Staff / Homestay Code of Conduct Policy
The following code of conduct for staff and homestays gives clear guidance on behaviour that Oxford Education and Services (OES) expects from all members of staff and homestays working within the organisation. These guidelines confirm and reinforce the professional responsibilities of all staff and homestays. They help adults establish safe practices and reduce the risk of false accusations or improper conduct.
Code of Conduct
Power and positions of trust
In your role of a member of staff or homestay, you will have power over students and will hold a position of trust. It is imperative that these are not abused in any way. OES staff and homestays should be aware of their own conduct and ensure that their professional practice is clear and unambiguous. Staff should ensure that they work in an open and transparent way, not showing favouritism and by treating students respectfully and fairly irrespective of culture,disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual orientation.
Oxford Education and Service Limited does not have a dress code for staff. However, the staff will be asked to wear smart casual if visiting schools and host families.
Being a guardian company, we expect staff to speak with care and consideration. No one uses language that could be offensive or swearing.
Duty of care to children and young people
All staff,volunteers and homestays have a duty of care to children and young people. As such they must adhere to the various policies, including the safeguarding and child protection policy that outline how we safeguard students in our care.
Exercising professional judgement
OES recognises that this guidance may not cover every eventuality. There may betimes when staff use their professional judgement to deal with situations not outlined in this section. In such circumstances staff should always advise their senior colleagues of the justification for any action taken or proposed.
Physical contact with students
OES staff or homestay family members are advised to avoid physical contact with students. There are some occasions when it is necessary for staff to give some physical contact and comfort to students. However, staff should use their professional judgements at all times and be aware that the fact of minor forms of friendly physical contact can be misconstrued by students. Handshakes can be one of appropriate touches for students.
Not all students feel comfortable about certain types of physical contact; this should be recognised and, wherever possible, staff should seek the student’s permission before initiating contact and be sensitive to any signs that they may be uncomfortable or embarrassed.
All staff should work and be seen to work in an open and transparent way. In addition, a member of staff can never take the legal parents' place to provide physical comfort and need to be cautious of any demonstration of affection. If there is an action that staff believes can be misinterpreted,then they need to report the incident and circumstances for the record as soon as possible, to keep the Designated Safeguarding Lead informed and a copy should be placed on the student's file.
1.An outright ban on any corporal punishment
It is illegal to use corporal (physical)punishment. Any reported incidences of corporal punishment will be reported byOES to the police.
Sexual contact with young people
Any(contact or non-contact activity) sexual behaviour (including grooming of a child so sexual abuse can take place), by a member of staff or homestay with or towards a student is unacceptable and could be a matter for criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings. Students are protected by the same laws as adults in relation to non-consensual sexual behaviour, and by additional legal provisions depending on their age and understanding.
All members of staff must respect the value and intrinsic worth of each student and family, regardless of gender, culture, disability,economic or social background etc. Also, all students and their families deserve respect and understanding.
One to one situations
There are some occasions when staff works one to one situations with students so that staff should recognise the possibility of allegations or complaints. Therefore, a plan and conduct needs to be made for both staff and students to make sure safety and security needs.
There are some other methods that could be considered for staff and students when they are in one to one situation, such as an open door or visual access, inform other staff about the meetings beforehand and ask them present or close by, avoid meeting students at a secluded location.
Communication with students
Communication with students both in the ‘real’ world and through web based and telecommunication interactions should take place within explicit professional boundaries. This includes the use of computers, tablets, phones,texts, e-mails, instant messages,social media such as Facebook and Twitter, chat-rooms, forums, blogs, websites,gaming sites, digital cameras, videos, web-cams and other hand-held devices.(Given the ever-changing world of technology it should be noted that this list gives examples only and is not exhaustive.)
Staff should not request or respond to any personal information from students other than which may be necessary. They should ensure that their communications are open and transparent and avoid any communication which could be interpreted as ‘grooming behaviour’.
Staff should not offer lifts to students unless the need for this has been agreed by a manager.A designated member of staff should be appointed to plan and provide oversight of all transport arrangements and respond to any concerns that may arise.
Staff may have access to special category personal data about students and their families which must be kept confidential at all times and only shared when legally permissible to do so and in the interest of the child. Records should only be shared with those who have a legitimate professional need to see them.
Staff should never use confidential or personal information about a student or her/his family for their own, or others’ advantage (including that of partners, friends, relatives or other organisations). Information must never be used to intimidate,humiliate, or embarrass the child. Confidential information should never be used casually in conversation or shared with any person other than on a need-to-know basis.
If a member of staff is in any doubt about whether to share information or keep it confidential, he or she should seek guidance from the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
Students’entitlement to privacy
Guardianship organisation staff and homestays must respect student’s right to privacy. That means not entering their bedrooms (unless the homestay is required to clean the room, and this should only be undertaken with prior warning and when the student is not in the room), ensuring that bathrooms have suitably locks and respecting the student’s right to retreat to their rooms or a quiet area in the home if they feel the need. When students wish to email or call home, they should be allowed to do so in privacy.
Staff need to take care that they do not accept any gift that might be construed as a bribe by others, or lead the giver to expect preferential treatment.
There are occasions when students or parents wish to pass small tokens of appreciation to staff e.g. at Christmas or as a thank-you and this is usually acceptable. However, it is unacceptable to receive gifts on a regular basis or of any significant value. In every circumstance where a gift is offered, the advice of your line manager must be sought.
Use of photographs and videos
Staff should ensure that only photography, videos or images of students are taken with their and their parent’s consent and that these are published where such consent has been obtained. Images should be securely stored and used only by those authorised to do so. Under no circumstances should staff take images of students without consent or without the students knowing that the images are being taken. Staff should always be able to justify images of students in their possession and avoid making images in one to one situations.
The OES Whistle Blowing Policy provides guidance to staff on how to deal with malpractice in the workplace where there is concern for the safety of children.
All staff must observe all the codes of conduct.
We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually.
This policy was last reviewed on: …15/12/2020…………………………(date)