nursery, the name of the headteacher, the borough it was in (she lives on the other side of london to me). She phoned to ask how my daughter was getting on a couple of weeks later and when I said she had a great review and was doing really well she sounded extremely annoyed and said "Didn't they say anything else to you?". Another week later she asked me directly had I been visited by social workers. I said no, and again she sounded pissed off. Just after the complaint we had to take a bear home to photograph our weekend, and since then we have had our photos taken outside of school grounds, I have been interrogated by parents (who have ALL been told about the complaint it is glaringly obvious). I have done a subject access request, freedom of information requests and I can't win. I cannot get any information about this whatsoever because it's a 3rd party complaint.

mnistooaddictive Thu 08-Sep-11 04:18:57

Teachersdo not carry out covert investigations into parents. I think you should see a GP as your anxiety is taking over your life.

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 04:29:31

Ok thanks for that advice; I have already seen my GP and you know what? He told me EXACTLY the same thing. He said you are extremely paranoid. What you are describing cannot happen. Will you ALLOW ME to refer you to a psychiatrist. So I said yes because he said it like a threat. He told me it would take 6 to 7 weeks for an appointment. He also asked for the name of the school and of the headteacher. It's now been 11 weeks and I have not received an appointment or any correspondence from the doctor. I think he contacted the school and realised I'm not being paranoid. (Also I am very scared as a single mum to be referred to a psychiatrist).

Morloth Thu 08-Sep-11 04:31:57

I think you are being paranoid.

DS1's school has red lines around the 'perimeter' i.e. just inside the school gates etc that the kids are not allowed to cross unless in the company of a responsible adult, his new school has the same thing so I assume it is a way of letting them know where they have to stay.

And playing Boo with her teacher sounds like a perfectly normal sort of game to me.

I agree with mnistooaddictive, I think you need to see a GP because you sound very anxious and it isn't good for you or your DD.

Morloth Thu 08-Sep-11 04:33:14

Chase up the appointment, it is sad you are so afraid when you don't need to be.

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 04:34:56

ok thanks I really really hope you're right

TotemPole Thu 08-Sep-11 04:35:12

Calm down. You do sound paranoid.

What is it that you could have been accused of? If it's something minor it's unlikely that SS would launch a covert op. If it's something more serious you would have had at least one home visit by now.

The school won't discuss that sort of thing with your GP. Your GP won't contact your school asking for that sort of information. He probably just asked for the details for his records.

Muumraa Thu 08-Sep-11 04:49:14

If social services or your daughters school thought she was at risk you would have heard from them by now.

You said it's been 11 weeks since you seen your doctor.I think you should go and see your GP again,however scared you feel about seeing a psychiatrist can't be worse than the way you're feeling just now.

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 04:52:27

Social services are not involved because, as you say, I would've had a home visit. All I know is that they think I'm taking my daughter abroad. I have no intention of doing this but I am fully entitled to take her abroad so I imagine she has also said I'm an unfit mother. I will add that the woman works within education and therefore I think has managed to manipulate the people at my daughter's school.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 08-Sep-11 04:56:12

Firstly, please don't be scared as a single mum or as a woman of any status to be referred to a psychiatrist.

Also, please be aware that psychiatric services are overstretched and I suspect that your doctor erred on the side of optimism when giving you to understand that you would receive an appointment within 6-7 weeks.

It could easily be that the referral your doctor made has got lost in the mail or mislaid on arrival, and it could equally easily be that an appointment will drop through your letterbox the next week or two.

Secondly, please don't think that I am underestimating what you are going through by saying that, under the circumstances, I doubt that any covert investigation is currently taking place.

What may have happenend is that, as you suspect, a woman known to you made a complaint to your dd's nursery and that a covert investigation of some type or other was carried out.

It is probable that the investigation concluded that the complaint was groundless and that no further action was necessary.

In these cases the suject of the investigation is not told - either about the nature of the complaint or the complainant, or that an investigation is underway, or its findings, or that it is at an end, unless formal action needs to be taken.

Teachers may not carry out covert investigations into parents per se addictive but they may be asked to participate in such investigations and they are, of course, bound by whatever confidentiality protocols are in place.

Anyone who is aware that they have been the subject of a covert investigation will understandably be unsettled and may feel anxious for some considerable time afterwards.

I don't believe you are paranoid Dora, but I do believe that whatever may have taken place in respect of investigating a complaint that was made about you by a third party more than 9 months ago, whether to your dd's nursery school or to social services, NOW poses NO threat to you or to your dd.

doraexplora Thu 08-Sep-11 05:13:55

izzy thankyou I have to believe what you wrote, which is also what the local safeguarding childrens board told me; it has been over a year since the complaint and they told me that following a 3rd party complaint one of the following things should happen:
either a meeting with the parent/s to discuss the complaint issue/s or
a visit from either a social worker/police/health visitor. None of those things happened to me and the LSCB said the only other reason for this not happening would be if a criminal allegation was made. But because it has been more than a year, this is impossible. He said it sounded like a complaint was made but all records destroyed when I made the first subject access request. I have to believe this has finished and get on with my life and my daughter. thanks all for your thoughts x

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 08-Sep-11 05:24:37

For the record Dora, I don't believe that you need a referral to a psychiatrist unless you feel that you need help to recover from what has been an extremely unsettling time.

Try to put this behind you - whatever complaint may have been made, it was found to be without substance and it poses NO THREAT WHATSOEVER to you or your dd.

SixtyFootDoll Thu 08-Sep-11 05:48:30

I have worked in child protection. Schools would not take part in psychological surveillance at all.
Any testing would be done with a professional psychologist and that would only be done after social services had become overtly involved in your case. Teachers do monitor if they have concerns for children's presentation at school, but would certainly not be working on social services behalf as you describe.
Sounds like any enquiry into you has been done and dusted. Try and move on, don't let it spoil life for you and your child.

RedHelenB Thu 08-Sep-11 07:26:11

If you are allowed to take your child abroad then why the need for covert monitoring? Please don't let your paranoia get in the way of your daughter enjoying her first days at school.

ginmakesitallok Thu 08-Sep-11 07:37:53

Sorry that you are feeling so anxious about this - liike the others have said I don't believe you have anything to worry about. I just wanted to add - taking the bloody bear home for an "exciting" weekend is one of the rituals of nursery. Think he mostly sat on the stairs for our weekend (though I did mend his trousers for him - so that will have been exciting....)

EricNorthmansMistress Thu 08-Sep-11 07:39:29

Please believe me that nursery were not, and would not, carry out 'covert surveillance' for any period of time. The procedure, if they receive a CP referral from anyone, or have a CP concern of theoir own, should be to pass it to the relevant CP team and inform you. I am aware that lots of childcare settings don't follow procedure fully so they may not have informed you.
However, once it reaches the CP team, if they are investigating your care they must let you know. Social services would not carry out an investigation without your knowledge.

The nursery may have had suspicions after someone called them about you (if indeed that even happened) which may have made them keep a closer eye on your DD as it were, but this is not covert surveillance, and they would not have been doing this under any formal arrangement for example to feed back to social services.

Regarding school - if they had any concerns they would discuss them with you. She has only been there a couple of days and they haven't had time to get any concerns. What you describe sounds like normal play. Schools do not carry out psychological assessments or assess children for risk.

Please believe me, you are experiencing anxiety or paranoia and none of what you believe to be happening is true. I really advise you to go back to the GP and chase up that referral.

Birdsgottafly Thu 08-Sep-11 08:44:43

'Covert surveillance' doesn't happen, unless the child is already under a section 47 of the Childrens Act, yours isn't, you would be visited by a Child Protection SW and be informed of the whole process.
'Covert' would take the form of visiting a parent regulary and not making it obvious that you were looking for any signs of say alcohol abuse or start what seems like a casual conversation about how a mark happened and see if it conflicted with what the child had said, involving children in certain play (in a family center) and taking it from there, etc.

The way that the law and guidelines are written, now on CP, there cannot be a 'convert' investigation, as such, either safeguarding procedure has been started or it hasn't. It's more a case of not making your actions obvious.

The law is updated yearly, so do not listen to what supposedly happened to a 'friend of a friend, years back'.

Teachers are not qualified to join in safeguarding, they report any concerns to the safeguarding team, a CAF may be put in place, which will involve educational mentors, behavioural teams etc, or SS informed. A teacher will add a (usually) written general assessment to a meeting, about what they have witnessed, cleanliness, the child appearing thirsty, hungry, upset, secretive etc.

It sounds as though your 'friend' had concerns, reported them, but the nursery thought that they were unfounded.

If the nursery had any real concerns you would have been informed as they would have had to pass these on. They have been dismissed, if you were never spoken to.

This is stemming from your anxiety.

Birdsgottafly Thu 08-Sep-11 08:50:16

Just to add, don't fear SS, if they are ever involved they can just speed up getting you any help that you need. If you are awarded a SW, they will co-ordinate everything, they would only look to put support in place so that your quality of life does not suffer, whilst you are seeking help.

madamarcati Thu 08-Sep-11 08:54:54

I think the red line business is that the plaround is divided into areas and maybe they keep all the receptions to begin with in a small area where they can keep an eye on them.
As others have said the teacher would unlikely be qualified enough to do psychological testing and in any case would hardly pick the first day to do it-she would have enough on her plate and also your childwould hardly be acting naturally.
It is understandable that you are paranoid though.What a horrible thing to happen to you and your family

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