Any child safeguarding experts or school governors out there who can tell me what to expect?(10 Posts)
Have NC for obvious reasons.
DD does an extracurricular activity at school which the more able children have been selected for. We have long had concerns that the arrangements for the wellbeing and safety of the girls has not been given proper consideration. We raised concerns informally a couple of years ago and the consequence was that our DD was temporarily demoted by the teacher who runs the activity. Lesson learnt we thought, don't complain. We often wondered if we were doing the right thing by allowing her to continue but she enjoys the activity so much - it is a unique opportunity and isn't an experience we can replicate without this club.
More recently DD became upset as the teacher was shouting non stop at the girls. It was a heated time of year with lots going on so we withdrew her for the term citing family reasons, saying that she would return in September. After we withdrew her she told us that she had witnessed the teacher being extremely aggressive / violent towards another pupil, and hence the reason for her being so distressed by the shouting.
For me this was a red flag, with shouting escalating to physical aggression. I reluctantly had a meeting with the head to inform them of what I'd been told, as I felt that this episode should be investigated and on record, as it was a sign of how the care of the children had degenerated. Head agreed to put in place more support for the teacher, and that DD should return in Sept (which is what DD wants).
DD turned up to club last week only to be turned away. Teacher has said DD can't attend now until additional support is in place. DD extremely disappointed as she wants to take part in a one off event which is quite soon.
We spoke to the Head to sort it out today, and was told 'well you're the only parents who have complained so your child can't go back until this new support is in place, and we can't guarantee when that will be'.
So to summarise DD reports teacher's aggressive behaviour, now misses out on big event and we're told we're the only ones who complained! Aggressive teacher is still in place.
Obviously we will not allow to continue to be part of this environment. In an ideal world I'd negotiate for her to do the big event and then withdraw.
Head has shared details of our meeting with the teacher in question.
My Qs are this
** If a child reports something like this should every school not have some kind of standard procedure for investigation & protection for the 'whistleblower'?
** How much information about that process and investigation should the parents be told? Is it public or private?
** Should any external organisation be involved?
** Is it appropriate for us to approach an external organisation if we are not satisfied with the outcome.
We have not told a soul about what has happened. Even closest friends were told we withdrew for family reasons, but it is starting to get awkward now as I'd said that we'd be back last week, people are wondering why we're not and I don't know what to say!
When you say the teacher was being aggressive / violent what exactly do you mean? The child was physically assaulted?
What does "extremely aggressive / violent" actually mean?
Physical assault? Shouting? Swearing?
If your daughter has made an allegation that a teacher, whether in class, or as part of an extra curricular activity has:
- Harmed a child
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to a child
- Behaved towards a child in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
then there are set procedures that need to be followed and these are laid out in Keeping Children Safe in Education. The first of which is that the head teacher should have alerted the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) often called just Designated Officer.
The LADO (or DO) will take a view regarding whether the allegation requires any kind of multi agency response, or whether the investigation can be led by the employer.
To answer the rest of your questions:
If a child reports something like this should every school not have some kind of standard procedure for investigation & protection for the 'whistleblower'?
Yes, there should be a procedure that should be followed - even if an allegation is found to be false, or unsubstantiated, the school can seek advice regarding this from various sources. KCSIE has a good section on the outcome of investigations
How much information about that process and investigation should the parents be told? Is it public or private?
This is a tricky area - if it becomes part of a disciplinary process, then the teacher has a right to confidentiality. So, for example you could expect the school to give you general information, but they would not tell you that a teacher had been given a written warning.
Should any external organisation be involved?
Yes - if it meets (or possibly meets) one of the categories above. The LADO might also become involved if there were repeated lower level concerns. Other organisations such as the School Improvement Team (if the LA has one) could also possibly assist.
Is it appropriate for us to approach an external organisation if we are not satisfied with the outcome
Yes - referrals to the LADO can be made by anyone.
I have to say, despite your daughter being really keen to attend, I don't think I would be promoting it until I was convinced that the matter had been addressed appropriately, regardless of how disappointed she was.
Thank you so much, such helpful info SandWitch I have so many more questions, but I will do some reading and thinking to try and focus.
I am concerned that school is downplaying the aggression and concentrating on the more general points. Also that they ran straight to the teacher in question and discussed DD. Her future in that activity is now over either way.
The aggression was such that no one was hurt (but they could have been). It is very possible that we are the only parents of the children involved who know about it. It only came up in conversation with my DD by chance, as there was so much else going on at the club at the time (good and bad).
I am scared that if I raise this further that we'll be blacklisted as a family, branded troublemakers, and that it will taint all future interaction with the school. I also suspect that the families of the other children who witnessed it will not want to be involved, there is a lot at stake for them.
But you're right, its toxic and not at all the right environment for a child. We'll have to overlook the upcoming event.
I do want to correct the narrative that we got today which was 'well your DD can't come back yet as the complaints only concerns her'. It wasn't about her, it was a general safeguarding issue for all the children, present and future.
The school's policies regarding these sort of incidents should be on their website. However, I must say that many schools' safeguarding policies are written from the pov that the child is at risk due to situations outside school. I have found this even in schools where there have been incidents already involving staff.
If you decide to take this further you should write to the Chair of Governors
When a safeguarding issue is raised , it must be fully investigated. I'm appalled at that head teacher. Every school has a designated officer in charge of safeguarding, usually a deputy head, if get their contact details first.
If it is the Head in charge of safety concerns, then you have to go to the governors to raise a concern about them. Clearly mention Ofsted, as they would be your next stop in the Governors are also neglecting their duties.
Governors, staff are all trained now to prioritise risk, and whistle blowing is encouraged in most schools.
I remain shocked at the attitude of that headteacher. My only explanation for it would be that you're talking about something really minor, but thinking it's bigger than it is?
I would also like to suggest going to the Chair of Governors as the HT doesn't seem to have handled this well
May I suggest you look at www.gov.uk Keeping Children Safe in Education - Schools and Colleges. Section 4 is the relevant section. It is Statutory Guidance and therefore not optional. Schools must have procedures to handle allegations against teachers and how they should deal with this complaint is set out in the Guidance. However you should be aware that if the Safeguarding Lead cannot substantiate the allegations and no other witnesses come forward, there may be problems with your DDs complaint going any further. It could be the school, saying they will arrange for a further adult to be present, is being reasonable. The school will have a Staff Behaviour Policy or Code of Conduct and the school must follow this too.
A governor will have responsibility for safeguarding. The school should also have a whistleblowing policy. Both should be available on request.
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