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Safeguarding - when you can smell alcohol on a parent

(45 Posts)
LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 17:39:10

I have googled but can only find US law and guidance or threads on Netmums!

If a parent with PR arrives to collect a child (primary) and you can smell alcohol very strongly on them, where does the school stand legally on refusing to release the child to them? Does the parent's behaviour affect what you would do? (I.e behaving in a drunk manner v appearing sober while still smelling of alcohol.)

Without going into too much detail, I am anticipating a situation where I am going to have to make a decision in a situation like this and would like any information to back myself up with. I haven't been able to get through to CPSLO and I have emailed for advice but may not be responded to until next week.

Any pointers towards official advice or guidelines would be greatly appreciated.

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HollowTalk Thu 17-May-18 17:40:25

Is the parent driving? That's an obvious thing to look for.

Does the parent seem fit and able to look after the child?

FreshStartToday Thu 17-May-18 17:43:05

Are you the Headteacher/safeguarding lead in your school? If not is there a reason that you have not asked them? If you are, do you not have colleagues in other schools, with whom you could touch base?

acornsandnuts Thu 17-May-18 17:43:07

Is it a one off or does it happen often?

Masonbee Thu 17-May-18 17:45:25

Worth asking your union or safeguarding rep if you can't get through elsewhere?

I could give you my opinion or what I was advised to do in similar situation but not really helpful when what you need is something definitive!

Lizsmum Thu 17-May-18 17:46:30

If you consider that it would be unsafe to allow the parent to take the child you contact another responsible adult who has PR. If that is not possible then social services. Your safeguarding lead should know all this so talk to them first.

AsAProfessionalFekko Thu 17-May-18 17:47:09

Are you a teacher or staff? The school will have guidelines and reporting procedures this.

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:06:24

I am the safeguarding lead and am aware that I should "know all this" but as I am new to the role I don't have all the answers yet.

The difficulty with "touching base" with colleagues in other schools is a timing issue. An incident was reported to me as the DSL after 5pm today (prompt reporting of incidents to a DSL being a current issue in this school). I will be teaching all day tomorrow (also duty and lunchtime detention on Fridays; it's my day from hell). I will need some idea of what I'm doing before home time tomorrow and was struggling to find any info online. Hence asking here.

The parent was not driving. I did not see the parent today so cannot make any judgement on whether they looked fit and well enough to look after their child. This may turn out to be a non-issue but due to ongoing circumstances in that family I would like to have all the bases covered and am anticipating a situation that may or may not happen. Sorry if that sounds vague but do not want to give too much detail.

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Stillwishihadabs Thu 17-May-18 19:11:05

Sorry I am confused did you smell the alcohol or another staff member ? Did they mention it to the parent at the time ?
How old are the dcs ? I would rarely get close enough to the class teacher in the juniors for anyone to smell me IYSWIM

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:14:39

Another member of staff smelt the alcohol. No, they did not mention it to the parent. It was then reported to me afterwards.

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Stillwishihadabs Thu 17-May-18 19:19:33

By its self ? Nothing probably in the context of other factors, I would refer to SS, but you have to tell the parents you are doing so...

AsAProfessionalFekko Thu 17-May-18 19:21:08

You need to keep a record - it may well be a one-off event (innocent glass of wine spilled over jacket) or a pattern of behaviour.

Wallabyone Thu 17-May-18 19:26:53

You need to call the SPOE (or your equivalent) for advice. Does this child have a record of concern forms? Are there any other concerns about the parent or child? Call SS for advice, and they will probably advise you to monitor and then invite the parent in.

mintbiscuit Thu 17-May-18 19:30:06

If it’s a regular occurrence I can see a potential issue. If it’s a one off surely you are making an issue of a non-issue? (Assuming parent isn’t driving)

PatriarchyPersonified Thu 17-May-18 19:32:46

If they aren't driving, you can't do anything. It's not illegal or a safeguarding issue to be in charge of children when you have been drinking. If it was, nearly every parent in the country would be being monitored by social services.

If they are so intoxicated they are unsafe, then of course that's a different matter.

Besides, smelling of alcohol doesn't mean they are drunk. It could be a spilt glass of wine etc.

Branleuse Thu 17-May-18 19:34:07

I'd hope that a teacher would use common sense and discretion, because obviously there's a big difference between someone turning up drunk or someone repeatedly smelling of alcohol, and somebody who happens to have had wine with friends one lunchtime.

museumum Thu 17-May-18 19:34:40

Surely it can’t be a concern in itself? I might have a swift half after a work course or event before Nursery pick up. It would be literally minutes before pick up so still on my breath but not a sign of excessive drinking.
It sounds though like you have other concerns / a bigger picture.

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:35:01

Thank you. Recording is not the issue here, that is not what I'm struggling with (although I would have liked to have been notified about the incident sooner). I have inherited a very thorough set of records for a huge caseload in this school.

@Lizsmum Thank you. It's kind of a fuzzy line between safe and unsafe at the moment as the parent was not acting in a drunken manner. Tomorrow may well be different and I was hopeful that there would be some sort of government guidance out there that said something nice and definite like "Schools can refuse to release a child to a parent who has PR when..."

I think I'll just have to go with my gut and make a judgement call at pick up tomorrow.

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LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:37:52

@museumum You're right, there is a bigger picture. If I didn't know it then this as an isolated incident would not concern me as much.

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PatriarchyPersonified Thu 17-May-18 19:38:11

But lemon, to be fair, what are you going to say to them when you make your 'judgement call'?

"Have you been drinking?"

"None of your business/yes I have so what?"

"Well I'm not letting you take your child home"

"It's not up to you"

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:42:46

Well, exactly, @PatriarchyPersonified. And that is why I would like to know legally where I stand!

To the pp who said contact SPOE (CPSLO in my county), I explained up thread that I have but am unlikely to now receive a response in time.

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Katescurios Thu 17-May-18 19:43:19

Would contacting the support line here help? www.atl.org.uk/advice-and-resources/rights-and-conditions/safeguarding-responsibilities-education-staff

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:45:17

Thank you @Katescurios, that's helpful. I'm not ATL but will look to see if my union have something similar.

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bookgirl1982 Thu 17-May-18 19:48:33

No more to add than has been said above, but as DSL you should get time to do the role properly and that would include some time tomorrow to consult with agencies if needed.

LemonRedwood Thu 17-May-18 19:53:13

but as DSL you should get time to do the role properly

I agree. Doesn't mean it will happen any time soon, but I definitely agree.

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