As adults we all share a responsibility to safeguard children in our care and to do this as individuals and as an organisation we must protect ourselves from the possibility of being accused of being negligent, abusive or putting our pupils in danger.
In question 3.2 we looked at some policies and procedures that would help teaching staff and support staff to avoid accusations of inappropriate behaviour and negligence such as procedure on physical contact, procedure on the supervision of children, intimate care procedure, procedure for photographs, internet use and informing colleagues of whereabouts. By following these policies and procedures, along with government legislation such as Child Protection Act and Data Protection Act we are not only safeguarding our young people in our care but also ourselves.
In life we favour individuals over others, whether it is because these individuals are more pleasant, share similar interests or look up to you as a mentor or role model. As a result, as teaching or support staff these individuals are treated differently from time to time where their behaviour is not as often punished as more disruptive or least favourite pupils. Regardless it is important to avoid favouritism in everyday practices in the work setting as we have to be professional and treat students equally otherwise we are opening ourselves up to be accused of victimising against others. I would recommend you practice a greater awareness of who you may show a greater bias towards and maintain an open communication channel to avoid the perception of favouritism.
In the previous paragraph I mentioned how certain pupils may look up to teaching or support staff. These viewpoints may be observed by others or transferred by the pupil into feelings of infatuation. If a member of staff becomes aware that a pupil may be infatuated with him/herself or another colleague, they should disclose this at the earliest opportunity with a senior teacher so that appropriate action can be taken. This way steps can be taken to avoid hurt and distress for all concerned. The staff member should also avoid situations or conversations that may further encourage the student and not place yourself into a situation that could lead to nasty rumours circulating amongst the student body or the staff proceeding to concerns about your conduct.
One to one contact is a dangerous situation for an adult. In some cases, tutors, school teachers and support staff are required to work with children in these circumstances but to avoid issues or accusations of concern it is vital that a full and appropriate risk assessments have been agreed ahead of contact or at the start of the academic year before the commencement of the school year. Risk Assessment steps that could be followed include avoid meetings with pupils in isolated area and always inform colleagues and/or parents about one to one contact beforehand, assessing the need to have them present or close by. In any case consider the need of the student during one to one situations and always report any problems where the child becomes distressed or angry towards you
School staff members should always be prepared for incidents on and off campus. In question 3.2 I discussed procedures for school outings. When planning a school outing it is important for the trip organiser to assess all risks prior to the trip to safeguard the pupils and the school itself. In terms of transport it’s vital that the vehicle being used meets the requirements around seat belts and car seats, details of the journey must be recorded e.g. pick up points, drop off points and a record of comfort stops in case of an unseen incident. Parental consent must be acquired ahead of any outing after all the aims of the procedures are to outline the expected behaviours of the children and staff, supervisory arrangements which are needed to conduct a safe visit.
The greatest method how practitioners can take steps to protect themselves within their everyday practice in the work setting and on off site visits is to complete Checklists for absolutely everything. Checklists can help you stay up to date with assessing risks in the classroom, building and surrounding areas, the state of equipment and can assist with drawing up action plans to eliminate the risks.