School Logo
Google Search

Guidance For Safer Working Practice Addendum

Guidance for safer working practice for those

working with children and young people 

in education settings 


Addendum April 2020




Acknowledgments: Adapted and updated by the Safer Recruitment Consortium from an  original IRSC / DfE document and with thanks to CAPE (Child Protection in Education)  and NASS (National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special  Schools)





I. Context

II. Overview and purpose of guidance  

III Underpinning principles 

IV How to use the addendum 


Amended section 


3. Responsibilities

5. Power and positions of trust and authority

8. Dress and appearance

15. Intimate / personal care

19. One to one situations

20. Home visits

23. First Aid and medication

24a.Use of technology for online / virtual teaching

29. Whistleblowing 


I. Context 


The DfE website page relating to safeguarding arrangements in schools during the  Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic says “Whilst acknowledging the pressure that schools  and colleges are under, it remains essential that as far as possible they continue to be safe  places for children.” This addendum is intended as a temporary supplement to the Guidance  for Safer Working Practice for those working with children and young people in education  settings.



I. Definitions 


For ease of reading, references will be made to ‘school’ and setting. This term encompasses  all types of educational establishments including academies, independent and free schools,  pupil referral units, alternative provision, FE institutions, sixth form colleges and early years  settings.  


II. Overview and purpose of guidance  


This document is an addendum to the non-statutory ‘guidance for safer working practice’  2019, an adaptation by the Safer Recruitment Consortium of a document previously published  for schools by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). This addendum to the safer working practice document is NOT statutory guidance from the Department for Education  (DfE); it is for employers, local authorities and/or the three safeguarding partners to decide  whether to use this as the basis for their code of conduct / staff behaviour guidelines.  


The document seeks to ensure that the responsibilities of senior leaders of educational  settings towards children and staff are discharged by raising awareness of illegal, unsafe,  unprofessional and unwise behaviour. 


The 2019 guidance made clear that whilst every attempt had been made to cover a wide  range of situations, it should be recognised that any guidance cannot cover all eventualities. The current pandemic with its associated closure of schools to most children is one such  example of a circumstance which had not been foreseen and where Government, local  authorities, school leaders and staff are having to review and amend guidance rapidly.  


Now more than ever before, professional judgements may need to be made in situations not  covered by existing guidance, or which directly contravene the guidance given by the  employer. In such circumstances, staff will always advise their senior colleagues of the  justification for any such action already taken or proposed. 


All staff have a responsibility to be aware of systems within their school which support  safeguarding and any temporary amendment to these should be explained to them by senior  managers. This includes the school’s child protection policy, staff behaviour policy (sometimes  called the code of conduct) and online safety / acceptable use policy.  


III. Underpinning principles 


• The welfare of the child is paramount 

• Staff should understand their responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of  pupils 

• 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 acknowledge that deliberately invented/malicious allegations are extremely  rare and that all concerns should be reported and recorded 

• Staff should discuss and/or take advice promptly from their line manager if they have acted in a way which may give rise to concern 

• Staff should apply the same professional standards regardless of culture, disability,  gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual orientation 

• Staff should not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or any substance, including  prescribed medication, which may affect their ability to care for children  

• Staff should be aware that breaches of the law and other professional guidelines could  result in disciplinary action being taken against them, criminal action and/or other proceedings including barring by the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) from working in  regulated activity, or for acts of serious misconduct prohibition from teaching by the  Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) 

• Staff and managers should continually monitor and review practice to ensure this guidance  is followed 

• Staff should be aware of and understand their establishment’s child protection policy,  arrangements for managing allegations against staff, staff behaviour policy, whistle  blowing procedure and the procedures of the relevant Multi-agency Partnership (MAP).


IV. How to use this addendum 


This addendum and its parent document are intended only to be guidance to schools and do  not have any statutory weight. However, where statutory guidance does exist in relation to a  specific topic or practice, this is noted in the text. 


Each section in the Guidance for Safer Working Practice provides general guidance about a  particular aspect of work and, in the right- hand column, specific guidance about which  behaviours should be avoided and which are recommended. This addendum only highlights  sections or areas where specific changes or additions are required during the pandemic.


Some settings will have additional responsibilities arising from their regulations (e.g. Early  Years Foundation Stage [EYFS], Quality Standards) or their responsibility towards young  people over the age of 18. Not all sections of the guidance will, therefore, be relevant to all  educational establishments.


3. Responsibilities 


Staff are accountable for the way in which they:  exercise authority; manage risk; use resources; and  safeguard children.


All staff have a responsibility to keep pupils safe and to  protect them from abuse (sexual, physical and  emotional), neglect and contextual safeguarding  concerns. Pupils have a right to be safe and to be  treated with respect and dignity. It follows that trusted  adults are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure  their safety and well-being. Failure to do so may be  regarded as professional misconduct.


The safeguarding culture of a school is, in part,  exercised through the development of respectful,  caring and professional relationships between adults  and pupils and behaviour by the adult that  demonstrates integrity, maturity and good judgement. 


The public, local authorities, employers and  parents/carers will have expectations about the nature  of professional involvement in the lives of children.  When individuals accept a role working in an education  setting they should understand and acknowledge the  responsibilities and trust involved in that role.  


Employers have duties towards their employees and  others under Health and Safety legislation which  requires them to take steps to provide a safe working  environment for staff.  


Legislation also imposes a duty on employees to take  care of themselves and anyone else who may be  affected by their actions or failings. An employer’s  Health and Safety duties and the adults’ responsibilities 

towards children should not conflict. Safe practice can  be demonstrated through the use and implementation  of these guidelines.  


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 

▪ understand how to raise a concern and contact designated staff or partner agencies if they have a concern about a child, particularly if the normal arrangements have been amended

▪ 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 employers should: 


▪ promote a culture of openness and  support 

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

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

▪ ensure that all adults are aware of  expectations, policies and procedures


5 Power and positions of trust and authority


As a result of their knowledge, position and/or the  authority invested in their role, all those working with  children in a school or education setting are in a position of trust in relation to all pupils on the roll.  


The relationship between a person working with a child/ren is one in which the adult has a position of  

power or influence. It is vital for adults to understand  this power; that the relationship cannot be one between  equals and the responsibility they must exercise as a  consequence. 


The potential for exploitation and harm of vulnerable  pupils means that adults have a responsibility to ensure  that an unequal balance of power is not used for  personal advantage or gratification. 


Staff should always maintain appropriate professional  boundaries, avoid behaviour which could be  misinterpreted by others and report any such incident to a senior manager. This is as relevant in the online  world as it is in the classroom; staff engaging with pupils  and / or parents online have a responsibility to model  safe practice at all times.  

See also addendum section 24a. 


Where a person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust  with a child under 18, it is an offence 1 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.   


This means that managers / proprietors/  governing bodies should: 


▪ ensure that appropriate safeguarding  and child protection policies and procedures are distributed, adopted,  implemented and monitored  

▪ update or amend their CP policy and other safeguarding policies in the light  of DfE guidance on safeguarding  

children during the COVID pandemic ▪ ensure that if there is no trained DSL on  site, a senior member of staff is  

identified to lead on safeguarding  issues


This means that staff should not: 

▪ use their position to gain access to  information for their own advantage  and/or a pupil’s or family’s detriment  

▪ use their power to intimidate, threaten,  coerce or undermine pupils 

▪ use their status and standing to form or  promote relationships with pupils which 


8. Dress and appearance


A person’s dress and appearance are matters of  personal choice and self-expression and some  individuals will wish to exercise their own cultural  customs. However, staff should select a manner of  dress and appearance appropriate to their professional  role and which may be necessarily different to that  adopted in their personal life. Staff should ensure they  are dressed decently, safely and appropriately for the  tasks they undertake; this also applies to online or  virtual teaching or when working with small groups on  site (in the case of schools who remain open to  vulnerable children or those of critical workers). Those  who dress or appear in a manner which could be  viewed as offensive or inappropriate will render  themselves vulnerable to criticism or allegation.


This means that staff should wear clothing which


▪ 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 

▪ is not considered to be discriminatory 

▪ is compliant with professional standards

▪ in online engagement, is similar to the clothing they would wear on a normal  school day


12 Communication with children (including the use  of technology) 


See also addendum section 24a.


15 Intimate / personal care 


Schools and settings should have clear nappy or pad changing and intimate / personal care policies which  ensure that the health, safety, independence and  welfare of children is promoted and their dignity and  privacy are respected. Arrangements for intimate and  personal care should be open and transparent and  accompanied by recording systems.


Pupils should be encouraged to act as independently  as possible and to undertake as much of their own  personal care as is possible and practicable. When  assistance is required, this should normally be  undertaken by one member of staff, however, they  should try to ensure that another appropriate adult is in  the vicinity who is aware of the task to be undertaken  and that, wherever possible, they are visible and/or  audible. Intimate or personal care procedures should  not involve more than one member of staff unless the  pupil’s care plan specifies the reason for this. 


A signed record should be kept of all intimate and  personal care tasks undertaken and, where these have  been carried out in another room, should include times  left and returned. 


Any vulnerability, including those that may arise from a  physical or learning difficulty should be considered  when formulating the individual pupil’s care plan. The  views of parents, carers and the pupil, regardless of  their age and understanding, should be actively sought  in formulating the plan and in the necessary regular  reviews of these arrangements. Any changes to the  care plan should be made in writing and without delay,  even if the change in arrangements is temporary; e.g.  staff shortages, changes to staff rotas during the  pandemic, etc. 


Intimate and personal care should not be carried out by  an adult that the child does not know. Anyone  undertaking intimate / personal care in an education  setting is in regulated activity and must have been  checked against the relevant DBS barred list, even if  the activity only happens once; this includes volunteers.


Volunteers and visiting staff from other schools should  not undertake care procedures without appropriate  training.  


Pupils are entitled to respect and privacy at all times  and especially when in a state of undress, including, for  example, when changing, toileting and showering.  


This means that education settings should:


• have written care plans in place for any  pupil who could be expected to require  intimate care 

• update care plans in writing where  appropriate; e.g. because there are  changes to staff rotas, etc. 

• ensure that pupils are actively  consulted about their own care plan

• ensure that intimate / personal care is  provided by staff known to the child

• ensure that only individuals that have  been checked against the relevant DBS  barred list are permitted to engage in  intimate or personal care 

• ensure that temporary or visiting staff  have been trained in intimate and  personal care procedures 


However, there needs to be an appropriate level of  supervision in order to safeguard pupils, satisfy health  and safety considerations and ensure that bullying or  teasing does not occur. This supervision should be  appropriate to the needs and age of the children concerned and sensitive to the potential for  embarrassment.


In the current situation, some settings may ask staff to  undertake welfare visits, particularly in the EYFS or to  primary age children. Settings should take into account  the advice of their local authority early years service  and / or MAP when deciding whether these home visits are proportionate and desirable. Staff will normally  undertake home visits with a colleague. Staff  undertaking welfare visits should always try to give  parents / carers advance warning unless there is good  reason not to; e.g. because the visit has been prompted  by safeguarding concerns and / or is at the request of  children’s social care. In these cases, one of the staff  undertaking the visit should be a Designated  safeguarding lead or deputy safeguarding person. The  purpose of the visit should be clarified and staff should  be aware of the circumstances in which emergency  services or partner agencies should be contacted.


This means that staff should: 


▪ adhere to their organisation’s intimate  and personal care and nappy changing  policies  

▪ make other staff aware of the task being  undertaken 

▪ always explain to the pupil what is  happening before a care procedure  begins 

▪ consult with colleagues where any  variation from agreed procedure/care  plan is necessary 

▪ record the justification for any variations  to the agreed procedure/care plan and  share this information with the pupil and  their parents/carers 

▪ avoid any visually intrusive behaviour ▪ where there are changing rooms  announce their intention of entering

▪ always consider the supervision needs of the pupils and only remain in the room  where their needs require this 


This means that adults should not: 


▪ change or toilet in the presence or sight  of pupils 

▪ shower with pupils 

▪ allow any adult to assist with intimate or  personal care without confirmation from  senior leaders that the individual is not  barred from working in regulated activity  

▪ assist with intimate or personal care  tasks which the pupil is able to undertake independently


19. One to one situations 


Staff working in one to one situations with pupils at the  setting, including visiting staff from external  organisations can be more vulnerable to allegations or  complaints. 


To safeguard both pupils and adults, a risk assessment  in relation to the specific nature and implications of one  to one work should always be undertaken. Each  assessment should take into account the individual  needs of each pupil and should be reviewed regularly. 


Arranging to meet with pupils from the school or setting  away from the work premises should not be permitted  unless the necessity for this is clear and approval is  obtained from a senior member of staff, the pupil and  their parents/carers.  


During the current school closures, the DfE suggests  that if there is only one vulnerable child or child of a  critical worker, the school should consider closing, and  liaise with the local authority to identify alternative  provision; e.g., at a hub school. If the school must  remain open with only one or two children, there should  be more than one member of staff to meet fire safety,  first aid, supervision and other emergency procedures.


This means school leaders should:


▪ keep pupil numbers under constant  review  

▪ ensure that risk assessments and  emergency procedures are reviewed in  the event of lone working / very small  numbers on site 

▪ liaise with the LA on suitable alternative  provision if the school needs to close  due to very low pupil numbers 


This means that staff should: 


▪ work one to one with a child only where  absolutely necessary and with the  knowledge and consent of senior leaders  and parents/carers 

▪ be aware of relevant risk assessments,  policies and procedures 

▪ ensure that wherever possible there is  visual access and/or an open door in  one to one situations 

▪ 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 pupil  becomes distressed, anxious or angry 

▪ consider the needs and circumstances of  the pupil involved 


20. Home visits  


All work with pupils and parents should usually be  undertaken in the school or setting or other recognised  workplace. There are however occasions, in response  to an urgent, planned or specific situation or job role,  where it is necessary to make one-off or regular home  visits are proportionate and desirable. Staff will normally  undertake home visits with a colleague. Staff  undertaking welfare visits should always try to give  parents / carers advance warning unless there is good  reason not to; e.g. because the visit has been prompted  by safeguarding concerns and / or is at the request of  children’s social care. In these cases, one of the staff  undertaking the visit should be a Designated  safeguarding lead or deputy safeguarding person. The  purpose of the visit should be clarified and staff should  be aware of the circumstances in which emergency  services or partner agencies should be contacted.  


It is essential that appropriate policies and related risk  assessments are in place to safeguard both staff and  pupils, who can be more vulnerable in these situations. A risk assessment should be undertaken prior to any  planned home visit taking place. The assessment  should include an evaluation of any known factors  regarding the pupil, parents/carers and any others  living in the household. Consideration should be given  to any circumstances which might render the staff  member becoming more vulnerable to an allegation  being made e.g. hostility, child protection concerns,  complaints or grievances. Specific thought should be  given to visits outside of ‘office hours’ or in remote or  secluded locations. Following the assessment,  appropriate risk management measures should be put  in place, before the visit is undertaken. In the unlikely  event that little or no information is available, visits  should not be made alone.


This means that staff should:  


▪ agree the purpose for any home visit  with their manager 

▪ have a clear understanding of the  actions that should be taken if it is  believed that a child or parent is at  immediate risk of harm, including when  to contact emergency services and / or  partner agencies 

▪ adhere to agreed risk management  strategies 

▪ avoid unannounced visits wherever  possible

▪ ensure there is visual access and/or an  open door in one to one situations 

▪ observe social distancing at all times  

▪ except in an emergency, never enter a  home without the parent or carer’s  consent or when the parent is absent

▪ always make detailed records including  times of arrival and departure  

▪ ensure any behaviour or situation which  gives rise to concern is discussed with  their manager 


This means that education settings should:

▪ ensure that they have home visit and  lone-working policies which all adults  are made aware of. These should  include arrangements for risk assessment and management 

▪ ensure that policies reflect any procedures or guidance issued by the  MAP in relation to undertaking home  visits 

▪ ensure that all visits are justified and  recorded 

▪ ensure that staff understand the  purpose and limitations of welfare visits ▪ ensure that staff are not exposed to  unacceptable risk 

▪ make clear to staff that, other than in an  emergency, they should not enter a  home if the parent/carer is absent 

▪ ensure that staff have access to a  mobile telephone and an emergency  contact number


23. First Aid and medication 


The narrative of section 23 in the parent document still  stands. However, it is worth noting that in exceptional  circumstances, the Managing Health & Safety at Work  Regulations do allow an organisation to function  without any member of staff being trained in ‘First Aid  at Work’. If a school has no trained first aider due to  COVID-19, it is the responsibility of school leaders and  / or the employer to identify a senior person on site each  day to lead on any crisis or serious incident including  the provision of first aid. This decision should be  supported by a risk assessment that takes into account  the number of staff, children and / or other visitors on  site, the proximity of emergency services, any particular  risks presented, etc. Risks should be minimised as  much as possible, for example by not undertaking high  risk or adventurous activities. 


Staff whose ‘first aid at work’ training is about to or has expired since 16th March 2020 should be aware that the  HSE has agreed an extension of 3 months for renewal.  


Depending on the ages of the children accessing the provision, there may need to be at least one person  trained in paediatric first aid at all times when children  are on site. 


This means that education settings should:

• ensure there are trained and named  individuals to undertake first aid responsibilities, including paediatric first  aid if relevant 

• if there is no member of staff available  who has completed ‘first aid at work’ training, identify a senior person to be  responsible each day  

• review and update first aid, medicines  in school and crisis / emergency  policies and relevant risk assessments

• refer to local and national First Aid  guidance and guidance on meeting the  needs of children with medical  



This means that adults should: 

• adhere to the school or setting’s health  and safety and supporting pupils with  medical conditions policies 

• make other staff aware of the task being undertaken 

• have regard to pupils’ individual  healthcare plans 

• always ensure that an appropriate  health/risk assessment is undertaken  prior to undertaking certain activities 

• explain to the pupil what is happening.

• always act and be seen to act in the  pupil’s best interest 

• make a record of all medications  administered 

• not work with pupils whilst taking  medication unless medical advice  confirms that they are able to do so 


24a. Use of technology for online / virtual teaching 


The narrative of section 24 remains relevant. However,  there has been a sharp increase in the use of  technology for remote learning since March 2020 and  this addendum provides some basic guidelines for staff  and school leaders.  


All settings should review their online safety and  acceptable use policies and amend these if necessary,  ensuring that all staff involved in virtual teaching or the  use of technology to contact pupils are briefed on best 

practice and any temporary changes to policy /  procedures.  


When selecting a platform for online / virtual teaching,  settings should satisfy themselves that the provider has  an appropriate level of security. Wherever possible,  staff should use school devices and contact pupils only  via the pupil school email address / log in. This ensures  that the setting’s filtering and monitoring software is  enabled.  


In deciding whether to provide virtual or online learning  for pupils, senior leaders should take into account  issues such as accessibility within the family home, the  mental health and wellbeing of children, including  screen time, the potential for inappropriate behaviour  by staff or pupils, staff access to the technology  required, etc. Virtual lessons should be timetabled and  senior staff, DSL and / or heads of department should  be able to drop in to any virtual lesson at any time – the  online version of entering a classroom.  


Staff engaging in online learning should display the  same standards of dress and conduct that they would  in the real world; they should also role model this to  pupils and parents. The following points should be considered:- 

▪ think about the background; photos, artwork,  identifying features, mirrors – ideally the backing  should be blurred 

▪ staff and pupils should be in living / communal areas – no bedrooms  

▪ staff and pupils should be fully dressed

▪ filters at a child’s home may be set at a threshold  which is different to the school 

▪ resources / videos must be age appropriate – the child may not have support immediately to  hand at home if they feel distressed or anxious  about content  


It is the responsibility of the staff member to act as a  moderator; raise any issues of suitability (of dress, setting, behaviour) with the child and / or parent  immediately and end the online interaction if necessary  Recording lessons does not prevent abuse. If staff wish  to record the lesson they are teaching, consideration  should be given to data protection issues; e.g., whether  parental / pupil consent is needed and retention /  storage. If a staff member believes that a child or parent  is recording the interaction, the lesson should be  brought to an end or that child should be logged out  immediately. Staff, parent and pupil AUPs should  clearly state the standards of conduct required.


If staff need to contact a pupil or parent by phone and  do not have access to a work phone, they should  discuss this with a senior member of staff and, if there  is no alternative, always use ‘caller withheld’ to ensure  the pupil / parent is not able to identify the staff  member’s personal contact details.  


This means that senior leaders should:


▪ review and amend their online safety  and acceptable use policies to reflect  the current situation 

▪ ensure that all relevant staff have been  briefed and understand the policies and  the standards of conduct expected of  them 

▪ have clearly defined operating times for  virtual learning  

▪ consider the impact that virtual teaching  may have on children and their parents/  carers / siblings 

▪ determine whether there are  

alternatives to virtual teaching in ‘real  time’ – e.g., using audio only, pre recorded lessons, existing online  


▪ be aware of the virtual learning  timetable and ensure they have the  capacity to join a range of lessons 

▪ take into account any advice published  by the local authority, MAP or their  online safety / monitoring software  provider  


This means that staff should: 


▪ adhere to their establishment’s policy

▪ be fully dressed  

▪ ensure that a senior member of staff is  aware that the online lesson / meeting  is taking place and for what purpose 

▪ avoid one to one situations – request  that a parent is present in the room for  the duration, or ask a colleague or  member of SLT to join the session  

▪ only record a lesson or online meeting  with a pupil where this has been agreed  with the head teacher or other senior  staff, and the pupil and their parent/carer have given explicit written  consent to do so 

▪ be able to justify images of pupils in their possession


This means that adults should not: 


▪ contact pupils outside the operating  times defined by senior leaders 

▪ take or record images of pupils for their  personal use 

▪ record virtual lessons or meetings using  personal equipment (unless agreed and  risk assessed by senior staff) 

▪ engage online while children are in a  state of undress or semi-undress 




Whistleblowing is the mechanism by which staff can  voice their concerns, made in good faith, without fear of  repercussion. Education settings should have a clear  and accessible whistleblowing policy that meets the  terms of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Staff  who use whistle blowing procedures should have their  employment rights protected. 


Staff should recognise their individual responsibilities to  bring matters of concern to the attention of senior  management and/or relevant external agencies and  that to not do so may result in charges of serious  neglect on their part where the welfare of children may be at risk. 


Staff should be reminded of the routes for raising  concerns during school closure or part closure,  including how to escalate their concern if the normal  routes for whistleblowing are impeded by the absence  / illness of senior managers.  


This means that schools and settings  should:


• have a whistleblowing policy in place  which is known to all and which has  been reviewed / amended in the light of  the current pandemic 

• include in the whistleblowing policy how  to escalate concerns if they believe that  safeguarding arrangements in the  setting are not effective, or a child/ren  are not being protected 

• have clear procedures for dealing with  allegations against persons working in  or on behalf of the school or setting


This means that staff should:


▪ escalate their concerns if they believe a  child or children are not being protected

▪ report any behaviour by colleagues that  raises concern  

▪ report allegations against staff and  volunteers to their manager, or  registered provider, or where they have  concerns about the manager’s  response report these directly to the  DO













A positive, purposeful and enthusiastic atmosphere

Useful Information