Child Safety Protocols for all ATCo staff
The primary concern for all ATCo staff is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all participants in the programme. Considerable care has been given to the development of the dramatic structures to maximise the ability of participants to protect them into emotion. The theatre should therefore allow participants to actively engage with the issues, and to feel safe and comfortable with the emotional response they have to highly sensitive issues. It is important that all staff follow the guidelines below to ensure the programmes are delivered safely into schools.
Pertaining to the Vulnerable Children’s Act of 2014 – our policy is to ensure best practice guidelines are provided to all employees and safety checking of all staff coming into contact with children is completed.
NB Some of these activities will be coordinated through one person in the team (the team leader). It will be their responsibility to ensure that the tasks have been completed by each member of the team and the safety record sheet for that school has been completed.
On arriving at the school
It is a requirement for ATCo’s team leader to:
- Sign in all members of the team at the front office; (or if arriving separately, each team member should sign themselves in)
- Request to meet the school principal or booking contact and introduce the team;
- Ask if there has been any incident recently that might impact on any of the students the team is working with that day. If the principal is unavailable request to speak to another member of the senior management team or the lead teacher nominated on the tour schedule;
- Check that the Social Worker in Schools (SWiS) or other Guidance person is aware we are in school and remind them to come and view the programme if at all possible.
- Let this person know the team leader will speak to them at the end of the day about any concerns an ATCo team member has about any students or staff;
- Check what level of support ATCo facilitators will have during the day, reminding the principal that the classroom teacher must be present throughout the day;
- If the regular classroom teacher or a regular relieving teacher is not available, under no circumstances should work be undertaken with that class.
It is a requirement for all ATCo facilitators to:
- Explain briefly to the classroom teachers the requirements for the performance;
- Ensure that students realise that they are working within a fictional context. The script does this, but it is important facilitators signal the beginning of the fictional work.
It is a requirement for ATCo facilitators to:
- Inform the teacher that the class remains under her/his discipline and that facilitators require their assistance in maintaining accepted levels of behaviour;
- Facilitators are to suspend the programme if the teacher leaves the classroom. You might wish to explain this is a contractual obligation on your part;
- Facilitators are to observe any students who appear to find the work difficult because of their close identification with the issues being explored. Guidance on signs to observe will be provided to all staff. These concerns should be shared confidentially with the classroom teacher at the first break, or at the end of the workshop session;
- Constantly remind students of the fictive nature of the programme by using the safety device of ‘double framing’, ie, a) that the story is fictional, and b) it is framed within the fiction of a video game;
- Remember the work may be highly challenging for the classroom teacher and they require protection too. Encourage and provide ways for them to join in the programme but be wary of putting them into situations where they might be vulnerable;
- All staff must follow the reporting protocols as outlined below;
- It is not the facilitator’s responsibility to maintain classroom management or behaviour. It is the facilitator’s responsibility, however, to engage the students with the work. No staff member has to tolerate poor behaviour, foul or abusive language, gestures or actions from any student or teacher.
- Facilitators who find student behaviour too difficult to maintain operation of the programme should require assistance from the classroom teacher in either removing students or utilising appropriate school-based systems;
- In the very rare event of cancelling the programme with a class because of misbehaviour, it is important the principal is informed of the action, and that the Company Directors are informed as soon as possible on the same day.
- Note all details on the day’s school safety sheet:
- reason for cancelling,
- how teacher responded to the cancellation,
- which senior staff member in the school was informed and their reaction.
- Note all details on the day’s school safety sheet:
It is a requirement for ATCo facilitators to:
- Raise any concerns about any students with the classroom teacher, and note them on that day’s school safety sheet;
- Collect the completed written evaluation form or ask that it be returned to ATCo;
- Speak to the principal or lead teacher and provide feedback on the day’s activities;
- Sign out of the school.
- Report any concerns to one of the Company Directors within an hour of leaving the school, via phone. If neither are available leave a telephone message and then email detailed notes to both.
During any programme in schools and with community groups, there is always the potential the work will trigger participants to disclose personal episodes similar to those portrayed. These disclosures may occur in a range of forms, although direct disclosures will tend to occur on a one-to-one basis. More oblique disclosures or warning signs may be exhibited throughout the workshop process.
Direct Disclosures Protocols
The following steps will be taken as a result of a direct disclosure:
- All staff MUST action any disclosures reported directly to them.
- All staff MUST BE aware that confidentiality rules are over-ridden when they fear for the ongoing safety of the young person who has disclosed to them. In the first instance the disclosure should be reported to the classroom teacher, with the child being informed this will take place.
- One of the following MUST be informed on the day of the disclosure, and as soon as practically possible: the Company’s Designated Person for Child Protection, the Programme Manager, or the Company Director/s.
- Liaison with the school principal about the disclosure to be undertaken by the Company’s Designated Person for Child Protection, the Programme Manager, or the Company Director/s, or in their absence, the senior Games Master working that day.
- The disclosure is logged by the Company’s Designated Person for Child Protection, the Programme Manager, or a Company Director with the social support agency responsible for that region (Oranga Tamariki, telephone 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459))
- An electronic ‘report of concern’ is lodged: blank form is in your folder and a e-copy will be made available to you via your work email address. This is to be completed in as much detail as possible, including:
- be detailed about the child’s behaviour
- use thick description (not just ‘uncomfortable’)
- capture that child’s language, as used
- note any questions that child asked through the workshop
- note identification of child and teacher, and who was reported to at the school
- Put details of EDT programme into the report, to give the context of the disclosure
- If it is a disclosure of sexual abuse, note the names/words the child uses (eg cricket bat and balls)
- The Company’s Designated Person for Child Protection, the Programme Manager, or the Company Director/s, or in their absence, the senior Games Master working that day needs to submit our own report of concern, even if the school says they are already in touch with CYF regarding this child.
- The school might not be the right person to speak to the parent
- The ‘outside eye’ might be more objective
- A follow-up phone call is to be made by the Company’s Designated Person for Child Protection, the Programme Manager, or a Company Director, or in their absence, the senior Games Master working that day, to the principal within 24 hours to check that appropriate action has been taken.
During the workshops it often becomes clear that young people are responding to the dramatic fiction from their own personal experience. This may be by way of comment, body language or, on occasions, tearful or humorous responses either in or out of role.
Note a child’s ‘non’ reaction to Everyday Theatre, ie, disengagement. Be aware too, the child who gets teary might well be reacting to the programme content, not necessarily that it is close to home for them.
There is a range of safety devices to protect students during the drama work. We constantly remind students that we are playing a drama game about a fictional situation and if students disclose as part of the game we allow the game to provide that safety, knowing that the teacher present has heard the issues raised. We aim to spend a minimum of 10 minutes with every teacher following the workshop. This provides the opportunity to reflect on any students who we feel may need extra support or care as a result of the workshop. We are aware that comments made by students in the drama workshops could lead to external agency (eg OT) involvement and have provided the impetus for teachers to tackle issues they had not felt able to discuss prior to the workshop.
Often when working in role young people will accidentally mention their own true story, often to support the character to tell his/her problems to someone. Always privately check with the classroom teacher that these details are known and have been actioned. Usually, the young people who tell these stories so openly are known to a range of social service agencies and the school guidance systems.
We walk a very narrow line between allowing the game and the stories to flow, and turning the dramatic space into a forum for mass disclosures which allows little safety for anyone. It might mean that, during the course of the drama, we appear to gloss over comments which need to be fully followed up later.
For example, someone who might say to one character, “That’s nothing, …. has happened to me lots” is saying this within the drama frame. Because it happens within the drama, it is difficult to tell if this response is from personal experience, or if it is an improvisation. It requires the ATCo facilitator and the teacher to acknowledge this statement and to determine what should happen next, but outside the drama frame, ie, confidentially, at a suitable break in the classroom, or as soon as possible in the staffroom.
If you are concerned about any child, ask the Teacher to think about any pattern of behaviour, including:
- Their friends
- Who collects them each day (is it the same person/people from home, or a range of people)
- Who lives with them at home
Record any disclosures on the safety sheet for that day, in a way that details remain confidential eg use the student’s initials and room number rather than full name. A teacher or principal will be able to recognise the student from this small amount of detail.
Review completed July 2018 by:
Amitha Krishnamurthi (MANZASW – Member Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers); Qualified and Registered Social Worker; Masters in Social Work (Direct Practice) – University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB in New Zealand) Registration No: 3017
(Current Annual Practising Certificate – Expires November 2022)
Resettlement Case Advisor, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre
251 Massey Road, Mangere, Auckland
Oranga Tamariki Reports of Concern: telephone
0508 326 459 (0508 FAMILY)
Email report of concern to