Safeguarding Policy

Religious Education Council of England and Wales - Safeguarding Policy

1. Rationale

The Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) does not work specifically with children or adults at risk but does come into contact with them. The Charity Commission recommends that charities adopt a safeguarding policy appropriate to their own circumstances, that complies with the relevant legal frameworks. It is expected that member organisations will have their own safeguarding policies in place, and the REC policy applies only when staff, contractors, officers, Board members or authorised representatives of member organisations are engaged in REC business, acting on behalf of or representing the REC, or attending REC meetings and events.

1.1.Where used in the text below, the term “REC personnel” covers staff, officers, Board members, consultants, contractors and representatives of member organisations, when engaged in REC work, events, or representing the REC.

1.2 The REC offices are in a building shared with other organisations that may have their own safeguarding policies, and REC General Meetings are held in other premises, including places of worship and, occasionally, schools. There may be additional safeguarding considerations in these places, and it is important for those involved in organising meetings to make themselves aware of any issues that may arise in addition to those covered in this policy.

2. Statement on safeguarding

Safeguarding of children and adults at risk The REC takes seriously and is committed to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk that may come into contact with the organisation.

2.1 The key principles underpinning the safeguarding of children and adults at risk at the REC are:

• The REC will maintain an organisational culture that prioritises safeguarding, making it safe for people to report incidents and concerns.
• The welfare of the child or adult at risk is paramount.
• All children and adults at risk, without exception, have the right to protection from abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
• The REC will ensure a safe working environment in meetings and online.
• All concerns and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously by trustees, staff, and volunteers.
• Incidents will be handled promptly, as they arise, and reported to the relevant authorities.
• The REC is committed to safe recruitment, selection, and vetting of staff.
• The policy applies to all personnel including Board members, staff, consultants, and volunteers.
• This policy will be reviewed annually by the REC Board.

2.2 The REC does not work specifically with children under the age of 18, or adults at risk, but there are occasions where individuals in such groups may be involved in REC activities, or where REC personnel (staff, Board members, consultants etc.) may come into contact with children and adults at risk in the course of REC business.

The REC may organise events that involve a school or groups from a school or other educational institution bringing a supervised group of pupils under the age of 18 to a special event (for example, as part of the Young Ambassadors scheme). Such an event would be planned and overseen by a DBS-checked member of the REC staff, who would satisfy themselves that the school’s safeguarding policies and practice were appropriate for the event. At such events the primary safeguarding responsibility is that of those accompanying the pupils aged under 18. In the event of REC staff, Board members, officers, consultants or others representing the REC visiting a school, the person concerned should obtain details of the school’s Safeguarding Lead and let them know if do not currently hold a valid DBS, and thus require supervision in their sessions.

2.3 Safeguarding provisions relating to the RE Quality Mark (REQM), in which assessors carry out their work in schools, have additional components and are detailed in Appendix 3.

2.4 REC personnel may come into contact with adults at risk (for example, at events), but this will not be a routine part of their work. (See appendix 1 for definitions of adults at risk)

3. The purpose of safeguarding

The purpose of safeguarding is to protect people’s health, wellbeing, and human rights, and to enable them to live free from harm, abuse, and neglect. Below are the most common categories of abuse:

• Physical abuse
• Domestic violence or abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Psychological or emotional abuse
• Financial or material abuse
• Modern slavery
• Discriminatory abuse
• Organisational or institutional abuse
• Neglect or acts of omission
• Self-neglect
• Bullying or cyberbullying
• Radicalisation

This list is not exhaustive, and people may be subject to a number of abuse types at the same time.

4. Self-certification for trustees and Chief Executive Officer

Board members and the Chief Executive, on election/appointment, will be asked to sign a declaration confirming that they are not disqualified under the automatic disqualification rules.

The forms can be found at Appendix 4.

5. DBS Checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks shall be carried out on the Chief Executive Officer and the safeguarding lead on the REC Board.
The DBS must be obtained through a reputable body.

6. Safeguarding Lead

The REC Board shall appoint a Board member (hereafter the Safeguarding Board Member), and a member of staff, (hereafter the Safeguarding Lead Officer) normally the Chief Executive, to be safeguarding leads. They will be required to undertake regular safeguarding training, normally every two years, or whenever legislation changes, to support this role.

7. Procedure

If there is a concern that abuse may be taking place (including concerns about allegations), the following actions should be taken:

  • In an emergency, or if a person is in imminent danger, call emergency services – 999.
  • Inform the REC Safeguarding Lead.
  • Concerns should be reported to the police or to children’s or adult care services of the appropriate local authority.
  • A record should be kept of what happened, the concern and any actions taken. See 9 below for more detailed guidance on reporting concerns.
  • Concerns or allegations about an REC staff member or consultant must be reported to the CEO and/or Safeguarding Lead.
  • Concerns or allegations involving a safeguarding lead or Board member must be reported to the alternate safeguarding lead plus one additional board member, or to two board members, who will liaise with the appropriate safeguarding authority.

8. What to do if a child or adult wishes to disclose abuse

  • Listen without questioning or investigating. Do not attempt to lead the conversation.
  • Check that you have understood correctly what the child or adult is trying to tell you.
  • Do not promise confidentiality: tell the person that the information will need to be shared.
  • Assure them that they are not to blame.
  • Tell the person what you are going to do, and that they will be told what happens.
  • Make careful notes (see guidance below)
  • Report the disclosure to the REC safeguarding lead.
  • Only tell those who need to know, i.e. the safeguarding lead and any statutory agencies that may become involved.
  • Do not attempt to question anyone who is alleged to have been involved in the abuse, or disclose to them that an allegation has been made.

9. Guidance for reporting concerns:

Write down your concerns as soon as possible. This ensures you do not forget anything about what an individual has told you. The information you should try to record is as follows:

  • Name, age, gender and ethnicity of the adult/child.
  • Details of the injury, abuse or threat.
  • Date and time of the incident or disclosure.
  • Who was involved or present at the time.
  • Details of who raised the concern if it was another adult/child.
  • What you were doing before/during the time that the concern was raised.
  • What the adult/child was doing before/during the time that the concern was raised.
  • Who said what, plus their exact words.
  • Details of any immediate action taken.
  • Any conclusions that were drawn from the incident or disclosure (try to be factual rather than giving an opinion).
  • Name of the person reporting the concern.
  • Name of person to whom the concern was reported, (social services, the police), the date and time plus details of any actions agreed.

Contact a safeguarding lead (Safeguarding Lead Officer, or Safeguarding Board Member) as soon as possible, and no later than 24 hours after you become aware of the concern.
The safeguarding lead will be able to inform you of the correct procedure for reporting concerns to the relevant local authority.

10. Managing risk

The REC typically does not engage in any unsupervised activities involving children under the age of 18, or adults at risk. Supervision for any activities with children aged under 18 or adults at risk will be provided by a DBS-checked individual.
REC personnel should not work alone with children or adults at risk, and
should ensure they stay in a group setting or with a DBS checked member of staff from the organisation with whom they are working.
If REC personnel are working on behalf of the REC in a context where children or adults at risk are normally present, for example in a school or college, they should comply with the safeguarding requirements of that institution.

11. Safer recruitment

It is important that staff who may have contact with children and/or adults at risk are appointed with due consideration of their fitness to their role in accordance with the REC safeguarding policy. Where necessary, recruitment panels should include at least one member who has had recent (in the last 3 years) training in safer recruitment.

12. Terrorism and the Prevent Duty

REC staff and Board members should have an awareness of the ‘Prevent’ strategy pursuant to Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and its “three strategic objectives:

  • respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it;
  • respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it;
  • prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support; and work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to address.

Terrorist groups often draw on extremist ideology, developed by extremist organisations. Some people who join terrorist groups have previously been members of extremist organisations and have been radicalised by them. The Government has defined extremism in the Prevent strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces”.

REC staff and Board members should be mindful of their responsibilities in these areas when engaged in the business of the REC.
See Revised Prevent Duty Guidance: for England and Wales last updated 10 April 2019

13. Considerations to keep people safe

  • Treat all people with respect and set a positive example.
  • Respect personal space and privacy.
  • Ensure that actions cannot be misrepresented by someone else.
  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour.
  • Do not put anyone (including yourself) in a vulnerable or potentially compromising situation.
  • Do not have inappropriate physical or verbal contact with others.
  • Do not keep allegations or suspected abuse secret: it is essential that concerns are reported promptly.

REC Governance Committee 10 October, 2019

Appendix 1

Safeguarding adults at risk

Section 59 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 states that an adult is at risk if, having attained the age of 18, s/he:

  • Is in residential accommodation;
  • Is in sheltered housing;
  • Receives domiciliary care;
  • Receives any form of health care;
  • Is detained in lawful custody;
  • By virtue of an order of a court, is under supervision per Criminal Justice Act 2003 sections regarding community sentences;
  • Receives a welfare service of a prescribed description;
  • Receives any service or participates in any activity provided specifically for persons who has particular needs because of his or her age;
  • Has any form of disability or has a prescribed physical or mental problem. (Dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia are excluded disabilities);
  • Has payments made to him/her or to an accepted representative in pursuance of arrangements under Health and Social Care Act 2012; and/or
  • Requires assistance in the conduct of own affairs.

An adult may also be considered ‘at risk’ if they are unable, for any other reason, to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.

Appendix 2

Safeguarding Children

The UK Government report, “Working together to safeguard children” (2015), states: Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.

Appendix 3

RE Quality Mark

These clauses apply to REQM assessors who are contracted by the REC to carry out assessments in schools.

  • Assessors must hold a current and valid DBS certificate.
  • If the assessor does not have a standard or enhanced DBS certificate applied for by an employer, it is their responsibility to apply and pay for a basic certificate and keep it up to date.
  • The assessor must produce the certificate to the REC if requested.

The REC will not keep any photocopy or other image of the certificate or any copy or representation of the contents of a certificate other than for a short period to cover the recruitment process and any disputes arising. Any copies will be kept securely. However, we may keep a record of the date of issue of a certificate, the name of the subject, the type of certificate requested, the position for which the certificate was requested, the unique reference number of the certificates and the details of the recruitment decision taken regarding the assessor.

It is the assessor’s responsibility to familiarise her/himself with the relevant safeguarding policy and procedure of the school in which s/he is carrying out the assessment.

Schools will have their own requirements for safeguarding as it applies to visitors, and assessors will be expected to comply with these. It remains the responsibility of schools to verify the identity and safeguarding credentials of those who conduct assessments on their premises.

Annex A – Disqualification Reasons

You are automatically disqualified from acting as a trustee or senior manager if:

1.You have an unspent conviction for any of the following

a)  an offence involving deception or dishonesty

b)  a terrorism offence

    1. to which Part 4 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 applies
    2. under sections 13 or 19 of the Terrorism Act 2000

c) a money laundering offence within the meaning of section 415 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

d) a bribery offence under sections 1, 2, 6 or 7 of the Bribery Act 2010

e)  an offence of contravening a Commission Order or Direction under section 77 of the Charities Act 2011

f)  an offence of misconduct in public office, perjury or perverting the course of justice yes/no

g) In relation to the above offences, an offence of: attempt, conspiracy, or incitement to commit the offence; aiding, or abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of the offence; or, under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007(encouraging or assisting) in relation to the offence

2.You are on the sex offenders register (ie. subject to notification requirements of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003)

3.You have an unspent sanction for contempt of court for making, or causing to be made, a false statement or for making, or causing to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth.

4. You have been found guilty of disobedience to an order or direction of the Commission under section 336(1) of the Charities Act 2011.

5.You are a designated person for the purposes of Part 1 of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010, or the Al Qaida (Asset Freezing) Regulations 2011.

6.You have previously been removed as an officer, agent or employee of a charity by the Charity Commission, the Scottish charity regulator, or the High Court due to misconduct or mismanagement.

7.You have previously been removed as a trustee of a charity by the Charity Commission, the Scottish charity regulator, or the High Court due to misconduct or mismanagement.

8.You have been removed from management or control of anybody under section s34(5)(e) of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (or earlier legislation)

9.You are disqualified from being a company director, or have given a disqualification undertaking, and leave has not been granted (as described in section 180 of the Charities Act) for you to act as director of the charity

10.You are currently declared bankrupt (or subject to bankruptcy restrictions or an interim order)

11.You have an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) to pay off debts with creditors 12. You are subject to a moratorium period under a debt relief order, or a debt relief restrictions order, or an interim order

13. You are subject to an order made under s.429(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986. (Failure to pay under a County Court Administration Order.)

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