The Chair reminded Members that as part of the panels review on the topic of sexting / youth produced sexual imagery it had been agreed that a questionnaire would be provided to all schools on this topic. The aim of the questionnaire was to gain an understanding of the current prevalence of this issue in primary and secondary schools, to examine how the issue was currently being addressed, whether schools had developed any best practice and what more the Council could do to support young people and parents on this issue.
The Chair explained that following the last meeting she had met with the Council's Assistant Director of Safeguarding & Childrens Care, Assistant Director of Education & Skills, Risk and Reduction Manager and Chair of the Local Children's Safeguarding Board to discuss the proposals. A copy of the questionnaire compiled in partnership with the relevant officers was presented to the panel for comment. The four sections of the questionnaire covered awareness and training, prevention, identification and monitoring systems and good practice as follows:-
Awareness and Training
How does the school keep abreast of new and emerging technology and its impact in this area? e.g. one person or a specialist teacher is responsible for environmental scanning and training staff, input from external organisations, trainers (LA or other), collaboration across schools, other method (please describe in as much detail as you can)?
What training is provided to Governors and Staff members
What work is being done with parents and carers to inform and raise awareness?
The DFE document Keeping Children Safe in Education emphasises the promotion of safeguarding and highlights the need for staff to be able to deal with specific types of issues, including peer on peer abuse and sexting. What is being done to help prevent these two specific areas of abuse?
In August 2016 UKCCIS published an advisory document entitled Sexting in Schools and Colleges. What is the school doing in response to the recommendations made?
Identification, monitoring systems
What systems does the school have in place for children and or staff to report concerns e.g. Toot Toot?
How, as a school would you respond to an incident or disclosure made by a child or YP a schools perspective
Does school Use C-POMS? If not Why not? If yes, To what extent?
Can the school give an example(s) of good practice that it has deployed in either of the following areas:
Dealing with incident
Is there is any further support that schools would like for which the Council may be able to help facilitate/coordinate good practice.
The Chair advised that it was the panels intention to use the questionnaire to complete face to face interviews with approximately 7 or 8 schools including Middlesbrough college before seeking written submissions from all schools across the town. The panel was invited to make comments on the proposed questionnaire and put forward any further comments / amendments Members wished to make.
The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board queried whether consideration had been given to sending the questionnaire to other relevant groups including the Guiding and Scout Association, Hemlington LINK, Middlesbroughs Youth Member of Parliament and the Looked After Childrens Council. The Chair welcomed this suggestion and acknowledged that the questionnaire would need to be amended and rewritten in child friendly language if it was circulated to youth groups and young people directly. In response to a query the Business Manager for Middlesbrough Childrens Safeguarding Board (MCSB) advised that the MCSB fully endorsed the work undertaken by the panel and would share it with the Board once completed. A Member of the panel queried whether a covering letter would be sent along with the questionnaire.
It was advised that the an introduction to the questionnaire had been drafted as follows:-
Under their legal duty to safeguard all children and young people in Middlesbrough, and following high profile cases of Exploitation in other parts of the UK, Middlesbrough Council commissioned work in 2014 through the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel. This work was designed to assure elected members that awareness, training, and operational practice in this area was as good and as effective as it could possibly be.
The current work of the scrutiny panel focuses specifically on sexting and youth produced sexual imagery and the following questions were designed to help inform elected members to understand how children were safeguarded from the harms caused by such activity.
The Chair confirmed that a copy of the covering letter and questionnaire would be sent to all members of the panel in advance of its distribution.
A member of the panel expressed the view that there may well be schools across the town which have responded very proactively to this issue and have developed effective policies and procedures. It was queried as to whether efforts could be made in advance of approaching the schools where face to face interviews would take place to find out what work had already been undertaken on this issue. The Chair confirmed that in advance of any visit the Members involved would have the opportunity to visit the schools website and find out what policies / policies were in place. The comment was made that many parents were unaware of what sexting was or what measures they could put in place to protect their child. The point was made that one of the questions in the questionnaire related to the work undertaken with parents and carers to inform them about this issue and raise awareness.
The MCSB Manager advised that the MCSB had recently undertaken a piece of work on esafety and a copy of the Teeswide Esafety strategy, which had recently been finalised, was presented to the panel. It was advised that one of the big challenges facing MCSB was reaching out to parents and although Chelseas Choice programme had successfully engaged young people in Middlesbrough it had not reached their parents. In other areas parents had been involved in the programme and more work was needed on this issue.
The MCSB Manager provided the panel with copies of the quarterly briefing for schools on CSE as well as a copy of the Tees Valley Esafety Strategy. The panel was informed that the Esafety sub-group was currently chaired by a Head Teacher and training session on esafety were widely available through the MCSB to colleagues in the Local Authority, Police, Health, Education, Social Care and the Colleges. The MSCB Newsletter was sent to all agencies and a School Safeguarding Briefing note had been sent to all schools and colleges which included information on CSE. It was advised that the work of the panel could be highlighted in the quarterly briefing note to schools to raise awareness of the panels work. The point was also made that it was important that key people raised questions about any concerns they had at an early stage so schools and young people were better able to cope with these issues. It was advised that esafety multi -agency training was available electronically to all Members via the MCSB.
AGREED as follows:-
That the Democratic Services Officer send a link to the MCSB Multi-Agency Safeguarding Children Training Programme 2016-17 to all Members of the panel.
That the questionnaire prepared for schools be re-written in child friendly language for use with youth groups and young people directly including the Looked After Childrens Council, the Guiding and Scout Association, Hemlington LINK, Middlesbroughs Youth Member of Parliament and the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.
That once the panel had completed its review on the topic of Sexting / Youth Produced Sexual Imagery a copy of the panels report be presented to the Tees Local Safeguarding Children Boards.