Members in the Education and Children’s Services Group are sometimes faced with issues not often found anywhere else in Prospect – a key one being safeguarding.
Some of our members work in school or nursery settings while others, working in inspection or school improvement roles, may have regular access to these establishments.
Unlike other allegations of misconduct, safeguarding concerns can understandably lead to an immediate suspension from work while the complaint is investigated.
However, a suspension should not be automatic – it should be based on a reasonable assessment of the known facts and alternatives should be considered.
Local authorities should designate a particular officer, or team of officers (either as part of multi-agency arrangements or otherwise), to be involved in the management and oversight of allegations against people who work with children.
Arrangements should be put in place to ensure that any allegations about those who work with children are passed to the designated officer, or team of officers, without delay.
The Local Authority Designated Officer will:
- receive reports about allegations and be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases
- provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations
- liaise with the police and other agencies
- monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process
- provide advice and guidance to employers about making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service and regulatory bodies such as Ofsted, the General Medical Council etc.
Members suspended from duty because of a safeguarding allegation may have no idea of what has been alleged, or by whom.
It can be deeply distressing to be removed from your workplace and put through protracted procedures knowing that you have done nothing wrong.
Prospect can be a great source of comfort and support in those situations. Knowing that you have someone on your side to ensure fair treatment and fight for a just outcome.
Complaints from head teachers or governors
A number of school improvement professionals who came from a teaching background have chosen to remain in their old teaching union.
But this can prove a disadvantage if you are the subject of a complaint from a head teacher and a chair of governors. In one recent case the head teacher was supported by the teaching union which our member had previously been a member of. As a non-teaching union for education professionals, we are focused on you.
If you know any school improvement staff or other non-teaching professional colleagues working in, or with, school settings but who aren’t in a union, please advise them that Prospect in the right union for them.
Early contact is essential
Prospect is here to support you with any problem, or potential problem, at work. As soon as you feel that something is not quite right, contact Prospect. The earlier we get involved, the easier it will be to intervene and try to prevent things from escalating.
Please be aware of timescales. Most formal policies (grievance, disciplinary, complaints etc) will have time frames in which meetings should be arranged and outcomes provided.
Recent cases have shown a worrying pattern of local authority employers not adhering to their own agreed timescales. This is very upsetting for members who want a speedy resolution to whatever formal process they are going through.
Strongly worded reminders from your Prospect officer can help to remedy this, but the important thing is to involve us from the beginning.
If you are aware of local issues that Prospect should know about, and could get involved in for the benefit of members, or if you’d like your Prospect full-time officer to visit your workplace, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.
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