Allegations and Safeguarding Process
Individual schools and LAs are required to have their own strategies for addressing complaints and allegations made against staff. The fact that the strategies therefore vary, coupled with the increasing number of complaints and allegations made year on year, creates a volatile and awkward position.
Place child safety as the number one priority.
Be sympathetic to the teacher and hear their side of events. The vast majority of complaints are from disaffected children and have no legitimacy. It’s an incredibly stressful time for a teacher going through such a situation and, while the support we can offer them is limited, it is essential that we are seen as thoroughly professional and dependable throughout.
Follow the routine below to the letter. There is no telling how any given situation may end up; child protection services and police may become involved, as may the press. Any manager who has not followed company policy will not be supported by the company if things escalate.
Keep careful records of every conversation and all related correspondence on the database.
The sections below tell you what you must do in various situations. If further clarification is required, please speak to your line manager. Note that the word “teacher” is used to cover instructors as well. For LSAs and other staff, discuss the matter with your line manager. If you are not confident in any of the parts of the process, please ask for support from your line manager – the priority is that we get this right as a team.
There are three sections below, dealing with: unprofessional conduct; professional incompetence; and potential harm or risk. However, for any allegation of misconduct or unprofessional conduct, the following steps must always be taken:
Steps which must always be taken:
As soon as reasonably possible after hearing of the situation, manager invites the teacher in to discuss the matter. Unless there is very good reason otherwise (and it has been agreed with a Director), the teacher is to be put on stop until the situation is resolved. The teacher is asked to explain his or her interpretation of events. In case it is ever needed for record, we ask them to put it in writing for us, signed and dated. This should happen as soon as practicable after we have first been made aware of the situation.
As soon as reasonably possible after hearing of the situation, manager calls school and asks for their interpretation of events. They will have a record of it in writing. Manager should ask if we can have a copy of it as we will potentially need to refer the event to the DBS; and even if not, we will need to assess carefully how we proceed with the teacher.
Manager asks if other parties have been informed already about the situation.
Manager asks how the school would like us to proceed with the matter.
Inform senior management, who will assess whether other bodies need to be informed of the situation.
Dismissal = refer to DBS.
If we have dismissed a teacher for unacceptable professional conduct; or a school where we sent the teacher has dismissed them for unacceptable professional conduct; or if the teacher resigns from a position when he or she would have been dismissed for unacceptable professional conduct if they had not resigned; then we need to refer the matter to the DBS.
If the matter has been resolved with a warning or anything short of an outright dismissal, and there is no dismissal arising or due to arise, then we do not need to refer it to the DBS, simply follow steps 1 – 4 above. For staff on supply, the definition of “dismissal” has not been clarified by any government body so we need to be guided by what the school would suggest we do and discuss the matter with senior management.
Cease to use the teacher = refer to DBS.
If we have stopped using a teacher because of serious professional incompetence; or a school where we sent the teacher has stopped using them because of serious professional incompetence; or if the teacher makes himself unavailable for work but we would have stopped using him because of serious professional incompetence; then we need to refer the matter to the DBS.
If the matter has been resolved with a warning or similar and the teacher has not been stopped from working by either us or a school where he was working for us, then we do not need to refer it to the DBS, simply follow steps 1 – 4 above.
Harm, potential harm or risk of harm = referral to DBS
In any situation in which the teacher has harmed; could potentially harm; or has placed at risk of harm children or vulnerable adults, a referral must be made to the DBS.
A judgement needs to be made as to whether there is genuine harm or risk. Given the number of spurious allegations made, we need to take guidance from the relevant school on this. Steps 1 to 4 above should be taken. The manager also needs to alert the Head of Operations to the matter, who will then liaise with the school to assess the matter further and make any necessary referrals.