logo       Intimate Care


Just as no teacher can be expected or instructed to administer any medicine to a child (see separate factsheet), no teacher can be expected to deal with soiling, clean or wash children, or apply lotions, ointments, etc.    " Teacher" includes Headteachers.  Any such contact with a child in this day and age can lead to allegations of inappropriate conduct.   Where a child needs intimate care, schools need a clear policy which protects all staff.   Intimate care is not part of a (Head)teachers' job responsibility.

DfES "Guidance for Safe Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People" (2007) advises:

Intimate Care: Some job responsibilities necessitate physical contact with children on a regular basis, for example assisting young children with toileting, providing intimate care for children with disabilities or in the provision of medical care.  The nature, circumstances and context of such contact should comply with professional codes of practice or guidance and/or be part of a formally agreed plan, which is regularly reviewed.  The additional vulnerabilities that may arise from a physical or learning disability should be taken into account.  All children have a right to safety, privacy and dignity when contact of a physical or intimate nature is required and should be encouraged to act as independently as possible.  The views and/or emotional responses of the child should be actively sought, regardless of age and ability, when drawing up and reviewing formal arrangements. As with all individual arrangements for intimate care needs, agreements between the child, parents/carers and the organisation must be negotiated and recorded.

      This means that adults should:

  1. adhere to the organisation’s intimate care guidelines or code of practice
  2. make other staff aware of the task being undertaken
  3. explain to the child what is happening
  4. consult with colleagues where any variation from agreed procedure/care plan is necessary
  5. record the justification for any variations to the agreed procedure/care plan and share this information with parents

The Government expects schools to have a policy on intimate care which should be part of the induction of new staff.  The DfES publication: " Children: Safer Recruitment and Selection in Education Settings" stipulates: "There should be an induction programme for all staff and volunteers newly appointed in an establishment, including teaching staff, regardless of previous experience." and says that:"The content and nature of the induction process will vary according to the role and previous experience of the new member of staff or volunteer, but as far as safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is concerned the induction programme should include information about, and written statements of

:- policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding and promoting welfare e.g. child protection, anti bullying, anti racism, physical intervention/restraint, intimate care, internet safety and any local child protection/safeguarding procedures; .../..."

The NUT expects headteachers to ensure that appropriate and practical policies are in place to deal with all anticipated cases requiring intimate care, where appropriately trained support staff are on hand to enable the teacher to continue with the teaching while the incident is handled appropriately and in accordance with the duty of care to all members of the school community.

If a child requires actual intimate personal help with (un)dressing, toileting, etc. then the school should draw up a Personal Care Plan, with advice and support from the Local Authority, parent or guardian, and medical services (school nurse, family doctor, paediatrician).   The plan should have regard to any hazards posed by the plan, and a risk assessment may be necessary.

The PCP should make it clear that it is primarily the parents' responsibility to deal with any incidents involving intimate care and set out an agreed procedure to deal with anticipated incidents, such as soiling during lesson time or playtime, or the need to be helped dress/undress for swimming, etc.   Where possible, arrangements should be made to ensure that the parent, or an agreed authorised relative or carer, can be on call to deal with incidents quickly, while preserving the child's dignity and self-respect.   The plan should not involve the teacher in the provision of any intimate care.   The plan should be drawn up in consultation with the parent, class teacher / support staff and, where feasible, the child.   Parents should be in no doubt as to where the responsibility lies and what steps the school will take if there is an incident.   In extreme cases and where there is no parental cooperation, the Governors should approach the Admissions Officer with a view to seeking a more suitable placement for the child or greater resources.

The NUT believes that it is wise for the school not to undertake to cater for intimate personal care, unless they have employed suitably trained and qualified support staff, either as staff dedicated to the child with such special non-educational needs, or as a TA or other support worker who has appropriate training and qualifications, who can be "on call" if required.  Suffolk NUT believes that such staff should have either nursing qualifications or at least a Level 2 NVQ in Health and Social Care which includes units on the specific needs, such as:

Agreed procedures need to be in place to summon trained assistance without delay, without drawing attention to the incident, and having regard to the health and safety of other pupils and adults.   Appropriate training and resources must be available to all staff concerning safe practice and hygiene when dealing with bodily fluids and other bio-hazards.

For out-of-school visits, it would normally be wise for the school to insist that a parent accompanies the child with intimate care needs and attends to those needs throughout the visit.

Members concerned about their school policy on Intimate Care, or its implementation, should contact your local secretary or the Division Secretary.

Advice published by Suffolk NUT

September 2007