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Low-Level Concerns policy

Review: Spring 2023

This policy must be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  1. Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy
  2. Prevent Policy
  3. Whistleblowing Policy

IMPORTANT:

Low level concerns are concerns or allegations against staff that do not pass the Harms Test. A person satisfies the Harm Test if they may harm a child or vulnerable adult or put them at risk of harm. It is something a person may do to cause harm or pose a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult. The Whistleblowing and safeguarding Policy should be used in the event of a person passing the Harms Test.

Whilst low level concerns do not pass the Harms Test they must be treated seriously.

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Who must be contacted regarding a LLC
  3. Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2021
  4. Clarity around Allegation and Low-Level Concern 
  5. Storing and use of Low-Level Concerns and follow-up information
  6. Low Level Concern Form

Introduction

At Trinity Christian School, we take safeguarding very seriously. This includes ensuring that all adults/staff (including volunteers/students) who work at the school conduct themselves in a way that is in accordance with the Christian faith, vision, ethos and policies set out by the school, including the Staff Code of Conduct. This also includes how adults/staff (including volunteers/students) conduct themselves in their out of work lives. As such, we operate a Low Level Concerns Policy.

Low level concerns are concerns or allegations against staff (including volunteers/students) that do not pass the Harms Test. A person satisfies the Harm Test if they may harm a child or vulnerable adult or put them at risk of harm. Whilst low level concerns do not pass the Harms Test they must be acted upon and treated seriously.

(The Whistleblowing and Safeguarding Policy should be used in the event of a person passing the Harms Test.)

Who must be contacted regarding a LLC

  • It may be possible that a member of staff acts in a way that does not pass the Harms Test and does not cause risk to children, but is, however, inappropriate and contrary to the Christian faith, vision, ethos and policies set out by the school.
  • A member of staff who has a low level concern about another member of staff (including volunteers/students) must:
  • Immediately inform the Headteacher about their concern using a Low-Level Record of Concern Form. The Headteacher should collect as much evidence as possible by speaking where possible with the person who raised the concern, to the individual involved and to any witnesses. If the Head Teacher cannot be contacted, the Chair of Governors (Mr Chadwick) should be contacted instead at chair@trinityteachers.org.uk . In the event of both the Headteacher and Chair being unavailable (illness etc.) the Deputy Chair (Mrs. Boswell) should be contacted at hayleyboswell71@hotmail.co.uk
  • Low level concerns about the Headteacher must be reported to the Chair of Governors who will collect as much evidence as possible by speaking where possible with the person who raised the concern, to the individual involved and to any witnesses using the Low-Level Record of Concern Form.
  • Low level concerns about the Chair of Governors must be reported to the Headteacher and the Deputy Chair who will collect as much evidence as possible by speaking where possible with the person who raised the concern, to the individual involved and to any witnesses using the Low-Level Record of Concern Form.
  • Low level concerns about the Chair of Governors must be reported to the Headteacher and the Deputy Chair who will collect as much evidence as possible by speaking where possible with the person who raised the concern, to the individual involved and to any witnesses using the Low-Level Record of Concern Form.

IMPORTANT:

All reports of low-level concerns must be recorded in writing, with details of the concern, the context in which it arose and action taken.

The name of the person reporting should be noted, respecting wishes to remain anonymous as far as reasonably possible.

Where a pattern of behaviour is identified, the school will decide on a course of action. This might be internal disciplinary procedures, or referral to the LADO if the harms threshold is met.

As a school we will consider if any wider cultural issues exist that enabled the behaviour to occur and if appropriate policies could be revised or extra training delivered to minimise the risk of recurrence.

The rationale for all decisions and actions taken must be recorded.

Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2021

The following is taken from Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2021:

407. As part of their whole school approach to safeguarding, schools and colleges should ensure that they promote an open and transparent culture in which all concerns about all adults working in or on behalf of the school or college (including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors) are dealt with promptly and appropriately.

408. Creating a culture in which all concerns about adults (including allegations that do not meet the harms threshold (see Part Four – Section one)) are shared responsibly and with the right person, recorded and dealt with appropriately, is critical. If implemented correctly, this should encourage an open and transparent culture; enable schools and colleges to identify concerning, problematic or inappropriate behaviour early; minimise the risk of abuse; and ensure that adults working in or on behalf of the school or college are clear about professional boundaries and act within these boundaries, and in accordance with the ethos and values of the institution.

What is a low level concern?

409. The term ‘low-level’ concern does not mean that it is insignificant, it means that the behaviour towards a child does not meet the threshold set out at paragraph

338. A low-level concern is any concern – no matter how small, and even if no more than causing a sense of unease or a ‘nagging doubt’ – that an adult working in or on behalf of the school or college may have acted in a way that:

· is inconsistent with the staff code of conduct, including inappropriate conduct outside of work

· does not meet the allegations threshold or is otherwise not considered serious enough to consider a referral to the LADO.

410. Examples of such behaviour could include, but are not limited to:

 · being over friendly with children;

· having favourites;

· taking photographs of children on their mobile phone;

· engaging with a child on a one-to-one basis in a secluded area or behind a closed door; or,

 · using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating or offensive language.

411. Such behaviour can exist on a wide spectrum, from the inadvertent or thoughtless, or behaviour that may look to be inappropriate, but might not be in specific circumstances, through to that which is ultimately intended to enable abuse.

412. It is crucial that any such concerns, including those which do not meet the harm threshold (see Part Four – Section one), are shared responsibly and with the right person, and recorded and dealt with appropriately. Ensuring they are dealt with effectively should also protect those working in or on behalf of schools and colleges from potential false allegations or misunderstandings.

Other examples can include:

  • Being overly touchy with a child e.g. stroking a child’s hair, arm etc.
  • Meeting a child or being seen with a child outside of school
  • Shouting at children in class or using similar behaviour that contravenes the Code of Conduct

Clarity around Allegation vs Low-Level Concern

Allegation

Behaviour that indicates that an adult has passed the Harms Test and has:

  • Behaved in a way that is harmful to a child – or places a child at harm
  • Possibly committed a crime against or related to a child
  • Behaved in a way that indicates he/she poses a risk to a child

Low level Concern

A concern, no matter how small, that an adult may have acted in a manner which:

  • is not in accordance with the Christian faith, vision, ethos and policies set out by the school,
  • relates to their conduct inside or outside of work which, even if not linked to a particular act or omission, has caused a sense of unease about that adult’s suitability to work with children

Storing and use of Low-Level Concerns and follow-up information

LLC forms and follow-up information will be stored securely within the schools safeguarding systems, with access only by the leadership team. This will be stored in accordance with the school’s GDPR and data protection policies. The staff member(s) reporting the concern must keep the information confidential and not share the concern with others apart from the Headteacher or those named above in section 2.

Low-Level Concerns will not be referred to in references unless they have been formalised into more significant concerns resulting in disciplinary or misconduct procedures. Whenever staff leave Trinity, any record of low-level concerns which are stored about them will be reviewed as to whether or not that information needs to be kept. Consideration will be given to:

(a) whether some or all of the information contained within any record may have any reasonably likely value in terms of any potential historic employment or abuse claim so as to justify keeping it, in line with normal safeguarding records practice; or

(b) if, on balance, any record is not considered to have any reasonably likely value, still less actionable concern, and ought to be deleted accordingly.

Low Level Concern Form

This form must be used to share any concern – no matter how small, and even if no more than a ‘nagging doubt’ – that an adult may have acted in a manner which:

  • is not in accordance with the Christian faith, vision, ethos and policies set out by the school, including the Staff Code of Conduct
  • relates to their conduct outside of work which, even if not linked to a particular act or omission, has caused a sense of unease about that adult’s suitability to work with children. You should provide a concise record – including brief context in which the low-level concern arose, and details which are chronological, and as precise and accurate as possible – of any such concern and relevant incident(s) (and please use a separate sheet if necessary). The record should be signed, timed and dated

Appendix A

Low level Concern Form