The Independent Grammar School: Durham
Staff Allegation Policy
1. This policy sets out the procedures which will be followed in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff at IGS: Durham. This includes teachers, volunteers or any other staff member.
2. It should be noted that no policy document, or document containing statutory guidance, can possibly cover all cases. Although some might be similar, each is unique. In many instances, it will be a matter for judgment and careful consideration of options, risks and desired outcomes. No member of staff at IGS: Durham, no matter how senior, should attempt to deal with an allegation alone – indeed it would be in contravention of every type of guidance available, statutory and advisory, to do so. Discussion with, and involvement of, other people and agencies, within school and outside, is vital from the outset of, and throughout, every case.
3. This Policy follows the DfE Statutory Guidance document Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), September 2018 (Part Four: Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff). If in doubt, this document should be used to provide detailed guidance.
4. It is school policy to follow these procedures as closely as possible, bearing in mind the factors in paragraph 2.
5. The procedures set out here will enable the school to manage allegations that might indicate that a person is unsuitable to continue to work with children in his or her present position, or in any capacity. They will be used in respect of all cases where it is alleged that an employee or volunteer, or a person with permission to be on the premises, or carrying out any activity on behalf of IGS: Durham, has
behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child, or
possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child, or
behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates the person would pose a
risk of harm if he or she work regularly or closely with children.
6. This will include allegations involving any type of abuse or neglect, including inappropriate relationships with pupils, grooming behaviour of any kind, possession of indecent photographs or images of children and other offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
7. Any allegation of abuse will be dealt with as quickly as possible, in a fair, consistent and thorough way that provides effective protection for the child or children and at the same time deals fairly with the person who is the subject of the allegation.
Communicating the Procedures
8. The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) has a responsibility to ensure that all staff know about and understand these procedures. In accordance with the DfE Statutory Guidance, all staff should also read the procedures in their entirety and be familiar with the associated statutory guidance (KCSIE 2018), especially Part Four.
Immediately Reporting an Allegation
9. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in safeguarding children. If you as a member of staff have a concern that a person (as described in paragraph 5 above) may have behaved inappropriately or you have received information that may constitute an allegation you must:
Report the facts to the Principal as soon as possible. All concerns will be listened to and managed appropriately. You should not withhold information however trivial it may seem.
In the absence of the Principal you must report the matter to the Chairman of the School Board, who will carry out the Principal’s duties in his/her absence. If the allegation concerns the Principal then the matter must be reported to the Chairman of the Board.
Make a signed and dated written record of your concerns and observations on the information you have received and give it to the Principal straight away.
Maintain strict confidentiality (subject to the third bullet point below)
10. You must not
Attempt to deal with the situation yourself.
Make assumptions, offer alternative explanations or diminish or embellish the seriousness of the behaviour or alleged incidents.
Keep the information to yourself or promise confidentiality.
Take any action that might undermine any investigation or disciplinary procedure, such as disclosing confidential information, interviewing the alleged victim or potential witnesses, or informing the alleged perpetrator or parents/carers.
Initial Consideration of the Allegation
11. The Principal will discuss the matter with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and provide the background to the allegation. The Principal should not carry out an investigation at this stage but his or her priority will be the welfare of the child concerned and he will carry out a risk assessment in order to determine actions. If there is reason to believe that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm the LADO and/or the school will refer the case to Children’s Social Care and request a strategy meeting in accordance with Working Together to Safeguard Children. This meeting will normally be attended by both the LADO and the Principal.
12. There may be some cases where it is believed that significant harm has not taken place but that a crime may have been committed. In such cases, the LADO would be expected to involve the police to determine whether a police investigation is required. In certain cases, the school may decide to involve the police immediately, e.g. if there is an immediate risk to the welfare of a child.
13. It may be decided following the initial consideration that no action is required. The school should record the decision and its justification. The school and the LADO should agree what may be put in writing to the person concerned and by whom. They should then agree what action should follow in respect of the accused and the person who made the allegation.
Action Following Initial Consideration
14. Following initial consideration, where the allegation is believed not to involve possible criminal activity, it will be the responsibility of the school to deal with it.
15. The school should provide the accused person with as much information as is appropriate as soon as possible. Where police or social services are involved, however, the school should not give the accused person any information until it has agreed with the relevant agencies what can be disclosed. The school might at this stage weigh up the risks inherent in the case and decide that suspension should be considered (but see paragraphs 22-24, which discuss how this serious step may be avoided if at all possible).
16. When the school informs the person of the allegation – after discussion with the LADO if appropriate – the likely course of action should be explained, he or she should be directed to this policy document and advised to contact a trade union. (It is possible that the police or social services may object to this, which makes it all the more important that full discussions are held with the LADO, as described above, before the accused person is given any information).
17. In the view of the Principal and the Chairman of the School Board, the allegation might require disciplinary action, in which case a hearing will be convened to take place within 15 working days. If, following discussion with the LADO, further investigation is decided upon, the Principal will agree with the LADO who should be involved in the investigation. This will normally be a senior member of the school staff. The person responsible for the investigation should then report back to the Principal within 10 working days. If a hearing is then necessary, it will take place within 15 working days. The LADO and the Principal will remain in contact in order to monitor the case, using clear and unambiguous criteria against which the effectiveness of the actions agreed upon may be measured.
18. In the absence of significant harm but where suspicions remain about possible criminal activity having taken place, the Principal will liaise with the LADO, who will in most cases consult the police, to determine appropriate action. If subsequently the person against whom the allegation was made is either not charged or is acquitted, that information, and any other relevant information, will be passed to the school by the police. The Principal will then consult with the LADO to agree appropriate action. If the person is convicted, the police will inform the school immediately.
Allegations which Necessitate an Immediate Child Protection Referral
19. The following will require immediate referral:
The child has suffered, is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm
The child alleges that a criminal offence has taken place
Any allegation of a sexual nature
20. Where allegations in the above categories are referred to Children’s Services, any further action will be in accordance with Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures.
21. It is important to be aware that the above is not an exhaustive list and that other allegations might also justify a referral. If in any doubt, the Principal should consult the LADO for advice.
22. The person against whom the allegation has been made may, in certain cases, be suspended from duty whilst the case is being investigated. Suspension is not, however, an automatic response to an allegation. It will be considered, always after careful consideration, if:
It is suspected that a child, or other children at the school, are at risk of significant harm if the employee is not suspended
The allegation merits police investigation
The allegation might be sufficiently serious to merit dismissal
23. Alternative measures should be considered if they allow risks to be effectively managed. For example, a member of staff might be re-deployed so that he or she does not come into contact with the child concerned, or he or she might be allowed to continue working under supervision. Although the welfare of the child is paramount, the school must also consider the well-being and professional reputation of the member of staff and the deleterious effects of suspension where the allegation is later found to be false. Appropriate risk assessments should be carried out in respect of all parties involved in order to decide whether suspension is appropriate.
24. Where suspension occurs, the school will provide a named contact from within the school whose role will be to keep the person informed about the progress of the case, liaise with the school on any support he or she needs and pass on work-related information as necessary.
25. Normal procedures will be instigated by the LSCB for the holding of strategy meetings and for reviewing progress following meetings. The Principal will attend all such meetings as the DSL.
26. If, following the case, the employment of the person against whom the allegation was made is terminated by either party, the Principal will contact the LADO to determine whether the case should be reported to the Disclosure and Barring Service. If so, the referral should be made within one month. Note: It is a legal requirement that an employer makes a referral to the DBS if it thinks that a person has engaged in conduct that harmed, or is likely to harm, a child, or if a person presents a risk to children in some other way.
27. Keeping accurate, comprehensive and up to date records is absolutely vital. All discussions, referrals, meetings etc. should be noted in as much detail as is reasonably possible, giving dates and times in all cases, together with a note of those present. Such notes should be signed and dated by the author. Records will be kept on the employee’s personal file and retained until the employee’s normal retirement age, or for 10 years if that is a longer period. Such records may be important in any future investigation.
28. Details of allegations which are found to be malicious must not be retained on personal files.
29. Records of all other allegations (i.e. those deemed to be substantiated, false, unfounded or unsubstantiated) will need to be kept on the personal file, and a copy given to the person (but see paragraph 31 on References).
Actions to be Taken in Respect of False Allegations
30. If an allegation is made by a child, and the Principal and LADO, after due consideration, decide that it is false, the school should decide whether the child needs specialist help (e.g. has he or she suffered abuse by someone else?). If it is found that a child has made a deliberate and malicious allegation, the Principal will determine whether the child should be disciplined in line with the school’s Behaviour Policy. In all such cases, the member of staff will immediately be informed personally and in writing that the allegation is unfounded, and no further action will be taken. The school will offer all available support to the member of staff.
31. Where an allegation was proved false, unsubstantiated or malicious (see definitions in paragraph 178 of KCSIE 2018) it must not be referred to in an employer reference. A history of repeated allegations which have been found to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious will similarly be omitted from employer references.
32. The Principal will contact the parents or carers involved as soon as possible after agreeing with the LADO what information can be shared. The school will keep the parents informed of the progress of the case, bearing in mind the restrictions surrounding certain types of information (e.g. as a result of GDPR legislation) and the law of confidence.
33. The school will conduct a review of each case once it is resolved and will seek to identify areas for improvement. This review should focus especially upon suspension where that has been used, and should seek to identify alternatives to suspension which achieve the desired outcome without jeopardising the safety and welfare of any child.
34. The Principal will carry out the review and will involve where appropriate the LADO to seek to incorporate best practice into the way the school implements these procedures.