Independent review and learning from SCRs, Inquiries and experts in the field
In addition to regularly commissioning independent reviews of our own procedures, we routinely read and review all serious case reviews that have been published that relate to child abuse in school and nursery settings, and have done the same with the IICSA interim report on Ampleforth and Downside.
The external reviews conducted by Badman (2015) and Barnardo’s (2017) included police officers and social workers experienced in handling abuse cases and brought significant experience of supporting a range of settings and institutions in reviewing and improving their safeguarding culture and procedures.
The school safeguarding leads attend local safeguarding network meetings drawing together professionals from a wide range of settings, where insights and institutional learning is shared and discussed. In the last year, the team have attended and disseminated learning from presentations given by leading experts in institutional and contextual safeguarding such as Marcus Erooga, Dr Joe Sullivan and Carlene Firmin.
Two procedures adopted at t Paul’s in light of wider learning include a Neutral Notification system (by which staff can raise concerns about their own or a colleague’s behaviour) and a system for gathering pupil and staff feedback from all school trips which involve an overnight stay.
Safer Recruitment Procedures
The School has robust recruitment procedures that help deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children. Our safer recruitment procedures are rigorous and fully compliant with statutory requirements (Keeping Children Safe in Education, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations and any guidance or code of practice published by the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB). The School’s safe recruitment procedures are relevant and applicable not just to prospective paid employees of the School but to governors, self-employed workers, contractors and all volunteers who will be working in regulated activity. This includes all staff and volunteers involved in trips of any kind that operate under the school’s name, including the Christian Union House parties. Full details of all vetting checks can be found in the School’s Safer Recruitment Policy.
The school’s key policies, procedures and summary documents are developed in line with statutory guidance, ISI regulatory requirements, Local Authority requirements and best practice. Several of these have been shared with other independent schools via the independent schools’ sub-group of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board as well as HR networks:
In 2014-15 a leading-edge safeguarding audit tool was developed by the school’s Safeguarding Governor in collaboration with the school’s DSLs, Head of HR and Marilyn Hodges. Marilyn Hodges is an independent consultant for education and children’s services. She previously worked for many years for Kent County Council as Director for Strategy, Policy and Performance for Children, Families and Education.
The School has also developed and implemented a robust system for the monitoring of informal concerns and informal complaints to promote transparency and accountability.
Safeguarding and Child Protection training
All members of staff are trained to Level 2 in Safeguarding and Child Protection. Training is updated regularly, in line with LSCB requirements.
There is a rolling programme of training in Youth Mental Health First Aid, with virtually all tutors at SPS now trained as youth mental health first aiders and all new tutors trained as a matter of course.
All members of the school’s Senior Management Team, Boarding House staff, Pastoral Management team and the Director of Human Resources are trained to Level 3 in Safeguarding and Child Protection.
Members of the Executive and recruiting Heads of Department are trained in Safer Recruitment and Safer Termination of employment.
All Governors are trained in Child Protection.
The Chair and Vice-Chair of Governors are trained in the management of allegations against members of staff.
Safeguarding induction training
A best practice, in-house induction training strategy has been developed and implemented to train all staff on appointment in safe working and safeguarding. All staff now receive this training before or on their first day of work. All vetted volunteers also receive training in safeguarding before commencement of volunteering. eSafety training is also given prior to or on the first day of employment.
Induction processes for all staff include: safeguarding and child protection induction and Level 2 training; eSafety.
There is a Professional Studies Programme for all new staff and PGCE students, which focuses on promoting exemplary professional standards, including in the provision of pastoral care, awareness and practice of health and safety, and risk assessment (including on school trips).
Pastoral Continuous Professional Development of Staff
Annual training for the role of pastoral tutoring has recently been reviewed and enhanced.
A number of in-service training sessions have been delivered to all teaching staff and pastoral tutors in the last 36 months on the issues of: teenage depression and mental health issues; eating disorders and self-harm; recognising and tackling homophobic language, attitudes and bullying; eSafety and safeguarding the Web 3.0 generation; child sexual exploitation; private fostering.
In September 2014, the school appointed an Assistant PSCHE Co-ordinator to develop, implement and monitor the provision of a ‘beacon’ safeguarding education programme for pupils through the school’s PSCHE courses and assembly programme. The programme covers key elements of personal safety (including online safety) and basic safeguarding awareness.
Alison Havey and Deanna Pucio, founders of the RAP Project, were invited to speak to all members of the Fifth Form and Lower Eighth at St Paul’s on the subjects of: teenage relationships; the issue of consent; abusive relationships (including rape); the legalities and risks involved in sexting and viewing hard-core pornography.
All prefects are trained in safeguarding and child protection; dealing with disclosures and reporting concerns.
Listening to pupils
Supplementary to the vertical tutor system, where pupils meet with a pastoral tutor each day, pupils at St Paul’s also benefit from the school’s in-house counselling service, led by Professor Robert Bor, one of the most senior psychologists in the UK.
The first ever safeguarding-focused survey of pupils within the independent sector, developed by St Paul’s School in collaboration with the NFER and Marilyn Hodges, was rolled out in September. Subsequently, all St Paul’s pupils and staff have been surveyed on the issue of homophobic language and attitudes. A further survey of senior pupils took place, in collaboration with a researcher at Birkbeck College, considering the impact of family relationships on pupil well-being.
The School also has a pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of Affective Social Tracking in pupils.
New teaching and support staff appraisal systems have been developed to include seeking feedback directly from pupils on teachers, pastoral tutors and boarding house staff.
Pupil and staff feedback is sought after every school trip that involves an overnight stay (whether in the UK or abroad)
There are a number of mechanisms for pupils to raise concerns and seek support, whether via their tutor, Undermaster, the Head of Wellbeing and Mental Health, School Counsellors, the medical staff or any member of the teaching or non-teaching staff. All are trained to know how to deal with disclosures and report concerns.
Site Security and Pupil Safety
All staff are subject to a best practice list of appropriate vetting checks prior to and during employment, including: enhanced DBS and barred list; NCTL’s prohibited list; certificates of good conduct and immigration checks; verification of professional qualifications; references from previous and most recent employers.
A rolling programme has been implemented for renewing DBS checks every three years for all staff.
The school’s Single Central Register includes details of safeguarding training, risk assessments, etc.
On-site security has been enhanced with the adoption of new visitor protocols, including leading-edge photo-ID badge production software, to enable all visitors and contractors to be photo-ID’d.
Leading-edge monitoring software packages, Impero and NetClean, have been procured and implemented. Protocols have been developed for monitoring and reporting.
A leading-edge system for the monitoring, reporting and review of data on sports injuries in rugby has been developed and is ready for implementation.
Posters around the school highlight the availability of support systems within, as well as outside, school: school counsellors, tutors, Undermasters, DSL/Deputy DSL, ChildLine.
St Paul’s hosted a successful seminar in 2014, in collaboration with the LADO and the LSCB, for all independent schools within the area covered by the Richmond and Kingston Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards.
St Paul’s also subsequently hosted and delivered a successful set of seminars to feeder prep schools (over 40 attended) on safeguarding governance, safer recruitment and safeguarding and child protection training.
Members of the St Paul’s Executive team sit as Safeguarding governors for local prep schools, including King’s House (Richmond), Durston House (Ealing) and Tower House (Sheen).