6. The Designated Teacher for Child Protection – Role and ResponsibilitiesFirst point: The designated teacher ought to be a named individual. (Paragraph 7 lists the duties of the designated teacher for the Junior School, and names both the designated teacher and deputy.)
The School has appointed a senior member of staff with the necessary status and authority (Designated Teacher) to be responsible for matters relating to child protection and welfare. The main responsibilities of the Designated Teacher are:
Also, to say "the main responsibilities" is to suggest that there are other child protection responsibilities which are not documented. Wrong. If there is something the designated teacher is supposed to be doing in fulfilment of his/her duties, then it has to be written down here, otherwise nobody can tell whether the duties are in fact being carried out properly.
But let's go through this list of "main responsibilities".
Well, the obvious point is that an unnamed person cannot be a first point of contact, since without a name, parents don't know who to contact!
- To be the first point of contact for parents, pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff and external agencies in all matters of child protection.
I notice that "School Child Protection Policy" is capitalised - it is near enough the title of this document. But we have "and procedures" not capitalised after it, which suggests that there are unpublished procedures as well.
- To be fully conversant with the Local Authority and School Child Protection Policy and procedures.
If that is the case, that is illegal - there is a legal obligation for the whole of the policy and associated procedures to be published on the school website. if we don't know the procedures, nobody can tell whether they are appropriate and whether they are being followed.
It's also unrealistic to expect the designated teacher to be "fully conversant with" the local authority policy. Anyway, the designated teacher is not responsible for what the local authority does. This is another of those throwaway phrases that is intended to look impressive but is in fact meaningless.
It's worth noting that having knowledge doesn't of itself require action.
Again, this doesn't require that the designated teacher actually ever do anything.
- To be available to all staff of the School community for consultation on child protection issues.
Odd. Again, either there are additional procedures not published here which are being coordinated, or the designated teacher is supposed to be co-ordinatng procedures that are already written down and fixed here.
- To co-ordinate the child protection procedures in the School.
This is the first requirement for the designated teacher actually to do something. but it is sufficiently vaguely worded that it is more or less meaningless. Nothing is stated as to the content of the training, or the frequency with which it will be undertaken by staff.
- To maintain an ongoing training programme for all School employees.
To monitor the keeping of the records? Or actually to keep records? Surely the designated teacher has actually to keep records? It is this kind of sloppy language that suggests that nobody is serious about implementing this document.
- To monitor the keeping, confidentiality and storage of records in relation to child protection.
OK. Liaison. Great. All in favour of liaison in all directions. The only problem is that there is nothing about what kinds of information will be passed in each direction, or when, or in response to what sorts of incidents. Either this is specified in more detail elsewhere, in which case it is not needed here, or it isn't specified elsewhere, in which case this is inadequate by itself. Guess which is the case!
- To liaise with the child protection officer appointed by the SSD (Local Authority Designated Officer).
Oh joy. Another of our little qualified phrases! The designated teacher must ensure that "appropriate action" is taken "in the school", and that "procedures are followed".
- To ensure that appropriate action is taken in the School and that procedures are followed in actual or suspected cases of child abuse.
"Appropriate action" is not defined, and so is left for the school to define as it sees fit.
To say that the action (whatever action is "appropriate") will be taken "in the school" is passive voice. It leaves it unstated as to who in the school is supposed to be taking this action. An action not assigned to a specific person is too often an action that doesn't actually happen.
To say "procedures are followed" is entirely useless unless you say what procedures. So far, this document doesn't have any.
Notice that the second sentence gives the impression that the assumption is that the abuse is happening within the family.
- To contact the duty social worker or the duty education welfare/social worker within twenty-four hours to seek advice on concerns brought by staff. To also check whether or not the family involved is known to the SSD.
Saying "duty social worker or the duty education welfare/social worker" leaves it unstated which of these will be contacted for what kinds of incidents.
Also, nothing is stated here regarding the keeping of records of any such calls made, the nature of the advice sought, or the actions to be taken thereafter.
So let me see if I understand this. The Designated Teacher must monitor the records and ensure that they are maintained. We don't know who is supposed to be keeping the records or who is supposed to be updating the records. Presumably not the Designated Teacher because he is only supposed to be monitoring that it is done. And nothing is stated as to what has to be done as a result of any notifications received, apart from monitoring the records of it.
- To monitor records of pupils in the School on the Child Protection Register (CPR) to ensure that this is maintained and updated as notification is received.
There does seem to be an awful lot of monitoring going on, and just about nothing else. Now it is the children on the CPR who are being monitored. Presumably this means pupils in the school, but this is not stated. The purpose of this monitoring is not stated. The bullet is meaningless as it stands.
- To liaise with other professionals to ensure that children on the CPR are monitored.
Another of those little weasel phrases "where appropriate". The policy should be saying where it is appropriate!
- Where appropriate, to take part in the child protection conferences or reviews. In the case of non-attendance to ensure that a key member of staff attends. Where this is not possible to provide a written report to the conference from the School. (It is acknowledged that this should occur rarely as the involvement of School staff is vital given the close involvement with the child.)
Also, the term "key member of staff" is not defined. It is left to the discretion of the school. For all the policy says on the subject, it could be the caretaker.
Ah! An action! A real live action! A defined circumstance and a required response! I was thinking that they didn't know how do do one of these. The circumstance is "when a child on the CPR moves to another school", and the required action is "To inform the SSD Child Protection Co-ordinator in writing ... and to inform the new School of the child’s status on the CPR."
- To inform the SSD Child Protection Co-ordinator in writing when a child on the CPR moves to another School and to inform the new School of the child’s status on the CPR.
If only the rest of the policy were that clear. It's interesting that the first clear procedure in the whole document applies to a child who has left the school! At the beginning of page 3 of the document.
Sigh. More monitoring. More unspecified decisions as to what is appropriate.
- In consultation with the Headmaster, to monitor staff development and training needs with regard to child protection issues and to provide training as appropriate.
Relevant to what? Again, this meaningless unless it is better directed. In fact, there is guidance on the subject provided by Ealing Safeguarding Children's Board, which should be referred to here, but isn't.
- To ensure that training is current and relevant.
Oh I see. The children have the responsibility of "ensuring their own protection". Can't be done. A more realistic objective would be "Include in the curriculum activities and opportunities for PSHE/Citizenship which equip children with the skills they need to stay safe from abuse, and which will help children develop realistic attitudes to the responsibilities of adult life." But this is a whole-school commitment and shouldn't simply be dumped on the Designated Teacher.
- To ensure that the curriculum offers opportunities for raising student awareness of child protection issues and developing strategies for ensuring their own protection, for example through the PSHE programme.
No, this should be the responsibility of the governors, or in the case of St. Benedict's, the Board of Trustees. It is the trustees who by resolution bring a new version of the policy into effect.
- To review the School’s Policy on Child Protection with the Headmaster and Leadership Team on an annual basis.
Overall the duties of the Designated Teacher are either too much (in the case of things the Designated Teacher does not have authority over, such as the policy itself and the curriculum), or not adequately described (i.e. just about everything else).