For many primary schools, this week will see the return to school for those eligible pupils in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, whilst secondary schools are due to open their doors on 15 June to Years 10 and 12, on a limited basis.
The DfE updated their COVID-19: safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers on 20 May, to reflect the greater number of pupils that will now be on school premises, as part of the phased re-opening. The guidance has been updated to ensure that schools review their child protection and safeguarding policy, designated safeguarding lead (DSL) arrangements and their arrangements for continuing to protect vulnerable children, as well as the mental health of their whole school community.
We have set out below the actions that schools are required to take.
All schools should be updating their child protection and safeguarding policy or have produced an annex to reflect the school's response to coronavirus. School should also consider revisions to reflect:
We recommended that all schools, even those not planning for re-opening, consider reviewing their policies and procedures to ensure that they have regard to the statutory guidance and KCSIE.
In addition to updating the annex to the child protection and safeguarding policy, schools should also review the following policies:
This review will be to ensure that they reflect any amendments to the School's child protection and safeguarding policy, as well as any updated processes and procedures put in place as part of the remote education offerings.
As part of the return to school, schools should ensure that all relevant safeguarding and welfare information remains up to date for pupils, both for those who will be attending, and those continuing to access remote education. We recommend that schools consider asking parents and carers to advise them of changes to a child's welfare, health and wellbeing before their return, in order that schools can ensure that appropriate support can be put in place for those pupils.
The 20 May guidance also confirms that the Government now expects all schools to have a trained DSL or deputy on site. If this will not be possible, due to staffing arrangements, then a member of the senior leadership team should be on site to co-ordinate safeguarding. All staff and volunteers, should at all times, have access to a trained DSL or deputy, either by telephone or video call.
The guidance also places particular emphasis on the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff at this difficult time. Schools should be alert and considering what support will be appropriate for all pupils on site, as well as those continuing with remote education.
Schools should consider whether it is appropriate to provide refresher training to staff who are transitioning from teaching remotely to returning to the classroom.