Our Safeguarding Policy

Application Labs Ltd (Sherpa) was set up to help provide accessible, affordable, high-quality tuition to everyone. The platform was developed with the aim of ensuring and maintaining high-quality lessons take place in a safe virtual environment and this is reflected by a number of vital features built directly into the website’s functionality.
We are committed to ensuring the highest possible standard of safety, wellbeing and safeguarding for each stakeholder in Sherpa.
This policy and supporting procedures ensure that Sherpa undertakes its responsibilities sustainably regarding safeguarding children and young people. This policy establishes a framework of support for all stakeholders of Sherpa, protects them against abuse and maltreatment of any nature and clarifies the expectations of the organisation.

Scope and Purpose of this Policy

The policy below applies to every aspect of Application Labs Ltd with regard to the tutoring brand and service “Sherpa”. The policy and procedures apply to all Directors, staff, tutors and additional stakeholders who are part of or have conducted work on behalf of Sherpa.

Sherpa acknowledges the duty of care it has to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people and is committed to ensuring our safeguarding practices reflect statutory responsibilities, government guidance and reflects best practice.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure, regardless of age, gender, beliefs, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or socio-economic background, that all stakeholders have a positive experience of Sherpa through the services and support they engage in.

Sherpa Safeguarding Statement

“Safeguarding is all inclusive, everyone should be committed to maintaining it’s practices at all times – Sherpa is committed to promoting safeguarding and the welfare of everyone, including children and young people and expects all stakeholders to accept and share in this commitment”.

Sherpa will ensure good governance structures are in place and quality standards are maintained within the organisation and establish clear policies and procedures based on the appropriate legislation and guidance. We will apply robust risk management processes for the identification of certain situations that may require us to make professional judgements to protect students from harm. Confidentiality is a fundamental pillar to the environment of trust we have built with our students, but this will be balanced against our duty to protect children and young people. Sherpa will collectively manage risks and reduce the likelihood of abuse by:

  • The provision of up-to-date safeguarding policies and procedures that reflect current safeguarding legislation and guidance
  • Have robust safer recruitment, selection and appointment procedures for staff and tutors
  • Promote and use safer working practices for Directors, staff, tutors and students
  • The provision of induction and ongoing training for staff and tutors
  • Developing and maintaining a culture of vigilance within all areas of the organisation’s work
  • Protecting students from harm
  • Making sure people can raise safeguarding concerns
  • Handling allegations or incidents in accordance with policies and procedures
  • Report any allegations or incidents to the relevant authorities

It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to read this policy and supporting procedures and know what to do in the event of a concern relating to safeguarding.

Abuse

Children are considered to be abused or at risk of abuse by parents/carers when basic needs of a child are not met through acts or commission or omission. Children relates to everyone under the ages of 18 (KCSIE, 2020)

Identifying the early signs of abuse and neglect is vital. All members of staff will be aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect through their experience and training so that they are able to identify cases of children who may be in need of help or protection. If any member of staff is unsure, they should speak to a member of the designated safeguarding team.

All staff should have the awareness of safeguarding issues that can put children at risk of harm. Behaviours linked to issues that include but are not limited to: drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education, and sexting (youth produced sexual imagery) put children in danger.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as: (KCSIE, DfE, 2020)

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical 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

Definitions of Abuse

A form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or failing to act in a way that prevents harm. Children can be abused in a family, institutional or community environment by those known to them or by others. Abuse can take place online, or the technology may be used in a way that facilitates offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult/s or other children/s.

Physical

A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional

The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children.
These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.

Sexual

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing.
They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Neglect

The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Child Protection

Is one part of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect children who are suffering, or at risk of suffering significant harm.

Significant Harm

The definition of significant harm is not prescriptive. The interpretation will depend largely on professional judgement, based on the known facts. It can include inappropriate touching, an assault, or a series of compounding events e.g., bullying. Other factors to be considered include the age and vulnerability of the child, the degree of force used, the frequency of the harm, the nature of the harm in terms of ill treatment, and the impact on the child’s health and development.

(KCSIE, 2020)

Governance

Safeguarding Roles and Responsibilities

Sherpa is committed to providing support to all stakeholders. A clear structure of safeguarding accountability supports everyone to understand their individual and collective responsibilities for safeguarding children.

Sherpa will ensure it has taken the necessary precautions and steps in place to safeguard children and young people in accordance with legislation and statutory guidance.

In order to fulfil this promise, the Board of Directors may delegate these responsibilities’ individual directors or members of the leadership team.



Directors are responsible for the following:

  • Approving the safeguarding policies and their supporting procedures
  • Ensuring adequate resources are available for effective safeguarding practices and training
  • Ensuring effective reporting and auditing processes are in place and regularly reviewed
  • Retrieving regular safeguarding reports from the leadership team
  • Developing a culture within the organisation that promotes effective safeguarding practices

Sherpa Named Designated Safeguarding Officer

The Named Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) will be provided with the appropriate level of training to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities in supporting and guiding staff and tutors on safeguarding matters. The training should be updated every two years. They are responsible for responding to initial concerns or disclosures.

The Named Designated Safeguarding Officer will:

  • Provide ready and accessible support and guidance to all staff, tutors and directors on safeguarding matters
  • Manage all safeguarding reports and act as liaison for statutory services during any criminal or safeguarding investigation
  • Ensure that serious incidents relating to safeguarding are reported immediately and managed effectively
  • Report allegations against directors, staff, or tutors to the relevant Local Authority and Disclosure and Barring Service as appropriate
  • Ensure accurate records of all safeguarding concerns and the secure storage of all safeguarding records
  • Provide a quality assurance and review standard for all safeguarding concerns
  • Work with all the above governance bodies to inform of serious safeguarding incidents as appropriate
  • Ensure the adoption, implementation and auditing of all policies and strategies in relation to safeguarding
  • Liaise with school Designated Safeguarding Leads on matters of safety and safeguarding, in particular online and digital safety involving Sherpa tutors, when deciding whether to make a referral to the relevant agencies

Designated Safeguarding Officer

Name: James Gurnett
Phone: 01628337590
Email: james@sherpa-online.com

Sherpa Staff and Tutors

All Sherpa staff and tutors have a shared responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. They should know how to recognise, respond to, report and record any safeguarding concerns.

All staff and tutors are responsible for following the organisation’s safeguarding procedures for reporting any concerns relating to abuse or neglect or suspected abuse or neglect of any child or young person immediately.

In an emergency staff and tutors will be expected to report urgent concerns directly to the relevant statutory agency.

Dealing with a Safeguarding Concern or Disclosure

The following procedures have been developed to:

  • Prevent and reduce the incidence of abuse;
  • Increase awareness of issues concerning the abuse of children;
  • Provide a process if issues of concern are disclosed or discovered;
  • Improve the quality of life and protection of children with whom we work.
  • Protect people from harm
  • Make sure people can raise safeguarding concerns
  • Handle allegations or incidents
  • Report to the relevant authorities

We must be alert to the risks from:

  • Sexual harassment, abuse and exploitationM
  • Negligent treatment
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Health and safety
  • Criminal exploitation
  • Radicalisation and extremism
  • Forced marriage and honour-based violence
  • Trafficking or modern slavery
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Discrimination on any of the grounds in the equality act 2010
  • People targeting our organisation
  • Culture within the organisation allowing poor behaviour

People abusing a position of trust they hold within Sherpa Staff or tutors may have suspicions that a person is either

  • at risk of harm or
  • suffering abuse or neglect

because of behavioural, emotional and/or physical factors; or symptoms or conversations and/or written or typed evidence which indicate that abuse or neglect may have taken place, or an individual may disclose information that causes a concern for their safety and welfare.

When making difficult judgements around possible signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect it is crucial that all available information and presenting injuries or behaviours are seen in context. e.g. is the change in behaviour a result of a sudden illness, recent bereavement or exam anxiety?

When information is shared with you which causes concerns of possible abuse, your requirement is to accept the information being shared without influencing it, as well as providing support and reassurance to the child and managing expectations.

Staff and tutors SHOULD and will be trained to:

  • Stay Calm
  • Listen carefully, let the child tell their story and take it seriously
  • Keep the child informed about what you are doing and what is happening at every stage
  • Reassure them they have done nothing wrong and it is not their fault
  • Make a full record of what has been said as soon as possible

Staff and tutors should NOT:

  • Promise confidentiality. You should be honest about your own position, especially who you will have to tell and why
  • Ask leading questions (e.g. “Did your father do this to you”)
  • Press the child for more details
  • Make any promises (e.g. “I’ll make sure this will never happen to you again”)

SafeGuarding Concern Form

You should submit a Safeguarding Concern Form, found here, to the safeguarding team as soon as possible.

Once a disclosure has been made or a concern has been shared, the Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) or Deputy (DDSO) will consider the information, if necessary, taking advice, and will make a decision to either:

  • Keep detailed records of the concern with no further action at this time
  • Make a child protection referral to Children Social Care

Where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer from harm, it is important that a referral to children’s social care (and if appropriate the police) is made immediately.

Once the decision is made to make a referral the Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) or Deputy (DDSO) will contact the relevant Children’s Social Care Team and make a telephone referral. This must be followed up in writing within 24 hours.

Within one working day of a referral being made, a local authority social worker should acknowledge receipt to the referrer and make a decision about the next steps and the type of response that is required. This will include determining whether:

  • The child requires immediate protection and urgent action is required;
  • The child is in need, and should be assessed under section 17 of the Children Act 1989;
  • There is reasonable cause to suspect the child is suffering or likely to suffer
  • Significant harm, and whether enquiries must be made and the child assessed under section 47 of the Children Act 1989;
  • Any services are required by the child and family and what type of services;
  • Further specialist assessments are required to help the local authority to decide what further action to take; and
  • To see the child as soon as possible if the decision is taken that the referral requires further assessment.

It is important to note that where tutors are delivering tuition to children and young people in a school or college, the Sherpa DSO/DDSO must inform the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead or Team.

You should submit a Safeguarding Concern Form, found here, to the safeguarding team as soon as possible.

Sharing Information

Effective sharing of information between Sherpa, schools, colleges, local authorities and other statutory services is essential for the early identification of need, assessment and intervention in order to keep children safe.

Fears about sharing information cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people identified as being ‘at risk of abuse or neglect’.

Personal information held by Sherpa is subject to a legal duty of confidentiality and will not normally be disclosed without the consent of a child’s parent/carer. However, the right to confidentiality and respect for private and family life (Article 8, Human Rights Act, 1998) is not absolute.

The only exceptions to this are where confidentiality can be overridden either by a court order or other legal authority (e.g. Prevent Duty), or in the public interest i.e. in order to safeguard a child.

Public interest justifications usually relate to disclosures to prevent significant or serious harm to third parties or to prevent or to prosecute a serious crime. e.g. suicide pacts, terrorist threats.

Sherpa recognises that information sharing between key organisations is essential to safeguard children and young people at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation.


Sherpa will ensure that where staff or tutors need to share special category personal data, they are aware that the Data Protection Act 2018 includes ‘safeguarding of individuals at risk’ as a condition that allows practitioners to share information without consent.

Sherpa will ensure that confidential information is only shared where it is lawful and ethical to do so. All staff and tutors must be clear about situations when they can share information with appropriate agencies i.e. when they believe a child is at risk of harm.

Sherpa staff and tutors will give due regard to relevant legislation and guidance when making decisions on sharing information including the following:

  • The Data Protection Act, 1998 and 2018 (GDPR)
  • Information sharing Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers, July 2018
  • Working Together to Safeguarding Children, 2018
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2020

Safeguarding Allegations against Directors, Staff or Tutors

Sherpa recognises its responsibility to report concerns or allegations against its directors, staff, or tutors. All directors, staff and tutors must comply with the relevant Code of Conduct when performing their role in order to promote safer working practices for all.

Allegations of abuse against directors, staff or tutors can be made by either a child or an adult and should be made immediately to the DSO. Allegations made against the DSO should instead be made to another member of the leadership team who will inform the other team members. Another suitable senior member of staff will then be appointed to take the place of the DSO in response to the allegation.

Sherpa will deal appropriately and promptly with all allegations or concerns and refer all safeguarding concerns or allegations about its directors, staff or tutors immediately to the appropriate local authority designated officer (LADO).

It is a matter of policy that any director, staff member or tutor, against whom a safeguarding allegation is made, will be suspended without prejudice immediately, pending investigation. This will be the case even if the allegation is not linked to their role or activity with Sherpa. Such instances will be rare occasions and any decision to suspend will not be taken lightly. The decision will be taken after full discussions with the Managing Director, in consultation with the HR Department.

During any investigation of an allegation against a director, staff member or tutor suspended from the workplace, Sherpa recognises that it has a continuing duty of care. It will ensure a link person is nominated (not connected to the investigation) to provide support and guidance and be able to signpost those suspended to other external support networks. e.g. local trade union reps, Occupational Health, G.P., Samaritans etc.

DBS Requirement and Duty to Report

Recognising the legal responsibility to refer back to the Disclosure and Barring Service, Sherpa will create a DBS report for any concerns about unsafe practices by any of its directors, staff, or tutors.

What Staff and Tutors should do if they have concerns about poor or unsafe practice within Sherpa

Sherpa provides a safe place for students and tutors to learn and educate, and we foster an environment where staff and tutors are easily able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice and potential issues with Sherpa’s safeguarding processes.

We have a whistleblowing policy in place to allow staff or tutors to (optionally) anonymously report concerns about practices. Staff and tutors are educated about this whistleblowing policy during their induction and safeguarding training, and it allows concerns to be raised with Sherpa’s leadership team.

If, for any reason, a staff member of tutor is unable to raise the issue with a manager or feels their concerns are being ignored, they are also informed of and have other channels available to them:

  • General guidance on whistleblowing can be found at Advice on Whistleblowing;
  • The NSPCC’s what you can do to report abuse dedicated helpline is available as an alternative route for staff who do not feel able to raise concerns regarding child protection failures internally or have concerns about the way a concern is being handled by their school or college. Staff and tutors can call 0800 028 0285 – line is available from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday and email: help@nspcc.org.uk

Staff and tutors are made aware of these channels during their induction, safeguarding training and are alerted of any updates to these channels.

Recruitment, Selection and Training

Recruitment and Selection

Sherpa is aware of its responsibilities for ensuring that it carries out appropriate safer recruitment practices for all positions within the organisation.

When supplying tutoring services to schools and other organisations, we ensure all of the selected tutors and staff involved have an enhanced DBS and barred list check if they work with children or young people.

All tutors used by Sherpa have been interviewed 1-1 by a member of the Sherpa team, where their proof of identity and proof of address are checked. Each of the tutors that we use to provide tutoring services to schools or organisations read, understand and sign our safeguarding statement.

Training

Sherpa recognises the importance of providing our tutors with safeguarding training before they have any interactions with schools or organisations that Sherpa is working with.

Each of the tutors that provide tutoring services to schools and organisations through Sherpa receive safeguarding training and sign our safeguarding statement to confirm that they understand and will abide by our standards when working.

We provide resources to our tutors to help them in:

  • preventing abuse
  • recognising abuse
  • recording concerns
  • responding appropriately to allegations of abuse
  • knowing who to tell, and
  • when information can be shared.

Safeguarding training at the appropriate level to the role and responsibilities held will be a mandatory element of all inductions for staff and tutors. Furthermore, safeguarding training will not be regarded as a 'once only' activity, but as an ongoing development of skills and knowledge of safeguarding practices.

Monitoring the working practice of staff and tutors will be undertaken not less than once per year through the appropriate supervision mechanisms such as appraisals to ensure the requirements of this policy and supporting procedures are being met.

Complaints

We have a system in place to receive complaints and when this does occur, our safeguarding procedures are followed.

Quality Assurance and Review

Sherpa Online is devoted to providing the safest possible online learning platform and classroom. We actively review our safeguarding systems in place and review the platform to ensure it technically meets our safeguarding requirements.

Messages through the platform are monitored for inappropriate behaviour and intervention is taken if appropriate.

This continuously integrated safeguarding process is continuously reviewed and taken into account in our product and process development.

The leadership team will review the safeguarding policy and supporting procedures annually to ensure they continue to reflect legislation and guidance. Any amendments to the policy and supporting procedures will be submitted to the Directors for approval.

Underpinning Legislation and Guidance

We have collected the required legislation documents and guidance below for our staff and tutors to refer to.

Legislation

  • Children Act 1989
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1991
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
  • Children Act 2004
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015
  • Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Safeguarding vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007
  • The Equality Act 2010
  • Children and Families Act 2014
  • Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Guidance

We have put together a list of resources for our users and tutors which address legal requirements as well as guidelines and safe working practices when working with children and young people.

This document is an update by the Safer Recruitment Consortium of a document previously published for schools by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). It was initially issued as those working with children had expressed concern about their vulnerability and requested clearer advice about what constitutes illegal behaviour and what might be considered as misconduct. Education staff asked for practical guidance about which behaviours constitute safe practice and which behaviours should be avoided. This safe 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.

Related Documents

Sherpa Safeguarding Concern Form

It is important that this concern form is fully completed in a timely manner. The details are important. To help the Designated Safeguarding team respond and refer appropriately you should follow the guidance below.

  • Only write about one child on each form.
  • Remember that concern forms are used in court cases and inquests as evidence.
  • Make sure you use the Safeguarding Concern Form to record your concerns and disclosure.
  • If you cannot access a copy of the Safeguarding Concern Form then contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer (or Deputy) as soon as you are able to who will supply the form for you
  • Please alert the team as soon as possible. It can take several hours to deal with even urgent concerns and the earlier we start the better.