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According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) every individual, regardless of their race, nationality, gender, age or disability, has a right to a free compulsory elementary education. The access to education is a requirement for full realization of the right to education (Article 26). Education is the key to child’s enjoyment of many other rights. It helps children to ensure to reach their full potential, their well-being, and to assure their short and long term interests. Indeed, Education right leads children to participate as an active responsible individual in society, and to enshrine the value of others and natural environment (Hodgkin & Newell, 1998). It also decreases their vulnerability to poverty; inequality and social exclusion (Hart et. al, 2001).
There are several responsibilities of local education authorities, schools and statutory provisions which have a bearing on this area including; Local authorities have to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need and provide a level of services which is appropriate to those children’s needs (Children Act 1989, Section 17). Moreover, LEAs and other organisations are required to participate in the exercise of functions. They are also required to make child protection enquiries if they find a reasonable cause to suspect a child in their area (Children Act 1998, Section 47). Furthermore; they have to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are accomplished with considering the safeguarding and promoting of children’s welfare with regards to Secretory of State guidance (Children Act 2002, Section 175). Education Act 2002 and The Education Regulations 2003 stated that the managers of independent schools and governing bodies of non-maintained special schools have to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at the school as approved by the Secretary of State (Non-Maintained Special Schools Regulations 1999). Local education authorities, governing bodies must consider the purpose of section 175 and 157 of the 2002 Act. They have to make arrangements with relevant agencies including district councils, police, the probation service and NHS bodies to collaborate in improving the well-being of children. LEAs also set out 11 standards, which should be met by educational, social and health services by 2014 (children Act 2004, Section11). Local education authorities and educational establishment’s performance are subject to inspection relevant legislation and guidance. Their performance will be judged not only by the available procedures but also by their effectiveness in terms of safeguarding children from harm (Morris, 2005).
Safeguarding Children in education
According to Children Act 2004, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as protecting the children from maltreatment, preventing them from health or development impairment, ensuring children to growing up in safe circumstance and effective care; and enable children to have optimum life chances and successful adulthood. The main aspects of safeguarding are; minimizing the risk of harm to children’s welfare and working in full partnership with other agencies to agreed local policies (Department for Education, 2004).
Although protecting children from maltreatment is essential in preventing the impairment of health or development, they are not on their own adequate to ensure that children are breed in safe and effective care. Under Section 10(2) of the Children Act 2004 various aspects of safeguarding and promoting welfare is set out. Five outcomes are considered for children’s wellbeing including: “physical, mental and emotional health; protection from harm and neglect; education, training and recreation; making a positive contribution to society; and social and economic well-being”. For this purpose, State provided range of services for helping parents to take good care of their children, such as universal services of health, education, housing and income support. Furthermore, early intervention to deal with the adverse effects of socioeconomic disadvantage is a key priority for UK Government by providing an easy access to stimulating environment for parents to support. In 2010 Graham Allen was commissioned by the Government to undertake an independent review, investigating how children at greatest risk of multiple disadvantages get the best start in life. In 2003, second form of early intervention is embodied in the Every Child Matters reforms. These reforms looking for increasing the involvement and contribution of different services which working with children and their families to observe and respond to their difficulties. Sure start is designed to support the Communities First initiatives in disadvantage areas. It gives particular attention to the early years (0-3). In 2004, for early year education intervention, the Welsh Assembly Government aimed to provide a good quality education through Flying start.
According to Department for Education (2006) local authorities and schools safeguarding covers more than a child protection in relation to individual children. It also covers issues such as health and safety of the pupil, bullying, and a range of other issues, for instance school security, drugs and substance misuse, providing first aid and medical needs of children with medical conditions. To achieve the children’s protection, children must feel supported and valued by a group of reliable professionals. As stated by Department for Education guidance Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education (2006), schools must provide a safe environment and move towards identifying and protecting children who are at risk of significant harm and taking appropriate action and making sure that they are kept safe both at home and in the education setting. Indeed schools are responsible for preventing unsuitable people from working with children to increase safe practice and it requires that all staff should be suitably trained and be aware of action to take. Besides, schools have to work in partnership with other agencies which provid services for children. Local authorities are responsible for providing model policies and procedures on all aspects of safeguarding to ensure that schools are aware of, and fulfil, their responsibilities. For that reason, they offer advice and training for schools’ staff and governors (DfE, 2006).
Recruitment and selection
Staffing Guidance under section 35 (8) and 36 (8) of the Education Act 2002 stated that education setting, local authorities, schools and agencies which supply staff to the education sector should adopt robust recruitment and vetting procedures which help to prevent unsuitable people from working with children. Face to face interview, checks and professional and character references should be carried out on people as part of the recruitment process, to check if an applicant is physically and mentally is capable of preforming the job tasks. Criminal record must be undertaken routinely and should be mandatory. The Criminal Records Bureau and any necessary checks of the POCA list and List 99 can illuminate the majority of unapt applicants. According to School Staffing Regulations (2006) and intended Further Education Regulations (2006), all who seek positions in schools which involve contact with children such as volunteers as well as checking employees and supply staff, are subject to enhanced background checks.
Staff Protection Training
Basic child protection training is vital for all staff who is working with children (Lord Laming’s report The Protection of Children in England, 2009). Bandele (2009) on his report on safeguarding training within the education sector inferred that schools need to offer appropriate safeguarding training to all staff in order to ensure, they are confident about their day-to-day work in terms of safeguarding children (Munro, 2011). According to Ofsted’s (2010) survey of social worker across England, professional development and training of the social workers have progressed considerably. In general, social workers have been reported that such training helps them to have a better understanding of children’s needs and their work.
The LSCB child protection procedures are in consistent with ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (Children Act 2004) and the All Wales Child Protection Procedures (2008). Staff needs to have the knowledge that equips them to recognise and respond to child welfare. Applicants working through Protocol Education are well placed to observe abuse or neglect. According to Department of Health (2003) it is an applicant duty who is working within a school or nursery to consider not only major incidents, but also signals which give cause for suspicion or concern. When this occurs the applicant must report any concerns to the school’s designated member of staff with particular responsibility for child protection work. It is also his or her responsibility to follow the specific guidelines which set out in school’s Child Protection Policy. It is an applicant’s duty who is working outside of the school or nursery environment to report any concerns to the Social Services Department. Applicants have a responsibility of explaining on first contact and they cannot keep information confidential. If abuse is suspected the concern should be reported at branch level and then discussed with the Operations Director and then reported to Social Services (Safeguarding Children in Education, 2008). If a candidate has a reason to believe that a child is being abused then the safety of that child has to be a vital consideration in deciding what action needs to be taken. If there is a complaint of abuse made against an applicant who is working through Protocol Education it should be reported to the Branch Manager and Line Managers( Welsh Assembly Government guidance circular, 2004). The necessary action will be taken in accordance with Protocol Education’s Complaints Procedure. An applicant should never interfere on his/her own (Children Act 1989, Section 47).According to Protocol Education ,all applicants of the position outlined in the 1996 Education Act, are forbidden form any form of physical contact and corporal punishment. Under certain circumstances teachers and other staff are allowed to use reasonable force to control pupils which have been authorised by the head teacher. All schools should have a policy about the use of force to control or restrain pupils. Failure to comply with the relevant legal requirements will result in removal.
Child Protection Training
Another step to protect children in the education sector is to develop a curriculum that improves children’s understanding about safeguarding and welfare. Training children is as important as staff training. As a part of developing a healthy and safe lifestyle, Personal, Social and Health Education curriculum materials (2010) provide resources which enable schools to challenge issues regarding healthy relationships, such as, bullying, abuse and domestic violence. Personal safety’s discussions can reinforce the point that any kind of violence is unacceptable. For example it makes children and young people to be aware of the behaviour that is not. In 2011 PSHE education became a statutory subject in schools in England. PSHE provides the opportunities for children to learn about how to keep safe; and who to ask for help if their safety is threatened. For example, recognising risks in different situations and managing how to behave responsibly. Indeed it helps them to judge what kind of physical contact is acceptable or unacceptable. Also help them to recognise when pressure from others threatens their personal safety or develop effective ways of resisting pressure, including knowing when and where to get help. In all schools corporal punishment is forbidden for all pupils. Teachers or other staff member are outlawed from using any degree of physical contact which is intentionally intended to punish and to cause pain, injury or humiliation.
In UK recently, relevant legislation improvements in safeguarding have been widespread such as, The Children Act, Every Child Matter and The Education. Almost all schools now give high priority to getting their safeguarding procedures right. In Ofsted’s Annual Report (2009/10), Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector wrote:
“Safeguardingâ€¦is an issue addressed not only with increasing sureness by those responsible for keeping children and learners safe, but one felt keenly by those most vulnerable to harm and neglect.”
Children’s welfare, safeguarding, and early intervention for children should be the main priority of Government. Government policy must enable vulnerable children to be treated as children first. The Department for Education have overall responsibility for the welfare of all children in school through promoting programs, policies and creating a safe learning environment by developing comprehensive child protection policies, inter agency cooperation, early education intervention and children’s protection training.
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