JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL, BRIGHOUSE
The Governing Body of St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Brighouse are fully committed to supporting the implementation of this policy.
Policy and Operating Procedures
Why do we need a Policy?
The Governors of St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Brighouse are fully committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment we encourage employees with certain concerns about any aspect of the schools work to come forward and voice those concerns to the Headteacher as set out below. It is recognised that certain cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis. This policy document makes it clear that employees can do so without fear of reprisals. This policy is intended to encourage and enable employees to raise certain concerns within the school rather than overlooking a problem or reporting it outside. It should be read in conjunction with the following complimentary policies/documents: (all of which are approved by the Governing Body of St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Brighouse)
Calderdale Council’s Anti Fraud and Corruption Strategy (see intranet)
The Code of Conduct for Council Employees (see intranet)
Calderdale Council’s Fraud and Dishonesty Leaflet (see intranet)
Children and Young People and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Procedures.
This Policy will help us to comply with the Public Interest disclosure Act 1998 (the 1998 Act) and the Employment Rights Act 1996 (the 1996 Act) and set out the procedure for employees to follow to comply with the Act.
What is our Aim?
We will protect you from detriment in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, that is from reprisals or victimisation for “whistleblowing” where the disclosure is made to the school in good faith and relates to a concern set out in the policy.
We will also protect Health and Safety Representatives and employees under certain provisions contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 who take action over or raise concerns with the council about health and safety at work.
Who is Responsible?
The Headteacher, working with the Chair of Governors, has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this policy and maintains a record of concerns raised and the outcomes (but in a form which does not endanger your confidentiality) and will report, in appropriate circumstances, to the Governing Body.
How will we implement this?
We have drafted this policy to help the school and its employees comply with the legislation. The policy will be published as part of the Staff Handbook.
What are the aims of the 1996 and 1998 Acts?
To protect employees and make certain disclosures (whistleblow) to the school or in some limited circumstances outside the school under the 1998 Act.
To protect Health and Safety Representatives who take action in performing their health and safety functions under the 1996 Act.
To protect an employee who has reported a danger to health or safety, to the school, where it was not reasonably practicable to raise the matter with the Health and Safety Representative, and subsequently takes certain actions under the 1996 Act.
When can an employee whistleblow under the 1998 Act?
Whistleblowing disclosures are protected when they relate to any action of the school or an employee that:
- Is a criminal offence;
- Relates to a failure to comply with a legal obligation;
- Is about a miscarriage of justice;
- Is about endangering the health and safety of another;
- Is about damage to the environment: or
- Indicates that there is or is likely to be concealment of any of the matters set out above
This does not stop you from raising other issues of concern with your Headteacher or member of the SLT, but you must not voice them outside the school; this does not stop you obtaining your own legal advice.Employees who whistleblow will be protected by the school and confidentiality will be maintained.
When can an employee take action under the 1996 Act?
A Health and Safety Representative can act in performing his/her health and safety functions without suffering a detriment or being unfairly dismissed.
Employees are protected from suffering a detriment or being unfairly dismissed where the Health and Safety Representative cannot reasonably be informed of a danger or potential danger to health or safety. Additionally those employees who reasonably believe there is serious and imminent danger which they cannot reasonably be expected to prevent, necessitating leaving work or refusing to return because of the danger or taking appropriate steps to protect themselves or others from the danger, where they have informed the school of the danger, are also protected.
What are the Aims and Scope of this Policy?
To encourage and provide avenues for you to raise concerns with the school and receive feedback on any action taken.
To allow you to take the matters further if you are dissatisfied with the school’s response.
To reassure you that you will be protected from reprisals or victimisation for whistleblowing in accordance with the 1998 Act where the disclosure is made to the school in good faith and relates to a concern listed in the paragraph above.
To reassure you that you will be protected for acting in accordance with the 1996 Act as set out in paragraph above.
This policy covers concerns that fall outside the scope of other complementary policies/documents as detailed in this policy.
This Policy supplements other existing procedures relating to probity in the course of the school’s business or matters relating to the conduct of employees, including the grievance, Disciplinary, Harassment, and Recruitment and Selection Policies and Procedures.
How to raise your concern
The earlier you express the concern, the easier it is to take action.
Concerns may be raised verbally with the expectation that these will be formally recorded. You will be requested to set out the background and history of the concern, giving names, dates and places where possible, and the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation.
A form is available if you wish to use it (Appendix A). This is available on the Staff Shared File or can be obtained by contacting your Headteacher. If you do not feel able to put your concern in writing, you can request to meet with the Headteacehr or member of the SLT. By using the form this will ensure that you include all relevant and appropriate details.
You may also wish to involve your Trade Union representative at this stage.
Although you are not expected to prove the truth of an allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.
Your Trade Union representative or a colleague may accompany you.
With whom should you raise your concern?
As a first step, you should raise concerns in good faith within the school, normally with your Headteacher or, if the complaint is about your Headteacher, the Chair of Governors if you feel that is more appropriate.
However, this depends on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is thought to be involved in the failure or malpractice. For example, if you believe that Senior Leaders are involved, you should approach your Chair of Governors in the first instance, who may, under Financial Procedure Rules need to involve Internal Audit, or if this is inappropriate seek advice from the Diocese of Leeds or the Local Authority.
You may however make a disclosure to a prescribed person, in good faith where you reasonably believe that the failure or malpractice falls within that person’s remit and that your allegations are substantially true. A list of the most relevant prescribed persons is set out below. The full list is contained in The Public Interest Disclosure (PrescribedPersons)(Amendment) Order 2003 SI No 1993, which can be read at www.hmso.gov.uk.
If you make a whistleblowing disclosure to anyone else you must make it for all the following reasons:
- in good faith
- in the reasonable belief that the information disclosed and any allegation contained in it are substantially true
- not for personal gain
- in the reasonable belief that the school may subject you to a detriment or will conceal or destroy the evidence
- In all the circumstances of the case it is reasonable to make the disclosure.
The above is an exceptionally high standard to meet and employees are advised not to follow this course of action because the courts will have regard to:
Where you disclose an exceptionally serious failure to anyone else it may not be reasonable depending on the identity of the person to whom it is made. You must make it for all the following reasons:
- the seriousness of the failure
- whether you have followed the whistleblowing procedure set out in this policy
- whether there is a breach of confidentiality
- the reasonableness of the disclosure to this person
If you fail to comply with the above requirements regarding disclosure the law will not protect your actions and the Council may consider disciplinary action against you including gross misconduct.
Harassment or Victimisation
The Governing Body recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those responsible for the failure or malpractice. The governors will not tolerate harassment or victimisation and will take action to protect you when you raise a concern in good faith.
However, this does not mean that if you are already the subject of Disciplinary, Grievance or Redundancy procedures, those procedures will be halted as a result of your disclosure.
The school will do its best to protect your identity when you raise a concern and do not want your name to be disclosed. The investigation process may, however, reveal the source of the information and a statement by you may be required as part of the evidence.
This policy strongly encourages you to put your name to your allegation. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful and less likely to be effective, although they may be considered at the discretion of the school.
In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account would include:
- the seriousness of the issues raised;
- the credibility of the concern; and
- the likelihood of confirming the allegation from named individuals or other sources of information.
Untrue or Malicious Allegations
If you make an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against you. However, malicious or vexatious allegations may lead to disciplinary action including proceedings for gross misconduct.
How will the School respond?
The action taken by the school will depend on the nature of the concern. The matters raised may be subject to:
- internal investigation
- referral to the Police
- referral to the External Auditor
- referral to the Diocese of Leeds / Local Authority as appropriate, for consideration on whether any matter should be considered by the Standards Board for England or the Standards Committee.
- Consideration under the Disciplinary Procedure if the matters relate to an employee(s).
In order to protect individuals and the school, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Concerns or allegations that fall within the scope of other specific procedures (for example, child protection) will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.
Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation.
Within ten working days of a concern being received, the school will write to you:
- acknowledging that the concern has been received
- indicating how it proposes to deal with the matter
- giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a response
- telling you whether an initial enquiry has been made
- telling you whether further investigations will take place, and if not, why not
The amount of contact between the appropriate person considering the issues and you will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, we will seek further information from you.
When any meeting is arranged you have the right if you so wish to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or a colleague of your choice.
The school will take steps to minimise any difficulties that you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the school will advise you about the procedure.
The school accepts that you need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal and confidentiality constraints, you will receive information about the outcomes of any investigations.
Who are the “Prescribed Persons”?
This policy is intended to provide you with an avenue to raise concerns within the school. The school hopes you will be satisfied with the internal procedure. If you are not and your allegations are substantially true and you feel it is right in good faith to take the matter outside the school, the following are permissible contact points for their areas of regulatory activity:
Diocese of Leeds 0113 2618000
Audit Commission – the proper conduct of public business, value for money, fraud and corruption
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – income tax, maternity and sick pay, tax credits, child benefits, collection of student loans and the national minimum wage.
Environment Agency – matters affecting the environment or the management or regulation of the environment, including pollution.
Food Standards Agency – matters which may affect the health of any member of public in relation to the consumption of food and any other matters concerning the protection of the interests of consumers in relation to food.
General Social Care Council – matters relating to the registration of social care workers under the Care Standards Act 2000.
Health and Safety Executive – matters which may affect the health and safety of any individual at work or member of the public in connection with the activities of persons at work (they can be contacted at Calderdale Local Authority – Gary Laird/Janet Whitlow).
Information Commissioner – compliance with the requirements of legislation relating to data protection and freedom of information.
Occupational Pensions Authority – matters relating to occupational pension schemes.
This is not the exhaustive list, this can be read at www.hmso.gov.uk – The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) (Amendment) Order 2003 Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 1993, but it comprises the persons most likely to be of relevance to the work of a Local Authority.