Schools have an important role in recognizing and referring alleged cases of abuse to social services in line with the All Wales Child Protection Procedures. The school cannot exercise any discretion over cases even though we appreciate the sensitivities involved and on occasion parental consent may not be sought. The following paragraphs give the legal position in which we operate:
‘If any person has knowledge, concerns or suspicions that a child is suffering, has suffered or is likely to be at risk of harm, it is their responsibility to ensure that the concerns are referred to Social Services or the Police, who have statutory duties and powers to investigate and intervene when necessary. ‘ (Section 2.1 All Wales Child Protection Procedures 2008.)
‘The child’s welfare is paramount; safeguarding and promoting his / her welfare is the priority and overriding purpose of the work. When decisions about the child’s future are being taken, his / her wishes and feelings must be taken into account, as well as needs arising from race, culture, religion and language.’ (Section 1.1 Children Act 1989)
Use of Reasonable Force & Restrictive Physical Intervention Policy & Use of ‘Time Out’.
In order to ensure the safety of all members of the school community and visitors, the school may on occasion have to resort to the use of reasonable force, a restrictive physical intervention, or ‘Time Out’.
Section 93 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, replaced Section 550A of the Education Act 1996, and enables school staff to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing, or continuing to do, any of the following:
- Committing any offence (or, for a pupil under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be an offence for an older pupil);
- causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil himself); or
- prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise.
The complete policy on the use of reasonable force and restrictive physical intervention is available on the school’s web site or as a hard copy on request.
Screening, Searching and Confiscation
As part of the school’s behaviour policy and under section 89 of the Education and Inspection Act 2006 the school might have to conduct searches for prohibited items. This could include looking through pupils’ bags and lockers and asking them to turn out their pockets.
Prohibited items include items such as cigarettes and other tobacco products, pornography, fireworks, drugs, weapons, alcohol and stolen items.
If a pupil refuses, it may be necessary to contact the police to carry out a search. In this case parents will be contacted.