Policies 2024

Berkeley Guardians is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare and wellbeing of young people and staff. We believe that everyone, without exception, has a right to be safe and to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of background and live a life free from discrimination. The guardianship recognises that children and young people learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure and would always take the child’s wishes and views into account.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as 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. (Keeping Children Safe in Education, September 2023)
This policy applies to all pupils cared for by the Guardianship and to acknowledge the close-working partnership with which we work alongside our partner schools.
The purpose of this policy is to inform all staff (including host families), parents about the Guardianship’s responsibilities for safeguarding children and to enable all parties to have a clear understanding of how these responsibilities should be carried out. It applies wherever staff/host families etc. are working with pupils.
This policy is published on the Guardianship website and is available to parents, schools and host families from the Designated Safeguarding Lead on request. Large print or other accessible formats can also be made available.
This policy is also in accordance with current legislation and the following statutory guidance:
• Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2023 (KCSIE)
• Working Together to Safeguard Children July 2018 (updated 2023) (WTSC)
• Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales July 2023
• Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations April 2019
• Boarding Schools: National Minimum Standards (September 2022)
• What to do if you are worried a child is being abused – advice for practitioners March 2015
• Safeguarding children and young people July 2022
• Children Missing Education September 2016
• Charity Commission guidance: safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees 2019
• The Equality Act (2010)
• The Human Rights Act (1998)

Every complaint or suspicion of abuse from within or outside the Guardianship will be taken seriously and action will be taken in accordance with this policy.

Berkeley Guardians is a member of SACPA and uses this membership to update safeguarding training, read and update through regular newsletters and in its membership of BSA and AEGIS keep up to date in all areas of safeguarding whether in training or awareness and practical support. NSPCC training is also used to ensure that the breadth of understanding is in place across all areas of child protection and safeguarding.

Berkeley Guardians expects all staff and homestays to share our commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all pupils in our care. To achieve this, the Guardianship seeks to create a safe environment with a strong pastoral support system, where pupils who have been subject to any form of abuse can report the matter in the confidence that it will be taken seriously, they will not be made to feel ashamed of making a report and will be fully supported. The DSL and the DDSL are trained to listen to pupils’ concerns, identify issues early and respond appropriately following agreed procedures and report any instances as required to the school where the pupil is studying.
The Guardianship will take all reasonable measures to:
• ensure that we practise safer recruitment in checking the suitability of staff and host families
• to ensure that any checks do not raise any issues of concern in relation to the suitability of those staff members working with children
• support pupils in need through early intervention and, where appropriate, support them in co-operation with multi-agencies and with their schools and local authority
• be alert to signs of abuse, both in the homestays and in the schools and from outside and to protect each pupil from any form of abuse, whether from an adult or another young person
• deal appropriately with every suspicion or complaint of abuse and support pupils who have been abused in accordance with their agreed child protection plan
• design and operate procedures which promote this policy, but which, so far as possible, ensure that host families and other staff who are innocent are not prejudiced by false allegations
• be alert to the needs of pupils with physical and mental health conditions
• operate robust and sensible health and safety procedures
• operate clear and supportive policies on drugs, alcohol and substance misuse within the host family environment
• assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology, based on an understanding of the potential risk in the local area
• identify children who may be vulnerable to radicalisation, and know what to do when they are identified
• take all practicable steps to ensure that the host family premises are as secure as circumstances permit
• teach pupils about safeguarding issues and about how to keep themselves safe by sending them updated safeguarding leaflets to read prior to arriving in the UK
• ensure that any deficiencies in our child protection and safeguarding procedures are remedied without delay


Safeguarding and child protection is everyone’s responsibility. All staff are under a general legal duty to:
• contribute to providing a safe environment in which pupils can live and relax, whilst studying or during leisure time
• consider at all times the best interests of the pupil and take action to enable all pupils to have the best outcomes
• attend appropriate safeguarding and child protection training on an annual basis or additionally as directed by the DSL whether staff or host family members (over 16 years)
• be aware of the indicators of the different forms of abuse and neglect and of emergent mental health issues
• assist children in need and to protect children from abuse, neglect, radicalisation and extremism
• know how to access and implement the procedures, independently if necessary
• keep a sufficient record of any significant complaint, conversation or event
• report any matters of concern to the DSL or, where appropriate, to one of the key contacts in accordance with this policy; and support social services and any other agencies following any referral

The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

The Guardianship has appointed a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) who is a senior member of staff. The DSL takes lead responsibility for safeguarding (including on-line safety) and child protection and is the first point of contact for parents, pupils, staff and others if they have any concerns about safeguarding or child protection. The Guardianship also has a Deputy DSL, ensuring that there is always an appropriately trained and designated person at all times to reach.
The DSL will be given the time, funding, training, resources and support to ensure they are able to fulfil all the key aspects of their role as described in KCSIE (Sept 2023):
• Managing Referrals: the DSL will manage the referral of cases of suspected abuse, neglect, radicalisation or any other relevant issue to the Local Authority Social Care Service, Channel programme, DBS and/or Police as appropriate
• Working with others: the DSL will be the principal point of contact for all staff (inc host families) and when co-ordinating different departments and functions within and outside the School in the management of a case. They will promote supportive relationships with parents and the school to which the pupil attends to safeguard pupils’ welfare, be able to identify the causes and consequences of issues that children are experiencing and to support staff
• Information sharing and managing the child protection file: the DSL is responsible for keeping child-protection files up to date with accurate and complete records of any actions or decisions taken and ensuring these confidential records are securely stored and, where appropriate, transferred to a new school promptly.
• Raising Awareness: the DSL is responsible for reviewing and updating the Guardianship’s safeguarding policy at least annually, for ensuring that all staff members have had appropriate training regarding its implementation, and for ensuring that parents can access the policy and know that the Guardianship may make referrals where abuse or neglect is suspected
• Training, knowledge and skills: the DSL will receive the appropriate level of training, together with regular updates, to ensure they are able to understand the unique risks associated with online safety, to be confident that they have the relevant knowledge and up-to-date capability required to keep children safe whilst they are online at School and to diagnose and respond to the specific needs of vulnerable children and work effectively with agencies such as the LADO, the Police and the Channel (Prevent) agency
• Providing support to staff: the DSL should receive sufficient support and training so that they can support staff and help them feel confident on welfare, safeguarding and child-protection matters, including referrals and considering safeguarding, welfare in the provision of pastoral support
• Understanding the views of children: the DSL should, through training, develop the knowledge and skills needed to encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings among all staff. They should promote an understanding of the difficulties that children may have in approaching staff about their circumstances and help staff consider how to build trusted relationships which facilitate communication.

Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads (DDSL)

DDSLs are trained to the same standard as the DSL and, in the absence of the DSL, carry out those functions necessary to ensure the ongoing safety and protection of pupils. In the event of a long-term absence of the DSL, a Deputy will assume responsibility for all the activities described above. On a day-to-day basis safeguarding activities may be delegated to a DDSL but final lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection remains with the DSL.

Staff training encourages all members of staff to maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ where abuse and neglect are concerned. Host families are trained using “Kings River” online training for host families (established by Adam Lubbock). This is updated on a regular basis.
Induction training for all new members of staff, including temporary employees or volunteers, includes formal child-protection training which covers:
• This safeguarding policy and related policies on Prevention of Bullying and Cyber-bullying, E-Safety, Mental Health and Prevent*
• Part 1 and 4 and Annex B of KCSIE*
• the role, identity and contact details of the DSL and Deputy DSLs
• policies on acceptable use of IT and online safety*
• the Staff Code of Conduct, including low level concerns procedures*
• the Guardianship’s policy on Whistleblowing*
• an overview of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership’s procedures

* Copies of these documents will be provided either in paper form or electronically as part of the induction process and new staff. All staff have access to the policies and other important documents in the GDrive and details are given to staff during induction – these policies are updated regularly and reminders sent out to staff.

All staff, including Directors, will undertake appropriate child-protection training which, in line with LSCP guidance, is updated every two years. In addition, all staff will receive safeguarding updates delivered through a e-bulletin updates (as required) and sight of this policy when updated annually. Safeguarding training is online/face to face with Three Rivers, NSPCC, AEGIS and BSA/SACPA and includes online safety and Prevent training.
All staff (including host families where appropriate) receive updated copies of the Guardianship policies referred to above and are required to confirm that they have read and understood them. In addition, Part 1 and 4 and, where appropriate, Annex B of KCSIE are reissued to staff whenever this statutory guidance is updated by the DfE.
The DSL team will regularly assess the appropriate level and focus for staff training so that it can respond to specific safeguarding concerns such as mental health, child-on-child, online safety, radicalisation, child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, sexual violence and harassment, and female genital mutilation (FGM).
The DSL and Deputy DSL will undertake training that is in accordance with locally agreed procedures to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their role. This training for the DSL includes Prevent awareness training and will be updated every two years, Mental Health, Online Safety, Safer Recruitment, First Aid and Level 3 DSL Safeguarding training (some of these will be required annually). The DDSL will undertake DSL Level 3, First Aid, Safer Recruitment, Online Safety and Mental Health Awareness. The DSL and DDSL also refresh their knowledge and skills at regular intervals (and at least annually) by following developments in safeguarding to:
• keep abreast of best practice for promoting a culture of listening to children
• understand the assessment process for providing early help and intervention and work closely with schools
• have an up-to-date working knowledge of how local authorities conduct child-protection case conferences so they can contribute to these effectively when required to do so
• be alert to the specific needs of children in need, those with Special Educational Needs and work with the schools to support these children
• understand and support the relevant schools regarding the requirements of the Prevent duty and provide advice and support to staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation
• and be able to keep proper written records of concerns and referrals.

Berkeley Guardians recognises the importance of providing early help to pupils to provide support for a problem as soon as it arises, to prevent it from escalating. We recognise that young people may face many challenges that put them in need of support and ensure that staff are aware of them. These include: stress, peer pressure, body image concerns, mental health and relationship issues.
Pupils are encouraged to raise concerns as soon as they are identified, either through their host families or directly to the Designated Safeguarding Lead, so that effective early support can be provided.

If staff believe that a pupil could benefit from early help, they should discuss the matter with the DSL who will, considering the Bristol Safeguarding Children Partnership’s threshold criteria, consider what action should be taken and also in conjunction with the school concerned.

The Guardianship recognises the increased vulnerability of young people who:
• are Disabled or have Special Educational Needs (whether they have a statutory Education, Health and Care plan)
• do not have English as a first language
• are in private foster care
• are living away from home (boarding) for the first time
• are faced with challenging family circumstances
• are showing signs of being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour
• are misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
• are at risk of being radicalised or exploited
• are showing early signs of abuse, neglect or mental health problems
• may be subject to discrimination and maltreatment on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or sexual identity or other protected characteristics.

Such children may be more likely to need early help.

Also, recognising abuse or neglect may be more difficult for these young people for many reasons, including:
• assumptions that indicators of possible abuse such as behaviour, mood or injury relate to a pupil’s disability without further exploration
• SEND/EAL pupils are often more prone to peer group isolation (including prejudice-based bullying) than other young people
• pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) can be disproportionately impacted by bullying/child-on-child abuse without outwardly showing any signs
• communication barriers and difficulties overcoming these barriers
• cognitive understanding – being unable to understand the difference between fact and fiction in online content and then repeating the content/behaviours in the outside world or in school or homestay

All staff should be aware of the types and signs of abuse and neglect so that they are able to identify pupils who may be in need of help or protection. They also must be mindful that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone that they are being abused, exploited, or neglected, and/or may not recognise their experiences as harmful. To reduce barriers to a potential disclosure it is incumbent on staff and host families to build trusted relationships with children which facilitate communication. Staff must also exercise professional curiosity and speak to the DSL or DDSL if they have concerns.

Child abuse is a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Harm can include ill treatment that is not physical as well as witnessing ill treatment of others – this can be particularly relevant, for example, in relation to the impact on children of all forms of domestic abuse. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others. Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult or adults or by another child or children (child-on- child abuse).  Serious bullying is a form of abuse and therefore will be treated as a child protection concern if there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

Staff and host families should be aware of the four main categories of child abuse which are commonly identified:

  • Physical abuse: a form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, 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 abuse: 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 cyber-bullying), 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 abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily through 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. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children. The sexual abuse of children by other children is a specific safeguarding issue (also known as child-on-child abuse)
  • 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 because of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing or 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 caregivers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Other forms of abuse which staff should be aware of are:


  • Child criminal exploitation (CCE)
  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
  • Child-on-child
  • Children missing from education
  • County lines
  • Domestic abuse
  • Honour-Based Abuse (HBA) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Forced marriage
  • Radicalisation
  • Sexual violence and harassment (including upskirting)

All staff and host families should be aware that safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside the school and within the care of the guardianship services and/or can occur between young people outside these environments. This is known as contextual safeguarding. All staff should consider, and especially those within the safeguarding team, whether pupils are at risk of abuse or exploitation in situations outside their families (school, family and host family situations). Extra-familial harms take a variety of forms and young people may be vulnerable to multiple harms including (but not limited to) sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, sexual abuse, and serious youth violence.

Signs of abuse

All staff and host families need to be aware that pupils may be reticent about reporting abuse generally, and particularly so about child-on-child abuse, and need therefore need to be vigilant for potential indicators that abuse may be taking place and using CPOMs to inform the DSL team of any concerns they might have.

Possible signs of abuse include (but are not limited to) the following (and these do not necessarily mean that abuse is occurring):

  • the pupil discloses that s/he has been abused, or asks a question which gives rise to that inference
  • the pupil has an injury that cannot be reasonably or consistently explained, or is unusual in type or location
  • the pupil shows signs of injury on a regular or patterned basis
  • the pupil engages in extreme or challenging behaviour or there is a sudden change in the pupil’s behaviour
  • the pupil asks to drop subjects with a particular teacher and seems reluctant to discuss reasons
  • the pupil appears to be neglected whether through clothing, hygiene, or lack of sustenance
  • the pupil appears reluctant to return home or has been openly rejected by parents, school or host family
  • the pupil’s development is delayed in terms of emotional progress
  • the pupil withdraws emotionally – showing a lack of trust in adults
  • the pupil shies away from being touched or flinches at sudden movements
  • the pupil loses or gains weight

Listening to pupils and record keeping

The Guardianship provides a range of opportunities for pupils to be listened to. Pupils can speak with host families, their guardian, the DSL, or DSL. Contact details for external agencies such as Childline and Office of the Children’s Commissioner are available on the ‘Where do I go for help and advice’ posters which are prominently on display in the child’s school and on the safeguarding leaflet they receive prior to arriving in the UK from Berkeley Guardians.

If a pupil discloses that s/he has been abused or neglected in some way, the member of staff or host family should:

  • immediately stop any other activity to listen
  • listen carefully to the pupil and keep an open mind – do not interrupt or be afraid of silences
  • keep in mind that some pupils may face additional barriers to telling someone because of their vulnerability, disability, sex, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation
  • limit the questioning to the minimum necessary for clarification using “what, when, how, where” but avoiding leading questions that may prejudice an investigation
  • not make any attempt to investigate the incident themselves or make a decision as to whether or not the pupil has been abused
  • reassure the pupil, but never promise not to tell anyone. Instead, explain who has to be told to ensure that proper action is taken in accordance with this policy
  • discuss the conversation with the DSL as soon as possible, and take no further action unless instructed to do so by the DSL or DDSL
  • only share information on a need-to-know basis
  • make a full written record of the conversation:

Staff or host families must record in writing all concerns, discussions and decisions made about a pupil as soon as possible. The written (or word-processed) recording must be a clear, precise and factual account of the conversation or observations.

Where a child has made a disclosure, the record must include details of:

  • its date, time and place
  • what was said and done, by whom and in whose presence
  • any noticeable non-verbal behaviour or words used by the child.

Any other evidence (for example, scribbled notes, mobile phones containing text messages, clothing, computers) must be kept securely and passed on to the DSL as soon as possible. No copies should be retained by the member of staff. The DSL or DDSL will organise for the evidence to be scanned and added to the incident record.

Where a report includes an online element, staff should, where possible, avoid viewing illegal images of a child and under no circumstances should such images be forwarded electronically.

Further guidance is available on what to do if viewing an image is unavoidable on:


Sharing nudes and semi nudes: advice for education settings working with children and young people (December 2020)

If there is concern about a pupil’s welfare, including any mental health concerns, the DSL should be informed as soon as possible, unless the concerns involve an allegation against a member of staff, in which case the procedures set out in the section Allegations against members of staff below should be followed. Staff and host families should not assume that somebody else will act and share information that might be critical in keeping a pupil safe.

All concerns, discussions, decisions made and the reasons for those decisions should be recorded in writing. If in doubt about recording requirements, staff should discuss with the DSL.

If a member of staff (or host family) discovers that an act of female genital mutilation (FGM) appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18, that person must report this to the police. Unless the individual has a good reason not to, they should also still inform the DSL. This statutory duty does not apply to suspected cases of FGM or those at risk of FGM, which should both be addressed in accordance with the safeguarding procedures described in this policy.

The normal safeguarding procedures outlined in this Policy must be used when there are concerns about children who may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism (see start of policy for details of contacts in these situations).

Any member of staff or host family may refer a matter to children’s social services directly. This could happen in exceptional circumstances such as in an emergency or if there is a genuine concern that appropriate action has not been taken.

When the DSL is notified of any concerns about a pupil’s welfare, she will decide on the appropriate course of action. In particular, the DSL will decide whether a referral should be made to children’s social services and/or the appropriate school.

Factors that the DSL should bear in mind when making their decision include:

  • the best interests of the child
  • the nature and seriousness of the complaint
  • contextual factors
  • the referral threshold set by the relevant Local Authority
  • the pupil’s wishes or feelings
  • the inter-agency procedures of the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • where relevant, local information sharing protocols relating to Channel referrals.

If the DSL decides not to make a referral, but to support the pupil with early help, the DSL will keep the situation under review and consider a later referral to children’s social services and/or the school if the pupil’s situation does not appear to be improving.

Members of the DSL team are responsible for maintaining written safeguarding records once an issue has been logged. These records are confidential and the only personnel within the Guardianship who have access to them are the DSL/DDSLs.


Such records will include: 

  • a clear and comprehensive summary of the concern
  • details of how the concern was followed up and resolved
  • a note of any actions taken, decisions reached and the outcome

When a pupil is not considered at risk of harm, but still has an unmet need that could mean they are in a Child in Need, a referral should be made as soon as possible by the DSL to Local authority children’s social care and/or the DSL in the appropriate school. Parental consent for referrals of this type is not required in these circumstances. However, it is best practice for such concerns to be discussed first with parents and any subsequent referral to be made transparently with their knowledge.

If a pupil is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, a referral should be made to children’s social services and/or the police immediately and this should be followed up with informing the DSL at the child’s school (where appropriate).  Further guidance on when to call the police is provided by the

Child Centred Policing:


If the initial referral is made by telephone, the DSL should confirm the referral in writing. Confirmation of the referral and details of the decision on what action will be taken should be received from the Local Authority within one working day. If this is not received, the DSL should contact children’s social services again.  Anyone can make a referral, although if a referral is made by someone other than the DSL, the DSL should be informed as soon as possible.

If, after a referral, the pupil’s situation does not appear to be improving, the DSL should contact children’s social services again to follow the matter up, to ensure both that their concerns are addressed and that the pupil’s situation improves.   There should if possible be strong communication between the school and the Guardianship DSLs.

Where relevant, the Guardianship will co-operate with the Channel panel and the police in providing any relevant information so that each can effectively carry out its functions to determine whether an individual is vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The Guardianship will respond to requests for information from the police promptly, and in any event within five to ten working days.

If a report is determined to be unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious, the DSL will consider whether the child and/or the person who has made the allegation is in need of help or may have been abused by someone else and this is a cry for help. In such circumstances, a referral to local authority children’s social care may be appropriate and the DSL at the school should be informed (if appropriate). If a report is shown to be deliberately invented or malicious, the Guardianship will consider whether any disciplinary action is appropriate against the individual who made it.

Parents will usually be informed of any action to be taken under these procedures. However, there may be circumstances when the DSL will need to consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), children’s social services, the police and/or the DSL at the pupil’s school before discussing details with parents.

For Channel referrals, the DSL will consider seeking the consent of the pupil (or their parent) when determining what information can be shared. Whether or not consent is sought will be dependent on the circumstances of the case but may relate to issues such as the health of the individual, law enforcement or protection of the public.

When the Guardianship decides to refer a particular complaint of abuse to social services or the police, or the DSL at their school, the parents/guardian and pupil will be informed in writing of their right to make their own complaint or referral to social services or the police, where appropriate, and will be provided with contact names, addresses and telephone numbers.

For the avoidance of doubt, referrals do not require parental consent. Staff must act in in the best interests of the child, even if this means making a referral against the parents’ wishes.

Guidance to staff

Guidance is given to staff to be circumspect about placing themselves in situations which may

  • put themselves or their pupils at risk of harm; or
  • give rise to allegations of abuse

To reduce the risk of allegations, staff and host families should be aware of safer working practices and should be familiar with the detailed guidance on acceptable behaviour and actions contained in the Staff Code of Conduct, which is issued to all staff.   Particular care should be taken where staff have one-to-one meetings with a pupil.

The following procedures will be used where it is alleged that a member of staff or a host family has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm to children
  • behaved or may have behaved in a way (in or outside of school or homestay) that indicates they might not be suitable to work with children. The incident may not necessarily involve children but may raise concerns that such behaviour might be replicated against a child (eg domestic violence at home)

These criteria are often referred to as the allegation or harms threshold. The procedures outlined below aim to strike a balance between the need to protect children from abuse and the need to protect staff and volunteers from false, malicious or unfounded allegations.


The procedures follow Part 4 of KCSIE (September 2023).

Reporting an allegation about staff

If an allegation is made about staff that appears to meet the criteria in paragraph 17.2:


  • Where an allegation is made about a member of staff, host family, the DDSL, the matter should be reported immediately to the DSL. If the allegation is made about the DSL then the matter should be reported to the DDSL.  The adult to whom the allegation relates should not be informed without the explicit consent of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), the person designated by the local authority to be involved in the management of allegations against people who work with children.   The case manager will either be the DSL or the DDSL.
  • Before contacting the LADO, the case manager will conduct basic enquiries in line with Bristol’s procedures to establish the facts to help determine whether there is any foundation to the allegation. Nothing must be done at this initial stage that could jeopardise a future police investigation
  • If the case manager is unsure whether the allegation meets the criteria in para 17.2 above, the LADO will be consulted for advice
  • Any allegations meeting the criteria in para 17.2 will be dealt with in accordance with the local authority’s arrangements for managing allegations. All such allegations must be dealt with as a priority to avoid any delay
  • The case manager will immediately (and in any event within one working day) discuss the matter with the LADO before further action is taken. The case manager may also consult with the D/DSL, but no attempt will be made to formally investigate the allegation until the LADO is consulted. The purpose of the initial discussion between the case manager and the LADO is to consider the nature, content and context of the allegation and agree a course of action. All discussions with the LADO should be recorded in writing
  • The initial sharing of information and evaluation may lead to a decision that no further action is to be taken in regard to the individual facing the allegation or concern, in which case this decision and a justification for it will be recorded by both the case manager and the LADO, and agreement reached on what information should be put in writing to the individual concerned
  • In situations where a person is deemed an immediate risk to children or where there is evidence of a possible criminal offence, the case manager may, in consultation with the LADO, request police involvement from the outset.
  • Where an adult makes an allegation to the Guardianship that they were abused as child, the individual will be advised to report the allegation to the police. Non-recent allegations made by a pupil will be reported to the LADO in line with Bristol’s Safeguarding Children Partnership’s procedures for dealing with such allegations. The LADO will then coordinate with local authority children’s social care and the police.

Disclosure of information


  • The case manager will inform the accused person of the allegation as soon as possible after the LADO has been consulted and, if appropriate, local authority children’s social care and the police
  • The parents of the pupil involved will be informed of the allegation as soon as possible if they do not already know of it, although where external agencies are involved, the case manager will not inform the accused or the parents until it has been agreed what information can be disclosed. Parents will be kept informed of the progress of the case, only in relation to their child: no information can be shared regarding the member of staff or host family
  • The timing and extent of disclosures, and the terms on which they are made, will be dependent upon and subject to the laws on confidence and data protection and the advice of external agencies


  • Investigations will usually be undertaken by a senior member of School staff, under the guidance of the LADO. However, depending on the nature and complexity of an allegation, the investigation may instead be conducted by external agencies, such as social services or the police. In some cases, the LADO may ask for further enquiries to be made before a formal decision is reached about how to proceed. When this occurs, the LADO will provide specific guidance as how and by whom the investigation should be conducted.
  • Where an external agency is conducting the investigation rather than the Guardianship, the Guardianship will cooperate fully with external investigators. No internal investigation into possible breaches of the Guardianship’s disciplinary code will commence until any external investigation or criminal proceedings are complete
  • The case manager will monitor the progress of the case to ensure that it is being dealt with as quickly as possible in a thorough and fair way. Wherever possible, the first review should take place within four weeks of the initial assessment. Subsequent reviews will take place at fortnightly (and no longer than monthly) interval whilst the investigation is ongoing
  • The Guardianship will not cease its investigations if the person involved leaves, resigns, ceases to provide their services, or refuses to cooperate. Records will be kept of the nature of the allegation and any supporting evidence used to determine whether or not, on the basis of information available, the allegation is substantiated. The person involved will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation process.
  • In accordance with DfE statutory guidance, the following definitions will be used when determining the outcome of allegation investigations:
  • Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation
  • Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and there has been a deliberate act to deceive or cause harm to the person subject to the investigation
  • False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation
  • Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence
  • Unfounded: to reflect cases where there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made


  • The Guardianship has a duty of care towards its employees and will ensure that effective support is provided for anyone facing such an allegation. A representative will be appointed to keep him or her informed of the progress of the case
  • The Guardianship will also provide access to counselling or medical advice, where appropriate
  • The Guardianship will not prevent social contact with work colleagues and friends, when staff are suspended unless there is reason to believe this may be prejudicial to the gathering and presentation of evidence
  • Support will also be offered to the pupil(s) affected and their parents or school. The Guardianship will consult with the children’s social services, or the police as appropriate, as to how this can be done in the most suitable and effective way

Confidentiality and information sharing

The School will make every effort to guard the privacy of all parties during and after an investigation into an allegation. It is in everyone’s best interest to maintain this confidentiality, to ensure a fair investigation with minimum impact on all parties

A breach of confidentiality will be taken seriously and may warrant its own investigation. It is a criminal offence to publish information that could lead to the identification of a member of staff who is the subject of an allegation before they are charged with an offence. Publication includes any speech, writing, relevant programme or other communication, in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public.

The case manager will take advice from the LADO, police and children’s services, as appropriate, to agree:

  • Who needs to know about the allegation and what information can be shared
  • How to manage speculation, leaks and gossip, including how to make the parents or guardian of the pupil involved aware of their obligations with respect to confidentiality
  • What, if any, information can be reasonably given to the wider community to reduce speculation
  • How to manage press interest if, or when, it arises
  • Where the police are involved, wherever possible the Guardianship will ask the police to obtain consent from the individuals involved to share their statements and evidence for use in any subsequent disciplinary process initiated by Berkeley Guardians.

Unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious allegations

If an allegation by a pupil is determined to be unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious, the case manager should consider the following actions:

  • If the pupil who made the allegation needs help or may have been abused by someone else and, under such circumstances, whether a referral to pupil’s social services is appropriate
  • If a parent has made a deliberately invented or malicious allegation the Directors of Berkeley Guardians will consider whether to require that parent to withdraw their child or children from the Guardianship on the basis that they have treated the Guardianship or a member of its staff or homestay unreasonably
  • Whether or not the person making the allegation is a pupil or a parent (or other member of the public), the Guardianship reserves the right to contact the police to determine whether any action might be appropriate

Substantiated allegations

  • If an allegation is substantiated and the member of staff or host family is dismissed because they are unsuitable to work with children a report to the Disclosure and Barring Service will be made promptly, and in any event within one month of the person leaving the employment of the Guardianship
  • Settlement agreements, including a form of words for a reference, will not be used in cases where a member of staff or a host family resigns or ceases to provide his or her services, where there are allegations that indicate the person is a risk or poses a risk of harm to children. Resignation or ceasing to provide services will not prevent a referral being made to the Disclosure and Barring Service where appropriate
  • At the conclusion of a case in which an allegation is substantiated, the LADO will review the circumstances of the case with the case manager to determine whether any improvements could be made to the Guardianship’s procedures to prevent the occurrence of similar events in the future. Consideration will also be given to how the investigation process was managed, including, where appropriate, the use of suspension of the accused. The case manager will produce a written report that will be presented to the Directors of Berkeley Guardians as soon as possible

Low-level concerns

As part of a whole Guardianship approach to safeguarding, Berkeley Guardians seeks to promote a culture in which all concerns about all adults working in or on behalf of the Guardianship are dealt with promptly and appropriately. The purpose of the Guardianship’s low-level concerns procedures is to create and embed a culture of openness, trust and transparency in which our values and expectations of staff and host family behaviour, as set out in the Code of Conduct, are constantly lived, monitored and reinforced by all staff and host families.

A “low-level’ concern is any concern – no matter how small, and even if no more than causing a sense of unease or a nagging doubt – that an adult has acted in a way that:

  • Is inconsistent with the Guardianship’s Code of Conduct, including inappropriate conduct outside of work
  • Does not meet the allegation threshold or is otherwise not serious enough to consider a referral to the LADO. If the Guardianship is any doubt as to whether the information shared about a member of staff meets the harms threshold, advice from the LADO will be sought

NB: The term ‘low-level’ does not mean that the concern is insignificant; it simply means the behaviour does not meet the allegation threshold as defined in KCSIE

Inappropriate behaviour can exist on a wide spectrum, from that which is inadvertent or thoughtless through to that which is ultimately intended to enable abuse. Examples of such behaviour could include but are not limited to:

  • being overly friendly with pupils
  • showing favouritism
  • taking photographs of pupils on a personal device
  • humiliating pupils

Low level concerns may arise in several ways and from a number of sources: for example, suspicion; complaint; or disclosure made by a pupil, parent or another adult within or outside the organisation; or as a result of vetting checks undertaken.

Staff and host families are required to report any concerns about any adult to the DSL (or DDSL). Where the concern relates to the DSL, it should be reported to the DDSL. Such reports should be made without undue delay. Staff do not need to be able to determine whether their concern is a low-level concern or whether it meets the threshold of an allegation. This determination will be made by the DSL or DDSL when the matter has been investigated.

A member of staff or host family may find themselves in a situation which could be misinterpreted or might appear compromising to others. Equally, a member of staff or host family, for whatever reason, may have behaved in a manner which, on reflection, falls short of the standard set out in the Staff Code of Conduct. Under such circumstances, the member of staff should make a self-referral to the DSL as soon as possible. Doing so demonstrates transparency, facilitates effective management of the issue and can reduce the risks of misunderstandings and false allegations.

All low-level concerns, including those determined to be unfounded, will be recorded in writing by the DSL. The record will include details of the concern, the context in which the concern arose, and any actions taken, decisions reached and the eventual outcome. The name of the individual sharing their concerns will be noted. If the individual wishes to remain anonymous, then this will be respected as far as reasonably possible. Records of low-level concerns are confidential and securely stored by the DSL in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection regulation until the individual ceases to be employed by the Guardianship.

Low-level concerns which relate exclusively to safeguarding (and not to misconduct or poor performance) will not be referred to in employment references provided by the Guardianship. However, where a low-level concern (or group of concerns) has met the threshold for referral to the LADO and found to be substantiated, it will be referred.

Records of low-level concerns will be reviewed at least termly by the DSL and DDSL (and Directors) to ensure that all such concerns are being dealt with promptly and appropriately, and that any potential patterns of concerning, problematic or inappropriate behaviour are identified. Where a pattern of behaviour is identified consideration will be given to whether the matter should be escalated to the LADO and, more broadly, whether existing policies need to be revised and/or additional training is required.

Most instances of pupils causing harm to each other will be dealt with under the Guardianship’s Prevention of Bullying and Behaviour Policies. However, all staff should be aware that safeguarding concerns can arise because of conduct by a pupil towards another (sometimes referred to as child-on-child abuse). This type of abuse can happen both inside and outside of school and whilst staying at a host family and online. Examples of pupils’ conduct towards each other that could raise safeguarding concerns are:

  • bullying (including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying)
  • abuse in intimate personal relationships between peers;
  • physical violence such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair-pulling or otherwise causing physical harm this may include an online element which facilitates, threatens and/or encourages physical abuse)
  • sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault (this may include an online element which facilitates, threatens and/or encourages sexual violence)
  • sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be standalone or part of a broader pattern of abuse
  • causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent, such as forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or to engage in sexual activity with a third party
  • upskirting, which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing (not necessarily a skirt) without their permission and or knowledge with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks (with or without underwear) to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation or distress. (Upskirting is now a criminal offence. Anyone of any gender can be a victim)
  • consensual and non-consensual sharing of nude and/or semi-nude images and/or videos (also known as sexting, or youth-produced sexual imagery)
  • initiation/hazing type violence and rituals (this could include activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group and may also include an online element).

It is more likely that girls will be victims and boys the perpetrators of child-on-child abuse. Child-on-child abuse also often manifests itself differently for boys than it does for girls. For example, girls seem to be at greater risk of sexual assault and/or exploitation, whereas boys seem to be at greater risk of physical gang-related violence and serious youth violence. Pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities are particularly vulnerable to child-on-child abuse.

A child or young person who is (or is perceived to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT+) may mean that they can be targeted by other children and subjected to harm because of this. This risk can be compounded where such pupils lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open.

If a pupil discloses that they or another pupil has been the victim of child-on-child abuse, the guidance for gathering and recording the information provided in this policy should be followed.

If an allegation of child-on-child abuse has been made, the DSL must be informed as soon as possible. Where the DSL considers that the behaviour meets the local authority threshold criteria (ie where there is reasonable cause to suspect a pupil is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm), the case will be referred to the local authority using the procedures set out in this policy. The Guardianship will take advice from children’s social services on when and how to inform the pupil about the allegations and how the investigation of allegations should be conducted. It will also take all appropriate action to ensure the safety and welfare of all pupils involved, including those accused of abuse. Further details on how cases of child-on-child abuse will be managed is contained in Part 5 of KCSIE (September 2023).

A pupil against whom an allegation of abuse has been made may be removed from a host family during the subsequent investigation and the Guardianship’s policies on behaviour and discipline will apply.

If it proves necessary for a pupil to be interviewed by the police in relation to allegations of abuse, the Guardianship and/or the school will ensure that, subject to the advice of children’s social services, parents are informed as soon as possible and that an appropriate adult supports the pupil during the interview. If a pupil’s parents are abroad, the pupil’s education guardian or member of the school staff will be asked to support the pupil and to accommodate him or her.

Both the victim and the perpetrator will be treated as being at risk, and safeguarding procedures in accordance with this policy will be followed. The DSL, as part of these procedures, will produce in conjunction with the school (as necessary) a welfare risk assessment which will consider the needs of all those involved (victim, perpetrator and other pupils) and the measures that need to be taken to protect and keep them safe. When compiling the risk assessment, appropriate weight will be given to: the wishes of the victim; the nature of the alleged incident; the ages of those involved; whether the incident was an isolated one or part of a pattern; any power imbalance between the victim and perpetrator; any ongoing risks to the victim and other pupils; and any relevant contextual factors. Children’s social services will independently risk assess the situation and any report produced by them will be used to inform and update the Guardianship’s own risk assessment which, in any event, will be reviewed on a regular basis.

Children’s sexual behaviour exists on a wide continuum, ranging from normal and developmentally expected to inappropriate, problematic, abusive and violent. Behaviour outside the normal range is called harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) because it is harmful to others or the pupil themselves. HSB can occur online and/or face-to- face.

Central to determining whether sexual behaviour between children can be considered harmful is the age and development of those involved. For example, sexual behaviour can be considered harmful if one of the children is much older, particularly if there is more than two years’ difference, or if one of the children is pre-pubescent and the other is not. However, a younger child can abuse an older child if they have power over them, for example, if the older child is disabled or smaller in stature. For some there may be a link between viewing online pornography and subsequent HSB.

HSB can escalate over time. Early intervention when inappropriate behaviour is identified can help prevent problematic, abusive and/or violent behaviour in the future. It should be noted that the majority of young people displaying HSB do not become sexual offenders as adults.

Sexual harassment refers to ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ and can occur online and offline and both inside and outside of school. Sexual harassment can take a wide variety of forms:

  • Sexual comments, such as: telling sexual stories, making lewd comments or sexualised remarks about a person’s clothes or appearance, using sexualised names, sexual jokes or taunting etc
  • Physical behaviour, such as deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with clothing (flicking bra straps, lifting up skirts etc), pulling down trousers, upskirting, displaying pictures, drawings or photos of a sexual nature
  • Online sexual harassment, such as non-consensual sharing of images and videos (nudes and semi-nudes), sharing unwanted explicit content, sexualised online bullying, unwanted sexualised comments and messages, sexual exploitation and coercing others into sharing images of themselves or performing acts they are not comfortable with online

Sexual violence includes acts such as sexual assault, assault by penetration, rape and causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent (this could include forcing someone to strip, touch themselves sexually, or to engage in sexual activity with a third party). A key feature of such acts is that the sexual activity takes place without the consent of the victim. Consent can only be given if an individual has the freedom and capacity to choose to participate in a sexual act. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another and can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence can occur between pupils of any age and sex. However, staff should be aware that some groups are at greater risks than others. Girls, pupils with SEND, and LGBTQ+ pupils are more likely to be victims of these types of abuse. Evidence shows that boys are more likely to be perpetrators and girls to be victims. Young people who are victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence will find the experience stressful and distressing. This will, in all likelihood, adversely affect their educational attainment.

Pupils may not find it easy to tell staff about their abuse verbally. They can show signs or act in ways that they hope adults will notice and react to. In some cases, the victim may not make a direct report. For example, a friend may make a report, or a member of staff or host family member may overhear a conversation that suggests a child has been harmed, or a child’s own behaviour might indicate that something is wrong.

All staff and host families will be trained to manage a report of child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment. It is essential that all victims are reassured that they are being taken seriously, regardless of how long it has taken them to come forward, and that they will be supported and kept safe. Abuse that occurs online or outside of the school or guardianship/homestays should not be downplayed and should be treated equally seriously. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting sexual harassment or sexual violence. Nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report, or their experience minimised. It is also important to emphasise that the law is in place to protect children and young people rather than criminalise them.

There is general guidance for listening to pupils and record-keeping later in this policy. Effective safeguarding practice in the context of claims of sexual harassment or sexual violence further requires the following:

  • If possible, reports should be managed with two members of staff present, (preferably one of them being the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a Deputy) and where appropriate it may be helpful to include the DSL from the school if necessary
  • Where the report includes an online element, the key consideration is for staff not to view or forward illegal images of a child. The UKCIS advice provides more details on what to do when viewing an image is unavoidable. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to confiscate any devices to preserve any evidence and hand them to the police for inspection
  • The recognition that an initial disclosure to a trusted adult may only be the first incident reported, rather than representative of a singular incident and that trauma can impact memory and so pupils may not be able to recall all details or timeline of abuse

The Guardianship will respond appropriately to all reports and concerns about sexual harassment and/or sexual violence both online and offline, including those that have happened outside of the host family environment. The DSL/DDSLs are likely to have a complete safeguarding picture and be the most appropriate people to inform the Guardianship’s initial response. Important considerations will include:

  • the wishes of the victim in terms of how they want to proceed*
  • the nature of the alleged incident(s), including whether a crime may have been committed and/or whether harmful sexual behaviour has been displayed
  • the ages and developmental stages of the children involved
  • any power imbalance between the children (eg whether the alleged perpetrator(s) is/are significantly older, more mature and confident)
  • whether the victim has a disability or learning difficulty
  • whether the alleged incident is a one-off or a sustained pattern of abuse (sexual abuse can be accompanied by other forms of abuse and a sustained pattern may not just be of a sexual nature)
  • if the sexual harassment or sexual violence took place within an intimate relationship between those involved
  • the risk of intra familial harms and the need for siblings to be supported following an incident
  • whether there are ongoing risks to the victim, other children, host families of Guardianship staff
  • and other related issues and wider context, including any links to child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation.

*Note: The victim of sexual harassment or violence may ask the Guardianship not to tell anyone but the DSL has to balance the victim’s wishes against their duty to protect the victim and other pupils. The general rule of thumb is that if a pupil is either at risk of harm, or is in immediate danger or has been harmed, a referral to local authority social care should be made. Rape, assault by penetration and sexual assaults are crimes and must therefore be reported to the police

The DSL will reach a judgement about which of the following four ways is the most appropriate for handing the case:

  • Internal management: handled entirely within the Guardianship
  • Early help: where the pupils concerned do not require referral to statutory services but may benefit from assistance from an external agency and where applicable in conjunction with the school
  • Local authority children’s social care: where a child has been harmed, is at risk of harm, or is in immediate danger
  • Report to the police: in addition to the above, where the seriousness of the concern merits it.

In all but the first circumstance, how the case is managed will be determined in conjunction with the local authority MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) team and/or the police. The Guardianship will follow the guidance as set out in detail in KSCIE (2023), Part 5.

The Guardianship will do all that it reasonably can to protect the anonymity of pupils involved in any report of sexual harassment or sexual violence. Amongst other things, this will mean carefully considering which staff should know about the report and any support that will be put in place for those involved.

Risk and needs assessments are integral to the management of most cases of sexual harassment and all cases involving sexual violence. These assessments must be formulated on a case-by-case basis and should be conducted immediately once an incident comes light rather than waiting for the outcome (or even the start) of a local authority children’s social care and/or police investigation. Where sexual violence is alleged to have occurred the risk and needs assessment should consider:

  • The victim, especially their protection and support
  • Whether there may have been other victims
  • The alleged perpetrator(s)
  • All other children staying in the host family environment, especially any actions that are appropriate to protect them from the alleged perpetrators
  • The time and location of the incident, and any action required to make the location safer

Risk assessments will be recorded in writing and kept under regular review by the DSL to ensure the risk mitigation measures that have been put in place are effective and reflect changing circumstances. It is highly likely that these risk assessments will be informed by assessments made by social workers and/or sexual violence specialists.

Where a report has been made to the police, the Guardiansip will seek their advice and agree what information can be disclosed to staff and others, in particular the alleged perpetrators and their parents or carers. Central to this discussion will be how the victim can best be protected. Thereafter the DSL will continue to work closely with the police (and any other agencies plus the school as required) and keep up to date with how any investigation is progressing. The fact that another body is investigating or has investigated an incident does not necessarily prevent the Guardianship from coming to its own conclusion, on the balance of probabilities, and imposing a sanction or similar accordingly. However, the Guardianship will consider if, by taking any action, an external investigation and/or any subsequent prosecution could be compromised. There may also be circumstances in which it would be unreasonable or irrational to reach its own view about what has occurred while an independent investigation is ongoing. The Guardianship will be guided by the police and/or local authority children’s social care when making this decision.

Where allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence are contested there can be lengthy delays before the criminal process is complete. In such circumstances, a determination made will need to be made on a risk assessment basis as to whether it is viable for both the victim and alleged perpetrator to continue their stay at the homestay or in some cases with this Guardianship. Consideration will be given to:

  • stress and trauma to the victim
  • the potential for the suspected person to intimidate the victim or witnesses
  • the need to protect the rights of the alleged perpetrator to education, privacy and family life

The decisions taken must be proportionate to the alleged offence and balance the rights of the victim and perpetrator(s) and will be guided by advice provided by children’s social services and the police.

Not all cases reported to the police are progressed and those that are may result in a not guilty verdict. The fact that an allegation was withdrawn or could not be substantiated does not necessarily mean that it was unfounded. Under these circumstances, the Guardianship will discuss with the victim how the situation is to be managed and ongoing support will be provided to them and the alleged perpetrator(s).

Where a criminal investigation into sexual harassment or sexual violence leads to a conviction of caution, the Guardianship will, if it has not already done so, consider what sanctions it wishes to impose in line with its behaviour policy. The sanction imposed will be proportionate to the offence and the circumstances in which it took place. Proven cases of rape and assault will constitute a serious breach of discipline and are highly likely to result in the permanent exclusion of the perpetrator(s). Any arrangements will take account of the wishes of the victim and will be discussed with their parents, their school and those of the perpetrator(s). Support arrangements will be put in place for both the victim and the perpetrator(s).

Sexual assault can result in a range of health needs, including physical, mental, and sexual health problems and unwanted pregnancy. Where pupils have a health need arising from sexual assault or abuse, the Guardianship in conjunction with their school, will assist them in gaining access to suitable specialist support services.

If a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment is determined to be unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious, the DSL will consider if disciplinary action should be taken against the pupil who made the allegation and/or whether a referral to local authority children’s social care is appropriate, in any case the Guardianship will if applicable work with the school.

Mental health

All staff and host families should also be aware that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation.   Only appropriately trained professionals should attempt to make a diagnosis of a mental health problem. Staff and host families, however, are well placed to observe pupils day-to-day and identify those whose behaviour suggests that they may be experiencing a mental health problem or be at risk of developing one.

Where young people have suffered abuse and neglect, or other potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences, this can have a lasting impact throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is key that staff are aware of how these children’s experiences can impact on their mental health, behaviour and education.

If staff or a host family have a mental health concern about a child that is also a safeguarding concern, immediate action should be taken by raising the issue with the DSL who may in turn contact an appropriate external agency or if appropriate speak to the child’s school (DSL).

Teaching pupils to keep themselves safe

The Guardianship has an important role to play in preventative education to prepare pupils for life in modern Britain and to create a culture of zero tolerance towards behaviours such as sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobia and sexual violence/harassment. This culture is underpinned by the Guardianship’s behaviour policy and pastoral support systems.

The Guardianship is committed to raising awareness of personal safety whenever the opportunity arises. This includes highlighting general health and safety matters in and around the homestays as well as in the wider world and educating pupils about specific safeguarding issues, such as staying safe online (including when they are accessing remote learning), radicalisation, grooming, child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, healthy relationships, mental health, substance misuse, bullying and sexting.  Whilst these areas are taught in school within the PSHE/RSE curriculum, it is within our host families that they can be underpinned.

As normal practice, when pupils are staying with homestays under the care of Berkeley Guardians, the Guardian Angel will keep in touch with the pupils through Whatsapp and calls to ensure they are safe, happy and secure in their environment.  The pupils are encouraged to talk to their Guardian Angel, who will have visited them in school and been in touch through the term in the same way whilst they are staying with their host family.

Schools and the Guardianship


It is a fundamental link to have strong ties with the school in which the clients place their children.  By ensuring that there is regular communication there is a stronger base from which to support the child.  Working together and communicating ensures that all views are considered and supported.  Schools are asked (through the NMS) to check on the pupil’s homestay visit and the Guardianship encourages schools to feedback.


The widespread use of digital communications technologies, such as personal mobile devices and the internet, presents young people with a host of opportunities for learning, participation, creativity and self-expression. At the same time, it has become a significant component of many safeguarding issues, including child exploitation, radicalisation and sexual predation. Issues of online safety can be broadly categorised into four areas of risk:

  • Content: Being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful online content such as spam, pornography, fake news, substance abuse, violence, misogyny, anti-Semitism, racism, radicalisation and extremism, and lifestyle sites that promote anorexia, self-harm or suicide.
  • Contact: Being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users. Examples include: peer-to-peer pressure, exposure to viruses and malware, anonymous online chat sites, cyber-bullying commercial advertising, personal data or identity theft, cyber-stalking, and adults posing as children or young adults with the intention to groom or exploit them for sexual, criminal, financial or other purposes.
  • Conduct: Personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of being harmed oneself or causing harm to others. Examples include: threats to health and well-being, such as gaming or social network addiction; online disclosure of personal information and ignorance of privacy settings; online bullying; making, sending and receiving explicit images (eg consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi-nudes and/or pornography, sharing other explicit images); and illegal conduct, including hacking, plagiarism, and copyright infringement of digital media, such as music and film.
  • Commerce: Risks such as online gambling, inappropriate advertising, phishing and or financial scams. If you feel your pupils or staff are at risk, please report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (https://apwg.org/).

Berkeley Guardians encourages the host families to support this through the range of strategies to promote an understanding of online risks and to discourage misuse:

  • clear policies on e-safety and acceptable use of ICT
  • where possible turning off the internet at a specific time in the evening so as to act as a deterrent for misuse
  • to encourage the pupils to see they are staying in a family home and therefore through respect there should be consideration as to how they use the family’s internet access

Mobile phones and cameras

Mobile phones and cameras should not be used by homestay members to take photographs without permission from the pupil.  If the pupil is too young to make this decision, then permission should be sought from the DSL of Berkeley Guardian to ascertain parental permission.

It should be noted by all staff and host families:

  • all pupils must be appropriately dressed
  • images that only show a single pupil with no surrounding context should be avoided
  • do not use images that are likely to cause distress, upset or embarrassment
  • do not use images of a pupil who is considered vulnerable, unless parents or a guardian have given specific written permission
  • Never place these images onto social media – this is an offence in terms of Berkeley Guardians expectations of the host family

Homestays should only use/have the pupil’s phone number on their own phones whilst the pupil is staying with them to ensure that pupil’s security and safety and access to support or help as required.  This phone number should be removed at the end of each stay.

Berkeley Guardians is committed to safer recruitment processes. Members of staff and host family (including all members of family from 16 years upwards) are subject to the background checks required under the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 and in accordance with the latest version of KCSIE. For all appointments enhanced DBS check, 2 references (checked on prior to appointment) and further personal information will be required. At least one member of any staff recruitment panel will have had Safer Recruitment training.

All staff and host families are aware that children going missing is a potential indicator of a range of safeguarding issues such as: neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation, child criminal exploitation, mental health problems, substance abuse, travelling to conflict zones, female genital mutilation or forced marriage. The Guardianship has clear procedures in place for following up on unexplained absences and reporting to the DSL as soon as this situation occurs.  The procedure includes the requirement to record any incident, the action taken, and the reasons given by the pupil for being missing.

Should a pupil no longer be under the services of Berkeley Guardians but will be remaining in the UK to study it will be reported to the school that Berkeley Guardians is no longer that child’s guardian as this will directly impact the visa in some cases.

*Note: In line with KCSIE 2023, it is the Guardianship’s policy

to hold a minimum of two emergency contact numbers for each pupil


All guardianships are subject to a duty under section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to have “due regard” to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. This duty is known as the Prevent duty (updated September 2023). There are specific elements to Berkeley Guardian’s approach to meeting the statutory requirements imposed by the Prevent duty. In summary these are:

  • Working in partnership – liaising closely with the child’s school to ensure there is support on all sides for a vulnerable child
  • Staff training – enabling staff to identify pupils at risk of being drawn into terrorism

The Guardianship will keep all child-protection records confidential, allowing disclosure only to those who need the information in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Guardianship will co-operate with police and children’s social services to ensure that all relevant information is shared for the purposes of child- protection investigations should it be required.

Information sharing is essential in identifying and tackling all forms of abuse and neglect, and in promoting children’s welfare, including in relation to their education outcomes. The Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR do not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children. Information that is relevant to safeguarding is regarded as ‘special category personal data’ and as such can be shared securely on a need-to-know basis. Further non-statutory guidance Information Sharing was published by the Government in July 2018.

All staff are required to report to the DSL, DDSL or Directors any concerns about:

  • poor or unsafe safeguarding practices in a homestay or in the offices of Berkeley Guardians
  • potential failures by the Guardianship or its staff to properly safeguard the welfare of pupils
  • other wrongdoing in the workplace that does not involve the safeguarding and welfare of pupils

The NSPCC whistleblowing advice line is available for staff who do not feel able to raise safeguarding concerns internally.  Any member of staff can whistle blow without fear of detriment (retribution or disciplinary action), provided the report was made in good faith. Malicious allegations may be considered as a disciplinary offence.

Monitoring this Policy

  • Any child protection incidents within the Guardianship will be followed by a review of the safeguarding procedures in the Guardianship or the appropriate homestay. Where an incident involves a member of staff or homestay member, the LADO will be asked to assist in this review, to determine whether any improvements can be made to the Guardianship’s procedures. The DSL will monitor the content and operation of this policy
  • The DSL will monitor the operation of this policy and procedures on a day-to-day basis.
  • Any deficiencies or weaknesses in child protection and safeguarding arrangements identified at any time will be remedied without delay

Other relevant policies

The following policies should be read in conjunction with this policy:

  • Prevention of Bullying Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Recruitment, Selection and Disclosure Policy
  • Code of Conduct for Staff
  • E-Safety Policy
  • IT acceptable Use Policy
  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • Missing Pupil Policy
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy
  • Prevent Duty Policy
  • Mobile Phone Use Policy for Host Families
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