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Portsmouth safeguarding and early help compact audit

The Partnership is collectively responsible for the strategic oversight of local safeguarding arrangements. It also has a responsibility to ensure that organisations working with children and families in Portsmouth are compliant with their statutory duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, as set out in:

Part of the way in which the PSCP does this is to require all services that work with (or come into contact with) children and families to complete a compact audit once every two years.

It does this through using the same 12 standards across variations of this tool, so that comparisons as to the effectiveness of safeguarding in the city across sectors can be made. This is called a compact audit.

This tool is designed not only to assist in assuring compliance; but also to provide a multi-agency benchmark through the use of a common language. It is hoped that this will create a more consistent approach to considering safeguarding arrangements across Portsmouth.

For more information please read this one minute guide

  • Provides an understanding of the effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements and of joint working to protect the children and young people of Portsmouth.
  • Enables the future PSCP training and support for the Portsmouth Partnership to be planned.
  • Enable organisations to give evidence of their understanding of safeguarding responsibilities by grading against quality standards model answers
  • A completed compact audit provides evidence for inspection organisations e.g. Ofsted/CQC/HMIC.
  • Provides evidence that safeguarding is a priority within your organisation.
  • Provides evidence that your organisation works closely with the PSCP and understands it’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Demonstrates compliance with relevant legislation e.g. Working Together 2018, Keeping Children Safe in Education, Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework.
  • Provides evidence of reflective practice.
  • Feeds into development/improvement work for your organisation.
  • Identifies good practice and areas for development within your organisation
  • A clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
  • A senior level lead to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements
  • A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings (both in individual decisions and the development of services)
  • Clear whistleblowing procedures and a culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be addressed.
  • Arrangements which clearly set out the process for sharing information with other professionals and Safeguarding Childrens Partnerships.
  • A designated professional lead for safeguarding (or named professional in health). Their role is to support other professionals to recognise the needs of children including rescue from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should be explicitly defined in job descriptions and professionals should be given time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
  • Safe recruitment practices including policies on when to obtain a criminal record check
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff including safeguarding training:
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role.
  • Staff should be given mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare.
  • All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they improve over time.
  • Clear policies in line with those from the PSCP for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. Such policies should make clear distinction between an allegation, a concern about the quality of care or practice or a complaint. An allegation may related to a person who works with children who has:
      • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child or may have harmed a child;
      • Possibly committed a criminal offence against a related to a child; or
      • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose or risk harm to children.
  • Local authorities should ensure that allegations against people who work with children are not dealt with in isolation. Any action necessary to address corresponding welfare concerns in relation to the child or children involved should be taken without delay and in a coordinated manner.
  • Local authorities should put in place arrangements to provide advice and guidance on how to deal with allegations against people who work with children to employers and voluntary organisations. Local authorities should also ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to effectively liaise with the police and other agencies to monitor the progress of case and ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible with a thorough and fair process.
  • Employers and voluntary organisations should ensure that they have clear policies in place setting out the process, including timescales, for investigation and what support and advice will be available to individuals against whom allegations have been made. Any allegation against people who work with children should be reported immediately to senior manager within the organisation. The designated officer, or team of officers, should also be informed within one working day of allegations that to an employer’s attention that are made directly to the police.
  • If an organisation removes an individual (paid workers or unpaid volunteer) from work such as looking after children (or would have, had the person not left first) because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service. It is an offence o fail to make a referral without good reason.

The tool is based on 12 standards that reflect the safeguarding arrangements that all organisations should have. These standards are:

  1. Senior management commitment to the importance of the safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
  2. Staff responsibilities and competencies (the term ‘staff’ also refers to volunteers)
  3. A clear line of accountability within the organisation for work on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
  4. Service development takes account of the need to safeguard and promote welfare and is informed, where appropriate, by the views of children and families
  5. Induction, training and appraisal for staff and volunteers on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
  6. Safe Recruitment
  7. Allegation management
  8. Effective inter-agency working for early help and to safeguard children and promote the welfare of children
  9. Information sharing
  10. Equality of opportunity
  11. Disabled children
  12. Commissioning Standards

In recognition of the varying way in which these apply to services and the legislation to which they are working to we now have 3 variations of the tool. Please click on the link appropriate to the setting:

For smaller voluntary & community organisations that are not commissioned to deliver a service by the local authority or the NHS, we have this Safeguarding Children Self-Assessment and Improvement Tool.

Although we formally ask our organisations to submit an audit every two years, the Compact Audit tool can also be used as a self-assessment process that provides organisations with their own assurance that they are meeting statutory duties. We would therefore encourage agencies to consider maintaining your Compact Audit return on an ongoing basis to feed into internal self-evaluation and improvement processes, rather completing it from scratch every two years for submission to the Partnership.

  • This audit is a self-assessment process that covers 12 areas. Within each of these ‘areas’ there are a number of standards that the agency should meet.
  • To complete the tool, evidence should be given that demonstrates how your agency meets each of the standards.
  • It is important that the evidence you provide is detailed enough to enable any follow up work to quickly identify the protocols/guidance/ systems that are referred to.
  • This self-assessment must be undertaken by a suitably experienced and senior member of staff within your organisation and endorsed by the director, head-teacher, owner or management committee prior to submission.
  • The self-assessment incorporates a four-point rating system to assess compliance with each standard:
    • Outstanding – our organisation can fully demonstrate compliance with the standard. This area is well embedded within the school & school curriculum (where required). There is evidence of positive work & practice & this can be evidenced
    • Good – our organisation can demonstrate compliance with the standard. Knowledge is effective & a policy or details is developed & due to be implemented within the school. Some staff training is still required
    • Requires improvement – our organisation has limited ability to demonstrate compliance with the standard. There is knowledge of this area within the school/college; however, it is not fully effective in that not all staff are aware, understand or apply. A policy or details are being developed
    • Inadequate – our organisation is unable to demonstrate compliance with the standard. There is very little or no knowledge of this area in the school or amongst the staff
    • Not applicable – the standard does not apply to our organisation
  • The audit is a supportive process allowing each agency to identify areas of good practice and areas where improvement is needed. It should be used to assess the extent to which safeguarding children is embedded within your school. If, when completing the toolkit, you identify areas where your school is not complying fully with a standard (graded as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’), please record these in the action plan, and fill in the steps needed to meet the standard and the timescales this will be achieved within.
  • We acknowledge that not every question will be relevant to your service and in that instance, you should use the ‘not applicable’ assessment rating.
  • Please note that where we use the term ‘staff’, this also applies to any volunteers and / or apprentices you have within your organisation.

Settings will have a range of information to consider using as an evidence base for the various areas within the audit. The following are examples:

  • Records
    • training
    • children’s files
    • child Protection files
    • staff induction
    • staff files including qualifications and references
    • staff meeting minutes
    • health and safety, fire and risk assessments
  • Key documents
    • policies and procedures
    • setting improvement plan
    • parental information
  • Other
    • surveys including children, parents, staff
    • staff meetings notes where safeguarding issues are discussed
    • inspection reports
    • daily staffing structure
    • examples of learning from any quality assurance activity undertaken in the last 12 months

You may also want to consider looking at your safeguarding notice boards and thinking about whether they include all up to date relevant information. You could ask staff on the spot safeguarding questions to test their understanding of policies and procedures.

Each year the compact audit returns are reviewed and analysed by members of the PSCP Monitoring, Evaluation & Scrutiny Committee (MESC) and, where appropriate, organisations will be contacted on an individual basis to discuss their assessment and action plan.

Sector specific learning reports are intended to be a summary of the learning from the Education and Early Years Settings this year, to highlight some of the areas that settings considered to require improvement with the aim of hoping you all can benefit from this feedback.