Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy
These child protection policy and procedure materials were drawn up specifically for ABRSM with the assistance and advice of the NSPCC and conform to current child protection legislation and guidance. The NSPCC cannot accept responsibility for the implementation and application of the procedures.
The ABRSM Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy is comprised of the following sections. Should you require a specific section of the policy, please use the titles provided below for ease of navigation.
ABRSM is a charitable company established by four Royal Schools of Music for the benefit of music education. Its core activity is the operation of an authoritative and internationally recognised exam and assessment system to encourage and motivate players and singers at all levels through the provision of goals and the measurement of progress.
ABRSM acknowledges it has a responsibility for the safety of children undertaking its exams or otherwise under its temporary care. It also recognises that good safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures are of benefit to everyone involved with ABRSM’s work, including staff, as they can help protect them from erroneous or malicious allegations.
ABRSM is committed to practices which protect children from harm. For the purpose of this policy, ABRSM’s staff include not only its employees but also the examiners, Honorary Local Representatives and stewards. All staff who have unsupervised access to or contact with children are required to:
- recognise and accept their responsibilities;
- develop awareness of the issues which can cause children harm; and
- report concerns following the procedure below.
ABRSM will endeavour to safeguard children by:
- adopting safeguarding and child protection procedures and a code of practice for all who work on behalf of the organisation;
- reporting concerns to the authorities;
- following carefully procedures for recruitment and selection of staff, examiners and volunteers; and
- providing effective management for staff, examiners and volunteers through support and training.
ABRSM is also committed to reviewing its Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy and Code of Practice at regular intervals.
It is ABRSM’s policy that:
- All staff working on behalf of ABRSM accept responsibility for the welfare of children who come into contact with ABRSM in connection with its tasks and functions, and that they will report any concerns about a child or somebody else’s behaviour, using the procedures laid down.
- There is a Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) within ABRSM who will take action following any expression of concern and the lines of responsibility in respect of child protection are clear.
- The DSP knows how to make appropriate referrals to statutory child protection agencies.
- All those who are involved with children on behalf of ABRSM should adhere to the Code of Practice in relation to children.
- Information relating to any allegation or disclosure will be clearly recorded as soon as possible, and there is a procedure setting out who should record information and the time-scales for passing it on.
- The Children Act 1989 states that the “welfare of the child is paramount”. This means that considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations should not be allowed to over-ride the right of children to be protected from harm. However, every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned when an allegation has been made and is being investigated, see appendix C.
- ABRSM’s policy on duty of care to children will be referred to or included in recruitment, training, moderation and policy materials where appropriate, and the policies are openly and widely available to staff and actively promoted within the organisation.
- A culture of mutual respect between children and those who represent ABRSM in all its activities will be encouraged, with adults modelling good practice in this context.
- All staff, examiners, volunteers and anyone in paid or unpaid work on behalf of ABRSM with unsupervised access to children will be vetted appropriately.
- It is part of ABRSM’s acceptance of its responsibility of duty of care towards children that anybody who encounters child protection concerns in the context of their work on behalf of ABRSM will be supported when they report their concerns in good faith.
ABRSM expects that all staff, which for these purposes includes anybody in paid or unpaid work on its behalf (Honorary Local Representatives, stewards and examiners as well as staff) will be aware of this Code of Practice and adhere to its principles in their approach to all children.
- The exam process should be as open as possible, and it is important that no more time should be spent alone with children than is necessary to conduct the exam.
- It is important not to have physical contact with children and this should be avoided.
- It is not good practice to take children alone in a car on journeys, however short.
- Do not make suggestive or inappropriate remarks to or about a child, even in fun, as this could be misinterpreted.
- It is important not to deter children from making a ‘disclosure’ of abuse through fear of not being believed, and to listen to what they have to say. Guidance on handling a disclosure is set out in Appendix C. If this gives rise to a child protection concern it is important to follow ABRSM’s procedure for reporting such concerns, and not to attempt to investigate the concern yourself.
- Remember that those who abuse children can be of any age (even other children), gender, ethnic background or class, and it is important not to allow personal preconceptions about people to prevent appropriate action taking place.
- Good practice includes valuing and respecting children as individuals, and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct - which will always exclude bullying, shouting, racism, sectarianism or sexism.
ABRSM has appointed a Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) who is responsible for dealing with any concerns about the protection of children. This person is the Deputy Head of UK Operations, Lynne Butler, telephone number +44 (0)20 7467 8854. Contact the DSP by email.
The role of the DSP is to:
- Know which outside child protection agency to contact in the event of a child protection concern coming to the notice of ABRSM.
- Provide information and advice on child protection within ABRSM.
- Ensure that appropriate information is available at the time of referral and that the referral is confirmed in writing under confidential cover.
- Liaise with local children’s social care services and other agencies, as appropriate.
- Keep relevant people within ABRSM informed about any action taken and any further action required; for example, disciplinary action against a member of staff.
- Ensure that a proper record is kept of any referral and action taken, and that this is kept safely and in confidence
- Advise ABRSM of safeguarding and child protection training needs.
- Liaise with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to review the operation of the Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy regularly to ensure the procedures are working and that it complies with current best practice.
Staff could have their suspicion or concern raised in a number of ways, the most likely of which are:
- the conduct of a member of ABRSM’s staff;
- a child “disclosing” abuse;
- bruising or evidence of physical hurt; which may or may not be accompanied by;
- unusual behaviour by a child.
If a member of staff has such concerns they should be reported to the DSP using the form as set out in Appendix D as a part of the process flowchart.
Concerns about a specific child should be reported immediately by telephone to the DSP and confirmed in writing within 24 hours using the form at Appendix D. Delay could prejudice the welfare of a child.
If the concerns relate to the conduct of a member of staff these should be reported by phone to the DSP immediately. Steps will be taken to fully support anyone who in good faith reports his or her concerns about a colleague and every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality for all parties whilst the allegation is considered.
Concerns in relation to a member of staff may indicate unsuitability to continue working with children in their present position, or in any capacity. Consideration will need to be given to whether:
- Someone has behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child,
- Someone has possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
- Someone has behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children.
There may be up to three strands in the consideration of an allegation against a member of ABRSM’s workforce:
- A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
- Enquiries and assessment by children’s social care about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services; and
- Consideration by an employer of disciplinary action in respect of the individual.
This flowchart demonstrates the process by which child protection concerns will be addressed by ABRSM.
Statutory guidance* provides four defined areas of child abuse;
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
* Working together to safeguard children (2010), DCSF
ABRSM has adopted appropriate recruitment and selection procedures* for staff and examiners in the context of safeguarding and child protection and these include the following:
- Ensuring that the recruitment and selection policy is up to date.
- Ensuring that ABRSM’s commitment to safeguarding is included in all recruitment and selection materials.
- Ensuring that we have an up-to-date job/role description and person specification for the role we wish to recruit to.
- Ensuring that our methods for attracting candidates e.g. advertising contain all necessary information about the role, timetable for recruitment and our commitment to safeguarding.
- Ensuring that we have compiled a suitable candidate information pack containing all the required information about ABRSM, the role, recruitment timetable, safeguarding policy/statement and application form.
- Ensuring that each application received is scrutinised in a systematic way by the short listing panel in order to agree the shortlist before sending invitations to interview.
- Ensuring that all short listed candidates receive the same invitation to interview, supplying them with all the necessary information.
- Ensuring that an interview is conducted for all short listed candidates based on an objective assessment of the candidate’s ability to meet the person specification and job description. For ABRSM employees and examiners this will be a face to face interview.
- Ensuring that all specific questions designed to gain required information about each candidate’s suitability have been asked, including those needed to address an gaps in information supplied in the application form.
- Ensuring that we are able to make a confident selection of a preferred candidate based upon their demonstration of suitability for the role.
- Ensuring that all appropriate checks have been undertaken on the preferred candidate, including references and DBS checks.
- Ensuring that the preferred candidate is informed that the offer of employment (including volunteer positions) is conditional on receiving satisfactory information from all necessary checks.
* Based on Recruiting safely (2009), Children’s Workforce Development Council
- Stay calm.
- Listen carefully to what is said.
- Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets.
- Tell the child that the matter will only be disclosed to those who need to know about it.
- Allow the child to continue at her/his own pace.
- Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer.
- Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you.
- Tell them what you will do next, and with whom the information will be shared.
- Record in writing what was said, using the child’s own words as soon as possible – note the date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
- It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional child protection agencies, following a referral from the Designated Safeguarding Person in the organisation.