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Coronavirus: how to approve your child protection policy addendum
Find out how to approve the addendum to your child protection/safeguarding policy, including questions to ask so you can feel assured that pupils are being kept safe during the COVID-19 school closure.
Why has our school created an addendum?
The Department for Education (DfE) has said it's important for schools to review and revise their child protection policy to reflect new arrangements in response to COVID-19.
Instead of re-writing the whole thing, your school leaders will probably create an addendum to summarise the relevant changes (the DfE has said it's fine to do this).
Key points to look out for
Below we suggest what might be included in the addendum.
It’s not meant as a guide for writing it, since that’s your school leaders’ job, but use it to give you a sense of what you’re looking for.
Scope and aims
- The addendum applies during the period of school closure due to COVID-19
- The addendum should be read in conjunction with the school's child protection policy
- The best interests of the child must come first
- Any safeguarding concerns will continue to be acted on immediately
- Children should continue to be protected online
Roles and responsibilities
Key safeguarding roles and responsibilities will likely remain the same, but the addendum should cover any coronavirus-related changes, such as:
- The designated safeguarding lead (DSL) – a DSL should be on site wherever possible, or contactable remotely if not. If there's no DSL on site, it should be clear who takes responsibility for coordinating safeguarding and liaising with the off-site DSL
- Staff and volunteers – they should continue to act on any concerns immediately and make sure they know who the DSL is on any given day
Reporting, monitoring and other safeguarding arrangements
Changes to your school's usual procedures should be covered in the addendum. This might include:
- How staff will monitor pupils in school and remotely
- How staff and volunteers can report concerns (whether it's a safeguarding concern about a child, or a concern about another staff member or volunteer who may pose a risk) – this may include changes to contact information and procedures for carrying out investigations
- Arrangements for safeguarding vulnerable pupils remotely, such as contact plans – plus any arrangements for pupils the school has concerns about but who aren't defined by the DfE as 'vulnerable'
- How attendance monitoring will change, including how staff will follow up on pupils expected to attend
- Online safety arrangements
- Mental health support
- Arrangements for managing reports of peer-on-peer abuse and supporting victims
- Arrangements for pupils attending different schools temporarily (e.g. a hub school)
Key questions to challenge the addendum
You need to ask challenging questions of senior leaders when the addendum comes to you for approval, so you can be sure the writing and reviewing process was robust. In addition to the kinds of questions you'd usually cover, ask:
1. Does the addendum reflect the latest safeguarding guidance?
School leaders should be able to explain how the addendum reflects the latest guidance, including:
- Any updates from your 3 local safeguarding partners
- Any updates from your local authority
- The DfE's guidance on safeguarding during coronavirus
2. Does the addendum reflect the school's current situation?
School leaders should be able to explain how the addendum reflects your school's size and phase, plus the needs of its pupils and the way it's currently operating (e.g. open with skeleton staff, or closed and sending children to a hub school).
3. Do staff know how to report a concern both on school premises and remotely? How will you ensure this?
You want to be assured that all staff, and anyone else working on site, is kept up-to-date on how to report a concern.
Since there's the possibility that the DSL may not be on site all the time, school leaders should have a strategy in place for making sure there's no doubt over who's responsible for safeguarding.
School leaders should also be able to explain how staff will know how to report a concern if they, or the child in question, are working remotely.
4. How will we know this policy is working, and being properly implemented?
School leaders should be able to explain:
- How staff will be informed of the addendum, and how they'll make sure each staff member has read it
- How staff will be notified of any further changes
- How they'll monitor safeguarding in light of this addendum
- How they'll keep parents and pupils updated on online safety
- This may include what the school will do to help parents identify if their child's at risk of radicalisation or grooming
As noted above, you’re not expected to write this, but you can use our model to get an idea of what a good addendum might look like:
Approve it remotely
As a chair of governors, you may be approving this policy either:
- As part of a remote full governing board meeting, or
- As a 'chair's action'
If you're approving this as a full board, you'll likely follow the same procedure as any other policy – but double check with your local authority or trust in case they have specific guidance.
The main difference is that you won't be there in person, so make sure the meeting remains quorate for the duration of the discussion and vote (i.e. no dropped connections that mean the meeting isn't quorate).
Find out more about running virtual meetings here.
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