In England, no-one is allowed by law to harm your child in school. We do not smack or hit children or beat them with objects and we do not lock them away or humiliate them if things go wrong.
It is really important to know that this applies in the home too and if schools think that a child has been hurt by their parents or other family members, they have a legal duty to report it. We call this ‘safeguarding’ and safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone who works with children.
School staff will keep an eye on every child and notice any physical marks or changes in behaviour and every school has a ‘Designated Safeguarding Lead’ (or DSL) whose job it is to make sure that children are kept safe at school, as well as at home.
As such, if you have always used physical chastisement in your home country, you need to be aware that this is not allowed in the UK.
However, schools will have support available to you to help you reflect on how you parent your children and will be able to offer you new ideas and alternative methods that are safe. Ask to speak to the DSL if you would like some support with new ideas that don’t include physical chastisement. They will be more than happy to help.
Teachers also have an additional specific legal duty to report Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is against the law in the UK. FGM comprises all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. It is illegal in the UK and a form of child abuse with long-lasting consequences.
If teachers discover that FGM has been carried out – or is about to be carried out, here or abroad – they must contact the police. If FGM is common practice in your home country, head teachers or the DSL might ask you about your thoughts on FGM. Don’t be offended – they are working to protect the children in their care. It’s important to know that there are many sources of support for you and your family. Talk to the school or one of the community organisations in the city, who will help and advise you.