Whistleblowing Policy

Introduction
People working within organisations are often the first to realise that there may be
something seriously wrong in the place in which they work. They may be wary of
expressing concerns because they feel that to do so would be disloyal to their
colleagues or to their school. They may also fear harassment or victimisation. In
these circumstances it may feel easier to ignore the concern rather than report
what may just be a suspicion of malpractice.
This school is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity
and accountability. In line with that commitment, we expect employees and
others working at or for the school who have serious concerns about any aspect
of the school or Council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.
Aims of the Policy
This Policy is designed to encourage and enable you to be able to raise concerns
you might have about the way the school or County Council conducts its
business. It does this by providing you with an opportunity to raise concerns
which you reasonably believe point to serious malpractice either in your school or
within the County Council in a confidential way, without fear of victimisation,
subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. Your concerns may relate to the
improper, unethical or illegal conduct of employees, Governors, County
Councillors or others acting on behalf of the Council. Some examples of serious
malpractice include:
 conduct which is an offence or a failure to comply with a legal
obligation;
 disclosures on miscarriages of justice;
 endangering the health and safety of pupils, members of the public as
well as other employees;
 damage to the environment;
 the unauthorised use of public funds;
 possible fraud and corruption;
 sexual or physical abuse or harassment of pupils or other workers;
 any concern over the welfare of pupils or other workers;
 deliberate concealment of malpractice; and
 other unethical conduct;
This list is not exhaustive.
Victimisation or harassment of anyone using this policy or if anyone tries to
discourage others from coming forward will be deemed to be a disciplinary
matter.

This Policy complements complaints and statutory reporting procedures already
in place for service users and non-employees and reflects the legal protection
afforded by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. It is not designed to be a
substitute for the school’s grievance, disciplinary or harassment policies /
procedures. If you have a personal concern unrelated to malpractice, please use
the school’s Grievance Procedure or Harassment Policy as appropriate,
copies of which are available from your Headteacher or from Education Human
Resources
If, having read this policy, you are uncertain about whether it is the appropriate
policy or how to proceed, please feel free to seek informal advice from Education
Human Resources: number above.
Who is covered by the Policy?
Anyone working for or on behalf of the school or Council may raise a concern
about malpractice, including employees, governors, contractors, and supply staff,
agency and trainee teachers. This also applies to voluntary helpers.
Who is responsible for the Policy?
The governing body is responsible for ensuring the operation of this policy with
regard to matters relating to this school. The governing body will work in
partnership with the Local Education Authority in dealing with concerns about
malpractice and will immediately contact the Local Education Authority on
receiving such information.
Their role is to ensure that matters are investigated properly and to maintain a
record of concerns raised together with outcomes. Any proven allegations will
remain on the employees file.
How to Raise a Concern
Step 1 – Within the School
If you have a concern about malpractice, the Governing Body hopes that you will
be able to raise the matter with your Head teacher. If your concern is connected
to a child protection issue, you must follow the school’s procedures outlined in the
school Safeguarding Policy.
However, if you feel unable to raise the concern with your Headteacher due to
the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved, or if you believe that
he/she may be involved, you should speak to the Chair of Governors or another
governor. Alternatively, you may wish to contact our HR provider Birch HR on
0121 674 4230. Concerns may be raised verbally and/or in writing. If you wish
to make a written report, you are advised to include in your letter the background
and history (giving relevant dates) and give the reason why you are particularly
concerned about the matter. You may also wish to seek advice from your trade
union at this stage.
If you are personally involved in the matter you raise, please tell us at the outset.
You may invite your trade union, a member of staff from Human Resources or a
work colleague to be present during any meetings or interviews (which may be
arranged away from your normal workplace if you so wish) in connection with the
concerns you have raised.
Step 2- Within the County Council
Where appropriate, the Headteacher, governor or LEA officer will refer the matter
to another County Council officer, for example if you have a concern about any
financial loss or irregularity, this would be raised with the Internal Auditor; if your
concern relates to the conduct of a Councillor or to the working relationship
between a Councillor and an employee of the school or Council, this may be
raised with the Chairman of the County Council Standards and Ethics Committee.
If you have followed the channels described in Step 1 and you still have concerns
or you feel that you are unable to discuss the matter with any of the individuals
listed in Step 1, you may wish to raise the matter with the Director of Educational
Services or alternatively, please contact either the Monitoring Officer, who is the
Director of Corporate Services or one of the Deputy Monitoring Officers either the
Head of Member and Administrative Services or Head of Legal Services or a
County Councillor. If the concern is related to child protection, you may wish to
raise it with the Education Child Protection Officer who is the Pupil and Parent
Support Manager.
What will happen?
The School or County Council will respond promptly to your concerns by
assessing what action ought to be taken. This may involve an internal
investigation or a more formal inquiry. You will be told who is handling the matter
(the Responsible Officer), how you can contact them and whether any more
assistance from you will be required. In normal circumstances within 7 working
days of a concern being raised, the Responsible Officer will write to you
acknowledging that your concern has been received. The letter will also inform
you of any relevant staff support mechanisms and agree arrangements for
keeping you informed.
Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for an
investigation. If urgent action is required this may be taken before any
investigation is conducted.
Thereafter, the Responsible Officer will keep you informed of progress and the
outcome of any investigations or decisions on the matter including the content of
any reports written.
The School or Council will take steps to minimise any difficulties which you may
experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to
give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Council will arrange for
you to receive advice about the procedure. You are protected against
victimisation as a result of raising a concern and, should victimisation be proven
to have taken place, it will be dealt with under disciplinary procedures. In
exceptional circumstances, it may also be necessary to consider future working
arrangements.
Step 3 – Raising a Concern Externally
While we hope that this policy gives you the confidence to raise your concern
with your school management team, governing body or County Council officers,
we would prefer that you raised your concern with the proper external regulator
rather than not at all.
If you act in good faith and you genuinely and reasonably believe that both the
malpractice falls within the remit of a regulator and that the information disclosed
is substantially true, you may also contact the following prescribed regulators:
 the Health and Safety Executive for health and safety dangers;
 the Environment Agency for environmental dangers;
 the Audit Commission or External Auditor for concerns associated with
conduct of business, value for money, fraud and corruption; or
 the Data Protection Registrar.
Finally, in circumstances where you genuinely believe that the matter cannot or
will not be dealt with internally because either your complaints have been
ignored, you believe that information will be concealed or destroyed or you will be
subjected to victimisation and have evidence to back up your belief, you may
consider it appropriate to contact a non-regulatory external body for example the
police, OFSTED or the Department of Education and Employment. You are
strongly advised to seek independent advice before you raise any issue outside
the County Council. A list of contacts is given in the sections below entitled
Further Advice and the Role of Trade Unions.
Confidentiality
The Council undertakes to protect your identity and we will not disclose it without
your consent. If the situation arises where it is not possible to pursue your
concern without revealing your identity (e.g. the need to give evidence in court or
at a disciplinary hearing), we will discuss with you how and if we can proceed.
Untrue Allegations
If you make an allegation in good faith, but the evidence produced during the
investigation does not substantiate it, no action will be taken against you. If,
however, you are an employee or statutory office holder and you make an
allegation maliciously or for personal gain, this may result in disciplinary action
taken against you.
The Role of the Trade Unions
The trade unions recognised by the County Council are committed to the
effective use of this policy. If you are considering raising concerns using this
procedure you may wish to seek advice from your trade union representative
before doing so, particularly if you believe that the only course of action open to
you is to raise your concern with an external body.
Further Advice
You may of course seek advice from any Officer of the County Council and/ or our
HR provider Birch HR on 0121 674 4230. However, if you want independent advice
at any time you may contact your trade union or the independent charity,
Public Concern at Work on 020 7404 6609 or
http://www.pcaw.co.uk/individual-advice/advice-line
Their lawyers will give you free confidential advice at any time on how to raise a
concern about serious malpractice at work.