Child Protection Policy

Child Protection and Safeguarding

When Young Speakers Scotland (YSS) comes into contact with children and young people, it is always with teachers present and always in groups. Access to YSS events is limited to those who have been invited. There are few, if any, situations where a YSS member of staff or volunteer is the only adult present with children or young people – perhaps when an accompanying teacher has left for a toilet break, or a judge is giving feedback to a debater as everyone else is leaving a room; in each case this is for a very brief period of time. YSS does not communicate with children or young people individually; all contact is made through teachers or parents as intermediaries.

It is therefore unlikely that YSS staff or volunteers will be the sole observers of a sign of child abuse, or that a disclosure of abuse or concern will be made to them. However, it is important that we are alert to these possibilities and know what to do should such an occasion arise.

Below sets out the procedures to follow, should any YSS member of staff or volunteer be alerted to cause for concern about a child or young person’s safety or well-being.

 

Introduction

Young Speakers Scotland (YSS) is an educational charity which provides opportunities for children and young people to learn and practise skills of public speaking and debate and to participate in other competitions, events and activities under its aegis.

It takes its responsibilities for the protection of children and young people very seriously and has established protocols and training opportunities which are designed as far as possible to ensure:

  • That the risks to children participating in activities organised or promoted by YSS are minimised
  • That staff and volunteers of YSS know how to respond should any disclosure be made to them in the course of their contact with any child or young person

The YSS Child Protection Statement

The Statement sets out the approach to Child Protection taken by YSS. It is widely publicised on YSS material.

(a)        Governance

There is at all times at least one Trustee of YSS who is trained and experienced in Child Protection and has clearance under the Disclosure Scotland PVG Scheme. This Trustee has the responsibility of overseeing the operation of this Child Protection policy and compliance with it. The Child Protection Trustee should have the opportunity of making a report to the Annual General Meeting of YSS on the operation of this policy should he/she feel it necessary.

The Child Protection Trustee would receive any disclosures concerning staff members or other Trustees and provides support for the Programmes Director in dealing with any child protection matters.

(b)       Child Protection Trustees

The Child Protection Trustee: Wendy Bellars (Deputy Chair)

The Deputy Child Protection Trustee: Dr Helen Wright

Operational Matters

It is the Programmes Director’s responsibility to ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of the YSS Child Protection Statement and their responsibilities under it.

Review

The Board of Trustees will carry out a review of the YSS Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy, Procedures and Protocols, and of events affected by these, on an annual basis.    This policy was last updated in November 2021.

CHILD PROTECTION STATEMENT

Young Speakers Scotland (YSS) takes its responsibilities for the protection of children and young people very seriously and has established protocols and training opportunities which are designed as far as possible to ensure:

 

That the risks to children participating in activities organised or promoted by YSS are minimised

  • Staff are appointed and volunteers recruited with the safety of children and young people clearly in mind. YSS staff are required to obtain PVG/Disclosure Scotland clearance if they do not already have this. Members of the Board of Trustees who undertake regulated work with children and young people are also required to obtain this. Volunteers are often teachers, who must have such clearance as a condition of their employment. In the case of non-teachers, for example undergraduate students who may act as judges or mentors, these volunteers are given training which includes how to give feedback in a way that is appropriate; the choosing of judges for YSS events involves assessing how mature and appropriate they are in their conduct. Where feasible, at the start of each debating competition an “equity briefing” is delivered to all volunteers and other participants. This covers issues such as bullying and intimidation, as well as inappropriate behaviour in general. There is an “equity officer” – usually the Programmes Director – to whom participants can come if they have any concerns.
  • All children and young people who attend YSS events should be accompanied by school staff or parents/carers, who have principal responsibility for their care. Should a situation arise where school staff or parents are unable to attend an event and take responsibility for the care of their child/children, the member of staff running the event must refer the matter to the Child Protection Trustees who will formulate a plan to ensure the safety of all parties to the event.
  • YSS staff and mentors who undertake regulated work with children and young people are members of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.
  • YSS staff are required to update their own Safeguarding and Child Protection training on an annual basis.
  • All volunteers or staff who attend YSS events for children and young people are sent a copy of the YSS Code of Conduct and, where appropriate, the YSS Online Competition Protocol.
  • The Code of Conduct is issued to all participants in YSS Scotland events, which they are required to sign before taking part. The Code so signed is considered valid for the academic year in question. Representatives of schools may be asked to sign on behalf of all those from their organisation who will be taking part during the year, and it is the responsibility of these representatives to make the content of the Code known to all their participants.
  • A consent form is sent out with competition entry forms, which allows participants to give consent to having their pictures used. This consent can be withdrawn at any time. When debates are recorded, permission is sought from all participants at the start of the debate and can be withdrawn afterwards for any reason.

 

That staff and volunteers of YSS know how to respond should any disclosure be made to them in the course of their contact with any child or young person

  • Where representatives of YSS have concerns about a child or young person, either through a disclosure or through actions/observations, they should share their concern, without delay, with the Programmes Director of YSS. See the Child Protection Protocol on page 8 below.
  • If the concern relates to the actions of the Programmes Director then the concerns should be raised with the Child Protection Trustee or his/her Deputy.
  • Where a disclosure in respect of the welfare or safety of a child or young person is made to a representative of YSS, the matter will be referred by the Programmes Director to the Child Protection Officer of the school attended by the child or young person.
  • If the disclosure or observation relates to the actions of a representative of YSS then they will be suspended from their role, without prejudice, while an investigation takes place. This investigation will be conducted by the Programmes Director in consultation with the Child Protection Trustee, or his/her Deputy, in consultation with the child or young person’s school.
  • Accurate records of any disclosure, observation and investigation must be made and stored securely in line with the YSS Data Protection Policy. These records may be shared with the Child Protection Officer of the school attended if deemed necessary for the pupil’s welfare and safety.

Contact Details

Programmes Director

Jordan Pfotenhauer E:jordan@youngspeakersscotland.org.uk T: 07477 852 703

Child Protection Trustee:

Wendy Bellars E: wabellars@yahoo.co.uk T: 07880 725 093

Deputy Child Protection Trustee:

Dr Helen Wright  E: helen@drhelenwright.com T: 07474 362 176

The Legislative Context in Scotland

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The Scottish Government is responsible for child protection in Scotland. It sets out policy, legislation and both statutory and non-statutory guidance on how the child protection system should work.

Child Protection Committees (CPCs) are responsible for multi-agency child protection policy, procedure, guidance and practice. Within each local authority, CPCs work with local agencies, such as children’s social work, health services and the police, to protect children.

The Children (Scotland) Act 2020 was passed by The Scottish Parliament in August 2020. When implemented it will amend many aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 1995, bringing the law further into line with children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The most recent, non-statutory, Guidance is National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021.

 

The national approach to improving outcomes for children and young people in Scotland is Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) (Scottish Government, 2015). This provides a framework for those working with children and their families to provide the right support at the right time.

The key guidance for anyone working with children in Scotland is the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021.

In Scotland, a child legally becomes an adult when (s)he becomes 16, but statutory guidance which supports the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 includes all children and young people up to the age of 18. Where concerns are raised about a 16 or 17 year old, agencies may need to refer to the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007, depending on the situation of the young person at risk. It is important to note that for the purposes of the UNCRC [The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child], the rights apply to anyone under the age of 18. Article 1 states that this is the case unless majority is attained earlier under the law applicable to the child. The Scottish Government intends to incorporate UNCRC within domestic law.

When should we be concerned?

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

GIRFEC notes that it's everyone's responsibility to ask five key questions when they have concerns about a child.

  • What is getting in the way of this child or young person's wellbeing?
  • Do I have all the information I need to help this child or young person?
  • What can I do now to help this child or young person?
  • What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
  • What additional help, if any, may be needed from others? (Scottish Government, 2014a).

If anyone connected with YSS is concerned about a child, (s)he should raise his/her concerns with the Programmes Director as soon as possible. No concern is too small to raise, and sometimes concerns can be allayed quickly with the help of the parent(s) or teacher(s) accompanying the child.

If the concern is more difficult to address, and does not involve a complaint against the child or young person’s school, it will be passed to the school’s child protection officer or other responsible adult, for example Year Head, Guidance Teacher or Head Teacher. At this stage the Programmes Director will ensure that the Child Protection Trustee or his/her Deputy is informed of the concern.

Concerns about the Programmes Director should be raised with the Child Protection Trustee or his/her Deputy (see Contact Details on page 4, above).

Should it be inappropriate to inform the child or young person’s school of the concern, it will be raised with the Local Authority, the Care Inspectorate or the NSPCC as appropriate.

Any concern for a child or young person’s immediate safety should of course be reported to the police.

Concern may be raised by a disclosure from a child or young person to a YSS member of staff or volunteer. Such concerns should be listened to and the child or young person assured that his or her concerns will be addressed. The child or young person should not however be promised confidentiality, as it will be necessary to involve those who can help him or her. As far as possible, questions should not be asked of the person making the disclosure, as these can influence the account being given. As soon as possible after the disclosure, the member of staff or volunteer should make a note of what was said and pass this to the Programmes Director after making an initial verbal report.

Paperwork in connection with a Safeguarding or Child Protection concern, and which is not passed to the appropriate authorities, will be kept in accordance with the YSS Data Protection Policy.