Covid-19: additional considerations

The Covid-19 pandemic will have changed the way that a school operates, but any changes will need to take note of the school’s Child Protection Policy that is already in place.

Protection will need provision for a range of social distancing requirements and additional hygiene measures. There might also be a mixture of home and in-school learning and the school might find itself in an area of local lockdown.

Staffing could be an issue, with some staff working with unfamiliar groups of children, while others may be unable to work because they are shielding or self-isolating. This is an ever-changing situation and the overriding factor is for schools to ensure that children and staff are kept safe and that together with parents and carers they feel supported.

In view of the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, schools should continually review and adapt their safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures. For example, if teachers are working with unfamiliar pupils, they will need to be informed of any support needs or child protection issues that affect the children in their care. There should also be a contingency plan in case the nominated child protection lead becomes unavailable.

Most children will be returning to school after months of lockdown and staff should be alert to any child protection concerns that might have arisen. For instance, families might have been having particular problems over the past few months. These might have involved domestic violence and it is important for all staff to be aware of what to do if they have any concerns about a child’s welfare. This is a good time to remind everyone of the school’s procedures for responding.

The school might be faced with a mixture of home and in-school learning and policies will need to be adapted to reflect this. Thought will need to be given as to how to keep in touch with children who will not be seen on a daily basis and ways to ensure that they are safe and well.

If the school should suddenly be closed in the event of a local lockdown, plans will need to be in place to quickly identify vulnerable children and to ensure that they are provided with appropriate support.

In the event of staff shortages, it may be necessary to recruit new staff or volunteers and it is important that safer recruitment practices to ensure suitability of those appointed should continue to be followed.

These additional considerations are intended to be complementary to the school’s existing Child Protection Policy.

For further detailed information and advice about Covid-19, see Croner-i’s Covid-19 coronavirus toolkit for schools.

Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

Promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families and carers has a role to play. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should consider at all times what is in the best interests of the child.

No single professional can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances. If children and their families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.

This topic sets out the general safeguarding procedures a school should follow. Advice on addressing some specific issues that increase pupils’ need for protection, including vulnerability to radicalisation, can be found in the Vulnerable Children topic.

Workflow — Safeguarding in schools

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