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CAT Preschools Limited

a subsidiary of Chulmleigh Academy Trust

Whistle Blowing Policy

Statement of Intent

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 was enacted to ensure a climate of greater frankness between employers and workers so that irregularities can be identified and addressed quickly and to strengthen employment rights by protecting responsible workers who blow the whistle about wrongdoing or failures in the workplace. The policy set out in this document applies those statutory provisions to the administration of the Preschool.

Employees are often the first to realise that something seriously wrong may be happening within the Preschool. However, they may not express their concerns either because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to the Directors or because they fear harassment or victimisation. In these circumstances, it may be easier to ignore the concern than to report what may just be a suspicion of malpractice.

The Preschool is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability.  In line with that commitment it encourages employees and others with serious concerns about any aspect of the Preschool’s work to come forward and voice those concerns. It recognises that certain cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis. This policy makes it clear that staff / directors can do so without fear of reprisals and is intended to encourage and enable staff / directors to raise serious concerns within the Preschool rather than overlooking a problem or publicly disclosing the matter.

The Preschool recognises that an employee may wish to seek advice with a trade union.

Aims

  • ·provide avenues for you to raise concerns and receive feedback on any action taken
  • allow you to take the matter further if you are dissatisfied with the Preschool’s response

This policy covers concerns that fall outside the scope of other procedures.  It is not intended as recourse against financial or business decisions made by the Preschool or its Directors.  Nor is it an alternative to well-established disciplinary or grievance procedures.  It may however overlap with other Preschool policies for dealing with complaints.

Concerns raised under this Whistle Blowing Policy should be about something that is or may be

  • unlawful or a criminal offence; or
  • a breach of a legal obligation; or
  • a miscarriage of justice; or
  • mistreatment or abuse of a client or a member of the public for whom the Preschool has a responsibility; or
  • in disregard of legislation governing health and safety at work; or
  • seeking undue favour over a contractual matter or a job application;
  • against the Preschool’s Financial Regulations;  
  • amounts to improper conduct or unauthorised use of Preschool funds;
  • has led to or could lead to damage to the environment; or
  • deliberately covers up information tending to show any of the above.

Harassment or Victimisation

The Preschool recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those responsible for the malpractice. The Preschool will take action to protect you when you raise a concern in good faith. It will not tolerate any resulting harassment or victimisation (including informal or indirect pressures) and will treat this as a serious disciplinary offence which will be dealt with under the appropriate procedures.

Any investigation into an allegation of malpractice will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures which already affect you.

Confidentiality

All concerns will be treated in confidence and the Preschool will do its best to protect your identity if you do not want your name to be disclosed. If investigation of a concern discloses a situation which is sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action or police involvement then your evidence may be important.  Your name will not however be released as a possible witness until the reasons for its disclosure at this stage have been fully discussed with you.

Anonymous Allegations

This policy encourages you to put your name to your allegation. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful but they will be considered at the discretion of the Committee against the following criteria.

  • the seriousness of the issues raised
  • the likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources
  • the Preschool’s best interests

You should also bear in mind that if you do choose to raise a concern anonymously it will be more difficult for the matter to be investigated and for you to be provided with feedback.

Untrue Allegations

If you make an allegation in good faith but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no reprisals will be taken against you. If, however, you make malicious or vexatious allegations, disciplinary action may be taken against you.

How to raise A Concern

As a first step, you should normally raise concerns with your immediate manager or his /her superior. For Preschool staff, a concern should be raised with either the Early Years Leader, Early Years Manager or CAT Preschools Directors.   These people will then liaise to ensure that the concern is properly investigated and that any such investigation is properly monitored.  Alternatively, if your complaint is that something seriously wrong is occurring as a result of the conduct of the Early Years Leader, Early Years Manager or CAT Preschools Directors, you may prefer to approach the Pre-school Learning Alliance.  

Concerns can be raised orally but it is good practice for the concern to be recorded in writing at an early stage to ensure that all the details are correctly understood. A written allegation should set out the background and history of the concern (giving names, dates and places where possible) and the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation.   It is preferable for you to record this in writing yourself.  However, where the person to whom you voice your concerns writes these down, a copy will be sent to your home address or via your representative to give you an opportunity to agree this as a correct record.

The earlier you express the concern, the easier it is to take action.

Although you are not expected to prove the truth of an allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.

You may of course wish to seek advice from your Trade Union representative on how best to raise your concern.  Where you wish to raise your concern anonymously this may be done through your trade union.

How the Preschool will respond

The action taken by the Preschool will depend on the nature of the concern. After initial enquiries to assess the seriousness of the matter it may be investigated internally (employing specific procedures where these are applicable – for example in child protection or discrimination issues), the police or social services.

If urgent action is required in response to a concern this may well be taken before a full investigation is conducted.

Some concerns may be resolved by action agreed with you without the need for investigation or it may be that an investigation can be completed without the person or persons under investigation being aware of the process.

In any event within ten working days of a concern being received, the Preschool will write to you at your home address:

  • acknowledging that the concern has been received
  • indicating how it proposes to deal with the matter
  • giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response
  • telling you whether any initial enquiries have been made, and
  • telling you whether further investigations will take place, and if not, why not
  • naming an independent officer to support you during any investigation

This named support officer will make contact with you as soon as possible, explain his/her role, deal with all confidentiality issues, agree frequency of contact and keep you informed about the progress of the investigation and the investigating officer(s) informed of any further issues you think are necessary.  You should raise with this support officer any concerns you have about the conduct of the investigation.  This officer will take appropriate steps to support you in the workplace and at any criminal or disciplinary proceedings which may eventually result from your concern and at which you are asked to give evidence.

If you wish to retain your anonymity you will need to nominate a representative to whom correspondence may be directed in order to keep you informed.

The amount of contact between investigating officers and you will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information will be sought from you.

When any meeting is arranged, you have the right, if you so wish, to be accompanied by a Union or professional association representative or a friend (who need not be associated with the Preschool).

The Preschool accepts that you need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, you will receive information about the outcome of any investigations and/or proceedings.

Detriment

The Preschool is committed to ensuring that an employee who makes an allegation in good faith suffers no detriment from doing so.

How the matter can be taken further

This policy is intended to provide you with a way to raise concerns within the Preschool. The Preschool hopes you will be satisfied by its response. If you are not you may wish to raise the matter with the CAT Preschools Directors,.signed on behalf of CAT Preschools Limited.