Introduction

You are a valuable asset to us and we want to make sure that we protect you whilst you volunteer as an ABC to read representative.  Similarly ABC to read is undertaking a very important role in helping children to learn to read and it is vital that ABC to read maintains its reputation in this field.

This policy document and agreement summarises the most important aspects that ABC to read wishes to bring to your attention, to ensure you understand and to which you signify your agreement. This agreement is not legally binding and does not create an employment relationship. All of ABC to read’s policies and procedures appear in full on our website or are available upon request.

Please be aware that it costs ABC to read £700 to recruit and train each of our volunteers. We are a charity organisation and have to work extremely hard to raise funds to enable us to continue to improve the reading abilities of the children we support. We therefore ask for a minimum commitment of 12 months from our volunteers to ensure that we can carry on.  If you feel that you cannot fully commit to a minimum period of 12 months, unfortunately it is not economically viable for us to take you on.

Children’s safety and protection

  1. DBS Disclosure and Rechecks

Before you can be considered for placement in a school, as an ABC to read volunteer, you must agree to apply to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for an Enhanced Disclosure with Barring Checks. When you receive your disclosure certificate, you must share this with ABC to read, at the earliest opportunity, before your application to volunteer in school can be taken further. A DBS Disclosure that is not entirely clear may not preclude volunteering in school but further discussions will need to take place, including the school headteacher, before a decision is reached.

Regular DBS rechecks will be required to ensure your continued suitability to work with children, in line with ABC to read’s current policy.

When you complete your initial DBS application, you are recommended to register for the DBS Update service and you consent for ABC to read to assist you in that process and, subsequently, to make necessary online checks, in line with its current policy.

  1. Abuse

The welfare of children is paramount. They are, regardless of their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity entitled to respect and protection from any form of abuse. Abuse can be physical (including sexual) or emotional (which includes repeated rejection or humiliation) and includes neglect (which includes the withholding or withdrawal of safety, nourishment, warmth, education and medical attention).

You are not trained to deal with any situations of abuse or to decide if any abuse has occurred BUT you do have an absolute duty to report any concerns. This overrides any duty of confidentiality towards the child, its parent or the school. You must not enter into any agreement, with the child, to keep a disclosure secret, but should calmly explain that you are under a duty to pass on what you have been told, so that the child’s best interests can be protected. You must not ask probing or leading questions but should, if possible, make notes of what you are being told. Where this is not possible, you should write down what you have been told as soon as possible afterwards, dating and signing your notes.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about a child then you should raise them with the teacher, unless the concerns relate to that teacher or another member of school staff working in that class, in which case you should raise them with the  headteacher or the school’s Designated Person for Child Protection, if that is not the headteacher. In any serious case you must report them to the headteacher or the school’s Designated Person for Child Protection immediately. If you are unsure of what to do or if you are dissatisfied with how your report has been progressed by the school, you should raise this, immediately, with ABC to read’s Chief Operations and Development Officer or the Safeguarding Trustee. You must not discuss any issues that arise with anyone else. If you have had to report a concern or disclosure to an appropriate representative of the school, you should immediately inform ABC to read’s Chief Operations and Development Officer or the Safeguarding Trustee that such a situation has occurred, even if circumstances dictate that you are unable to divulge any details.

  1. Interaction with children and your protection

ABC to read’s code of practice, the full text of which is on our website, provides guidelines so you can work safely with children but the most important of these for your protection are set out here:

  • Work in an open area, or with a door open so you can be seen and/or heard
  • Do not allow or instigate any remarks, gestures or any physical contact that could be misunderstood, even if the child is upset – take them back to their teacher
  • Do not tolerate any form of abusive behaviour from children. Take them back to class or ask for assistance from another adult
  • Do not give gifts or rewards
  • Do not take the child off the premises or contact then outside school
  • Do not undertake anything of a personal nature; if the child needs assistance then take them back to their teacher, and finally

Remember that someone else may misinterpret your actions, however well-intentioned they may be.

  1. Confidentiality

All and every aspect of what you are told, read or become aware of about a child is confidential and can only be discussed with the child’s teacher, the  headteacher or the school’s Designated Person for Child Protection, or ABC to read’s Chief Operations and Development Officer or the Safeguarding Trustee. This is particularly so in relation to any issues of abuse.

ABC’s full Child Protection and Confidentiality policies are on our website. 

Your safety

We have undertaken a risk assessment in order to identify areas where we consider you may be at risk. A copy of the risk assessment is available on ABC’s website. If you have any comments on the assessment then please let us know by either speaking to your field officer, our Chief Operations and Development Officer or any Trustees all of whose details are on our website.

  1. Travel to/from school alone

We have concluded that this is one of the key areas of risk.

Whilst you are responsible for taking care of yourself and not taking any unnecessary risks, we strongly recommend that you give serious consideration to the following procedures when attending your school:

  • Always ensure that someone will take action if you do not return home when expected: the “designated person”. If there is no one at home, or with whom you can make such arrangements, then you need to speak to your field worker so arrangements can be made.
  • Always have your mobile phone with you, ensure it includes an “in case of emergency number” (ICE ) and is fully charged.
  • Ensure your vehicle is regularly serviced and that there is sufficient fuel.
  • Do not leave home if the weather is adverse or there is advice not to so do.
  • If whilst at school the weather is becoming adverse then inform the teacher that you need to leave early.
  • If you are not parking in a school car park, do not park in an isolated or unlit (if dark) area.
  • Do not take short cuts through unlit or quiet areas.
  • If you breakdown, call the designated person so they are aware of the position.
  1. Fire

All schools will have their own fire procedures. It is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the fire procedure on the site or in the building in which you are based. This includes knowing the nearest exit to you and an alternative one in case you are unable to use the closest.

Equal Opportunities and Diversity

ABC to read is committed to eliminating discrimination (including on the grounds, of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality or religion) and encouraging diversity.

ABC to read opposes all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination and requires all of its staff to make its volunteers feel respected and volunteers to behave in a manner whereby a child, teacher, member of staff or anyone else with whom they interact feels respected too. 

Complaints by Volunteers

There may be occasions when you may wish to raise a problem or concern relating to your volunteering, whether that is about the school, a child, a member of ABC to read staff or perhaps another volunteer.

ABC to read encourages communication between all parties so that where possible any problems can be aired and resolved informally, preferably with the assistance of a fieldworker. It is therefore important to raise any concern at an early stage, before it becomes a difficult issue to resolve and maybe worries you.

In the unlikely event that this has not been possible then ABC to read has a procedure for so doing, full details of which are on our website and available upon request from the Chief Operating & Development Officer.

Complaints about Volunteers

If a problem, concern or complaint is raised by a child, school, ABC to read staff member or other volunteer then unless the matter is very serious, including for example relating to a child protection issue or breach of confidentiality, ABC to read’s policy is to deal with the matter informally through communication between all parties so that where possible the matter can be resolved informally, preferably with the assistance of a fieldworker.

In the unlikely event that this has not been possible, or the matter is serious, then ABC to read has a procedure for so doing, full details of which are on our website and available upon request from the Chief Operating & Development Officer.

I have read, understand and agree to this policy and agreement.

Volunteer Signature:

Print name:

Date:

ABC to read authorised signature:

Print name:

Date: