New policy for keeping Bedford children safe approved by Borough Council

School children

Guidance for keeping children safe in education has been divided into two sections to include a section for ‘low level’ concerns, a meeting heard.

And these include situations like teachers talking to a student in a secluded area or using their phone to take pictures of students.

Toni-lee Beckton, policy & workforce development officer at Bedford Borough Council told the Joint Consultative and Negotiating Committee on Tuesday, 30 November the allegations of abuse policy was updated in line with the changes made to keep children safe in education.

She said: “This policy manages the allegations of abuse made against teachers or other staff within schools.

“The guidance has been divided into two sections, section one covers all the allegations that meet the harm threshold in consultation with the LADO.”

A local authority designated officer (LADO) works within Children’s Services and gives advice and guidance to employers, organisations and other individuals who have concerns about the behaviour of an adult who works with children and young people.

Ms Beckton said: “But they have added a section two, which is low-level concerns.

“These are concerns that do not meet the harm threshold at which point schools do not need to have a consultation with the LADO, they can deal with these concerns themselves.”

She added that if there is any doubt if a complaint meets the harm threshold or not, the LADO would provide guidance to the school.

Examples of allegations that may meet the harms threshold given by the Department for Education’s guidance, ‘Keeping children safe in education 2021’, includes “behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child” and “behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children”.

Examples of behaviour that may not meet the harms threshold given by the DfE guidance include; “engaging with a child on a one-to-one basis in a secluded area or behind a closed door” and “taking photographs of children on their mobile phone”.

Ms Beckton said: “There’s some additional wording in terms of definitions, some more information around transferable risk, so issues that happen outside of schooling but where that risk is transferable to the school setting.

“Allegations of abuse that meet the threshold are included in references, but low-level concerns are not,” she added.

Ben Pearson, chief education officer, told the committee that the policy had involved “lots of consultation” with the trade unions.

“One of the real benefits of the way we work in Bedford Borough is we do work together certainly before the committee,

“So I hope trade union colleagues will be happy and supportive of this because we’ve all been here together.”

Kiran Mal, UNISON branch secretary, said: “I just want to thank HR and Ben for giving us the information beforehand and we’ve all had an opportunity to feedback accordingly.”

The committee approved the changes made in the policy.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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