Safeguarding is our first and vital priority. There are no compromises with safeguarding our young people and we take this responsibility extremely seriously. Throughout the Hawkswood Group, there is a strong culture of vigilance and continuous self-review to ensure our systems and processes are robustly evaluated. Most of our children come from complex backgrounds and we make it our first priority to teach them safe behaviours and attitudes so that they can keep themselves safe from harm.
All school staff play an essential role in protecting children from abuse.
They have regular contact with children and young people so are in a strong position to identify signs of abuse and neglect.
At The Hawkswood Group we are committed to:
- create safe environments for children and young people through robust safeguarding practices
- ensure that adults who work in the school, including volunteers, don’t pose a risk to children
- make sure staff are trained, know how to respond to concerns and keep-up-to-date with policy and practice
- teach children and young people about staying safe
- maintain an environment where children feel confident to approach any member of staff if they have a worry or problem.
The Hawkswood Group believes that technology, when used appropriately, can dramatically improve outcomes. We are positive advocates for the appropriate use of new technologies in supporting learning. The internet and mobile devices have become integral to the social and educational lives of young people. It is imperative that we work to equip young people with the skills to navigate this environment safely and responsibly.
We believe safeguarding and promoting our students welfare is everyone’s responsibility, we work together as a team to achieve this. We listen to our pupils and take seriously what they tell us. We also work with parents and other agencies to achieve the best outcomes for our pupils.
Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding means: protecting children from abuse and maltreatment; preventing harm to children’s health or development; ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care.
Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which detail how to respond to concerns about a child.
There is a safeguarding team located within each provision and a Designated Safeguarding Lead who have all had appropriate training (please see Designated staff under Safeguarding on the website, for contact details). Please do not hesitate to contact either a member of the safeguarding team or https://walthamforest.gov.uk/service-categories/child-protection for further information on how to report should you have any concerns about your child or other children.
As part of our role in keeping children safe, The Hawkswood Group, is dedicated to implementing a PREVENT strategy. Prevent supports our students to help to stop them becoming involved in any form of extremist and/or terrorist activities. Please visit www.preventtragedies.co.uk for more information on PREVENT.
We are also dedicated to promoting British Values which can be found by clicking this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/guidance-on-promoting-british-values-in-schools-published
In order to keep our young people safe we have adopted a high level filtering service from our service provider Strictly Education, in addition to this we have installed Internet monitoring software on every device.
Mobile Phones and other Internet Ready Devices
Mobile phones and other Internet ready devices are not permitted at Hawkswood unless in exceptional learning specific situations. Students may be asked to hand them in at the beginning of the school day and have them returned at the end.
Contextual Safeguarding – Gangs, Criminal Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation
Gangs and Criminal Exploitation
Waltham Forest has a number of gangs operating within its boundaries and at any one time allegiances and tensions may exist between such groups, which are subject to change and fluidity. Identified gang members in Waltham Forest are made up of mainly young people, aged between 12 and 19 years. We have seen even younger children involved in or on the periphery of gangs and attracted to the money, power and apparent status of their older peers.
The pupils at the Hawkswood Group are extremely vulnerable to criminal and sexual exploitation from gangs, and we do our upmost to safeguard, support education, training and prevention work, alongside the Local Authority and Police partners.
Staff at the Hawkswood Group are trained to identify early signs of risk and exploitation, and to respond to concerns appropriately. We work in conjunction with local and national Police, Young Offending Service, Family Partnerships Team and Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
We work to agreed frameworks, including supporting referrals to the National Referral Mechanism for children who are victims of modern slavery and trafficking.
Ofsted published ‘Time to listen’, a thematic report outlining findings from the 5 joint targeted area inspections, in September 2016 and an addendum to this report in November 2018, can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-inspections-of-child-sexual-exploitation-and-missing-children
Nature of the threat
Once established junior gang members aged between 12 -16 called Younger’s run county lines for the older gang members know as Elders. Younger’s are vulnerable males and females who are recruited by predatory older gang members. Recent local trends in Waltham Forest show an increase in children in care being targeted by predatory older gang members aged between 12-16 years old.
Youngers can “earn” large sums of money from drug dealing, which can seem desirable to the young person initially, however once targeted and groomed into this situation, Youngers face the danger of being attacked by rival gangs, being arrested by Police thus entering the criminal justice system and also from their own gang if they lose their drugs/money when seized by Police (if arrested) or taken using violence by a rival gang. They are also at potential risk of fatal injury from rival gangs. Waltham Forest has had several young people drugs running for gangs who have ended up being stabbed and shot by rival gangs.
Violence is used in establishing the county line, securing the county line and removing competition.
Child Sexual Exploitation
Children are also sexually exploited by gangs with criminal associations. In these cases, the gang may benefit financially from the sexual exploitation.
A person under 18 is sexually exploited when they are coerced into sexual activities by one or more person(s) who have deliberately targeted their youth and inexperience in order to exercise power over them.
The process often involves a stage of ‘grooming’, in which the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) prior to, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them. Although every case is different.
Child sexual exploitation may occur through the use of technology without the child’s consent or immediate recognition; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the Internet or via mobile phone.
Child sexual exploitation is often conducted with actual violence or the threat of violence. This may be threats towards the child, or her or his family and may prevent the child from disclosing the abuse, or exiting the cycle of exploitation. Indeed, the child may be so confused by the process, that they do not perceive any abuse at all.
Rail, hire cars, taxis and local user’s vehicles are main transportation methods for the trafficking of children and drugs.
Key indicators of criminal and sexual exploitation include (but not limited to):
- High truancy rates from school
- Regularly going missing from home
- Unexplained money
- Unexplained new clothes and personal items
- Changes in behaviour and levels of anger/aggressions or total withdrawal and dis-engagement from previous hobbies and relationships
- Tiredness and exhaustion – late nights not returning home
- Fear/anxiety to leave the house
- Increased stress levels
- Weapon carrying
- More than 1 mobile phone
- Drug and alcohol / substance misuse
- New “friends” – often older people
- Injury from violence
- Sudden dis-respect for parents/carers and authority figures including school staff and Police
MASH number 0208 496 2310
More information for parents can be found on our Parent Zone page.
Safeguarding concerns about Staff
In addition to the Hawkswood Group Safeguarding Leads, anyone can contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) regarding safeguarding concerns about staff members or any professional working with children, including concerns about Foster Carers.
The LADO team are based at:
Sycamore House | Waltham Forest Town Hall Complex | Forest Road | London E17 4JF
Waltham Forest Think Family Approach
Think Family works. Research suggests that a multi-agency ‘Think Family’ approach can be effective in helping families, even for those who have not benefited from traditional service approaches. The summary of the Centre For Excellence and Outcomes research report on supporting families with complex needs is summarised as follows:
- Multi-agency, flexible and coordinated services, with an underpinning ‘think family’ ethos, are most effective in improving outcomes. This includes staff in adults’ services being able to identify children’s needs, and staff in children’s services being able to recognise adults’ needs. Such services are viewed positively by families and professionals alike.
- Early intervention prevents problems becoming entrenched; the practical help, advice and emotional support which many parents value can often be given without referral to specialist services. Children and young people also prefer an informal approach.
- In order to access services, parents must feel reassured that they are not being judged or stigmatised, and be helped to overcome their fears of having their children removed. ‘I do have a sort of feeling of being ashamed of having difficulties. It’s not something I talk about’
Research has identified that families want services that are multi-disciplinary and which do not withdraw when the crisis is over but continue to prevent or reduce the circumstances that can result in further crisis. The most effective multi-disciplinary work retains a family focus, builds on the strengths of family members and provides support tailored to need.