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This policy is called:

WHISTLEBLOWING AND SERIOUS MISCONDUCT POLICY

It applies to:

Academies Trust employees and members of the public

Person responsible for its revision:

Academies HR Director / The Executive Headteacher

Status:

Non - Statutory

Website:

On staff launch page and public website

Approval by:

The Academies Trust staffing committee

Updated:

by HR director Jan 15  and Dec 16

Noted by Staffing Committee:

October 2015

Date of next review

As and when required

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Disclosures made by Lordswood Academies Trust employees, Agency Staff, and any other individuals working for the Trust
  3. Protecting an Employee Whistleblower

4        Process 

5.        Advice to employees wishing to raise a concern or make a

disclosure

6.        Whistleblowing by members of the public        

7.        How to report an actual or suspected serious wrongdoing

8.        How the Trust will deal with a disclosure.

9.        Confidentiality and anonymity         

10.        Protecting an employee whistleblower

11.        Recording and monitoring complaints

Schedule 1 –         Nolan Principles

Schedule 2 –         Other organisations or bodies a whistleblowing disclosure can be made to.

WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY

  1. Introduction

1.1        Lordswood Academies Trust (The Trust) is committed to ensuring that it, and the people working for it, comply with the highest standards of openness, honesty and accountability.

1.2        The term ‘whistleblowing’ has a specific legal definition, i.e. a disclosure or allegation of serious wrongdoing made by an employee, and a wider public definition, i.e. any disclosure or allegation of serious wrongdoing made by anyone.

1.3        This policy document seeks to cover both disclosures and allegations of serious wrongdoing made by employees and members of the public, and to this end, where this policy makes reference to a whistleblower; it refers to any individual (including Lordswood Academies Trust employees and/or members of the public) who is making a disclosure or allegation of serious wrongdoing.

1.4        Where any individual, irrespective of whether that individual is either a Lordswood Academies Trust employee, governor, personnel involved with lettings through the Trust, agency supply staff, visitors, volunteers or a member of the public, is aware of any serious wrongdoing, such as:

committed by or related to the actions of:

 

and reports it, the Trust will  investigate any such allegations and, where appropriate, take action. The Trust is also committed to preventing any harassment, victimisation or unfair treatment of any person arising from their whistleblowing, and where appropriate, take disciplinary action against any member of staff responsible for such harassment, victimisation or unfair treatment against a whistleblower.

1.5        This policy seeks to set out how the Trust will handle and respond to any such allegations, made either by Trust staff or members of the public.

1.6        Whilst the whistleblowing legislation offers protection to employees, the Trust considers that any such allegations of serious wrongdoing should be investigated, whether they are made by an employee, a user of Trust services or any member of the public/parents.

1.7        This policy has specific sections relating to:

  1. employees of the Trust (which include agency staff and contractors); and

  1. members of the public/parents

1.8        This policy seeks to:

  1. encourage employees and members of the public and/or their representatives to feel confident in raising concerns or allegations in the public interest about suspected serious wrongdoing in the Trust and its services without fear of reprisals or victimisation even where the concern or allegations are not subsequently confirmed by the investigation;

  1. give a clear message that allegations of serious wrongdoing or impropriety are taken seriously;

  1. ensure that where the disclosure proves to be well founded, the individuals responsible for such serious wrongdoing will be held accountable for their actions;

  1. set out what employees and members of the public can expect by way of confidentiality and protection when making a whistleblowing disclosure; and

  1. identify independent support for employees who wish to make a whistleblowing disclosure (see section 6).

1.9        This policy is not designed to be used:

  1. for raising a reconsideration of matters that come under existing internal Trust procedures e.g. Grievance, Disciplinary, Capability, Dignity at Work or Lordswood Academies Trust’s general complaints procedure; or

  1. for allegations that fall within the scope of specific procedures (for example child protection) which will normally be referred for consideration under the relevant procedure, unless the employee has good reason to believe that the procedure is not being followed or will not be followed effectively; or

  1. as an appeal process for any complaint or grievance handled under any of the above procedures.

1.10        Where a complaint made under this policy falls outside the scope of the policy, e.g. where the complaint falls outside the scope of “serious wrongdoing”, Lordswood Academies Trust will advise the whistleblower of this and consult with the whistleblower in respect of taking the complaint further. Wherever possible, the Trust will comply with the views of the whistleblower, but there are situations where the Trust is legally required to pass on details of allegations, without the consent of the whistleblower, such as in safeguarding matters, or where the allegations relate to serious criminal activity undertaken by individuals outside the Trust.

1.11        Likewise, if an allegation made under either of the other above complaints processes falls under the remit of a “serious wrongdoing”, the Trust will notify the whistleblower of this and investigate the allegation under this process.

2.           Disclosures made by Lordswood Academies Trust employees, Agency Staff, and any other individuals working for the Trust

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (“PIDA”)

2.1        PIDA is designed to encourage and enable employees (which includes Agency Staff and any other individual working for the Trust) to raise any concerns about any suspected serious wrongdoing, an illegal act or a dangerous situation within the organisation.  

2.2        This is called making a “Protected Disclosure” under the Act, and when it is made in the public interest and in accordance with this policy, an employee is legally protected from harassment or victimisation as a result of the disclosure.

2.3        The person making the disclosure does not have to be directly or personally affected by the serious wrongdoing, but the disclosure must be made in the public interest.

2.4        To be protected, the disclosure must be in the public interest and raise a concern that:

  1. a criminal offence (e.g. fraud, corruption or theft) has been/is likely to be committed;
  2. a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject;
  3. a miscarriage of justice has been/is likely to occur;
  4. the health or safety of any individual has been/is likely to be endangered;
  5. the environment has been/is likely to be damaged;
  6. public funds are being used in an unauthorised manner;
  7. sexual or physical abuse by any member of staff or service user is taking place;
  8. unlawful discrimination is occurring to any member of staff or service recipient in relation to the legally protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation (see guidance on Equality Act at http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/new-equality-act-guidance/equality-act-guidance-downloads/);
  9. any other form of improper action or conduct is taking place.  This could include breaches of the regulation requiring school governors to “act with integrity, objectivity and honesty and in the best interests of the school” (The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013) and breaches of the ‘Nolan Principles of Conduct Underpinning Public Life’ (Schedule 1);
  10. information relating to any of the above is being deliberately concealed or attempts are being made to conceal the same.

2.5        PIDA will protect any employee or worker making a Protected Disclosure, irrespective of whether or not the disclosure relates to information gained in the course of their employment (e.g. a protected disclosure made by an employee acting as a service user would still fall under the PIDA protection).

2.6        If an Employee does not feel comfortable making a disclosure to the Trust, he/she may be entitled to make a disclosure to other prescribed persons. For further information please see Schedule 2.

3.        Protecting an employee Whistleblower

3.1.        Employees are protected if:

3.2        Any employee who makes a ‘protected disclosure’ which meets the definition in

PIDA is legally protected against victimisation and shall not be subject to any

other detriment for whistleblowing.  The Trust has adopted this policy in order to encourage early internal whistleblowing and demonstrate its commitment to preventing victimisation.  It an employee claims that, despite that commitment, he or she has been victimised for making a disclosure, he or she should make a further complaint under this whistleblowing procedure directly to the Trust.

3.3        An employee has the right to complain of victimisation as a result any

whistleblowing to an employment tribunal.

3.4        Any allegation that an employee has victimised a whistleblower will be taken

seriously by the Trust and managed appropriately.  In particular, the employee

alledged to have caused the victimisation could:

4.        Process

4.1        Individuals employed in the Trust’s schools are normally expected to raise their concerns within the school.  

4.2        Employees are expected to use Trust procedures such as grievance and anti-harassment where appropriate.

4.3        Where the Employee considers one or more incidents amount to a safeguarding incident, they should make a report under the Trust’s Safeguarding policy.

4.4        Disclosures should be made to the Executive Head Teacher and/or Chair of the Academies Trust.

4.5        The Executive Head Teacher or Chair of the Academies Trust, as the case may be, may seek advice as necessary from the Education Funding Agency ( the Government Agency that has oversight of academies).

4.6        Although the City Council does not maintain academies and although  an academy will adopt its own procedures, the City Council will acknowledge any concerns disclosed to it by employees of an academy.  However, if these concerns relate to the functions of the City Council they will be dealt with under section 6 of this procedure.  

4.7        The Council has no legal powers to investigate a disclosure made in respect of an academy (except for disclosures made in respect of safeguarding issues and Special Educational Needs), and upon receipt of such concerns, the Council will contact the whistleblower to discuss whether or not to refer the disclosure to the Education Funding Agency, to whom complaints/ whistleblowing disclosures in respect of academies should be made. However, the Council may disclose information about the disclosure, without disclosing the identity of the whistleblower, without the whistleblower’s consent, where the allegations raised are sufficiently serious enough to warrant it.

4.8        In respect of disclosures of serious wrongdoing relating to safeguarding children or vulnerable adults, and/or Special Educational Needs the Council has a legal obligation to investigate, and will do so, irrespective of the status of the school.

4.9        Birmingham City Council will work with the Education Funding Agency and the Department for Education to review the outcome of any complaint referred to them.

4.10        It is recommended that where the academy receives a Protected Disclosure by an employee, they seek advice from their appropriate professional advisor(s). If they are unable to obtain such advice, they can approach the Charity, Public Concern at Work (0207 404 6609) http://www.pcaw.org.uk, which may be able to assist. 

5.        Advice to employees wishing to raise a concern or make a disclosure

5.1        Employees who have major concerns arising from their employment may wish to seek advice from their union or the charity Public Concern at Work (0207 404 6609 – http://www.pcaw.org.uk), to see whether the information which they wish to report would meet the definition of a ‘qualifying disclosure’ and whether they should be using this procedure, or some other procedure.

6.        Whistleblowing by members of the public

6.1        Unlike disclosures by employees, the Public Interest Disclosure Act does not cover disclosures by members of the public.

6.2        However, the Trust considers that any disclosures or allegations made by members of the public in respect of serious wrongdoing should be handled in the same way as disclosures made by employees.

6.3        Once a disclosure from a member of the public has been received by the Trust, it will be handled in the same way as a disclosure made by an employee under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

7.        How to report an actual or suspected serious wrongdoing

7.1        A person who wishes to report any suspected serious wrongdoing (“a disclosure”) to the Trust  should contact the Trust either by

e-mail to          whistleblowing@lordswood trust.co.uk         

post to:-         Whistleblowing

c/o the Finance Director

Lordswood Academies Trust

Knightlow Road

Harborne

Birmingham B17 8QB

or

telephone:-         0121 429 2838, setting out the following information:

        Name                        (unless they wish to be anonymous)

        

Contact details         (unless they wish to be anonymous)

        

Who has committed the alleged serious wrongdoing?

        

What is the nature of the alleged serious wrongdoing?

        

Is the person making a disclosure employed by Lordswood Academies Trust?

Is the person a service user/member of the public?

7.        How the Trust will respond to a disclosure

7.1        The Trust will acknowledge receipt of a disclosure, whether it has been made by a member of the public and/or an employee, within 2 working days.

7.2          The Trust will then consider and decide whether the disclosure falls under the whistleblowing criteria and, if not, will, wherever possible, seek the whistleblower’s consent as to how the disclosure will be investigated using the appropriate Trust procedure(s). The Trust’s decision will be given to the person making the disclosure, wherever possible, as soon as possible after receipt of disclosure, and no later than 5 working days after acknowledging receipt of the disclosure.

7.3        The decision letter should state who will be handling the disclosure, how that person can be contacted, what action is likely to be taken and when the employee or worker might expect to hear the outcome of the disclosure.  A further letter, summarising progress to date, should be sent within another ten working days, and if the matter has not been resolved at that time the letter should include an estimate of how long it is likely to be before a full response can be provided.

7.4        However, there are situations where the Trust is legally required to investigate, under separate procedures, without the consent of the whistleblower, such as investigating allegations of ill-treatment or abuse of children or vulnerable adults (safeguarding). In these circumstances, the Trust will, wherever possible, advise the whistleblower that the disclosure will be investigated under another process, but there may be situations where it is not appropriate to disclose the existence of these investigations.

7.5        When the disclosure is considered to come under the whistleblowing policy, and the Trust has assigned an investigator, he/she will contact the whistleblower, within a further 10 working days, to advise them of the following:

  1. the arrangements for confidentiality;
  2. how the person making the disclosure will be expected to contribute to the investigation;
  3. the outcome of any discussions which may have taken place over anonymity;
  4. an estimate of how long the investigation is likely to take;
  5. the name of the investigator appointed to undertake the investigation;
  6. the right of an employee to representation by a recognised trade union or work colleague at any meeting; and
  7. the right of any non-employee to seek support and representation at any meeting.

7.6        Lordswood Academies Trust, wherever possible, will seek to advise the whistleblower of the outcome of the investigation. However, the Trust is bound by the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act in respect of allegations relating to individuals, and may not be able to disclose information where legal proceedings are pending.

7.7         The use of this whistleblowing process does not automatically amount to acceptance by the Trust that the information provided is necessarily a qualifying disclosure.  

7.8        For monitoring purposes the Academies Trust keeps a list of communications received from people using this whistleblowing process. This information is used for monitoring purposes and to detect if there are areas where there is a high incidence of alleged serious wrongdoing.

8.        Confidentiality and anonymity

8.1        Although the PIDA does not refer to the confidentiality of concerns raised in a qualifying disclosure, there is a widespread assumption that such a disclosure will be treated in confidence as a means of preventing victimisation. Lordswood Academies Trust will seek to avoid disclosing information identifying any  whistleblower, even if the Trust considers that the disclosure, by the Whistleblower, falls outside the scope of a qualifying disclosure. However, there are situations where, due to the circumstances of the alleged serious wrongdoing, it is impossible to avoid disclosing information identifying any whistleblower.  In these circumstances, Lordswood Academies Trust will consult with the whistleblower prior to the disclosure taking place and offer support.

8.2        There may also be situations where the Trust may be obliged to disclose information, such as where there are legal proceedings following on from the investigation of the whistleblowing investigation. This may require the disclosure of witness statements or correspondence, and there is even the possibility that the whistleblower may be expected to give evidence at any hearing. In these circumstances, the Trust should discuss the implications for the whistleblower if he or she proceeds with the disclosure, and where appropriate, discuss appropriate support arrangements.

8.3        Lordswood Academies Trust may also be required to disclose the identity of the whistleblower to third parties, where necessary for the purposes of undertaking investigations e.g. where the allegations relate to serious criminal offences where the Trust considers that the Police should investigate.

8.4         Anonymous complaints will be considered but, depending on the information given and the credibility of the evidence, there may not be enough information for a proper investigation without the investigator being able to contact the whistleblower for further information and, in these circumstances, there may not be sufficient evidence to pursue an investigation.

8.5        Lordswood Academies Trust is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This means that there is a presumption that Lordswood Academies Trust discloses any information it holds, unless that information falls under one or more exemptions and, in most cases, that the application of that exemption is in the public interest.

8.6        The Freedom of Information Act contains exemptions that may be applicable to permit the withholding of information identifying the whistleblower, including:

8.7        If Lordswood Academies Trust receives a request for information identifying a whistleblower, it will contact the whistleblower to seek their views in respect of the disclosure or withholding of the information requested and, wherever possible, it will seek to comply with those views.

8.8        The Trust is mindful, in reconciling the legal obligation to disclose information it holds under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, of its legal obligations under:

 

  1. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 to avoid the discrimination or victimisation of employees; and
  2. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, to protect the health and safety (including mental health) of employees.

9.        Protecting an employee whistleblower

9.1        Employees are protected if:

 

9.2        Any employee who makes a ‘qualifying disclosure’ which meets the definition in the Public Interest Disclosure Act is legally protected against victimisation for whistleblowing.  The Academies Trust has adopted this procedure in order to encourage early internal whistleblowing and demonstrate its commitment to preventing victimisation.  If an employee claims that, despite that commitment, he or she has been victimised because of blowing the whistle, he or she should make a further complaint under this whistleblowing procedure directly to the Academy Finance and Services Director.

9.3        An employee has the right to complain of victimisation as a result of any whistleblowing to an employment tribunal.

9.4        Any employee who victimises a whistleblower could:

10.        Recording and monitoring complaints

10.1        Lordswood Academies Trust is legally required to maintain a list of concerns raised by employees made under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.  Inclusion in this list does not amount to acceptance that the communication amounts to a Protected Disclosure and any subsequent decision that the matter falls outside the Act will be added to the record on the list.

10.2        The Trust will also record all disclosures of serious wrongdoing made by members of the public.

10.3        The Trust will record details of all complaints made under this policy, anonymising the identity of the whistleblower and use this information for the purposes of identifying areas of concern, which may indicate further action is required, and where appropriate, share this information with other appropriate regulatory bodies.

10.5        Both lists are maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.  

10.6        A report on the number of concerns will be published annually. This report will not include any information identifying any whistleblower.


Schedule 1

The Nolan Principles of Conduct Underpinning Public Life

  1. Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

  1. Integrity – Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work.  They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.  They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

  1. Objectivity – Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

  1. Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

  1. Openness – Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner.  Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

  1. Honesty – Holders of public office should be truthful.

  1. Leadership – Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour.  They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Holders of public office are defined in law.  They include local government Councillors, school governors and clerks to school governing bodies.  They also include certain senior local government officers required to be appointed by law.

 


Schedule 2

List of other bodies a whistleblowing disclosure can be made to.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/360648/bis-14-1077-blowing-the-whistle-to-a-prescribed-person-the-prescribed-persons-list-4.pdf    

There is a Whistleblowing Advice Line for Professionals which is 0800 028 0285 and operates Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.

The Whistleblowing Advice Line offers free advice and support to professionals with concerns about how child protection issues are being handled in their own or another organisation.

If you think an organisation is putting children at risk, even if you're not certain, call the above line to talk through your concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

I have read the Whistleblowing Policy and understand the procedures I must follow should I have any concerns.

 

 

Member of Staff

Signed………………………………………………………..

Print Name…………………………………………………..

School: Lordswood Boys’ School / Lordswood Girls’ School & Sixth Form Centre (please delete as appropriate)

Date:………………………………

 

 

 

Please return this form, once completed, to Deborah Dodd, Academy HR Director via the school office