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Volunteer Policy

ST PATRICK’S PRIMARY SCHOOL AND MAGHERADROLL NURSERY UNIT

Guidelines

The Selection and Use of Volunteers

and

Sports coaches to Support School Activities.

Introduction

 

Following a Government led review of vetting and barring arrangements a number of

changes to the pre-employment vetting requirements in the education sector came into effect from 10 September 2012 as part of new Disclosure and Barring Arrangements (DBA).

 

The volunteers who work in St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit have an important and beneficial role in supporting the work of our teachers and other paid staff in the school and in contributing, by their efforts and initiative to the life of the school and nursery through assisting, for example, at school events and organising fund-raising activities.

Ensuring that we as a school obtain the maximum benefit from the involvement of volunteers requires careful preliminary planning. As a school, we:

  • ensure that all our volunteers have appropriate and worthwhile roles;
  • ensure that all our volunteers understand and are equipped to carry out their roles;
  • ensure that all our volunteers can implement and support the activities of our teachers or other members of staff.
  • Ensure that all volunteers have received and read over child protection policies.

It is essential that appropriate steps are taken through screening and selection arrangements, to ensure that children are not placed at risk through allowing the unsupervised and unmanaged access of unsuitable adults to the school.

The following guidance outlines procedures which our school and Board of Governors have put in place to ensure not only that maximum benefit is obtained from the contribution which volunteers can offer but also that unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

Who is a volunteer?

 

Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and community, the environment or individuals outside (or in addition to) one’s immediate family. It is unpaid and undertaken freely and by choice.

There are two strands of volunteers; those who work unsupervised and those who work under supervision.  Whether a volunteer is supervised will determine if he/she is working in Regulated Activity or not, which will then decide if an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate (EDC)through Access NI is required.

A Regulated Activity is defined as “unsupervised activity in a limited range of establishments (Specified Places), with the opportunity for contact with children, such as schools and childcare premises including pre-school establishments”. In order to be regarded as a Regulated activity such, “ unsupervised activity performed at such a specified place must be done regularly. Regularly means carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on four or more days in a 30 day period (or in some cases, overnight)

(Circular 2012/19)

Activities that are not regarded as Regulated Activity include:

  • Activities performed by volunteers that are supervised at a reasonable day to day

level, and

  • Occasional or temporary services such as maintenance or repairs.

Involvement of Volunteers

 

The main categories in which the use of volunteers might be grouped in St Patrick’s and to which this guidance would mainly apply are:

  1. (a) During School Hours involving direct contact with pupils – This might include direct assistance for pupils e.g. reading or writing activity under the supervision of a teacher; assistance with basic classroom tasks to release the teacher to work with pupils e.g. preparation and distribution of materials, setting up equipment and assistance with the supervision of pupils on educational visits.
  1. (b) Outside School Hours involving direct contact with pupils – this might include assistance to teachers while on residential trips or helping with others with other after schools clubs. Volunteers may also be required to accompany school teams to sports fixtures.

 

  1. (c) Outside School Hours but not usually involving direct contact with pupils – this at present does not apply to our school.

 

  1. (d) Involvement of Coaches for Sport

 

In our school volunteers come forward to offer assistance on their own initiative. Most of our volunteers are already known to the school. They mostly include parents, past pupils or individuals whose involvement is recommended to the school by members of staff. Some come forward from the local community to seek a useful voluntary activity or experience of working in the school to form a future career choice.

The engagement of volunteers is undertaken with the agreement of the Board of Governors. Acceptance of any individual’s offer of help is not automatic and we are not under any obligation to accept all or any offers of voluntary assistance. The actual needs of the school for voluntary support; appropriate areas of work and the duties attaching to these; the supervisory arrangements; the implications for child protection and the conditions and expectations attached to the volunteer’s role, are clearly explained before any volunteer is accepted by the school.

As a first step our school explains to the potential volunteer the procedures which must be undergone before he/she can be accepted into the school. We then seek to assess the individual’s personal skills and experience against the duties and activities which have been identified as appropriate for voluntary assistance. As a minimum requirement all potential volunteers coming into the categories list above should be asked to:

(i) Provide the following information:

  • Personal details such as name (including any previous names), address, date of birth and any relationship with the school e.g. parent, relative of member of staff etc.
  • Details of any qualifications and of any previous work with children
  • A declaration that they have never been convicted of a criminal offence or been the subject of a Bound-over-Order;
  • A declaration as to whether they have been investigated by social Services for child protection (and the outcome of the investigation) or had a child removed from their care;

(ii) attend an interview with the school Principal and another appointed person e.g. class teacher in the case of parents helping with Reading Partnership at which their motivation and proof of identity at (i) and (ii) should also be made available.

(iii) agree to a Criminal Record Check being carried out through Access NI

Our overriding duty is to protect children in our care from contact with unsuitable individuals and genuine volunteers should not be deterred by the degree of scrutiny which our school puts in place. In assessing the need for the level of vetting, each case, and the degree of access to children which it involves, will be considered individually. In deciding how to proceed, we will evaluate the individual case against the criteria set out in the DE Circular 2012/19.

SUPERVISION OF VOLUNTEERS IN ST PATRICK’S

Volunteering can take many forms, not all of which will involve direct, unsupervised or substantial access to children on which the need for vetting, including criminal record checks must be assessed. Formal arrangements as to selection and vetting should not be required for volunteers who are involved outside of school hours and who do not have unsupervised contact with pupils; this would include parents involved in fund raising events, or parents supervising at school functions where school staff are present.

 

VOLUNTEERS WHO WORK UNSUPERVISED

Volunteers who are not supervised are still regarded as working in Regulated Activity and therefore an EDC through Access NI is still required.

Volunteers who are qualified teachers and hold a live registration with the GTCNI

We are fortunate that some volunteers in St Patrick’s are qualified teachers who are registered with the GTCNI and are on the NISTR register of substitute teachers. All persons on this register have had EDC checks carried out through Access NI.

Those in this category of volunteers, as with substitute teachers, will be given copies of the relevant school policies and made aware of the school’s reporting procedures.

As volunteers in this category could legally be employed as substitute teachers, it is permissible for them to work with our pupils without direct supervision of paid staff as they have already been checked by Access NI

VOLUNTEERS WHO WORK UNDER SUPERVISION

If a volunteer is supervised then under the new DBA they are not regarded as working in Regulated Activity and therefore the school is not required to obtain an EDC. However, a school is still entitled to obtain an EDC if it so wishes but it is unlawful for a school to seek a barred list check in these circumstances.

Before working with children, the Principal/DT will ensure that appropriate training is given to any volunteer and that all safeguarding practices and procedures are in place.

With the aim that supervised work for a volunteer will not be a Regulated Activity, the law makes three main points:

  • there must be supervision by a person who is in Regulated Activity;
  • the supervision must be regular and day to day; and
  • the supervision must be reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure the protection of children.

The Principal/DT are responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are followed. They will ensure that the supervision in place is sufficient, in their judgement, to provide reasonable assurance for the protection of the children concerned.

Where a volunteer does not have an EDC, the Principal/DT will ensure that there is

  • Reasonable supervision in the circumstances depending on
  • The ages of the children, including whether their ages differ widely;
  • number of children that the individual is working with;
  • whether or not other workers are helping to look after the children;
  • the nature of the individual’s work (or, in a specified place such as a school,
  • the individual’s opportunity for contact with children);
  • how vulnerable the children are (the more they are, the more an organisation might opt for workers to be in Regulated Activity);
  • how many workers would be supervised by each supervising worker

An EDC will be necessary in the cases of:

  1. Individuals who are working on a regular basis with children in the classroom or on other school-based activities.
  1. An individual accompanying school trips;
  1. All individuals involved in residential activities;
  1. Individuals engaged to coach children in sports activities

SUMMARY OUTLINING THE SUPERVISION OF VOLUNTEERS

 

St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit uses the following steps when deciding whether a new worker will be supervised to such a level that the new worker is not in Regulated

Activity:

1. Consider whether the worker is doing work that, if unsupervised, would be

Regulated Activity. If the worker is not, the remaining steps are unnecessary;

2. Consider whether the worker will be supervised by a person in Regulated Activity;

3. Consider whether the supervision will be regular and day to day;

4. Consider whether the supervision will be reasonable in all the circumstances to

ensure the protection of children.

                       

When appropriate procedures have been followed and the school is consequently satisfied that:

  1. The volunteer is a suitable person to have contact with children and has the character, skills and experience to support the work of the school in a voluntary capacity.
  1. Well defined and worthwhile activities have been identified for the volunteer to undertake and he/she is competent to undertake them

the school will notify the individual that he/she has been accepted for voluntary duties in the school.

 

Some fundamental principles will be observed by our school in using volunteers:

  • The roles of the volunteer are to assist staff whether teaching or non-teaching. They will not be used as substitutes either to cover activities normally undertaken by paid staff who are absent or to release staff to undertake other duties.
  • Volunteers will only be involved under the supervision and guidance of paid staff and these arrangements should minimise the opportunities for direct unsupervised access to children.
  • Our volunteers will not be placed in a position of sole responsibility for the security of the children, premises or equipment.
  • Our volunteers will understand the tasks which they are to undertake and receive appropriate training to enable them to perform these. Tasks should not be allocated until our principal Mrs O’Prey is satisfied that the volunteer is competent to perform them.
  • Our volunteers will only be allocated duties after consultation and agreement with the teacher or other member of staff with whom the volunteer will be closely involved. Our teachers will not be placed under any pressure to accept volunteers in their classroom.
  • Volunteers will not be afforded access to records or other information relating to staff or pupils. An exception might be where a child has a medical or other condition of which all those working with him/her should be aware and where the agreement of the parent was sought.

DURATION

 

We as a school may consider placing a time limit on the period of the volunteer’s service. It may be useful to do this where the work earmarked for the volunteer is likely to be completed within a specific period; or to enable the school to introduce new volunteers in due course: particular individuals will not be given an indeterminate or monopoly position in volunteer work for the school. In all cases where a volunteer’s involvement is likely to be long-term we will advise the volunteer he/she will be subject to a trial period of one month, during which the principal in conjunction with the member of staff supervising the volunteer, should monitor the volunteer’s effectiveness in contributing to the life and work of the school. Issues to be considered will include: punctuality, reliability, competence in the tasks allocated to them, quality of work, and, where they are involved in classroom activities, their effectiveness in supporting the teacher and the appropriateness and success of their interaction with the children.

INFORMATION AND TRAINING

 

The school will ensure that the volunteer receives such information, guidance, preparation and, where necessary, training to enable him/her to perform tasks effectively.

As a minimum volunteers will be briefed on:

  • The policy of the school and Board of Governors in relation to Pastoral

Care including

-          Our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and Procedures;

-          Code of Conduct

-          Pastoral Care

-          Our positive behaviour policy

-          Our Health and Safety Policy

-          Guidance on the Use of Reasonable Force

We have procedures for dealing with problems, complaints against volunteers in place. Arrangements are made for all volunteers to have an open line of communication to Mr Coulter, Mr Caughey, Miss Grant or Mrs Magee for reporting issues of concern, either relating to their duties or the welfare of the children in the school.

HEALTH AND SAFETY INSURANCE AND OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES

Volunteers are owed a duty of care under the requirements of Health and Safety legislation. We as a school will, therefore, ensure that all volunteers are treated no less favourably than paid employees in terms of the schools’ obligations under current legislation.


USE OF COACHES FOR SPORT

We will ensure the suitability of any volunteer or paid coaches who are engaged to work with children.

Suitability does not relate solely to competence in the particular sport, but also to the ability to work successfully with children in a way that is consistent with our schools’ approach to sports activity. In addition to the check on previous criminal convictions described earlier, we will seek to ensure that coaches meet two requirements.

    

  1. Technical competence to coach the activity

Evidence will be sought of:

  • Qualification as a specialist PE teacher or
  • Qualification as a teacher of other subjects who has successfully completed training in the teaching and organisation of the particular sport; and
  • A current qualification through a recognised national governing body coaching award.
  1. Pastoral competence in working with children and young people

Evidence will be sought of

  • Successful completion of specific training in work with children and young people or
  • Previous experience of working with children and young people over a period of time.

A copy of our Code of Conduct will also be given to coaches and we will obtain an assurance from coaches that they will adhere to this Code.

SCHOOL SECURITY: IDENTIFICATION OF VOLUNTEERS/VISITORS

The admission of volunteers to school premises has clear implications for school security. As ours is a small school, we would be fairly aware of the genuine volunteer and an unauthorised person. However, we will follow the guidance in our Security policy in establishing arrangements for the admission and supervision of volunteers/visitors on school premises.

We will:

  • Require the volunteer/visitor to sign in at the beginning of each visit and sign out when leaving;
  • Provide the visitor with a readily identifiable name badge or pass giving his/her name and status;
  • Limit the access of visitors to particular areas of the school premises, escorting visitors where possible.

The Safeguarding team of St Patrick’s will ensure that both teaching and non teaching staff, unsupervised volunteers, and extra- curricular staff have been appropriately vetted to work in our school.

Vetting remains a key preventative measure in denying an unsuitable individual access to children and vulnerable adults through the education system.

Reviewed June 2019