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Staff Code of Conduct

 

Approved by:

Mr Ian Walker

Date: 

Reviewed on:

 

 

 

 

             

Overview

Park High School seeks to provide a safe and supportive environment, which secures the well-being and very best outcomes for all students in their care. This policy should clarify what is expected in terms of professional behaviour; it gives clear advice about what constitutes illegal behaviour and what might be considered as misconduct. It also describes safe practice and which behaviours should be avoided.

Members of staff failing to follow this code of conduct may face disciplinary procedures. There may be times, however, when professional judgements are made in situations not covered by this document, or which directly contravene the guidance given by their employer. It is expected that in these circumstances staff will always advise their senior colleagues of their justification for any such action already taken or proposed.

Core Principles

  • The welfare of students is paramount.
  • Staff are responsible for their own actions and behaviour and should avoid any conduct which would lead any reasonable person to question their motivation and intentions. 
  • Staff should work, and be seen to work in an open and transparent way. 
  • Staff should discuss and/or take advice promptly from their line manager or another senior member of staff over any incident, which may give rise to concern. 
  • Records should be made of any such incident and of decisions made/further actions agreed. 
  • All staff should know the name of the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and be familiar with child protection arrangements and their responsibilities to safeguard students, as outlined in this policy.
  • Staff should be aware that breaches of the law and other professional guidelines could result in criminal or disciplinary action being taken against them.

Safe Working Practices for the Protection of Students and Staff at Park High School

Introduction

This policy has been produced to help all staff establish the safest possible learning and working environments. The aims are to safeguard young people and reduce the risk of staff being falsely accused of improper or unprofessional conduct. The policy and guidelines also aim to promote best practice amongst staff so that they can be exceptional role models for students and peers.

The policy and guidelines apply to all staff at Park High School whatever their position, roles, or responsibilities.

 

1. Duty of care

Teachers and other staff are accountable for the way in which they exercise authority; manage risk; use resources; and protect students from discrimination and avoidable harm. All staff, whether paid or voluntary, have a duty to keep students safe and to protect them from physical and emotional harm. This duty is in part exercised through the development of respectful, caring and professional relationships between staff and students and behaviour by staff that demonstrates integrity, maturity and good judgement. There are legitimate high expectations about the nature of the professional involvement of staff in the lives of students. When individuals accept a role at Park High School, they need to understand and acknowledge the responsibilities and trust inherent in the role.

This means that staff should: 

  • Understand the responsibilities, which are part of their employment or role, and be aware that sanctions will be applied if these provisions are breached
  • Always act, and be seen to act, in the child’s best interests, avoiding any conduct which would lead any reasonable person to question their motivation and intentions
  • Take responsibility for their own actions and behaviour

This means that school should:

  • Ensure safeguarding procedures are in place and reviewed
  • Ensure systems are usable for concerns to be raised
  • Ensure that adults are not placed in situations which render them particularly vulnerable

 

2. Exercise of Professional Judgement

This code of conduct cannot provide a complete checklist of what is, or is not, appropriate behaviour for staff. It does state however, behaviour that is illegal, inappropriate or inadvisable. There will be occasions and circumstances in which staff have to make decisions or take action in the best interests of the students which could contravene this guidance or where no guidance exists. In such instances staff are expected to make judgements about their behaviour in order to secure the best interests and welfare of the students in their care. In so doing, staff will be seen to be acting reasonably.

This means that where no specific guidance exists staff should: 

  • Discuss the circumstances that informed their action, or their proposed action, with a senior colleague. This will help to ensure that the safest practices are employed and reduce the risk of actions being misinterpreted
  • Always discuss any misunderstanding, accidents or threats with a member of SLT 
  • Always record discussions and actions taken with justification

 

3. Power and Positions of Trust

All adults working with students are in positions of trust in relation to the students in their care. A relationship between a member of staff and a student cannot be a relationship between equals. Staff have a responsibility to ensure that the unequal balance of power is not used for personal advantage or gratification.

Staff should always maintain appropriate total professionalism and avoid behaviour which might be misinterpreted by others. In addition, staff must report and record any incident with this potential.

Where a person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust with a child under 18, it is an offence for that person to engage in sexual activity with or in the presence of that child, or to cause or incite that child to engage in or watch sexual activity.

Where a person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust established with a person who has previously attended the school, any attempt to engage in sexual activity with that person will be a cause for concern and will be treated as a breach of trust established in that prior relationship.

This means that staff should not

  • Use their position to gain access to information for their own advantage and/or a students’ or family's detriment
  • Use their power to intimidate, threaten, coerce or undermine students
  • Use their status and standing to form or promote a relationship with a student , which is of a sexual nature.
  • Attempt to initiate a relationship with a recent ex-student, which is of a sexual nature.

 

4. Confidentiality

Members of staff may have access to confidential information about students in order to undertake their everyday responsibilities. In some circumstances staff may be given additional highly sensitive or private information. They should never use confidential or personal information about a student or his/her family for their own, or others’ advantage. Information must never be used to intimidate, humiliate, or embarrass the student. Confidential information about students should never be used casually in conversation or shared with any person other than on a need to know basis. In circumstances where the student’s identity does not need to be disclosed, the information should be used anonymously.

There are some circumstances in which a member of staff may be expected to share information about a student, for example when abuse is alleged or suspected. In such cases, individuals have a duty to pass information on without delay, but only to those with designated child protection and safeguarding responsibilities (DSLs). If a member of staff is in any doubt about whether to share information or keep it confidential he or she should seek guidance from senior staff. Any media or legal enquiries should be passed to SLT. Adults need to be aware that although it is important to listen to and support students, they must not promise confidentiality or request students to do the same under any circumstances. Additionally, concerns and allegations about adults should be treated as confidential and passed to a DSL or member of SLT without delay.

This means that staff: 

  • Are expected to treat information they receive about students in a discreet and confidential manner.
  • If in any doubt about sharing information they hold or which has been requested of them, should seek advice from a senior member of staff
  • Need to exercise caution when passing information to others about a student.
  • Need to know to whom any concerns or allegations should be reported

 

5. Propriety and Behaviour

All staff have a responsibility to maintain public confidence in their ability to safeguard the welfare and best interests of students. Staff are expected to adopt high standards of personal conduct in order to maintain the confidence and respect of their peers, students and general public.

An individual's behaviour, either in or out of the workplace, should not compromise her/his position within the work setting so staff must exercise due care and attention when outside of the school environment. Membership of organisations whose goals are in conflict with the values and equality policies of the school is not acceptable.

This means that staff should not: 

  • Behave in a manner which would lead any reasonable person to question their suitability to work with students or act as a role model.
  • Drink alcohol with current students or ex-students who are under the age of 18 in public or private places, nor purchase alcohol for students or ex-students under the age of 18. There may be exceptional circumstances where a member of staff may be personal friends with a parent which mean that normal social life will bring the student into social contact with a member of staff. However, generally, if a member of staff finds themselves in a pub or other meeting place in which current students are drinking, the member of staff should not join the students and may need to draw the attention of bar staff to the age of the students. If a member of staff feels that there are exceptional reasons why the general restriction on drinking alcohol with students should not apply, they should discuss the matter with a senior member of staff prior to this occurring.
  • Drink alcohol on school day trips
  • Drink alcohol when on duty supervising students on residential school trips. This applies even when there are no students present (e.g. all students in bed sleeping) as the member of staff may be called to act if an emergency occurs. There may be times, however, when the student to staff ratio exceeds the legal requirements. In these instances, the Trip Leader may choose to organise a rota for when staff are on/off duty. At the discretion of Trip Leader, off duty staff may drink alcohol but must ensure their behaviour remains professional at all times. 
  • Make inappropriate remarks to a student (including via email, social media messaging services, text messages, phone or letter etc.)
  • Discuss their own sexual relationships with or in the presence of students 
  • Discuss a student's sexual relationships in inappropriate settings or contexts 
  • Make (or encourage others to make) unprofessional personal comments in any form of communication (email, text, conversations, social media messaging services or comments)

Staff must:

  • Be aware that their behaviour in their personal lives may impact upon their work with students

 

6. Dress and Appearance

Staff should consider the manner of dress and appearance appropriate to their professional role as specified in the whole school responsibilities. Park High School expects students to be smart in their uniform at all times. Smart and professional appearance of all staff is therefore also expected.

Please see the Staff Dress Code for further details.

This means that staff should:

  • Ensure their appearance and clothing promotes a positive and professional image, including ensuring that for male staff facial hair is either well shaved or trimmed and neat.
  • Is appropriate to their role
  • Is not likely to be viewed as offensive, revealing, or sexually provocative
  • Does not distract, cause embarrassment or give rise to misunderstanding
  • Ensure clothing and personal property is absent of any political or otherwise contentious slogans

 

7. Gifts

Staff should be aware of the school's policy regarding arrangements for the declaration of gifts received and given. Staff need to take care that they do not accept any gift that might be construed as a bribe by others, or lead the giver to expect preferential treatment. There are occasions when students or parents wish to pass small tokens of appreciation to staff, for example at Christmas or as a thank-you, and this is acceptable. However, it is unacceptable to receive gifts on a regular basis or of any significant value. Any member of staff concerned about whether they or their colleagues may be at risk of giving or receiving a bribe (financial or otherwise) should contact SLT. Any member of staff receiving gifts or entertainment valued at more than £100 must disclose this to the school’s Business Manager or other member of SLT. Members of staff may not give personal gifts to students. It is acceptable for staff to offer prizes of small value in certain tasks or competitions.

This means that staff should

  • Ensure that gifts received or given in situations which may be misconstrued are declared
  • Ensure that gifts of significant value are declared. 
  • Generally, only give gifts to a student as part of an agreed reward system
  • Where giving gifts other than as above, ensure that these are of insignificant value and given to all students equally.

 

8. Infatuations

Staff need to be aware that it is not uncommon for students to be strongly attracted to a member of staff and/or develop an infatuation. Staff should be aware that such circumstances always carry a high risk of words or actions being misinterpreted and for allegations to be made against staff. A member of staff who becomes aware that a student may be infatuated with themselves or a colleague should discuss this with SLT or a DSL so that appropriate action can be taken. In this way, steps can be taken to avoid hurt and distress for all concerned.

This means that staff should: 

  • Report to senior colleagues any indications (verbal, written or physical) that suggest a student may be infatuated with a member of staff. 
  • Be mindful if they are alone in a room with a student. Leave the door open if you have to.

 

9. Personal Living Space

No student should be in or invited into, the home of an adult who works with them, unless the reason for this has been firmly established and agreed with parents and SLT.

This means that staff should: 

  • Be vigilant in maintaining their privacy and mindful of the need to avoid placing themselves in vulnerable situations
  • Be mindful of the need to maintain professional boundaries

 

10. Communication with students (including the use of technology)

Communication between students and adults, by whatever method, should take place within clear and explicit professional boundaries. This includes the wider use of technology such as mobile phones, text messaging, e-mails, digital cameras, videos, webcams, websites, social media/networking sites, online gaming and blogs.

Staff should not share any personal information with a student. They should not request, or respond to, any personal information from the student, other than that which might be appropriate as part of their professional role. Staff should ensure that all communications are transparent and open to scrutiny. In addition staff should also be circumspect in their communications with students so as to avoid any possible misinterpretation of their motives or any behaviour which could be construed as grooming. They should not give their personal contact details to students including e-mail, home or mobile telephone numbers, unless the need to do so is agreed with SLT beforehand. E-mail or text communications between a member of staff and a student outside agreed protocols may lead to disciplinary and/or criminal investigations. This also includes communications through internet based web sites, such as social networking, instant messaging or gaming. Communication with ex-students who are over 18 is left to staff discretion. Staff must consider, however, the fact that ex-students may be in contact with current students. Be aware that actions that bring the school into disrepute could lead to disciplinary procedures being taken.

This means that staff should: 

  • Not give their personal contact details to students, including their mobile telephone number, without the prior knowledge of SLT.
  • Communicate with students in an appropriate and professional manner
  • Only make contact with students for professional reasons 
  • Not use internet or web-based communication channels to send personal messages to a student 
  • Not have images of students stored on personal cameras, devices or home computers. 
  • Not make images of students available on the internet, other than through the school network/website, without permission from parents and senior teachers.
  • Be cautious in their contact with ex-students, as there is still a professional relationship and there may be contact with current students.

 

11. Social Contact

Staff should not establish or seek to establish social contact with students, or their families, for the purpose of securing a friendship or to pursue or strengthen a relationship. Even if a young person seeks to establish social contact, or if this occurs coincidentally, the member of staff should exercise professional judgement in making a response but should always discuss this with a senior leader. Staff must be aware that social contact, in certain situations, could be misconstrued as grooming. Staff should not give their personal details such as their home or e-mail address; social network sites, gamer tags or web pages to students unless the need to do so is agreed with SLT beforehand.

This means that staff should

  • Have no secret social contact with students 
  • Consider the appropriateness of the social contact according to their role and nature of their work 
  • Always approve any planned social contact with SLT beforehand.
  • Advise senior leadership of any regular social contact they have with a student or parent which may give rise to concern 
  • Report and record any situation, which they feel, might compromise the school or their own professional standing.

 

12. Social Networking Sites

Park High School Staff may well use social networking sites for personal use. However, the school requires that the profile, wall and photos of the member of staff are ‘locked down’ as private so that students or parents do not have access to personal information, profile or images. Cover and profile photos which cannot be made private must be suitable for public viewing and therefore must not bring yourself, the school or the profession into disrepute.  Staff must deny current or recent students and parents access to profiles to prevent vulnerability. This also applies for previous students who are under 18 years of age.

Staff should be aware that they leave themselves open to disciplinary procedures for professional misconduct if images of themselves in compromising situations are made available on a public profile by anyone. If a student does gain access to the profile of a member of staff by fraudulent means (impersonation or hacking), the DSL should be informed immediately and the member of staff must report this to the social media site as discussed in the annual Online Safety Training.

Staff should not engage in online gaming with students. If a member of staff becomes aware that they are in an online game with a student, they should cease to play against that student and should not enter any games containing that player as part of the group. Under no circumstances should staff seek out students and/or share their own gamer ID with students, or use school equipment to play.

Further information on this matter can be found in the Staff ICT Internet and Acceptable Use Policy which is on the Policies page of the school website.

This means that staff should:

  • Lock down their profile so it is private to ensure that data and images are not freely available. Seek advice if unsure how to do this.
  • Not permit current and recent students or parents to have access to your profile.
  • Ensure all your passwords are kept strong and secure.
  • Be aware that images of others should be protected and be treated as carefully as you would your own.

 

13. Physical Contact

There are occasions when it is entirely appropriate and proper for staff to have physical contact with students, but it is crucial that they only do so in ways appropriate to their professional role. A 'no touch' approach is impractical for most staff and may in some circumstances be inappropriate. When physical contact is made with students this should be in response to their needs at the time, of limited duration and appropriate. Staff should use their professional judgement at all times about the appropriateness of any physical contact. Physical contact should never be secretive, or for the gratification of the adult, or represent a misuse of authority.

If a member of staff believes that an action could be misinterpreted, the incident and circumstances should be made clear to senior staff. Physical contact, which occurs regularly with an individual student, is likely to raise questions unless the justification for this is part of a formally agreed plan (for example in relation to students with SEN or physical disabilities). Any such contact should be the subject of an agreed and open school policy and subject to review.

Some staff, for example, those who teach PE or music lessons, will, on occasions, have to initiate physical contact with students in order to support a student so they can perform a task safely, to demonstrate the use of a particular piece of equipment/instrument or assist them with an exercise. This should be done with the student's agreement. Staff should consider alternatives, where it is anticipated that a student might misinterpret any such contact- perhaps involving another member of staff, or a less vulnerable student in the demonstration. Contact under these circumstances should be for the minimum time necessary to complete the activity and take place in an open environment.

This means that staff should

  • Be aware that even well intentioned physical contact may be misconstrued by the student or an observer. 
  • Never touch a student in a way which may be considered indecent
  • Always be prepared to explain actions and accept that all physical contact could be open to scrutiny.

 

14. Sexual Contact with Students

Any sexual behaviour by a member of staff with or towards a student is illegal. As well as being protected by the same laws as adults in relation to non-consensual sexual behaviour, students are additionally protected by specific legal provisions regardless of whether the child or young person consents or not. This includes the prohibition of adults in a position of trust, as documented in Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and referred to in Section 3 of this policy.  The sexual activity involves not only physical contact but also non contact activities.

Staff must avoid any form of communication with a child or young person which could be interpreted as sexually suggestive or provocative ie verbal comments, letters, notes, electronic mail, online messaging services, social media communications, phone calls, texts, physical contact.

 

15. One to One Situations

Staff working in one to one situations with students are more vulnerable to allegations. Staff should recognise this possibility and plan and conduct such meetings accordingly. Every attempt should be made to ensure the safety and security needs of both staff and students are met.

Pre-arranged meetings with students away from the school premises should not be permitted unless approval is obtained from their parent and the Headmaster/senior colleagues. Staff should avoid meetings with students in remote, secluded areas of the school and ensure there is visual access and/or an open door in one to one situations. If in any doubt whatsoever, have another member of staff in close proximity or ask another member of staff to support you in the meeting.

 

16. Students in Distress

There may be occasions when a distressed student needs comfort and reassurance. This may include age - appropriate physical contact. Staff should remain self-aware at all times to ensure their contact is not threatening, intrusive or subject to misinterpretation. Where a member of staff has a particular concern about the need to provide this type of care, they should seek advice from SLT or a DSL.

This means that staff should:  

  • Consider the way in which they offer comfort to a distressed student and always tell a colleague when and how they offered comfort to a distressed student. 
  • Record and share situations which may give rise to concern

 

17. Behaviour Management

All students have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. The school has a clear sanctions policy - shown in all rooms throughout the school. This policy promotes best practice in dealing with behaviour and ensures all students are treated fairly. Staff should not use any form of degrading treatment to punish a student. The use of humour can help to defuse a situation. The use of demeaning or insensitive comments towards students is not acceptable in any situation.

This means that staff should:  

  • NEVER use force as a form of punishment  
  • Always try to defuse situations before they escalate
  • Keep parents informed of any sanctions
  • Record all sanctions on Bromcom
  • Adhere to Park High School's Behaviour Policy in a clear and transparent way ensuring consistency throughout the school.

 

18. Curriculum

Many areas of the curriculum can include or raise subject matter which is sexually explicit, or of an otherwise sensitive nature. Care should be taken to ensure that resource materials cannot be misinterpreted and clearly relate to the learning outcomes identified by the lesson plan. This plan should highlight particular areas of risk and sensitivity.

The curriculum can sometimes include or lead to unplanned discussion about subject matter of a sexually explicit or otherwise sensitive nature. Responding to students' questions can require careful judgement and staff may wish to take guidance in these circumstances from a senior member of staff. Care should also be taken to abide by the policy on Relationships and Sex Education and the wishes of parents.

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or part of any sex education provided within the PD curriculum (but not from the biological aspects of human growth and reproduction necessary under the science curriculum).

This means that staff should

  • Have clear written lesson plans.
  • Not enter into or encourage inappropriate or offensive discussion about sexual activity.

 

19. Transporting Children

In certain situations, for example out of school activities, staff may agree to transport children. Wherever possible and practicable it is advisable that transport is undertaken other than in private vehicles, with at least one adult additional to the driver acting as an escort. The driver must also have appropriate business insurance. Staff should ensure that their behaviour is safe and that the transport arrangements and the vehicle meet all legal requirements. They should ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy and appropriately insured and that the maximum capacity is not exceeded.

This means that staff should: 

  • Plan and agree arrangements with all parties in advance.
  • Ensure that they are not alone with a child at any time 
  • Be aware that the safety and welfare of the child is their responsibility until safely passed over to a parent/carer
  • Ensure SLT/line managers are aware of the reason for the journey and the time it is expected to take.
  • Always report when the journey is complete
  • Take into account any specific needs the child may have

 

20. Internet Use

Park High School has a clear policy about access to and the use of the Internet. Please refer to the Staff ICT Internet and Acceptable Use Policy for further guidance.

Under no circumstances should adults in the school access inappropriate images. Accessing child pornography or indecent images of children on the internet, and making, storing or disseminating such material, is illegal and, if proven, will invariably lead to the individual being barred from work with children. Using school equipment to access inappropriate or indecent material, including adult pornography, would normally lead to disciplinary action.

 

21. Child Protection and Whistleblowing

It is the responsibility of all staff in school to familiarise themselves with both the school’s Child Protection and Whistle Blowing Policies. All staff will acknowledge their individual responsibilities to bring matters of concern to the attention of SLT/DSLs in line with the policies.