Child Protection at ACE
ACE has a duty of care to safeguard and help protect children from potential harm and may make a referral to social care or other agencies where they have specific concerns.
At ACE we have a strong pastoral support team with staff across the service having a wide range of knowledge and experience of supporting pupils and families with a wide range of vulnerabilities. We have identified champions who ensure that there is always the latest up to date knowledge available to staff. On entry we assess the vulnerabilities and issues that pupils are subject to and assign a member of the pastoral team to oversee their pastoral care.
Below we have some information from our champions.
Child Sexual Exploitation is an issue that will be familiar to many through recent news stories. Here at ACE we work closely with other agencies such as BASE (Barnardos Against Sexual Exploitation) Plymouth, NSPCC, Youth Offending Team and the Police to support and raise greater public awareness of this important issue and put in place strategies that work best with our young people and their families.
Our staff receive regular training on spotting the warning signs and are able to act quickly and efficiently in any suspected cases of Child Sexual Exploitation.
Our Online Safety champion keeps our staff up to date with the latest developments and ways to educate our pupils, parents and staff about the dangers of the ever changing world of technology, by highlighting the potential threats that could leave our pupils vulnerable. Through a range of approaches we will inform our students about the risks posed through social media, online gaming and phone apps. Using a multi-agency approach, we aim to safeguard our pupils to ensure that they do not fall victim to online bullying and grooming whilst encouraging our students to become positive online citizens.
Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) children are more likely to be subject to child protection plans or end up in the care system than white children. In addition to the common pressures that family life can bring, BME families are more likely to face extra stresses through; poverty, poor housing, unemployment and low income, immigration issues, language difficulties, mental health issues and discrimination.
Research and experience have shown that domestic abuse, including violence, has a huge impact on children who have witnessed it. Even though youngsters may not be in the same room when it is happening, they often hear it. Young children are fearful because the people who are there to keep them safe are exposed as vulnerable and older individuals experience feelings of helplessness and shame.
Our curriculum for all ages includes teaching the importance of appropriate relationships and domestic abuse is discussed as part of this. Staff understand the impact that witnessing and being involved in domestic abuse can have on young people.
There is a new system in place in Plymouth to enable the police to inform the school when there have been reports of domestic violence and other domestic crimes in a home where there are school-aged children. This enables staff at ACE to be aware that a student may need additional support during the day. This support may be simply understanding why a student is displaying uncharacteristic behaviour or it may involve providing the student with an opportunity to talk to an adult should the young person so wish. At no time will the student be singled out and the adults who know about the incident are kept to a minimum.
There are many partner agencies throughout Plymouth that offer support to both young people and their families. A great place to start if you are looking for support is the Plymouth Online Directory. You can find this online at www.plymouthonlinedirectory.com.
First Light – Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Help
Our Designated Teacher for Looked After Children is responsible for the support and care of our children in care and liaises with the Virtual Schools and their local authorities and social worker to ensure they have an equal opportunity to succeed and that all necessary support is in place. Regular review meetings and Personal Education Plan meetings are held to closely monitor progress and identify any additional support or interventions needed.
Substance misuse (both drugs and alcohol) is a problem for some young people. We work closely with other agencies such as Harbour, Youth Workers, Youth Offending Team, Alcoholics Anonymous and the Police.
We are always working towards supporting and raising greater public awareness of this important issue and put in place strategies that work best with our young people and families in our society. Our staff here at ACE receive regular training on spotting the warning signs and are able to act efficiently when we feel young people are in need of extra support.
We support school age new and expectant mums, their partners, families and new babies providing education and support. We encourage healthy eating and promote independence and also offer support with everyday tasks such as catching a bus or going swimming. Students develop a close relationship with staff and fellow students alike and we are privileged to see the bonds between mum and baby develop whilst offering guidance and both emotional and practical support. One of our aims is to build up confidence, self-belief and self-esteem for these young parents and provide them with the parenting tools to care for their babies.
Through our involvement with the Risk Management, Deterring Young Offenders team we contribute to the information gathering process around criminal behaviour and our champion works with the youth offending team to support ACE pupils who have become involved with them to ensure that education is included in any orders given.
Extremists of all persuasions try to paint the world as black and white, accentuating division and difference, and exploiting fears based on ignorance or prejudice.
Education can be a powerful weapon against this, equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and reflex to think for themselves, to challenge and to debate; and giving young people the opportunity to learn about different cultures and faiths and, crucially, to gain an understanding of the values we share. Exploring ideas, developing a sense of identity and forming views are a normal part of growing up.
Schools can support young people in this: providing a safe environment for discussing controversial issues and helping young people understand how they can influence and participate in decision-making. We need to encourage young people to express their views but also to appreciate the impact their views can have on others, to take responsibility for their actions and to understand that the use of violence to further any cause is criminal.
We also need to recognise that, while it remains very rare for school age children to become involved in extremist activity to the point of committing criminal acts, young people can be exposed to extremist influences or prejudiced views, including via the internet, from an early age. As with other forms of criminality or risk of harm, early intervention is always preferable. Schools, working with other local partners, families and communities, can help support pupils who may be vulnerable as part of wider safeguarding responsibilities.
In some cases referrals need to be made by professionals rather than a family member, all our staff at ACE are able to support with these referrals to make sure we can get the support your child or family need. We work very closely with many of the agencies in Plymouth and they are often able to carry out their work within school where pupils and families feel comfortable. We also have a counsellor who comes into school for pupils to talk to in confidence, as well as offering access to an online counselling platform and we have a CAMHS worker who is on site every other week to work with our pupils.
Our Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Rachel Crozier, is also a member of our Pastoral team and leads on SEND and mental health issues.
In England, one in ten children experience a mental health problem at any one time, equating to three children in every classroom. A further 20 per cent of children also display behavioural problems. However, too many children do not receive any form of support: several conduct disorders and eating disorders are undiagnosed and untreated and approximately 35 per cent of those with depression and 51 per cent of those with anxiety disorders are not in contact with any services.
Here at ACE we regularly train staff in recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and we often lead on training in this area for schools across Plymouth. We work with agencies such as CAMHS to support our pupils with diagnosis and identified mental health issues.
ACE is committed to ensuring that the mental health and wellbeing of pupils is promoted and that all pupils with mental health and behavioural conditions are supported and can access and enjoy the same opportunities as any other pupil and are able to play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential.