Christ Church Grammar School is committed to providing a child-safe environment which safeguards all students and is committed to promoting practices which provides for the safety, wellbeing and welfare of our children and young people. Christ Church Grammar School expects all school community members including staff, practicum students, volunteers, students, visitors and contractors to share this commitment.
School staff are in a unique position of responsibility and authority and must make every effort to make sure that our school provides a child safe environment. Teachers in particular are of primary importance when it comes to detecting abuse and preventing abuse from occurring.
This Code of Conduct is intended to be made available to the School’s staff at the commencement of their employment and it is to be available and/or provided to staff during the course of their employment or involvement with the School. The Code forms comprehensive directions to these employees or other workers as to the expected standard of behaviour. This Code is intended to apply to all employees, practicum students, contractors and volunteers in their work with the School.
The aim of this Code is to outline the standards of behaviour expected of all employees of the School.
This Code does not attempt to provide a rigid, detailed and exhaustive list of what to do in every aspect of your work. Instead, it sets out general expectations of the standards of behaviour required and gives some examples of the types of behaviour that are or are not acceptable.
If a certain behavior or activity is not specifically prohibited by the School, it does not follow that it is ethical or will not lead to disciplinary action by the School or Teacher Registration Board Western Australia (TRBWA), or indeed to criminal prosecution.
The Code places an obligation on all employees to take responsibility for their own conduct and to work with colleagues cooperatively to achieve a consultative and collaborative workplace where children are safe and people are happy and proud to work.
The school explicitly forbids child abuse, corporal and degrading punishment.
Child abuse as defined in the Guide to the Registration Standards and Other Requirements for Non-Government Schools (‘Guide’) :
Four forms of child abuse are covered by WA law and defined by the Department of Communities.
- Physical abuse occurs when a child is severely and/or persistently hurt or injured by an adult or caregiver.
- Sexual abuse occurs when a child is exposed to, or involved in, sexual activity that is inappropriate to the child’s age and developmental level, and includes sexual behaviour in circumstances where:
- the child is the subject of bribery, coercion, a threat, exploitation or violence;
- the child has less power than another person involved in the behaviour, or
- there is a significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity of the child and another person involved in the behaviour.
- Emotional abuse includes:
- psychological abuse; and
- being exposed to an act of family and domestic violence.
- Neglect is when children do not receive adequate food or shelter, medical treatment, supervision, care or nurturance to such an extent that their development is damaged or they are injured. Neglect may be acute, episodic or chronic.
Corporal punishment, as defined in the ‘Guide’ is ‘any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light; typically involving hitting the child with the hand or with an implement; can also include, for example, forcing the child to stay in an uncomfortable position. It does not include the use of reasonable physical restraint to protect the child or others from harm.
Degrading punishment, as defined in the ‘Guide’ is ‘any punishment which is incompatible with respect for human dignity, including corporal punishment and non-physical punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child.
4. Who has to comply with the Code of Conduct?
All employees of the school must comply with this Code. Practicum students, volunteers, visitors and contractors are also expected to comply with this Code.
Staff, practicum students, visitors, volunteers and contractors will be held accountable for breaches of the Code.
For teachers, this document must be read in conjunction with the TRBWA’s Teacher-Student Professional Boundaries – A Resource for WA teachers.
How to comply
5. Principles of the Code of Behaviour
This Code of Conduct will not only help in making our school a safer environment for children, it will also reduce the risk that staff will be unjustly accused of unprofessional or abusive conduct.
As the school has a duty of care to its students, the expectation and understanding is that all staff and students will act in the best interests of the students and that the welfare and safety of students will be of paramount concern. All interactions therefore should be transparent and meet the principles of the Code of Conduct.
This Code of Conduct is intended to provide staff and community members with guidance as to the expected behaviours of all staff, practicum students, visitors, volunteers and contractors engaged by Christ Church Grammar School.
Staff are expected to behave in a manner which promotes the safeguarding role of the school, in a manner which is in accord with school expectations, professional expectations and best practice of the teaching profession, as well as the expected norms of our community. You must be fully aware that your actions will be subject to appropriate scrutiny by other staff and by the community and you must be prepared to give an account of your behaviours to leadership when requested.
Any staff member who is unsure about appropriate boundaries in a particular circumstance or must act contrary to either specific or implied boundaries, must consult as early as possible with their line manager to discuss the possible breaches. If a breach inadvertently occurs the staff member must bring it to the attention of senior management immediately.
Staff are responsible for their own actions and should avoid any conduct which might be construed by a reasonable person as inappropriate.
Nothing in this Code should be taken to limit the circumstances in which the school may take disciplinary action in respect of an employee.
This Code is not intended to be contractual in nature and does not impose any contractual obligations on the School. The School reserves the right at its sole discretion to vary or cancel this Code at any time.
6. What happens if I breach the Code of Conduct?
As a School employee, you hold a position of trust and are accountable for your actions.
All alleged breaches of the Staff Code of Conduct will be subject to scrutiny and if substantiated staff may be warned, suspended or have employment terminated. If the breach is considered to be grooming, the school is obliged to report this to the Director General of the Department of Education as a critical incident, via the appropriate notification form. Any potentially illegal activity will be reported to the Police and appropriate actions will be taken by the senior management.
6.1 The consequences of inappropriate behaviour and ‘breaches’ of this Code will depend on the nature of the breach.
6.2 Employees are required to report all objectively observable behaviour, that is not permitted by the Code, other than those subject to mandatory reporting obligations, to the Principal, a designated senior staff member or the chair of the school’s governing body. NB: If the prohibited behaviour is by the Principal then it should be reported to the Chair of Council.
6.3 Factors the School may consider when deciding what action to take in response to the breach may include:
- the seriousness of the breach, including possible risk to others;
- the likelihood of the breach occurring again;
- whether the employee has committed the breach more than once;
- the risk the breach poses to employees, students or any others; and whether the breach would be serious enough to warrant formal disciplinary action.
6.4 Actions that may be taken by the School in respect of a breach of the Code include management or remedial action, training or disciplinary action ranging from a warning to termination of employment. The School reserves the right to determine in its entirety the response to any breach of this Code. However, please note that the circumstances where a formal warning is issued to a staff member or their employment is ceased, as a result of a breach that is suspected to have involved grooming behaviour, are required to be notified to the Director General of the Department of Education, as a critical incident, and the TRBWA (for teachers).
Principle 1: Employee expectations
7.1.1 As an employee, you should be familiar with the School’s policies and procedures, know where you can access them for checking purposes and be able and willing to comply with the school’s policies and procedures, particularly those that apply to your work. Many of these are available online here; others may be made available to you through orientation and professional development programs.
7.1.2 If you are uncertain about the scope or content of a policy with which you must comply, or any legal obligations to which you are subject to, you should seek clarification from your line manager, Head of Department, Head of the Preparatory School or member of Executive.
7.1.3 You should also be familiar with the legislation under which you are employed as this may specify requirements with which you need to comply.
7.1.4 As a School employee, you are expected to:
- perform your duties to the best of your ability and be accountable for your performance;
- follow reasonable instructions given by your line manager or their delegate;
- comply with lawful directions;
- carry out your duties in a professional, competent and conscientious manner, while seeking suitable opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills, including through participation in relevant professional development;
- act honestly and in good faith in fulfilling your duties;
- be respectful, courteous and responsive in dealing with your colleagues, students, parents and members of the public;
- work collaboratively with your colleagues and to be regularly available during your ‘Duties Other Than Teaching (DOTT)’ time to your colleagues so such collaboration may occur; and
- ensure that your conduct, whether during or outside working hours, is consistent with the ethos of the school and does not damage the reputation of the School;
- dress in a professional manner that is appropriate for your role and in accordance with the school’s Dress code for staff.
How to comply
In the event the prohibited behaviour is by the Principal, you should direct your concerns to the Chair of Council.
You should refer to the School’s Child Safety and Wellbeing policy for further information about these obligations.
Principle 2: Good teaching practice
As a professional teacher it is expected that you will provide quality teaching appropriate for your students, cater to the diversity of learners in your care and making every effort to help all students equally so they have every chance of succeeding.
Good teaching also means you will work closely with your colleagues and the carers of your students and respond appropriately and promptly to any concerns they have.
How to Comply
Principle 3: Respect for people
Staff should understand their responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of students and other staff.
The School expects employees to treat each other with respect and courtesy. Our daily interaction with others reflects on the school’s reputation. Therefore, all employees are expected to be approachable, respectful, courteous and prompt in dealing with other people, including students, parents, other employees and members of the community.
Employees who work with students have a special responsibility in presenting themselves as appropriate role models for those students. Modelling effective leadership and respect in your interactions with students can have a profoundly positive influence on a student’s personal and social development.
The School takes reports of unlawful discrimination and harassment or bullying seriously and will consider action it considers appropriate if such conduct is found to have occurred including disciplining or dismissing offenders. Many incidents can be addressed effectively if reported early.
How to comply
Principle 4: Duty of care and work health and safety
As a school employee, you have a duty of care to students in your charge to take all reasonable steps to protect them from risks of harm that can be reasonably predicted.
The duty encompasses a wide range of matters, including (but not limited to):
- the provision of adequate supervision
- ensuring grounds, premises and equipment are safe for students’ use
- implementing strategies to prevent bullying from occurring in the school, and
- providing medical assistance (if competent to do so), or seeking assistance from a medically trained person to aid a student who is injured or becomes sick at school.
Duty of care and supervision
As an employee of the school, you have a duty of care to students in your charge. That duty is to take all reasonable steps to protect students from risks of harm that can be reasonably predicted. For example, preventative measures should be taken against risks from known hazards and from foreseeable risk situations. The standard of care that is required, such as the degree of supervision, needs to be commensurate with the students’ maturity and ability.
Duty of care to students applies during all activities and functions conducted or arranged by the School. The risks associated with any activity need to be assessed and managed before the activity is undertaken.
Occupational health and safety
You also have a responsibility under occupational safety and health legislation to take care of your own health and safety at work. It is also your responsibility to ensure that your activities do not place your own safety at risk and that of your co-workers, students or other persons that you may come into contact with at work.
Considerations of safety relates to both physical and psychological well-being of individuals.
You should ensure that you are aware of and comply with the School’s Safety and Health policies.
How to comply
Duty of care and supervision
Occupational Health and Safety
Principle 5: Maintain professional relationships between employees and students
Professional boundaries are invisible structures imposed by legal, ethical and professional bodies that determine the limits of a relationship between the Christ Church Grammar School staff member, the student and family. Professional boundaries are demonstrated in the following ways:
- Clearly established limits that allow for safe connections between staff members and students;
- A clear understanding of the limits and responsibilities of the teacher’s role; and
- Being friendly, not friends
Professional boundaries protect the space between the staff member’s power and the child’s vulnerability.
Teachers need to treat their students with courtesy and respect and provide an environment that encourages their students to do the same.
As a school employee, you are expected to always behave in ways that promote the safety, welfare and well-being of children and young people. You must actively seek to prevent harm to children and young people, and to support those who have been harmed.
While not all employees are required to manage and supervise students, it is important for all school employees to understand and observe the school’s child protection policies.
The detection and prevention of grooming behaviour is a vital consequence of complying with this principle.
The teacher-student relationship is not equal. You, as a teacher, are in a unique position of trust, care, authority and influence with their students which means there is always an inherent imbalance between teachers and students. Professional boundaries are breached when you, as a teacher, misuses the power imbalance in such a way that the student’s welfare is compromised. You must take responsibility for establishing and maintaining professional boundaries with students.
|How to comply
Supervision of students
Physical contact with students
Relationships with students
Principle 6: Appropriate use of electronic communication and social networking sites
The school provides electronic communication facilities for its students and employees for educational or administrative purposes. It monitors and views data stored or transmitted using the school’s facilities. By its nature, electronic communication is a fast and informal way of communicating. However, once a document or image has been sent there is no way to recall it and it exists forever.
How to comply
Principle 7: Use of alcohol, drugs and/or tobacco
Occupational Safety and Health is of fundamental importance to the school. Maintaining a safe work environment requires everyone’s continuous cooperation.
You are responsible for ensuring your capacity to perform your duties is not impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs and that the use of such substances does not put at risk you or any other person’s health and safety.
How to comply
Principle 8: Identifying and managing conflicts of interest
Private interests can, or have the potential to, influence a person’s capacity to perform their duties and in turn compromise their integrity and that of the school.
A conflict of interests can involve:
- pecuniary interests i.e. financial gain or loss or other material benefits;
- non-pecuniary interests i.e. favours, personal relationships and associations.
Conflict of interest also include:
- the interests of members of your immediate family or relatives (where these interests are known);
- the interests of your own business partners or associates, or those of your workplace; or
- the interests of your friends.
How to comply
Principle 9: Declaring gifts, benefits or bribes
As an employee, you may be offered a gift or benefit as an act of gratitude. There are some circumstances when to refuse a gift would be perceived as rude, insulting or hurtful. You are expected to exercise sound judgement when deciding whether to accept a gift or benefit.
Accepting gifts and other benefits has the potential to compromise your position by creating a sense of obligation and undermining your impartiality. It may also affect the reputation of the school and its staff. You must not create the impression that any person or organisation is influencing the school or the decisions or actions of any of its employees.
How to comply
Principle 10: Communication and protecting confidential information
You should be mindful of confidentiality when in discussions with parents. You cannot always give a guarantee of confidentiality especially if the matter under discussion is related to mandatory reporting.
School employees should maintain the confidentiality of school information (refer Confidential Information below).
School employees should be aware that there are strong legal requirements around the collection, release and privacy of information.
Before asking for information or disclosing information staff need to assure themselves that they are acting in a legal manner. If unsure you should discuss the matter with your line manager.
How to comply
Principle 11: Record keeping
All employees have a responsibility:
- to create and maintain full, accurate and honest records of their activities, decisions and other business transactions, and
- to capture or store records in the School’s record systems.
How to comply
Principle 12: Copyright and intellectual property
When creating material you need to ensure the intellectual property rights of others are not infringed and information is recorded about any third party copyright/other rights included in materials.
If you develop material whilst performing the duties for which you are employed with the School, the copyright in that material will belong to the School. This may apply even if the material was developed in your own time or at home.
How to comply
Appendix to this Code of Conduct
Understanding Grooming Behaviour
1. Child grooming has been described in a paper released by the Australian Institute of Criminology as follows:
Child grooming, a premeditated behaviour intended to secure the trust and cooperation of children prior to engaging in sexual conduct, is a process that commences with sexual predators choosing a location or target area likely to be attractive to children. A process of grooming then commences during which offenders take a particular interest in their child victim to make them feel special with the intention of gaining their trust. As trust is developed between the child victim and the offender, offenders then seek to desensitise child victims to sexual conduct by introducing asexual element into the relationship.
2. You must maintain professional boundaries and refrain from conduct which may be identified as grooming.
3. You should be able to identify unacceptable conduct in others and feel confident to report it to appropriate authorities if you observe it.
4. Understanding grooming behaviour
Grooming in a child protection context refers to deliberate actions undertaken to engage in sexual activity with a child. It differs from sexual abuse in that it is primarily a preparatory activity occurring before abuse occurs, but is continued during and after the abuse to ensure the safety of the groomer.
Grooming is a subtle, gradual, and escalating process of building trust with a child and those around the child, both children and adults, with the express purpose of the sexual gratification of the perpetrator, this generally involves engaging in sexual activity with the child. It is deliberate and purposeful and occurs both before and after the abuse. Abusers may groom children and supporting adults for weeks, months, or even years before any sexual abuse actually takes place. The grooming may occur in person, via cyber media and/or other forms of communication.
A committed offender will employ grooming behaviour from an early stage and because it is so subtle and gradual the child may not even be aware that the actual abuse when it occurs, is wrong or harmful. The grooming occurs with the child but also with those supporting networks around the child which might normally act as a deterrent or protective element. The perpetrator will invest significant energy and patience to minimise the risk of detection and exposure.
The groomer will employ manipulation, guilt, shame, bribery, coercion or exploit low self-esteem to psychologically manipulate the child. As a result, the child becomes increasingly dependent on the groomer and increasingly alienated from protective elements including possible sources to disclose to. This is a deliberate strategy employed to maintain the secrecy of the abuse and to ensure the silence of the child.
The groomer will exploit any vulnerabilities of the protective elements around the child, including parent and family circumstances and school systemic weaknesses. Groomers are very adept at identifying anomalies, boundary ambiguities and any lack of systemic awareness, and then using them to deflect attention from their own actions and intentions.
While distinguishing between appropriate intent and inappropriate intent is often difficult, particularly for a child, it is essential that schools have very clear expectations and boundaries around employee behaviours so that there can be rigorous accountability when dealing with staff.
Schools must work to improve their knowledge and understanding in this area so they are able to challenge existing practice, recognise unprofessional behaviour and build a shared understanding of what a safe school is.
Grooming behaviour with children may include, but is not limited to:
- Selecting and befriending a child and gaining his or her trust and then exploiting the child’s vulnerabilities.
- Testing a child’s boundaries through telling inappropriate jokes, roughhousing, backrubs, tickling, or
- Moving from non-sexual touching to “accidental” sexual touching. This typically happens during play so
the child may not even identify it as purposeful, inappropriate touching. It is often done slowly so the child
is gradually desensitised to the touch.
- Manipulating the child to not tell anyone about what is happening. The abuser may use a child’s fear,
embarrassment, or guilt about what has happened. Sometimes, the abuser uses bribery, threats, or coercion.
- Causing the child to feel responsible for the abuse. Children may not notice or may become confused as
the contact becomes increasingly intimate and sexual.
Grooming behaviour with adolescents may include additional strategies, such as:
- Identifying with the adolescent. The abuser may appear to be the only one who understands him/her.
- Displaying common interests in sports, music, movies, video games, television shows, etc.
- Recognising and filling the adolescent’s need for affection and attention.
- Giving gifts or special privileges to the adolescent.
- Allowing or encouraging the adolescent to break rules (e.g.; smoking, drinking, using drugs, viewing pornography).
- Communicating with the adolescent outside of the person’s role (e.g.; teacher or coach). This could include, for example, texting or emailing the teen without the parents’ knowledge.
In addition to grooming the child, the groomer will use deflection strategies to remain unchallenged. Some of these strategies may include where the perpetrator:
- promotes self and creates a reputation as caring, child-loving, competent, available, trustworthy, truthful
- raise doubts about the motives, mental health, reliability of the child or anyone else who might approach support services with allegations
- fosters dependency as someone the family can rely on
- positively represents the child to others so as to be perceived as someone who would never harm the child
Preventing or interrupting the grooming process:
Schools unfortunately provide a vast array of opportunities for groomers to enact the grooming process. Some abusers have a particular preference for children within particular age bands and some studies have shown that groomers will take child focused employment primarily to get access to a particular cohort of children.
Within a school context, holding all staff members accountable to the school Code of Conduct and challenging boundary crossings and violations is one of the most effective strategies to combating grooming behaviour.
By signing this Acknowledgement, I am agreeing to abide by the School’s Staff Code of Conduct and understand that breaches of the Staff Code of Conduct will be taken seriously and could result in the termination of my employment.
I __________________________________________________________ have read, understood and agree to comply with the terms of the School’s Staff Code of Conduct.
________________________________ Employee Signature