Safeguarding and Child Protection:

School Policy:

This webpage contains a summary of key information about safeguarding and child protection at Valley Gardens Middle School, but if you wish to view the full policy, please download a copy from the following link:
(Further information on our remote learning protocols and remote safeguarding can be found on the COVID 19 – remote learning page:

Information for Visitors:

If you are intending to visit our school please feel free to download our visitor guide that contains key information that will help you safely enjoy your visit.  NB – Educational visitors who are planning to work with our children will be required to complete a safeguarding form and this should be completed with the member of staff responsible for your visit:

Signposting for parents:

North Tyneside and its partners offer many ways to support children and young people’s mental health. Please find a downloadable PDF with suggestions of approved services below.  Staff are happy to recommend which services will be most appropriate for your child:

The safer schools App:

Valley Gardens can offer parent/carers access to the ‘Safer Schools App’ which offers information on safeguarding, sends useful alerts and provides support sections for reference on various issues affecting young people and communities today.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding refers to the process of protecting children (and adults) in order to provide safe and effective care. This includes all procedures designed to prevent harm to a child.

Staff at Valley Gardens are proactive at protecting all young people. We ensure our premises are secure, safe and suitable for our pupils at all times.  Whether that is through ensuring all parent/carers and visitors are fully briefed on our key policies and follow safeguarding procedures when they visit; performing risk assessments for any activities or events; or keeping up-to-date with the latest training; we put safeguarding at the heart of what we do.

We train staff at our school to look out for any possible signs of abuse and to be actively aware of any issues that might be affecting our young people.  If staff spot any signs of abuse, whether that be neglect, physical, emotional or sexual – they are trained to respond professionally and put the required support in place to protect that young person.  Zero tolerance on bullying, prejudice and peer-on-peer abuse is complimented by our PSHE program which makes sure that all staff and pupils are aware of the standards and values we encourage of kindness, resilience and respect.

The school has a number of ways in which we can offer to support our young people, and alongside our robust pastoral system and learning mentor, we also have a school counselling service and have begun to make use of the Thrive approach. We also work with a number of external agencies such as Barnardo’s, Kooth and the Local Authority to give the best quality of care that we can. Our staff are always happy to meet with parent/carers and discuss what we can do to best support your child, including signposting you to any available services.

Our Governing Body also play an active role in ensuring the school maintains the highest standards of safeguarding.  Policies are regularly updated and there is a designated Safeguarding Governor who plays a key role in ensuring the school meets all of its legal requirements.

Our safeguarding team

Whilst safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and all our staff are trained to respond to any concerns, we also have a dedicated team in school that make safeguarding a particular priority.

From left to right (Mr M Hope, Miss S Wilson, Mr J Roys, Mr P McIntosh, Mrs K Ferguson and Mr N Wallbank)

Our Designated Safeguarding Lead is our Deputy Head, Mr M Hope.

You can contact him with any safeguarding concerns at:

Each of our Heads of Year are also Deputy Safeguarding Leads and trained to the highest possible standards. Parent/carers should consider contacting their child’s Head of Year if they have any concerns and can be confident that any issues will be dealt with in a safe and professional manner.:

  • Mr Roys – Year 5
  • Mr McIntosh – Year 6
  • Mrs Ferguson – Year 7
  • Mr Wallbank – Year 8

The school also believes it is important to ensure our must vulnerable pupils have the highest standard of safeguarding and so our SENCO Mrs Wilson is also trained as a Deputy Safeguarding Lead.

What to do if you have a concern:

Please report any concerns you have to the named individuals above.  Alternatively you can contact the North Tyneside MASH (Multi Agency Support Hub) via Front door.  Front door is the portal to all North Tyneside Children’s services and an operator will talk you through your concern and ensure that the correct procedures are followed.

Front Door: 0345 2000 109

Out of Hours:  0330 333 7475 (evenings and weekends)

If you have any concerns about a member of staff at the school, you can contact either the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the Headteacher, the Chair of Governors. Alternatively, using Front Door you can contact the LADO (Local Area Designated Officer) who will look into your concern and put immediate action into place.

If you believe a child is at risk of immediate harm or abuse, you should contact 999 emergency services and report your concern to the police.

School Counselling Service (someone cares):

The school employees through our partnership with @someonecares – a counsellor to work with vulnerable young people who may require additional support.  Our counsellor usually offers a seven week to eight week program of hourly sessions completed in school in a safe and secure environment.

Spaces in our counselling program are reserved via teacher referral and places are offered as they become available.   For those that require it, the counselling can help to address issues such as bereavement and grief, self-harm, severe anxiety and anger management.  Counselling may not be required or suitable for all our young people, but if a parent/carer or teacher becomes particularly concerned about a child, we can use it in conjunction with our pastoral systems to support them.

Consent to be involved from the child is extremely important to the process and due to the age of our pupils, we also require parental consent, which can be obtained by completing a consent form. Counselling is confidential and only information that the child wishes to be shared with adults will be passed along – except in the case of any identified safeguarding or child protection concerns that need to be resolved.

If your child is offered counselling you will be asked to complete a consent form like the one below

Yvonne Ramsden

Yvonne is our current school counsellor.  She has experience of working with young people between the ages of 5-17 on a range of complex issues:

“My intention as a counsellor is to place the client at the centre of my practice, offering an empathic therapeutic environment, which facilitates a space to explore worry and anxiety in a person-centred way.  My approach is not a ‘one size fits all’ and will be adaptive to the client needs and their personality, which enables us to work together in a manner that works and empowers the individual.  With this in mind, my practice can incorporate creative ideas of working, which can be positively beneficial in engaging children and young people, alongside this, implementation of other approaches such as brief solution focused therapy and development of healthy coping strategies.”

For those who are working with Yvonne and wish to discuss any concerns, she can be contacted via:

School Counselling – Whitley Bay High Outreach

Through our partnership with Whitley Bay High – the school also has access to an outreach counsellor who attends our school on Thursday morning to support a number of our vulnerable young people.

Our current outreach counsellor is Lydia Brooks and clinical supervision is provided by Kirsty Hutchinson at the high school.  Information on data sharing and consent can be found here:

Operation Encompass & Prevent:

Valley Gardens Middle School works closely in partnership with our partners in Northumbria Police to support young people in the region. Operation Encompass is a unique Police and Education early intervention safeguarding partnership which supports children and young people exposed to domestic abuse.

Operation Encompass is the reporting to schools before the start of the next school day when a child or young person has been involved or exposed to a domestic abuse incident the previous evening. The information is given in strict confidence to a school’s Key Adult to enable support to be given dependent on the needs and wishes of the child.

The school also works hard to safeguard children from extremism and radicalisation by engaging with the national Prevent strategy and promoting the values of tolerance and respect through our curriculum.

We also work closely with our Neighbourhood Police officer; PC Mark Davies who helps support our local community.

Digital/Online Safety

At Valley Gardens Middle School we take online safety extremely seriously.  Below you can find our recommended approach to staying up-to-date with digital safety:

The first problem many parent/carers often highlight with digital safety is the bewildering array of apps and games online, many of which parents may be unfamiliar with, making it hard to determine what the dangers are.  Without a full understanding of a mobile app or online platform – it can be difficult to work out if if actually presents a risk for your child.  Whether an app or game is safe for children is also context dependent and it can also vary based on your child’s level of maturity and responsibility.
The NSPCC in concert with o2 have very useful website called net-aware that allows you to search for an app or game and it will provide you with information about the app and any associated dangers.  You can then make an informed decision of whether or not that app or game is appropriate for your child. The website also contains useful information about general online safety.
The NSPCC also provide a guide to parents on a variety of safeguarding topics, including how to have conversations about online safety, what to do if your child has been exposed to inappropriate or adult material online and who to contact for help if needed.
The websites highlighted above are really useful for supporting your child, but even if you are tech-savvy it can be difficult to stay on top of emerging risks.  If you want to stay on top of all the emerging trends then you can follow the Ineqe Safeguarding groups blog, where they post safeguarding alerts on a regular basis as new threats are found.  You can subscribe for email alerts and they’ll let you know when there is an issue.  Information is presented in a non-sensational, and factual manner allowing you to make informed choices about the dangers and risks presented by any emerging threats.  Much of this information can also be accessed by the safer schools app – we recommend parent/carers consider installing this.

Further information:

Keeping Children Safe: Government advice updated yearly with guidance for schools.

NSPCC – The largest children’s charity in the UK. Their website contains advice on safeguarding and useful information:

North Tyneside Child Protection Hub:  A website bringing together local practice and information about services for those in North Tyneside.

Barnardo’s “See, Hear, Respond” offers help to children and families affected by the Coronavirus:

The following organisations offer information and support on mental health and wellbeing: