1. Outline current policies and legislation relating to children and how they affect your practice.
Key legislation for working with children
UN Convention on the Rights of a Child 1989
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child was ratified by the UK in 1991. It set out the principles for a legal framework to underpin all aspects for the care, development and education of all children. The articles cover: non discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, disability, language, ethnic or social origin; civil and political rights; economic, social, cultural and protective rights. Particularly relevant for out of school clubs and play providers is Article 31 as this states that all children have the right to relax and play, and to have the chance to join in a wide range of activities.
Protection of Children Act 1999
The Protection of Children Act came into force in October 2000 and gives the Secretary of State the power to keep a list of people unsuitable to work with children and young people. All regulated childcare organisations have a statutory duty to refer individuals for inclusion in the list and must not employ individuals and volunteers, in posts that bring them into contact with children, whose names are included in the PoCA List. Similarly, the Act also allowed for other organisations that work with children and young people to refer individuals and carry out checks on prospective employees and volunteers. In addition the system of Criminal Record Bureau disclosure checks was created for organisations that work with children and young people.
Within education the DfES List 99 (Section 142 Education Act 2002) is a confidential list of people who may not be employed by Local Authorities, schools and Further Education establishments. In October 2009 both the PoCA List and List 99 were replaced by the ISA Children’s barred list.
Childcare Act 2006
The Childcare Act 2006, is pioneering legislation – the first ever exclusively concerned with early years and childcare. The Act is intended to transform childcare and early years services in England, taking forward some of the key commitments from the The Ten Year Childcare Strategy published in December 2004. Measures in the Act formalise the important strategic role Local Authorities play through a set of new duties. These duties require authorities to: improve the five Every Child Matters (ECM) outcomes for all pre-school children and reduce inequalities in these outcomes secure sufficient childcare for working parents
provide a better parental information service
The Act also reforms early years regulation and inspection arrangements, introducing the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the new Ofsted Childcare (Compulsory and Voluntary) Register. The sufficiency, information and outcomes duties came into effect from 1 April 2008 and the remaining provisions from September 2008.
Children Act 1989
The Children Act 1989 recognised that the welfare of the child is paramount and set out an overarching system for safeguarding children and the roles different agencies play. It introduced the concept of parental responsibility rather than parental rights. A key principle is that Local Authorities have a duty to provide services for children and their families and all children and young people should have access to the same range of
Every Child Matters: Change for Children 2003
In 2003, the Government published a green paper called Every Child Matters. This was published alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié. There was a wide consultation with people working in children’s services, and with parents, children and young people. Following the consultation, the Government published Every Child Matters: the Next Steps, and passed the Children Act 2004, providing the legislative backbone for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families under the five Every Child Matters outcomes Be healthy
Enjoy and achieve
Make a positive contribution
Achieve economic well-being
This means that organisations involved from hospitals, schools, police and voluntary groups will get together in new ways, sharing information and working together to protect children and young people from harm and help them achieve what they want in life.
Children Act 2004
Children Act 2004 updates but does not supersede Children Act 1989. The Act provides a legislative spine for the wider strategy for improving children’s lives. This covers the universal services which every child accesses, and more targeted services for those with additional needs.
The overall aim is to encourage integrated planning, commissioning and delivery of services as well as improve multi-disciplinary working, remove duplication, increase accountability and improve the coordination of individual and joint inspections in local authorities. The legislation is enabling rather than prescriptive and provides local authorities with a
considerable amount of flexibility in the way they implement its provisions.
The Children Act 2004 placed a new duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked after children.
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) is an amendment to the DDA 1995, extending the requirement to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to include schools, colleges and other education providers.
Adoption and Children Act 2002
Part two of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 makes amendments to the Children Act 1989. In particular, section 120 of the 2002 Act clarifies the meaning of ‘harm’ to include ‘any impairment of the child’s health or development as a result of witnessing the ill-treatment of another person, such as domestic violence.’
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006, updated 2010
This document sets out how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. It is addressed to practitioners and frontline managers who have particular responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and to senior and operational managers in organisations that are responsible for commissioning or providing services to children, young people, and adults who are parents/carers; and organisations that have a particular responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and
The 2010 edition follows the publication of Lord Laming’s report in March 2009, ‘The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report’. The recommendations detailed by Lord Laming, and developments in legislation, policy and practice relating to safeguarding children are reflected in or given effect by this revised guidance.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 followed the Bichard Inquiry into the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by Ian Huntley. The Inquiry recommended a single agency to conduct background checks on all individuals wanting to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults. This led to the setting up of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Vetting and Barring Scheme.
The full proposals within the Vetting and Barring Scheme are being scaled down, however the first stage of implementation, in October 2009, went ahead with the ISA Children’s barred list replacing the PoCA List and List 99 of named individuals unsuitable to work with children and young people.
Education (Nutritional Standards & Requirements for School Food) Regulations 2007, amendments 2008
From 1 September 2008 the Education (Nutritional Standards & Requirements for School Food) Regulations 2007and the 2008 amendments came into effect for all primary schools in England. The regulations apply to secondary schools from 1 September 2009. The purpose of the regulations is to improve the health and well being of children and young people. Schedule 4 sets out the types of food and drink that can be provided on a school site before 6pm and applies to schools and other organisations, such as an after school club, providing meals and snacks. The only exemption is if the provider is using the school premises under a transfer of control agreement.
The Charter for Children’s Play 2007, updated 2009
The Charter for Children’s Play was originally published in 2007 and updated in 2009 by Play England/NCB. It sets out a vision for play and aims to be a catalyst for individuals and organisations to examine, review and improve their provision for children and young people’s play and informal recreation.
The charter may also serve as a guide and framework to all those involved in developing, revising and implementing play strategies, community plans and children and young people’s plans.
Organisations whose services impact on children’s play, such as local authorities, voluntary organisations, and health, education and social service providers, can formally adopt the charter in order to raise awareness of the importance of play.
Equalities Act 2010
The Equalities Act 2010 was brought in to replace previous anti-discriminatory laws, to remove any inconsistencies and to make the law simpler and easier to understand. It identifies nine ‘protected characteristics’ – age; disability; marriage/civil partnership; pregnancy/maternity; race; religion/belief; gender; sexual orientation; gender reassignment. There have been changes in relation to harassment, victimisation and positive action in relation to all nine ‘protected characteristics’.
Anti-discriminatory law has changed mostly in relation to disability with new legislation now covering discrimination by association, perception and indirect discrimination. The law relating to direct disability discrimination now covers access to goods and services and not just work related discrimination.
Under the new Act reasonable adjustments must be made where there is a substantial disadvantage. Service providers are now required to take steps in advance to address barriers that impede disabled people and not wait until a disabled person experiences difficulty before making a necessary adjustment.
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) covers disabled people’s rights in housing, employment and the provision of goods and services. It places a duty on play settings to not treat disabled children less favourably than those that are not disabled. The Act requires providers to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled children and adults can access their services.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 gave public authorities, such as local councils, hospitals, government departments, a duty to promote and reinforce equality for disabled people. The Act requires disability equality to be built into services at the beginning of the process.
Effects Legislation has on my practice.
The systems in place for safeguarding children involve joint working and shared decision making by professionals and agencies involved. Children’s needs must always come first.
I need to know what behavior is appropriate when dealing with children.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, it is the responsibility of everyone in the school to ensure that safety is maintained and in particular that vulnerable groups such as children are safeguarded. Standards for safety are also set by the Government department in each country responsible for education and are monitored by the body responsible for school inspections,
for example, Ofsted in England and HMIE in Scotland. When supervising pupils, I should be aware of the kinds of risks to which they are exposed and how likely these are to happen bearing in mind the age and/or needs of the child.
Everything carries a risk, just walking downstairs can become hazardous if there are obstacles (other children) but it is important to not wrap the children in cotton wool but be aware of all risks and ensure there are systems in place to protect the children whilst letting them discover the world for themselves and let them have the opportunity to take some risks.
2. Discuss the steps you would take if you had concerns for the safety and wellbeing of a child.
As teaching assistant you are in a good position to notice changes in pupils’ behavior and other signs of possible abuse. You should always look out for the indicators and, if you are at all concerned, speak to either your class teacher or the school’s Child Protection Officer (usually the head teacher). They will follow the school’s child protection policy and, if necessary, follow local authority guidelines for informing social services. Always keep a note of what happened, what you reported and who you told.
If you know that a pupil comes from a home background where there are likely to be pressures on the family, for example if there is a parent or older sibling who misuses drugs or alcohol, it is possible that the pupil is more vulnerable to abuse. However, it is very important that you do not jump to any conclusions or assume that abuse has definitely taken place. It is important to follow safe working practices to ensure that pupils are protected from abuse.
Child protection is the responsibility of all who work with children and you need to be aware of your school’s policy for recording and reporting suspected abuse.
Records will need to be kept of what pupils have said and when they said it,
as well as notes, dates and times of any meetings that have taken place between the school and social services.
If a pupil reports anything that is a cause for concern, the school needs to make sure it is properly followed up.
I need to be aware of the signs of physical or mental abuse and know when to report anything that seems out of character for the child.
I need to know when and who to contact if further advice, support and/or counselling is needed.
3. Evaluate the effects of domestic abuse on children. What impact could this have on children within the school setting?
The term ‘domestic violence’ or domestic abuse is used to describe any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults, who is/has been a family member or living at family home. These may be psychological, physical (including throwing objects), sexual, emotional (includes verbal threats, controlling behaviour) or financial. Unfortunately these days abuse can also happen on mobile phones, on the internet and social networking sites. And let’s not forget that abuse can also be verbal/psychological and whilst no physical mark is left it can still be just as damaging. It is written that children who have witnessed violence are more likely to be either abusers or victims themselves as children tend to copy the behaviour of their parents. Boys might learn from their fathers to be violent to women. Girls might learn from their mothers that violence is to be expected, and something you just have to put up with but whilst this may be typical it can also be the mother that this the abuser and the father the abuse.
However, children don’t always repeat the same pattern when they grow up. Many children don’t like what they see, and try very hard not to make the
same mistakes as their parents. Even so, children from violent families often grow up feeling anxious and depressed, and may find it difficult to get on with other people initially upon meeting but would hopefully be comfortable once they are familiar.
Whilst at school a child that may seem ordinarily ok, may start to show one, some or more of the below symptoms if they are experiencing abuse. * Physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches)
* Separation anxiety (beyond what you would normally expect for the age of the child) * Sleep difficulties (fear of falling asleep)
* increased aggressive behaviour and angry feelings (physically hurting self or others) * Constant worry about possible danger
* Seeming loss of previously learned skills (toileting skills, naming colours) * Withdrawal from others and activities
* Lack of interest in or feelings about anything
* Excessive worry about the safety of loved ones (needing to see siblings during the day, asking constantly about Mummy or Daddy) * Difficulty choosing and completing an activity or task
* very high activity level, constant fidgeting and/or trouble concentrating at levels typical for the child’s age and stage of development – Older children may also experience some of the below:
* Self harm
* Eating disorders
* Use Alcohol or drugs or both
Children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to develop behavioural problems, such as regressing, exhibiting out of control behaviour and imitating behaviour. Children may think that violence is an acceptable behaviour of intimate relationships and become either the abused or the abuser. Some warning signs are bed-wetting, nightmares, distrust of adults, acting tough, having problems becoming attached to other people and isolating themselves from their close friends and family. Page 7
Children exposed to violence in their home often have conflicting feelings
towards their parents; For instance, distrust and affection often coexist for the abuser. The child becomes overprotective of the victim and feels sorry for them. They often develop anxiety, fearing that they may be injured or abandoned, that the child’s parent being abused will be injured, or that they are to blame for the violence that is occurring in their homes. Grief, shame, and low self-esteem are common emotions that children exposed to domestic violence experience. Depression
Depression is a common problem in children who exposed to abuse whether they are witnessing a loved one go through it or are the victim themselves. The child often feels helpless and powerless. Girls are more likely to internalise their emotions and show signs of depression than boys. Boys are more apt to act out with aggression and hostility. Witnessing violence in the home can give the child the idea that nothing is safe in the world and that they are not worth being kept safe which contributes to their feelings of low self-worth and depression. Anger
Some children act out through anger and are more aggressive than other children. Even in situations that do not call for it, children will respond with anger.
The Impact on the children
All of the above can have a huge impact on a child within a learning environment. If they become withdrawn and don’t join in with the lessons as perhaps they used to they will miss out in the lesson in general as well as isolating themselves from their friends and classmates.
If they become the opposite and are angry and act out, this will disrupt not only themselves but their classmates too.
Being hyper or fidgety or the opposite, lethargic and not interested in anything that previously they were enthusiastic for can really affect the learning process. A child can regress and may have to relearn previously known skills, which can take more time . If asked when they leave school
for the day ‘what did you do today?’ they will often shrug not bothered and not even sure themselves of the answer (although this can be the case anyway for younger children with a short attention span!)
School attendance may be affected, some children may want to stay at home to protect the parent or because they are frightened to attend if their abuser is there, Worry, disturbed sleep and lack of concentration will of course all affect the child’s work.