WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY, PROCEDURE AND ADVICE
WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY, PROCEDURE AND ADVICE
The School is committed to conducting its business with honesty and integrity, and expects
all staff to maintain high standards in accordance with their contractual obligations and the
School’s policies and procedures. A culture of openness and accountability is necessary
in order to prevent illegal or unethical conduct occurring or to address these when they do occur.
This document aims to:
- encourage staff, including volunteers, to report suspected wrongdoing, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated as appropriate, and that their confidentiality will be respected;
- provide staff with guidance as to how to raise those concerns;
- reassure staff that they should be able to raise genuine concerns in good faith
without fear of reprisal, even if they turn out to be mistaken;
- ensure that staff are aware there are other channels open to them where they feel
their genuine concerns are not being addressed.
This policy takes account of the Whistleblowing Arrangements Code of Practice issued by
the British Standards Institute and Public Concern at Work, as well as guidelines published in
Keeping Children Safe in Education, March 2015 and the principles from Sir Robert Francis’s
Freedom to Speak Up review, February 2015.
This policy does not form part of any employees’ contract of employment and has no contractual effect. It is provided for guidance to Staff and reflects the School’s current practices. It applies to all Staff, including the Lead teacher, employees, consultants, contractors, trainees, casual staff and volunteers (collectively referred to as “Staff” in this policy) who are advised to familiarise themselves with its content.
What is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information, which relates to suspected wrongdoing or
dangers at work. The current legislation on whistleblowing in England is contained in the
Employment Rights Act 1996. The protection is known as the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 or ‘PIDA’ after the legislation which inserted the whistleblowing provisions into the 1996 Act.
Where a member of staff makes a protected disclosure he/she has a right not to be
subjected to any detriment by his/her employer, a fellow employee or an agent of the
employer for making that protected disclosure. A disclosure of information is considered as a protected disclosure if it is made by an employee who reasonably believes it is in the public interest and if it tends to show one or more of the following:
- criminal activity;
- child protection and/or safeguarding concerns;
- miscarriages of justice;
- danger to health and safety;
- damage to the environment;
- failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements;
- financial fraud or mismanagement;
- breach of internal policies and procedures including Code of Conduct;
- conduct likely to damage the School’s reputation;
- unauthorised disclosure of confidential information;
- the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.
A whistleblower is a person who raises a genuine concern that he/she believes is in the
public interest relating to any of the above. If you have any genuine concerns related to
suspected wrongdoing or danger affecting any of the School’s activities (a whistleblowing
concern) you should report it under this policy. Complaints relating to Staff’s own personal circumstances, such as the way you have been treated at work should use the Grievance Policy or Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy, as appropriate.If Staff are uncertain whether something is within the scope of this policy, you should seek advice from the Lead teacher.
Everyone should be held accountable for their behaviour and practice when raising,
receiving and handling concerns. This applies to those raising concerns as well as to their
leaders and managers. Absence of accountability discourages speaking up, and can inhibit
a person’s ability to move on. There should be personal and organisational accountability for:
- poor practice in relation to encouraging the raising of concerns and responding to them
- victimisation of employees for making public interest disclosures
- raising false concerns in bad faith or for personal benefit
- acting with disrespect or other unreasonable behaviour when raising or responding to concerns
- inappropriate use of confidentiality clauses.
Lack of transparency and openness creates suspicion and mistrust. It also means that
opportunities to share learning and improve student safety may be lost. Transparency about incidents and concerns sends an important signal that the School welcomes and values
them, and demonstrates a focus on finding solutions and taking action, not apportioning blame.
All members of staff should understand and help to work towards the following:
- creating a culture of safety, free from bullying and other oppressive behaviours, where Staff feel free to raise concerns;
- ensuring that all staff have time to enable a process of improvement and allowing for updated
procedures and policies to take shape;
- having a clear procedure in place for raising concerns;
- having a clear mediation and dispute resolution process in place to help rebuild trust or to support staff who have raised concerns;
- acting transparently during any investigation to reduce gossip and second guessing.
- ensuring accountability for reporting concerns and not shifting responsibility to others.
Raising a Whistleblowing Concern
The School hopes that Staff will usually be able to raise any concerns with the Lead teacher directly, who may be able to agree a way of resolving the concern quickly and effectively. If this feels inappropriate the matter can be raised with any member of the Board of Trustees.
The School will arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss your concern.
Staff may bring a colleague or trade union representative to any meetings under this policy
who must respect the confidentiality of your disclosure and any subsequent investigation.
The School will take down a written summary of the concern raised and provide the
member of the staff with a copy. The School will also aim to give you an indication of how it is proposed to deal with the matter.
The School hopes that Staff will feel able to voice whistleblowing concerns openly under this
policy. The School does not encourage Staff to make disclosures anonymously, but if the matter requires confidentiality, the School will endeavour to keep the whistleblower’s identity secret. If it is unavoidable for an investigator to know your identity, the School will discuss this with the member of staff first. Whistleblowers who are concerned about possible reprisals if their identity is revealed should come forward to one of the contacts listed above and appropriate measures can then be taken to preserve confidentiality. If you are in any doubt you can seek advice from Public Concern at Work, the independent whistleblowing charity, who offer a confidential helpline: 020 7404 6609. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.pcaw.co.uk
The aim of this policy is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and
remedying any wrongdoing in the workplace. In most cases Staff should not find it necessary
to alert anyone externally.
The law recognises that it may be appropriate for Staff to report their concerns to an external body such as a regulator. It will rarely if ever be appropriate to alert the media. It is advisable to seek advice before reporting a concern to anyone external. The independent whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work, has a list of prescribed regulators for reporting certain types of concern. Whistleblowing may sometimes relate to the actions of a third party, such as a service provider. The law allows Staff to raise a concern in good faith with a third party, where he or she reasonably believes it relates mainly to their actions or something legally their responsibility.
Investigation and Outcome
Once a concern is raised, the School will carry out an initial assessment to determine the scope of any investigation and inform the member of staff raising the concern of the outcome of its assessment. Additional meetings may be needed to provide further information. The School may appoint an investigator with relevant experience, who may make recommendations for change to enable the School to minimise the risk of future wrongdoing.
The School will aim to keep the member of staff informed of the progress of the investigation and its likely timescale. However, sometimes the need for confidentiality may prevent the School from giving specific details of the investigation or any disciplinary action taken as a result. The member of staff is required to treat any information about the investigation as strictly confidential. If the School concludes that a whistleblower has made false allegations maliciously or with a view to personal gain, the whistleblower will be subject to disciplinary action under the School’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. If a member of staff is not happy with the way in which his or her concern has been handled, he or she can raise it with one of the other key contacts outlined above.
Protection and Support for Whistleblowers
It is understandable that whistleblowers are sometimes worried about possible
repercussions. The School aims to encourage openness and will support Staff who raise
genuine concerns under this policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken. Staff must not suffer any detrimental treatment as a result of raising a concern. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If a member of staff believes that he or she has suffered any such treatment, he or she should inform the Lead teacher immediately. If the matter is not remedied the member of staff should raise it formally using the School’s Grievance Policy and Procedure. Staff must not threaten or retaliate against whistleblowers. Anyone involved in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action. Staff are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved.
September 2017 (next review September 2018).
Signed by Lead Teacher, Anil Sarna and Chair of Trustees: Wendy Hollway.