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Safeguarding

Safeguarding information about our school.

Safeguarding at St Mary’s Catholic First School

St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. We are fully committed to ensuring that consistent effective safeguarding procedures are in place to support families, children and staff at school. We believe all staff and visitors have an important and unique role to play in child protection.

At St. Mary’s we believe that:

  • All children have the right to be protected from harm
  • Children need support which matches their individual needs, including those who may have experienced abuse
  • Children need to be safe and feel safe in school.

St. Mary’s is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and expects everyone involved with the school to share this commitment. Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility.

Our staff are expected to be vigilant and curious about the children in their care; they are aware of how to keep our children safe and what signs to look out for. Our pupils are encouraged to share any concerns that they may have and know that these will be taken seriously. We take action as appropriate to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

The school is committed to working in partnership with parents/carers to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and to support them to understand our statutory responsibilities in this area.

We carefully check that all staff and volunteers are safe to work with our children. All necessary checks are made including DBS checks, references, ID and employment history. We keep a single central record of all this information and this is regularly monitored. Visitors and volunteers are rigorously checked in much the same way staff are before they can have any unsupervised access to our children. Any contractors on site have to read a safety briefing before being signed into the building. All adults in school wear an ID badge with a coloured lanyard for quick identification. This lanyard also houses our TED (Tell, Explain, Describe) card, ensuring all adults in school to respond appropriately to any possible pupil disclosures.

Designated Child Protection Officers at St. Mary’s:
The Lead Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) is Mrs Sarah Oakes, Acting Headteacher. The Deputy Designated Child Protection Officers are Miss Rachel Baird and Mrs. Eleanor Stoves. Mrs. Stoves also oversees Inclusion and Attendance support. The Designated Governor is Mrs. Nicola Vaughan. All have undertaken the relevant training.

If you have any concerns at all and wish to talk to someone, please come into school to talk to any of our Designated Safeguarding Leads listed below or telephone them on (01434) 603 791.

If you are concerned about a child, please come and talk to one of us.

Relevant Documentation

Safeguarding PolicyView
Child Friendly Safeguarding PolicyView
Safeguarding LeafletView
St. Mary’s Contextual SafeguardingView
Managing Low Level ConcernsView
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023View
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (Updated 2020) DfEView

Cause for Concern
Staff are expected to report any causes for concern to the DSL or Deputy DSL using an online reporting system called CPOMS. Concerns may range from children being visibly upset to persistent lateness to children “disclosing” concerns.

When the school has concerns about a child, the DSL will act as a source of support, advice and expertise to staff on matters of safety and safeguarding and when deciding whether to make a referral by liaising with relevant agencies. In general, we will discuss concerns with parents/carers before approaching other agencies and will seek their consent to make a referral to another agency. Appropriate staff will approach parents/carers after consultation with the DSL. However, there may be occasions when school will contact another agency before informing parents/carers if the school decides that contacting them may increase the risk of significant harm to the child.

Child protection information will be dealt with in a confidential manner.

Child Protection

As a school, we follow our safeguarding and child protection policy (link above) in order to follow our statutory duties. All staff must report any concerns they have about a child and not see these as insignificant. Staff will not assume a colleague or another professional will take action and share the concern. On occasions, a referral to Children’s Services is justified by a single incident such as an injury or disclosure of abuse. More often however, concerns accumulate over a period of time and are evidenced by building up a picture over time; this is particularly true in cases of emotional abuse and neglect. In these circumstances, staff record and pass on concerns in accordance with this policy to allow the Designated Safeguarding Lead to build up a picture and access support for the child at the earliest opportunity.

All concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions will be recorded in writing on the school’s CPOMS system ( this is an online system to monitor safeguarding, well-being and pastoral issues.)

Operation Encompass

We are involved in a new innovative project that schools in Northumberland participate in. The project, called Operation Encompass, is being run in partnership with both Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Police. The project, which commenced in April 2015 aims to support children who are affected by domestic abuse.

Operation Encompass aims to support children and young people who are affected by domestic abuse. Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for a child or young person, who often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent’s injuries or distress afterwards or can be physically hurt by trying to stop the abuse.

As a result, following any domestic abuse incident being reported to the police, the Police will make contact with Children’s Social Care who will then communicate relevant and necessary information to nominated school staff. This will ensure that the school is made aware at the earliest possible opportunity and can subsequently provide support to children in a way that means they feel safe and listened to.

Each school has members of staff (key adults) who liaise with police and Children’s Social Care when required and will ensure that the necessary support is made available to the child or young person following the disclosure of a domestic abuse incident.

The Children’s Act states that the child’s welfare is paramount and that every child has the right to protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Operation Encompass WebsiteView
Operation Encompass-10 Things You Should Know & Contact DetailsView
Domestic abuse Support service NorthumberlandView

Operation Endeavour

St. Mary’s is also involved in Operation Endeavour.  This is an innovative project within schools and colleges in Northumberland, and which is run in partnership with Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Police. 

Operation Endeavour aims to support children and young people who go missing from home.  Children who go missing from home are at risk of significant harm and they may be vulnerable to sexual exploitation, violent crime, gang exploitation, or to drug and alcohol misuse. 

As a result, following any report of a child going missing to the Police, the Police will make contact with Children’s Social Care who will then communicate relevant and necessary information to nominated school staff.  

Each school has members of staff (key adults) who have been fully trained in liaising with the Police and Children’s Social Care when required and will ensure that the necessary support is made available to the child or young person following their return.   I believe that this project demonstrates our school’s commitment to working in partnership to safeguard and protect children, and to providing the best possible care and support for our pupils.  

Operation Endeavour-10 Things You Should Know & Contact DetailsView

Safeguarding Policies
General information about safeguarding related policies and practices within our school can be found on this page and on the Policies section of our website. Please follow link below:

E-Safety

We actively promote and monitor e-safety.  We have regular e-safety audits and this supports our comprehensive policy.  All pupils, staff and visitors to school must read and sign our Acceptable Use Policy before any access to our systems is allowed. All usage is monitored by specialist software and this is backed up by a robust firewall and web filtering. Pupils are taught how to stay safe online and this is regularly reinforced in computing lessons and what to do or who they can talk to if they are worried.

E-Safety PolicyView
E-Safety Resources for ParentsView

PREVENT

Children are vulnerable to extremist ideology and radicalisation. Similar to protecting children from other forms of harms and abuse, protecting children from this risk is part of our safeguarding approach.

The impact of the pandemic, social isolation and a rise in hateful extremism online is creating a situation which is making more young people vulnerable to radicalisation and other forms of grooming.

Prevent is a preventative programme, delivered locally by teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, and religious leaders. It places protection around people vulnerable to radicalisation, stopping them from being drawn into terrorism – regardless of the ideology.

Parents, friends and families can also get specialist support to stop their loved ones being drawn into harmful activities or groups, with the launch of ACT Early – a new dedicated safeguarding website and advice line from the specialists at Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP).

If you are worried that someone you know is being radicalised, visit http://www.actearly.uk/

For help and advice visit www.actearly.uk, or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, and specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns.

Prevent Duty DfE GuidanceView

Attendance

Please support us by ensuring that your child attends school regularly – this is a parents’ legal responsibility. Failing to attend school on a regular basis will be considered as a safeguarding matter. Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupil’s absence disrupts teaching routines so may also affect the learning of others in the same class.

Absences are reported as follows:

  1. Call the office on (01434) 603 791 and leave a message
  2. Email info@smfs.bwcet.com

We expect all absence from school to be reported as soon as possible and at least by 9.30 am on the first morning of absence. If we do not hear from parents or carers, we will systematically go through each of the contacts we hold for the child until we are able to speak with someone.  If we are unable to speak with anyone, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and this will be followed up with a letter and reminder of our correct reporting procedures.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of attendance or any concerns you may have contact our Attendance Officer Eleanor Stoves (01434 605 124) or Headteacher.

St. Mary’s First School Parental Guide to AttendanceView
A guide for Parents on School AttendanceView

Behaviour

Our school has high expectations for pupils’ behaviour and conduct. We expect and model good manners and kindness. These expectations are commonly understood and applied consistently and fairly. You will see positive behaviour and conduct across St. Mary’s. The school has a diverse intake regarding pupil needs. When children find it difficult to follow expectations, staff work patiently, with determination and compassion to support them to overcome these difficulties.

Low-level disruption is addressed effectively. Our staff manage pupils’ behaviour well. Classroom staff and leaders make sure that pupils follow appropriate routines, Ready Respectful, Safe. The children show perseverance and resilience in lessons. Mistakes are ‘good’ and staff use the growth mindset approach to encourage the children to try their best.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two children of any age and sex from primary to secondary stage and into colleges. It can also occur online. At St. Mary’s, staff have been made aware of the importance of:

  • Challenging inappropriate behaviours
  • Making clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up
  • Not tolerating or dismissing sexual violence or sexual harassment
  • Challenging physical behaviours
  • Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.

Guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges is available in ‘Part five: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment’ within Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022.

Curriculum

At St. Mary’s, we have a calm, secure and encouraging environment where children feel safe and their holistic development is enhanced through the delivery of our whole school curriculum, including our PSHE/RSE curriculum, curriculum drivers, work with external agencies, and other communities. We have identified opportunities across all curriculum subjects to directly teach the children about keeping safe/and safeguarding. Please see the curriculum section for further information.

Health and Safety

We work hard to ensure that our site is as safe as possible. Staff closely supervise the children in all areas of the school and they are visible and available to talk to at all times. The grounds are checked by the caretaker every day and the building is maintained to the highest standards. External experts come regularly to ensure everything is fully functioning and safe – fire safety, water, electrics, etc

The premises are accessible to pupils, parents and staff with disabilities.

We carry out regular fire alarm and evacuation tests and all of this is recorded in our Fire Log. An annual Fire Audit and risk assessments reviews are carried out regularly.

Our catering facilities meet the highest standards of hygiene and they are checked regularly by Environmental Health. We also meet the nutritional standards in place nationally and we are proactive and knowledgeable about the food of all pupils with allergies.

Our Health & Safety team includes the Director of Estates and representatives from across the school and Trust. They meet to discuss all matters of health and safety to ensure the school complies with and goes beyond all national and local health & safety regulations.

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Updated | 8th November, 2023 |

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