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Safeguarding Policy 2024-2025

Wildcats Designated Safeguarding Officers:

Caz Dolby (Level 3 DSL Qualification)

Sophie Clulow (Level 3 DSL Qualification)

 

All organisations that make provision for children and young people must ensure that:

+ The welfare of the child is paramount.

+ All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or

sexual identity, have the right to protection from abuse.

+ All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.

+ All staff (paid/unpaid) working with children and young people have a responsibility to report concerns to

the appropriate officer.

Child Protection Policy Statement

Wildcats has a duty of care to safeguard all children involved in any activities from harm. All children have a right to protection, and the needs of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account.

Wildcats will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in their workshops and activities through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines. A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act 1989).

Policy Aims:

The aim of Wildcats Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:

+ Providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of the workshop or activity leader.

+ Allow all staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.

 

Promoting good practice:

Child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.

Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school and the workshop environment. Some individuals will actively seek employment or voluntary work with young people in order to harm them. A coach, instructor, teacher, official or volunteer will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.

When a child enters the activity having been subjected to child abuse outside the activities environment, the types of activities we offer can play a crucial role in improving the child’s self-- esteem. In such instances we will work with the appropriate agencies to ensure the child receives the required support.

 

Good practice guidelines:

All personnel should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.

Good practice means:

+ Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.

+ Treating all young people/disabled adults equally with respect and dignity.

+ Always putting the welfare of each young person first.

+ Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with children and young people (eg it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).

+ Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children to share in decision making.

+ Making the activities fun, enjoyable.

+ Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly. If it is difficult to maintain hand or body positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.

+ Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance.

+ Involving parents/carers wherever possible. For example, allowing parents of carers to stay during sessions, and allowing parents and carers to watch small ‘mini performances’ of work done during sessions.

+ Ensuring that at any residential events, adults should not enter children’s rooms or invite children into their rooms.

+ Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.

+ Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.

+ Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people whatever their ability.

+ Securing parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.

+ Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.

+ Requesting written parental consent if any leaders are required to transport young people in their cars.

 

Practices to be avoided:

The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable (eg the child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick a child up at the end of a session), it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the club or the child’s parents.

Otherwise, avoid:

+ Spending excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others.

+ Taking or dropping off a child to an event.

Practices never to be sanctioned:

The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:

+ Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.

+ Share a room with a child.

+ Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.

+ Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.

+ Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.

+ Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.

+ Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.

+ Do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults that they can do for themselves.

+ Invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.

 

NB It may sometimes be necessary for staff or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or have additional needs. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing, or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained. Parents are to be expected to do these tasks until such an age when the child can do this for themselves.

Incidents that must be reported/recorded:

If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to another colleague and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:

+ if you accidentally hurt a child or young person.

+ If he/she seems distressed in any manner

+ if a young person or child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.

Use of photographic/filming equipment at events:

There is evidence that some people have used workshops and performance events as an opportunity to takeinappropriate photographs or film footage of young and disabled people in vulnerable positions. All should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the Child Protection Officer.

Parental consent will be gained in all cases before any photographs or video are taken of any children or young people. Photo’s and video footage will be used for promotional purposes and to highlight the work done.

Recruitment and training of staff and volunteers:

Wildcats recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

Pre--selection checks must included the following:

+ All volunteers/staff should complete an application form. The application form will elicit information about an applicant's past and a self-- disclosure about any criminal record.

+ Consent should be obtained from an applicant to seek information from the Criminal Records Bureau.

+ Two confidential references, including one regarding previous work with children. These references must be taken up and confirmed through telephone contact.

+ Evidence of identity should be provided (eg passport or driving licence with photo).

Interview and induction:

All employees, freelance workers (and volunteers) will be required to undergo an interview carried out to acceptable protocol and recommendations. All employees and volunteers should receive formal or informal induction, during which:

+ A check should be made that the application form has been completed in full (including sections on criminal records and self--disclosures).

+ Their qualifications should be substantiated.

+ The job requirements and responsibilities should be clarified.

+ They should sign up to Wildcats Code of Ethics and Conduct.

+ Child protection procedures are explained and training needs are identified.

Training:

In addition to pre-- selection checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment to help

staff and volunteers to:

+ Analyse their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is likely to protect them from false allegations.

+ Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.

+ Respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person.

+ Work safely and effectively with children.

Responding to allegations or suspicions:

Should an allegation be made, the nominated staff member should record the following details:

• Ø· Name of the child

• Ø· Parent’s/carer’s details

• Ø· Child’s address

• Ø· Relevant phone numbers

• Ø· What is said to have happened or what was seen

• Ø· When it occurred

• Ø· Who else, if anyone, was there?

• Ø· What was said by those involved

• Ø· What evidence of abuse can be recorded

• Ø· Who has been told about it

• Ø· Who was involved in the incident, and if possible record in what way concerned?

• Ø· Was the child able to say what happened, if so how did they describe it?

• Ø· Whether the parent(s) have been advised.

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Any complaints of suspected or actual child abuse or of young people being put at risk must be taken seriously and acted upon immediately. If a member of staff believes that a child may be suffering, or may be at risk of suffering significant harm, then he/she will need to make Wildcats aware who will inform the appropriate authorities.

TYPES OF ABUSE

All staff members within a project will need to note the definitions stated below and pass on any concerns to the partners. This includes any behaviour, as stated below, that may indicate abuse elsewhere. (E.g --home,school,etc).

Please note that it may be other young people who are creating the abuse, not necessarily parents, teachers or youth leaders.

Abuse states many forms. Please see below:

PHYSICAL ABUSE

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, pushing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning,suffocating, or other actions causing physical harm to a young person. Physical harm may also be caused whena parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment 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 undervalued. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.

SEXUAL ABUSE

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether ornot the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. Rape or buggery) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non--contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

NEGLECT

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

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Wildcats aims to create a safe and secure environment for young people to learn and enjoy theatre and performing arts.

ALL staff will, under no circumstance, tolerate bullying, racism, or sexism.

ALL staff will report any suspicions to the partners.

ALL staff will be checked by the CRB.

ALL staff will be aware that they are in a relationship of trust with the young people at the Theatre School.  Under no circumstance should this trust be abused. Staff should note that while we are all friendly and professional, we are teachers. The young people are our responsibility and no relationship between a leader and young person should be expanded outside the realms of Wildcats. This includes all forms of contact, including phone calls, e--

mail and text messages. Should a member of staff need to contact a pupil to discuss something to do with their class, then the owners should be informed first hand before contact is made.

 

Wildcats operate a “whistle blowing” policy, whereby young people and staff can voice ANY concerns about abusive or unethical conduct. Staff & pupils should note that it takes courage to challenge inappropriate behaviour but that concerns should be voiced immediately. This will prevent further incidents and also make staff aware should anything take place in the future.

Wildcats will follow the NSPCC's core values, which are based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are:

􀀀 Children must be protected from all forms of violence and exploitation

􀀀 Everyone has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children

􀀀 We listen to children and young people, respect their views and respond to them directly

􀀀 Children should be encouraged and enabled to fulfil their potential

􀀀 We challenge inequalities for children and young people

􀀀 Every child must have someone to turn to

It is not the responsibility of anyone working with Wildcats in a paid or unpaid capacity, to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.

Wildcats will assure all staff/volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reportshis/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.

Where there is a complaint against a member of staff there may be three types of investigation:

+ a criminal investigation

+ a child protection investigation

+ a disciplinary or misconduct investigation.

The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.

Action:

1. Concerns about poor practice:

+ If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice, the Child Protection Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.

+ If the allegation is about poor practice by the Child Protection Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the relevant officer who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

2. Concerns about suspected abuse:

+ Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either a member of staff or a volunteer should be reported to the Child Protection Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.

+ The Child Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out--of-- hours.

+ The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.

+ The Child Protection Officer should also notify the relevant authorities.  Reference source not found. officer who in turn will inform the Child Protection Officer who will deal with any media enquiries.

+ If the Child Protection Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the appropriate Manager or in his/her absence the owner. Child Protection Officer who will refer the allegation to social services.

Confidentiality:

Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.

This includes the following people:

+ the Child Protection Officer

+ the parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused

+ the person making the allegation

+ social services/police

+ the Wildcats lead worker

+ the alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child).

Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (eg that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

Internal enquiries and suspension:

+ The Wildcats Child Protection Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.

+ Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the Wildcats Disciplinary Committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of staff or volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision, particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, Key Youth Creations Disciplinary Committee must reach a decision based upon the available information, which could suggest that on a balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.

Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse:

+ Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, parents and members of staff may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process. The British Association for Counselling Directory is available from The British Association for Counselling, 1 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PJ, Tel: 01788 550899

+ Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.

Allegations of previous abuse:

Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (eg by an adult who was abused as a child or by a member of staff who is still currently working with children).

Where such an allegation is made, the club should follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children, either within or outside sport, may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children. This is reinforced by the details of the Protection of Children Act 1999.

Action if bullying is suspected:

If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in 'Responding to suspicions or allegations' above.

Action to help the victim and prevent bullying in workshops or sessions:

+ Take all signs of bullying very seriously.

+ Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns (It is believed that up to 12 children per year commit suicide as a result of bullying, so if anyone talks about or threatens suicide, seek professional help immediately). Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority.

+ Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.

+ Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.

+ Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).

+ Report any concerns to the Child Protection Officer or the school (wherever the bullying is occurring).

Action towards the bully(ies):

+ Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequencesof their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).

+ Inform the bully(ies)’s parents.

+ Insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully(ies) compensate the victim.

+ Provide support for the victim's coach.

+ Impose sanctions as necessary.

+ Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour.

+ Hold meetings with the families to report on progress.

+ Inform all organisation members of action taken.

+ Keep a written record of action taken.

3. Concerns outside the immediate environment (eg a parent or carer):

+ Report your concerns to the Child Protection Officer, who should contact social services or the police assoon as possible.

+ See 4. below for the information social services or the police will need.

+ If the Child Protection Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse shouldcontact social services or the police immediately.

+ Social services and the Child Protection Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.

+ The Child Protection Officer should also report the incident to the owner and the governing body. The governing body should ascertain whether or not the person/(s) involved in the incident play a role in And act accordingly.

+ Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.

+ See 4. below regarding information needed for social services.

4. Information for social services or the police about suspected abuse:

To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the timeof the disclosure/concern, which should include the following:

+ The child's name, age and date of birth of the child.

+ The child's home address and telephone number.

+ Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.

+ The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.

+ Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.

+ A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.

+ Details of witnesses to the incidents.

+ The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuriesoccurred.

+ Have the parents been contacted?

+ If so, what has been said?

+ Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.

+ If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child been spoken to? If so, what wassaid?

+ Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.

+ Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.

If you are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with a senior colleague, you can contact social services or the police direct, or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.

Declaration

On behalf of Wildcats we, the undersigned, will oversee the implementation of the Child Protection Policy and take all necessary steps to ensure it is adhered to.

SIGNED BY THE OWNERS. WILDCATS GROUP LTD trading as Wildcats Theatre School.

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