B: LEGAL COMPLIANCE
This post explains what I understand by the phrase ‘safeguarding children and young people’ and what do I put in place to ensure your learners’ safety.
Education Act (2002) states; as a dance practitioner I have a legal responsibility (duty of care) to safeguard health and development of all children (<19 years) I teach. Safeguarding is the creation of an environment where children’s welfare is actively supported by a multidisciplinary framework which makes provisions to protect against neglect/abuse. I have in place appropriate legislative policies, training and framework between children/parents/authorities/myself which enforce safe and effective practice to protect against neglect/abuse. These provisions secure welfare of diverse learners and consequently enjoyment of dance.
In line with guidance document Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013), I have in place a Child Protection Policy naming my organisation and participant group. This outlines my aims to make child welfare paramount by listening/valuing/supporting and values to ensure everyone knows their responsibility to protect children from neglect/abuse. Lists of procedures are given to identify and respond to the signs of abuse including risk/recruitment assessments and to outline/share acceptable practice. Children should respect and care for others and have the right to be protected from abuse. My Code of Conduct sets rules to check individuals comply with policy. This shows the commitment of my organisation to safeguarding children. Staff must sign guidelines.
My safeguarding plan describes how this policy will provide the early intervention and effective protection of children based on Every Child Matters and Children Act (2004) and Equalities Act (2010). This places in one folder abuse/neglect indicators. Signs of physical, sexual and emotional abuse including respectively: bruises/provocative behaviour/withdrawn-obsessive behaviour. Neglect within dance lessons includes failure to supervise continuously or give appropriate breaks, dirty/dangerous equipment/environment or inadequate teaching supervision. Resultant effects in individuals include tiredness or change in behaviour. Signs of neglect at home include arriving unclean/inappropriately dressed to dance/weight-loss. The policy provides rules in line with equalities act to minimise discrimination. Harassment/intimidation will not be tolerated. To respect culture staff must appreciate the right to personal space and privacy. Children must have the right to make decisions on factors affecting them, including sexual orientation/religion/beliefs and should not be ridiculed/bullied. Staff must respond sensitively to those anxious to participating based on socio-economic/age/gender/disabilities. Staff must always be available to assist. If the rights/welfare/safety are not maintained qualified staff should call social services using the numbers in the plan. Policies and procedures are regularly monitored and reviewed.
My safeguard plan is based on practice carried out in Scotland. In addition to dance qualifications, I have cleared Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) enhanced disclosure. This is compulsory under Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scotland Act (2007) and Criminal Justice and Courts Act (2000).
My plan safeguards child welfare. Parents/carers complete an enrolment form with the child’s contact details/medical information. This information is used in the event that a child is unhappy/unwell/injured to permit parents/GP to be contacted, to ensure children are collected by an authorised adult and to adapt practice in line with injuries/illnesses/disabilities.
In line with Data Protection Act (1998), the company I work for registers with the Office of Information Commission. I store data in a locked cabinet or password protected electronic file. I prohibit recording/photography during lessons/performances and only release group photos if all parents/carer have signed permission slips and then only on the password protected dance website.
My safeguarding plan ensures children can work/learn, without violence/abuse/exploitation. This requires staff members to be vigilant for disruptive/withdrawn/unusual behaviour at all times and take reports of concern by children/parents seriously. I identify bullying behaviour as intentional physical or emotional hurt to another. Children can be targeted based on race/age/gender/size/religion/disability/socio-economic background/sexual orientation. I promote a child-friendly environment, targeting bullying from staff/children/parents/guardians. I set out from enrolment safeguarding procedures emphasising bullying is not tolerated. In class, I am vigilant dispersing groups and ensuring phones are switched-off. I discourage discrimination by immediate sanctions and enforce a conduct policy where parents/guardians are contacted if peer-bullying or ‘Cyberbullying’ from peers/adults through texts/social networking is suspected. Attendance may be restricted to protect the group. I would securely store records of concerns with the time/date and inform the Child Protection Coordinator within the Human Resources department. NSPCC/social work/police may then be informed.
To safeguard children rights to education/expression/respect and freedoms of thought/religion/leisure in line with Human Rights Act (1998) and Equality Act (2010). I support the education of individuals equally irrespective of age/ethnicity/gender/religion/disability by arranging lesson content to be sensitive, appropriate to age-stage and enjoyable for all. I cultivate personal expression during performance through choice of music and theme. Evaluations and discussions allow children to express their views and ask for explanation. In my community classes, a range of backgrounds are encouraged to enrich the creative process, differentiation allows all to participate. Children are encouraged to work together to overcome differences in ethical/religious/beliefs/disabilities when building choreography and choose costuming/staging/setting. This develops balanced relationships based on mutual trust.
In accordance with Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) I minimise risks in classes. I complete risk assessments when planning. Class numbers are below 26. Safe dance conditions provide >5m2 clear space on non-slip sprung flooring, diffused lighting, adequate ventilation and temperature 21-24oC. I continuously monitor spillages/tidiness/flooring and evaluate risk to children/tutor/parents. Building access is controlled by electronic entrance and I check children leave with designated adults. Children are always accompanied during lessons.
Correction of technique in dance will require teachers to realign the body. At the start of a course I ask for permission to this end. I respect individual rights and always ask before correcting an individual in case they feel uncomfortable. To prevent peer-bullying/inappropriate behaviour during toilet breaks, only one child attends and a limit made to minimise time out of class. Separate male/female/staff/disabled toilets are provided. My safeguarding plan provides instruction to assembly points and I contact emergency services in event of fire/accident/theft/abuse. Children practice safety drills.
To safeguard health, I differentiate exercises based on ability/age/fitness and give scheduled breaks. I observe body language and listen to the child to deal with health issues. I issue the dress code on registration. Dance attire minimises injury and bullying. I inform parents of problems concerning fitness/hygiene/diet/illness. First Aiders are myself and reception staff. Telephone and first-aid kit are located at reception. Unwell/injured children are kept comfortable and accompanied. I would phone parents/carer immediately on accident/illness and emergency services if required. The on-site Health and Safety coordinator is contacted and will complete accident forms and records. I have Public liability insurance covering injury to enrolled children.
My practice enforces safeguarding legislation, creating a community environment where child’s and young people’s welfare is actively promoted.
Arts Council England (2005) Keeping arts safe, Kensington, London
Fiddy, A (2002) Education Act 2002: Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children,
Children’s Legal Centre
HM Government (2013) Working Together to Safeguard Children
A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Working%20Together%202013.pdf
HM Government (2013) Every Child Matters: Change for Children
HM Government (2004) Children Act 2004
HM Government (2010) Equalities Act 2010
Ministry of Justice (2006) Making sense of human rights: A short Introduction http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/human-rights/human-rights-making-sense-human-rights.pdf
NSPCC (2013) Safe sport events, activities and competitions, Child protection in sport unit
e from Bullying
Department for Schools, Children and Families (2009) Safe from bullying in youth activities
Vulnerable Children. & Young People. Good Practice Guidance (2008) Care Protection Commitment to North Ayrshire’s Children
Scottish Executive (2003) Information Sharing about Children at Risk – A Guide to Good
National Dance Teachers Association (2013) Advice & Information – Dance Studio Specification
East Ayrshire Child Protection Committee (2004) Understanding Child Protection Self-Learning Pack Promoting Good Practice in child Protection