10. Possible signs of abuse include (but are not limited to):It's a bit odd that they start by giving examples of signs of harm, before they have defined what sorts of harm they are on the lookout for. Moreover, each of the individual categories of abuse which is subsequently defined (in paragraphs 11 to 14) each has its own list of possible signs of abuse.
- the pupil says s/he has been abused or asks a question which gives rise to that inference;
- there is no reasonable or consistent explanation for a pupil's injury; the injury is unusual in kind or location; there have been a number of injuries; there is a pattern to the injuries;
- the pupil's behaviour stands out from the group as either being extreme model behaviour or extremely challenging behaviour; or there is a sudden change in the pupil's behaviour;
- the pupil asks to drop subjects with a particular teacher and seems reluctant to discuss the reasons;
- the pupil's development is delayed;
- the pupil loses or gains weight;
- the pupil appears neglected, e.g. dirty, hungry, inadequately clothed;
- the pupil is reluctant to go home, or has been openly rejected by his / her parents or carers.
The whole thing is such a confused mishmash that it is hard to know where to start. I think the simplest and fairest thing to say is that as it stands, this paragraph should not exist. The signs of abuse should either be listed separately under each category of abuse, or should all be listed together after the kinds of abuse which these are signs of have been defined. At the moment this paragraph is before the definitions of abuse, and is additional to (and potentially in conflict with) the signs of abuse listed later under individual categories.
The London Child Protection Procedures issued by the London Children Safeguarding Board have it much better organised. Section 4.1 deals with the concept of Significant Harm (important in the context of the 1989 Children's Act). Then Section 4.2 defines and describes the various categories of child abuse and neglect - physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect, and Section 4.3 goes on to describe how signs of possible abuse and/or neglect can be recognised.
It's a pity that St. Benedict's hasn't used the relevant parts of the London Child Protection Procedures as a template for it's own child protection policy. After all, they are even available by chapter as Word documents, from which the school can copy and paste the relevant paragraphs.
Perhaps the Trustees haven't had sufficient training to know that it exists. After all, it hasn't been around very long, it is only in its third edition, and the third edition has been available for a mere three years.