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Staff Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

 

Overview 

CTSW Skills LTD / 1st Leap Training seek to provide a safe and supportive environment, which secures the well-being and very best outcomes for students in their care. This document 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.

 If a member of staff does not follow this code of conduct this may lead to disciplinary procedures. 

There may be times 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. 

  • All 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 a 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. 

  • Staff should apply the same professional standards in keeping with the Company’s Equality Policy. 

  • Staff should know and work to the Company’s Health & Safety policy.

  • All staff should know the name of their designated person for child protection, be familiar with child protection arrangements and understand their responsibilities to safeguard and protect students. 

  • 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 

Introduction 

This guidance 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. 

 

This means that these guidelines: 

  • Apply to all adults working in education settings whatever their position, roles, or responsibilities. 

 

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, has a duty to keep young people 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 staffs that demonstrate 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 that involves working with children and young people, they need to understand and acknowledge the responsibilities and trust inherent in that role. 

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees which requires them to provide a safe working environment for staff and guidance about safe working practices. 

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 

  • Avoid 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 Company’s named above will: 

  • ensure that safeguarding procedures are in place and reviewed

  • ensure that systems are in place for concerns to be raised 

  • ensure that adults are not placed in situations which render them particularly vulnerable 

 Exercise of Professional Judgement

This guidance cannot provide a complete checklist of what is, or is not, appropriate behaviour for staff. It does highlight 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. Individuals are expected to make judgements about their behaviour in order to secure the best interests and welfare of the children in their charge and in so doing, 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 senior leader 

  • always record discussions and actions taken with their justifications

Power and Positions of Trust

All adults working with students in education settings are in positions of trust in relation to the young people in their care. A relationship between a member of staff and a student cannot be a relationship between equals. There is potential for exploitation and harm of vulnerable young people; staff have a responsibility to ensure that an unequal balance of power is not used for personal advantage or gratification. 

Staff should always maintain appropriate professionalism and wherever possible, they should avoid behaviour which might be misinterpreted by others, and 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. Staff will maintain a professional boundary with any person aged 18+ while that person attends the centre. Where a person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust established with a person who has only recently left the centre, 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-pupil, which is of a sexual nature. 

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 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 responsibilities.

 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 a senior member of staff. Any media or legal enquiries should be passed to senior leadership. 

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 senior leader without delay. 

This means that staff: 

  • are expected to treat information they receive about students in a discreet and confidential manner. 

  • 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 be cautious when passing information to others about a student. 

  • Need to know to whom any concerns or allegations should be reported 

 

Propriety and Behaviour 

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

An individual's behaviour, either in or out of the workplace, should not compromise her/his position within the work setting so it is important to exercise due care and attention when outside of the teaching environment.

Membership of organisations whose goals are in conflict with the values and equality policies of the centre 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 pupils in public or private places, nor purchase alcohol for pupils. 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 pupils are drinking, the member of staff should not join the pupils and may need to draw the attention of bar staff to the age of the pupils. It is difficult to determine exact regulations in this area; 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.

  • drink alcohol when supervising pupils or on centre trips. This applies even when there are no pupils present, as the member of staff may be called to act if an emergency occurs. 

  • make inappropriate remarks to a student (including email, 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 (e-mail, conversations or social networking comments) 

 

Staff must: 

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

Dress and Appearance

Staff should consider the manner of dress and appearance appropriate to their professional role. Smart and professional appearance is expected at all times for staff. Staff should ensure they are dressed decently, safely and appropriately for the tasks they undertake. Those who dress or appear in a manner which could be considered as inappropriate could render themselves vulnerable to criticism or allegation. Appropriate personal presentation is expected of staff.

This means that staff should ensure their appearance and clothing: 

  • promotes a positive and professional image 

  • 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  

  • is absent of any political or otherwise contentious slogans 

Gifts 

Staff should be aware of the company’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 a senior member of staff

Any member of staff receiving gifts or entertainment valued at more than £100 must disclose this to a senior member of staff. 

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 an individual young person 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. 

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 senior leaders or the home has been designated by the organisation or regulatory body as a work place e.g. childminders, foster carers.

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 

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, web-cams, websites, social networking sites, online gaming and blogs. Adults 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. Adults should ensure that all communications are transparent and open to scrutiny. 

Adults 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 senior leadership and parents. E-mail or text communications between an adult 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. Please be conscious of the fact that ex-students may be in contact with current students. Be aware that actions that bring the centre into disrepute could lead to disciplinary procedures being taken.

This means that staff should: 

  • only give their personal contact details to students, including their mobile telephone number, for professional reasons and with the knowledge of their line manager. 

  • communicate with students in an appropriate and professional manner, making sure that parents have given permission for this form of communication to be used 

  • only make contact with students for professional reasons 

  • not use internet or web-based communication channels to send personal messages to a student 

  • not to 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 company website, without permission from parents and senior managers. 

  • Be cautious in their contact with ex-pupils, as there is still a professional relationship and there may be contact with current pupils.  

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 her/his 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 senior leadership. If students do become aware of your gamer tag you must change it. 

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 senior colleagues, for example when it is part of a reward scheme or pastoral care programme 

  • 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 centre or their own professional standing. 

Social Networking Sites and Online Gaming

Company’s named above staff may use social networking sites for personal use. However, the centre requires that profile and photos of the member of staff are ‘locked down’ as private so that students or parents do not have access to your personal data or images. 

Staff must deny current or recent students’ access to your profile, so you do not put yourself in a vulnerable position. 

Staff should be aware that they leave themselves open to a charge of professional misconduct if images of a member of staff in a compromising situation 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) senior leadership should be informed immediately. 

Where relationships exist between staff and those who are also parents at the centre, or personal friends who are parents at the centre, social networking is acceptable but caution must be exercised so that professional standards are maintained and staff do not compromise themselves or the centre. As soon as a member of staff becomes aware that they are in an online game with a student of the Centre, the member of staff 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 tags/ID with students or use centre equipment to play online games.

This means that staff should: 

  • Lock down their profile to ensure that data and images are not freely available. Seek advice if you are unsure how to do this. 

  • Do 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

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 centre policy and subject to review. 

This means that staff should: 

  • be aware that even well-intentioned physical contact may be misconstrued by the student, an observer or by anyone to whom this action is described 

  • never touch a student in a way which may be considered indecent 

  • always be prepared to explain actions and accept that all physical contact be open to scrutiny 

This means that Company’s named above should: 

  • ensure they have a system in place for recording serious incidents and the means by which information about incidents and outcomes can be easily accessed by senior leadership. 

  • Provide staff, on a "need to know" basis, with relevant information about vulnerable students in their care. 

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 in order that 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 and reassurance s/he should seek further advice from a senior leader.

This means that staff should: 

  • consider the way in which they offer comfort to a distressed student 

  • always tell a colleague when and how they offered comfort to a distressed student 

  • record situations which may give rise to concern.  

Behaviour Management 

All students have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. 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 sarcasm, demeaning or insensitive comments towards students is not acceptable in any situation. 

This means that staff should: 

  • not use force as a form of punishment 

  • try to defuse situations before they escalate 

  • keep parents informed of any sanctions 

  • adhere to Company’s named above Behaviour policy. 

 

Care, Control and Physical Intervention

 Staff may legitimately intervene to prevent a student from committing a criminal offence, injuring themselves or others, causing damage to property, engaging in behaviour prejudicial to good order and to maintain good order and discipline. Staff should have regard to the health and safety of themselves and others.

Under no circumstances should physical force be used as a form of punishment. The use of unwarranted physical force is likely to constitute a criminal offence. In all cases where physical intervention is deemed necessary, the incident and subsequent actions should be documented and reported. 

This means that staff should: 

  • always seek to defuse situations

  • always use minimum force for the shortest period necessary. 

 

Sexual Contact with Students 

Any sexual behaviour by a member of staff with or towards a student is both inappropriate and illegal. Students are protected by the same laws as adults in relation to non-consensual sexual behaviour. They are additionally protected by specific legal provisions regardless of whether the child or young person consents or not. This includes the prohibition on adults in a position of trust. 

The sexual activity referred to does not just involve physical contact including penetrative and non-penetrative acts. It may also include noncontact activities, such as causing children to engage in or watch sexual activity or the production of pornographic material


 

This means that staff should: 

  • not pursue sexual relationships with children and young people either in or out of centre. 

  • avoid any form of communication with a child or young person which could be interpreted as sexually suggestive or provocative i.e. verbal comments, letters, notes, electronic mail, phone calls, texts, physical contact. 

There are occasions when adults embark on a course of behaviour known as 'grooming' where the sole purpose is to gain the trust of a child and manipulate that relationship so sexual abuse can take place. Staff should be aware that conferring special attention and favour upon a child might be construed as being part of a 'grooming' process, which is an offence. 

One to One Situations

Staff working in one to one situation with children and young people are more vulnerable to allegations. Teachers and others 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 centre premises should not be permitted unless approval is obtained from their parent and senior colleague with delegated authority. 

This means that staff should:

  • avoid meetings with students in remote, secluded areas of the centre 

  • ensure there is visual access and/or an open door in one to one situation 

  • inform other staff of the meeting beforehand, assessing the need to have them present or close by 

  • avoid use of 'engaged' or equivalent signs wherever possible. Such signs may create an opportunity for secrecy or the interpretation of secrecy 

  • always report any situation where a child becomes distressed or angry to a senior colleague 

  • consider the needs and circumstances of the child/children involved. 


 

Transporting Children

In certain situations, for example out of centre activities, staff or volunteers may agree to transport children. A designated member of staff should be appointed to plan and provide oversight of all transporting arrangements and respond to any difficulties that may arise. 

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 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, responding sensitively and flexibly to disagreements 

  • ensure that they are alone with a child for the minimum time possible 

  • be aware that the safety and welfare of the child is their responsibility until this is safely passed over to a parent/carer 

  • report the nature of the journey, the route and expected time of arrival in accordance with agreed procedures 

  • ensure that their behaviour and all arrangements ensure vehicle, passenger and driver safety 

  • take into account any specific needs that the child may have. 

Extra-curricular activities 

Staff should take particular care when supervising students in the less formal atmosphere of a residential setting or after-centre activity. 

During centre activities that take place off the centre site or out of centre hours, a more relaxed discipline or informal dress and language code may be acceptable. However, staff remain in a position of trust and need to ensure that their behaviour cannot be interpreted as seeking to establish an inappropriate relationship or friendship. 

Where out of centre activities include overnight stays, careful consideration needs to be given to sleeping arrangements. Students, staff and parents should be informed of these prior to the start of the trip. 

Health and Safety arrangements require members of staff to keep colleagues/employers aware of their whereabouts, especially when involved in an out of centre activity. 

This means that staff should: 

  • always have another adult present in out of centre activities, unless otherwise agreed with senior staff in the centre 

  • undertake a risk assessment 

  • have parental consent to the activity 

  • ensure that their behaviour remains professional at all times. 

First Aid and Administration of Medication

First aid is only to be administered by trained members of staff and all medication is to be held in student services.

Photography, Videos and other Creative Arts

Many centre activities involve recording images. These may be undertaken as part of the curriculum, out of centre activities, for publicity, or to celebrate achievement. 

Staff need to be aware of the potential for these aspects of teaching to be misused for pornographic or 'grooming' purposes. Careful consideration should be given as to how these activities are organised and undertaken. 

Using images of children for the centre’s publicity purposes has already had the consent of parents through the Home-Centre Agreement. Images should not be displayed on other websites, in publications or in a public place without additional consent.

This means that staff should: 

  • be clear about the purpose of the activity and about what will happen to the photographs when the lesson/activity is concluded 

  • ensure that a senior member of staff is aware that the photography/image equipment is being used and for what purpose. 

  • ensure that all images are available for scrutiny in order to screen for acceptability 

  • be able to justify images of children in their possession 

  • avoid making images in one to one situation. 

This means that staff should not: 

  • have images of students stored on personal cameras, devices or home computers. 

  • make images of students available on the internet, other than through the centre website with permission from parents and senior teachers. 

Internet Use 

Under no circumstances should adults in the centre 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 and young people. Using centre equipment to access inappropriate or indecent material, including adult pornography, would normally lead to disciplinary action, particularly if as a result student might be exposed to inappropriate or indecent material. 

Whistleblowing 

Whistleblowing is the mechanism by which staff can voice their concerns, made in good faith, without fear of repercussion. 

Staff should acknowledge their individual responsibilities to bring matters of concern to the attention of senior leadership and/or relevant external agencies. This is particularly important where the welfare of children may be at risk. 

This means that staff should: 

  • report any behaviour by colleagues that raises concern. 

 

Sharing Concerns and Recording Incidents 

All staff should be aware of the centre's child protection procedures, including procedures for dealing with allegations against staff.

In the event of an incident occurring, which may result in an action being misinterpreted and/or an allegation being made against a member of staff, the relevant information should be clearly and promptly recorded and reported to senior staff. Early discussion with a parent could avoid any misunderstanding. 

Members of staff should feel able to discuss with their line manager any difficulties or problems that may affect their relationship with students so that appropriate support can be provided, or action can be taken.

This means that staff:

  • should be familiar with Company’s named above, Child Protection procedures 

  • should take responsibility for recording any incident and passing on that information where they have concerns about any matter pertaining to the welfare of an individual in the centre or workplace. – See Safeguarding Policy for further information