The Cultivate team (led by Enable) co-ordinates creative place-making projects with children and young people (CYP). Most projects are commissioned by cultural organisations or agents working for developers, in which case this guidance is issued to all these partners for their consideration, assuming they will also be working to their own Safeguarding guidelines. Some projects may be commissioned directly by the Cultivate team, in which case contracts will clarify the safeguarding responsibilities for freelancers/agencies delivering projects. This document fits within Enable’s safeguarding policy, and focuses on requirements of commissioned freelancers or agencies working with CYP.
Safeguarding is about processes put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people, including children under 18. The leading principle is that the welfare of children is paramount. Schools and charities working with CYP are in ‘loco parentis’, a legal status giving them a duty of care. However, any freelancer/agency who comes into a school or setting, or works with a group of CYP away from their setting, undertakes a shared responsibility to the CYP in their care.
The responsibilities of a freelancer or agency delivering a Cultivate-commissioned project include:
- Taking proactive steps to ensure that all children have the best outcomes.
Cultivate aims to offer creative learning experiences that will increase chances of children in Wandsworth and Lambeth developing into thriving adults, helping them express their ideas, broaden their skills, and discover opportunities to participate in culture and pursue creative careers. Freelancers/agencies delivering Cultivate projects will support beneficial outcomes if they consult with educators, plan thoroughly, reflect on their work, and respond to the CYP in their projects. Making use of the Cultivate Planning Workbook will support them in this.
- Taking pains to ensure that no harm comes to children, whether physical or emotional, for example, through injury or exposure to inappropriate material.
Freelancers/agencies should familiarise themselves with the child protection policy in any school/setting. It is advisable to hold a current certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service if there may be regular contact with CYP, which may mean being occasionally in sole charge of a group. Each school/setting will state their requirements. (Certificates should be renewed every 3 years. See more here.)
Freelancers/agencies should make planning visits to any setting and/or external site where activities with CYP will take place. Identify any hazards and plan how to reduce them. The school/setting may require the completion of a risk assessment form, which is normally the teacher’s duty. (See this for guidance.)
Ask teachers/carers what normal procedures are. Support the teacher/carer to uphold the values and rules for behaviour that the children are familiar with. If children are inexperienced at handling certain tools and materials, ask if it is appropriate to introduce this new experience, and how this can be done safely.
- Being sensitive to needs of the most vulnerable, for example children who have suffered trauma or are at risk of maltreatment.
Freelancers/agencies should ask teachers/carers if there are any particular vulnerable children and how the project can account for their needs. Some children may not be photographed, or their personal details publicised, to ensure that they cannot by identified. In this case, the normal procedure is that the school/setting must review any photos/video taken and have the right to request deletion. Because of experiences of some children in a group, some material may be inappropriate to introduce, for example pertaining to bereavement, war, domestic violence or drug abuse.
- In general, freelancers/agents should aim to uphold these behaviours or principles:
Confidentiality: Uphold confidentiality with any information about children given to you by teachers/carers except to share with colleagues who will be sharing your responsibilities.
Disclosure, reporting and referring: If a child reveals information about abuse or neglect, the freelancer/agent should listen to them, take them seriously, and ask if they have shared this with any teacher/carer/police. If this is a first confidence, it is the freelancer/agent’s duty to let their immediate teacher/carer know. (For more guidance on this.)
Wandsworth Council’s joint agency protocol ‘See the Adult, See The Child – How to identify and respond to concerns about a vulnerable child or adult at risk’ requires that employees or contractors for services such as education, culture and leisure take steps to report concerns about inappropriate conduct of other employees or contractors towards children and young people.
Propriety: Adults working with children must maintain standards of propriety in order to maintain the confidence and respect of children and teachers/carers. Freelancers/agents should not refer to illegal or highly risky behaviours in personal lives, should avoid inappropriate physical contact, and should dress appropriately to their role. Any use of gifts or rewards should be agreed with the school/setting, to avoid negative implications or impacts of bribery. Also, agreement with the school/setting must be obtained before communicating with young people individually e.g. by personal email or social media, and with explicit boundaries set on appropriate modes of communication.
Equality and discrimination: Freelancers/agents should attempt to treat all children equally. They should proactively, or by example, promote equality and reduce discrimination faced by CYP in particular, with regard to characteristics such as: Nationality, ethnic origin, or the colour of their skin; language they speak; religion; sex, gender or sexual orientation; whether or not they are disabled.