Castleford Academy Trust
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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines workplace violence as “any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work” and states that it can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks. This policy sets out how Castleford Academy Trust will seek to prevent workplace violence in its schools, and the procedures that will be followed if a violent incident occurs.
As the employer, Castleford Academy Trust has overall responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of staff and students in each academy. The Trust believes that all of its employees have the right to a safe working environment, free from threatening, abusive or violent behaviour, and recognises its legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to provide such an environment.
The Trust also acknowledges and accepts its legal duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to undertake risk assessments that seek to identify and eliminate or reduce the risks to employees’ health, safety and welfare, including the risk from violent or abusive behaviour.
Violence, abuse, assaults or threats of such behaviour can have serious consequences for individuals and schools, and the Trust is committed to taking all necessary steps to prevent such incidents in schools. The Trust will fully investigate and support all employees affected by assaults.
In accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and the public sector equality duty to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity, monitoring of the procedure will be undertaken to collect information such as: the type and frequency of incidents reported; any areas of concern to be addressed; and any additional training required.
While Castleford Academy Trust retains overall responsibility for the implementation of this policy, many of the functions to be undertaken at school level will be delegated by Castleford Academy Trust to the Headteacher or appropriate members of the senior leadership team (SLT).
All employees have a responsibility to co-operate with the employer on, and follow instructions in relation to, health and safety matters.
Assault – this refers to any form of violent conduct against a member of staff. It may be physical, psychological, sexual and/or verbal. It also refers to threats of and attempted assault of any kind, and includes abuse and threats made via the telephone or via social media. Behaviours associated with assault may include, but are not limited to: hitting, pinching, biting, spitting, swearing, offensive gestures and unwanted physical contact such as unnecessary touching.
Secondary trauma – this refers to the potential impact on staff of chronic exposure to working with pupils suffering from unregulated stress.
Manager – this includes the Headteacher, members of the Senior Leadership Team and line managers.
Employee – this refers to all members of staff including those employed on fixed term contracts, supply teachers employed via an agency or directly by the school, trainees and student teachers, apprentices and contractors employed by the school.
Parent – this includes a guardian or carer.
Each academy will conduct regular and suitable risk assessments in relation to assaults on employees. The risk assessment will be kept under regular review and updated as necessary.
The risk assessment procedure involves:
Control measures taken to reduce the risk of violence and assault may include but are not limited to: the provisions of alarms for staff; revision of lone working and/or emergency procedures and changes to the working environment such as improved lighting or room layout.
Where the behaviour of an individual pupil presents a demonstrable and ongoing risk to the health, safety and wellbeing to other members of the school community, and implementation of the school’s pupil behaviour policy has had little or no effect, an individual behaviour risk assessment will be considered.
Incidents that will result in a pupil behaviour risk assessment include, but are not limited to:
The academy will inform all employees of the outcome of the risk assessment (including any relevant pupil behaviour risk assessments), and ensure that this information is included in the induction for all new members of staff.
The academy will monitor the effectiveness of control measures by monitoring incident rates and equality characteristics of staff affected by assaults.
The academy will also gather information about the causes of violence in schools, and will use this information to inform the risk assessment and prevention process. This process may involve engaging with external bodies and through the provision of training and pupil assemblies.
The academy will notify the police and to respond promptly when incidents occur.
The academy may also liaise with the police to address violent incidents within the wider community or within the vicinity of the school. For instance, the school may report concerns about potential dangerous activity, such as knife crime, to the police for further investigation.
The Trust believes that all assaults against employees should be reported, even if they initially appear trivial. Staff should report any incidents to senior member of staff.
The Trust will record all assaults on employees, monitor this data and make it available to all staff and the recognised trade unions upon request.
Additionally, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), the Trust is responsible for reporting the following to the HSE:
Any violence or abuse in relation to one or more protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation) may constitute illegal harassment under the Equality Act 2010.
If an employee is assaulted or is threatened with assault, the following action will be taken:
If a member of staff has grounds to suspect that a pupil is in possession of a weapon, or there has been an incident involving a weapon, they should immediately inform a member of SLT. Employees are not expected to, and should not, deal with the incident on their own.
The Headteacher will make a decision about whether the pupil should be searched, with or without their consent, referring to the school’s confiscation policy and Department for Education (DfE) guidance.
If a weapon is found, or the pupil refuses to co-operate, the police should be called immediately. If a weapon is found during a search before the police have arrived, it should be seized and kept in a safe, secure place until the police arrive.
If a pupil is found to be in the possession of a weapon, the disciplinary policy will be instigated and an individual pupil risk assessment will be undertaken. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, sanctions may include exclusion on a temporary or permanent basis.
In the case of an assault by a visitor or intruder, the manager dealing with the incident will in the first instance inform the police, requesting their prompt attendance, and ensure that all staff and pupils are safe and secure.
If abusive, aggressive or insulting behaviour or language from a parent presents a risk to staff or pupils, or makes them feel threatened, the academy may use common law powers to bar the parent in question from the premises. If a bar on a parent is deemed necessary, this will be put in writing, giving the parent a formal opportunity to put forward their views before the bar is made permanent. Following any representations from the parent, the bar will be confirmed or removed.
Furthermore, it is a criminal offence, under section 547 of the Education Act 1996, for a person who is on school premises without lawful authority to cause or permit a nuisance or disturbance. It also allows for the removal and prosecution of any person believed to have committed the offence. Therefore, in cases where the assailant is known (including if they are a parent), a letter will be sent stating that their behaviour is unacceptable, and they are no longer permitted to come onto the premises in the future without an appointment. If they do persist in entering the school premises and displaying unreasonable behaviour they will be treated as a trespasser and will be liable to prosecution.
Where an employee is assaulted by a pupil, the pupil’s conduct will be dealt with via the academy’s pupil behaviour policy. If the pupil remains in school, as part of this process, an individual pupil behaviour risk assessment will also be carried out and the outcome shared with all employees that have contact with the pupil in question. The academy’s safeguarding lead will also be consulted following an assault by a pupil as there may be child protection issues to consider.
The academy’s risk assessment will also specifically consider the risk of sexual assault and harassment against employees. Sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct that violates an individual’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. It may take the form of unwanted verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature and it is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Each academy will also consider the risk of violent incidents, such as knife crime, not occurring directly on the school premises but in the wider vicinity of the school. The risk assessment will consider the possibility of such incidents occurring, and whether violent incidents have previously occurred in the community. If there are concerns about criminal or dangerous activity taking place, the police will be contacted.
If a violent incident occurs that impacts on the school, such as one involving knife crime, the following steps will be undertaken:
Employees that have experienced an assault will be permitted time off to meet with their trade union representative, the police, legal counsel and to attend court if necessary.
If the employee sustains an injury arising from an assault at work, and it is necessary for them to take sick leave, the employer will advise them of their additional entitlements to sick pay for those suffering injury at work (in accordance with section 4, paragraph 9 of the Burgundy Book). Following an injury, the employer will also provide the employee with advice on the prospects of obtaining compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, and will offer assistance in making and pursuing an application where appropriate.
Following an assault, the employer will discuss with the employee whether they feel ready to return to their normal duties and advice will be sought from the employer’s occupational health provider. Reasonable adjustments will be made in line with OH recommendations.
The employer acknowledges that employees may experience stress and/or anxiety following an assault or arising out of the threat of assault. The Trust will offer counselling for employees following an assault.