Staff Safety & Wellbeing
This guidance has been put together to support staff who work at The Holmewood School London.
At THSL the safety of staff [and students] is paramount and there are a variety of systems, policies and procedures in place to ensure that staff are kept as safe as possible when working with students who can be particularly challenging at times.
What is challenging behaviour?
Young people with autism have difficulties in several key areas; social interaction; social communication and flexibility of thought. Many young people with autism and most who attend THSL also have some differences in the way they interpret, integrate and/or respond to sensory stimuli.
The above factors combined with external factors such as demands made by staff, puberty, illness/pain, moving house, etc. can result in our young people displaying, on occasion, some behaviours that staff may perceive as challenging.
Challenging behaviour can be defined as 'any behaviour that hurts, scares or annoys us'. Challenging behaviour should not be taken personally but rather should be seen as an attempt by the person displaying the behaviour to communicate something to us.
However, regular exposure to or intense periods of challenging behaviour can be difficult for us as staff to cope with, as these behaviours can elicit some strong emotions in all us from time to time.
Below is a list of some of the things we do in order to ensure our staff are safe. This list is by no means exhaustive.
How we keep you safe
When do we do this
Health & Safety policy & booklet (part of H&S induction)
During your induction - usually on Day 1 but definitely by the end of week 1
H&S induction booklet is given out in the supplementary guidance pack for all new staff on day 1. It is yours to keep and refer to as needed. Posters around the school will give further reminders of H&S procedures.
Whole school risk assessment
This is updated annually by the Head Teacher and Site Manager. It looks at the overall risks within the school and how these change from year to year
An action plan is drawn up each year should there be any changes to the building, site or particulars relating to the group of young people we support. The Site Manager oversees this.
Risk assessments - general & whole school
Specific tasks within school and in the community have generic risk assessments assigned to them. When going on educational visits or participating in off site learning, staff are required to review and complete risk assessments before attending
Risk assessments are signed off by a member of SLT. It is the responsibility of all staff participating in the activity to read the risk assessment.
Risk assessment - specific for Individual pupils
As and when needed. Not every student will need an individual risk assessment. If a young person has behaviours that are beyond what is typical of other learners then an individual risk assessment will be put into place
All staff working with the young person should read the risk assessment. You might have to read it several times. The risks might be about keeping yourself safe but also about keeping that young person safe (e.g. if they are likely to abscond).
Back to work interviews
All employees after any absence. The aim is to establish why you were off and to see if we can support you not to have more absences. Some staff and illnesses may need adjustments to their work. These are likely be agreed for set periods of time as long as pupils and staff can remain safe with them in place.
A member of SLT or the Office Manager will hold these with all staff on the day you return to work. If you have been off for a significant period this will always be a member of SLT so we can agree if any adjustments are needed and for what period of time.
Risk assessment - specific for individual staff members
As and when needed but mostly when a member of staff has returned after an absence related to an injury or when female staff are pregnant. Risk assessments for staff are usually only valid for an agreed amount of time
The staff member should take note of the risks and should make their own judgements on their safety. In some cases, it is advised they share the information with other members of staff they work closely with e.g. if it means you can not participate in a certain activity.
Behaviour support induction sessions
All new staff have a number of training sessions on challenging behaviour and behaviour support. This includes: -information on Day 1 by a member of SLT -understanding where challenging behaviour comes from -using proactive behaviour support strategies -using reactive behaviour support strategies -the use of sanctions (when, why, how)
These sessions are repeated at key times throughout the year or on a rolling programme over 2-3 years. The frequency will depend on the cohort of young people in the school as well as the number of ‘new’ staff in the school. Sessions are mainly led by members of SLT including the Head of Autism, Welfare and Behaviour.
Pupil behaviour support plans
Every student has an individual behaviour support plan (BSP). These can be found on the google drive and in the blue folders in each classroom
BSPs should be updated at least yearly but also following a significant change in behaviour or after some incidents. The class teacher and Head of Welfare and Behaviour lead on these. They should be signed by parents in addition by school staff.
Annually at the start of each academic year for all staff. There is also a robust half day training for all staff every 3 years
If staff join the team mid-year the Designated Safeguarding Officer will do a 1-2 hour session in the first half term. This can be supplemented with the Educare safeguarding session.
Open door policy meaning staff should feel welcome to come and talk to any senior member of staff about a concern
All staff at any time.
Anyone who has a concern that is relating to safeguarding can interrupt a meeting at any point. Staff members are always welcome to come and speak to senior staff. Sometimes, they may wish to ask for a time if it is non-emergency and they have a lot to discuss. Staff can also complete a ‘Staff Concerns’ Form, available from the Office or on SchoolPod if they have less urgent concerns, yet wish to report an issue. All Primary Teachers & Form Tutors line manage the TAs in their class. This means that work alongside them closely and can be available to them as needed.
Clear explanation of potential risks associated with role given at interview
All staff at interview
Additional notes at the end of the interview include a discussion about how although we have lots in place to keep staff safe, the nature of the children means that we can not protect staff at all times in all eventualities. There are a number of questions where the panel will question potential staff on how they feel emotionally in situations that are challenging as well as what they would do physically. It is stressed that we need staff who are mentally and emotionally robust and who do not take things personally.
SchoolPod analysis on regular basis - with follow up
The Head Teacher and/or Head of Behaviour and Welfare analyses data from SchoolPod as incidents occur and will follow up with individual staff members or teams as needed
Team leaders (e.g. teachers) will also ensure they check on their staff after incidents, especially if they have been hurt physically. Data is compared year on year and term on term by SLT. Patterns identified are followed up with training e.g. if high number of incidents occur during lunch or break then whole school training sessions on play may take place.
Staff accident forms
Any member of staff at any time if they are injured
Although there are lots of strategies in place to keep staff safe injuries from an accident or from an incident can occur from time to time. Staff should fill out accident forms via the office. These are analysed by the Head Teacher and one the SLT will usually make follow up checks on the individual staff member, particularly when they are hurt by a student.
All staff at interview
We advise all our staff to have the Hepatitis B vaccination at the time of interview. School policies reflect this. A letter is available from the Office to take to a medical practitioner which requests that the vaccination is given free of charge due to the increased risk of being bitten by a student.
Team Teach training - positive handling strategies
All staff within their first term of working at THSL
Team Teach Refreshers then take place every 2 years for all staff. Strategies are built into student BSPs A Team Teach trainer is part of our Senior Leadership Team and is available to do mini-refreshers with individuals or groups as needed. If a particular young person is needing a lot of intervention for a specific period of time, it is helpful for the team to practice certain holds and guides together in non-contact hours without the student present.
First Aiders on site
Any time a staff member is hurt physically or does not feel well
There are 8-12 staff who are trained first-aiders. These members of staff are carefully chosen so they can be available for large parts of the day (e.g. admin staff, non class-based staff or float TAs). In addition, class based staff who have pupils with high needs may also have training.
After being involved in (or in some cases, witnessed) an incident that is intensive, emotional or when challenging behaviour has occurred. Should occur at the nearest safe opportunity.
Can take place with other members in our immediate team or with any other member of staff within the school who we feel comfortable with. Debrief in this context refers to an emotional debrief whereby staff affected by an incident are able to discuss their immediate emotional responses through a non-judgemental and confidential dialogue. Debrief should always take place before filling in relevant documentation or analysing what went well and what did not go well during the incident. Without a debrief our judgement of the situation can be impaired and as humans we tend to give emotional responses rather than factual ones.
Reflective supervision sessions
All class based staff at least once a term TAs have an additional 2-4 sessions each half term SLT also have either group or individual reflective supervision every other week if needed.
Reflective supervision is incorporated into our ‘Student Focus’ meetings on Thursdays after school. Each week a different student is discussed. Anyone who works with that child in any capacity should join the meeting. Meetings are chaired by the Welfare and Behaviour Team and the school’s Psychotherapist (and her team) join the sessions. As well as discussing the student’s needs, there is also a heavy focus on how working with that student impacts on staff and their wellbeing. If the immediate staff team or any individuals require follow up creative supervision session with the psychotherapist after this session this can be arranged directly with her at a mutually convenient time. There is also group TA specific reflective supervision led by our in house Psychotherapist 2-4 times per half term.
Individual meetings with Psychotherapist,
All staff at any time (though please be mindful of when student psychotherapy sessions are in play)
There is an open door policy. Staff should feel welcome to come and talk whenever they feel unsafe, have a concern or generally need a space to talk and touch base. Psychotherapy provides a space to access to debrief after an incident and work through emotional responses to the incident and the situation. The purpose of the sessions is to assure that the member of staff is not left with anxieties towards the student or situation or other staff members.
Team meetings (class teams, whole school teams)
Class based staff and therapists should attend all training and meetings. Other staff are invited to attend if they are interested in a particular area/topic.
There is a CPD planner in place each half term. Sessions include: -Thursday behaviour briefing -Wednesday whole staff training (each week) on a range of different subjects through whole school training or bespoke workshops (each staff member has a choice of approx 12-20 workshops to choose from each half term) -Teachers meeting (every other week) -TA meetings and/or reflective supervision (every other week) -Tuesday class meetings (1 per term per class, running every other week to teachers meetings)
Line Managers and Mentors
All staff all year round
Every staff member has an allocated line manager. Regular meetings are scheduled for the first 12 months but they are available at all times. In addition, teachers also have an informal mentor who will be another teacher who is more experienced at our school. This is in addition to the line manager and can provide another point of view or be another person to contact about smaller, less formal issues. The Head Teacher is also a registered NAHT leadership mentor who provides mentoring to those in leadership positions at Holmewood and for those externally
Throughout the first 12 months
All staff have a robust 12 month induction period. At the start of this they meet their line manager on a formal basis weekly or 2 weekly, then every few months. This is in addition to any informal meetings. At these formal meeting points there is time to ask questions, debrief and raise concerns. The induction pack includes space for the line manager to note any development needs and comments. These are then passed to the Head Teacher to review and act upon as necessary.
Supervisions and appraisals
Twice a year
In addition to regular opportunities to discuss, meet, debrief over the year all staff (once through induction) have an annual appraisal and a 6 month point supervision with their line manager. At these formal meetings time is allocated to talk about (and record) the wellbeing needs for each individual staff member. In addition they are asked to declare any safeguarding concerns or concerns about practice that they may have (including whistleblowing and health & safety). This is an additional safeguarding measure.
Short Term & long term
The Holmewood School views therapy/counselling as part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Your professional life and your personal life are intertwined and both are of equal importance as they each have an impact on the other. We believe that in order to be most effective in their job, staff should have a good understanding of themselves as a person. This is why we are committed to this service. Short term free counselling through the Employee Assistance Programme at Peninsula (our HR provider). This includes a 24 hour hotline service as well as 6 face to face sessions for either you or a member of your family. Long term discounted counselling off site. Please note the long term service is for staff working at the school for 1 year or more and have already taken up the short term offer.
We provide free staff yoga on a weekly basis (after school) led by our in-house Occupational Therapist who is also a qualified Yoga teacher.
Staff Art class
We provide a free staff art class on a weekly basis (after school) led by our art teacher.