Modern Slavery Statement 2022-23
This statement is made on behalf of the Bridge Academy Multi-Academy Trust (company number 07663795) pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes our slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year 1 September 2022 – 31 August 2023.
Bridge Academy Trust recognises that it has a responsibility to take a robust approach to slavery and human trafficking. The Trust is committed to preventing slavery and human trafficking within its activities and to ensuring that its supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.
This statement sets out the Trusts actions to understand all potential modern slavery risks related to its business and to put in place steps that are aimed at ensuring that there is no slavery or human trafficking in its business and supply chains.
Structure, business and supply chains.
Bridge Academy Trust is a multi-academy trust (MAT). Our 11 schools can be found on our website.
Our suppliers are UK based and key supply areas cover catering, maintenance/repairs, agency staff and cleaning.
We work to high professional standards and comply with all laws, regulations and rules relevant to our business. We expect the same high standards from those we work with and are committed to ensuring that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains or in any part of our business. We act ethically and with integrity in all of our charitable and business relations.
Policies, documentation and key relationships
The following key policies and documents detail our approach to protecting our pupils and staff from modern slavery and ensuring our supply chains are free from modern slavery.
Child Protection and Safeguarding Policies;
Procurement and Contracts Policy;
Safer Recruitment Policy;
Single Central Record (SCR) and Personnel Files;
Staff Code of Conduct;
Supplier terms and conditions.
Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure.
In addition, we work closely with the National Joint Council (NJC) to help reduce risk by improving employee working and pay practices.
Our Audit & Risk Committee has overall oversight of the process and practices within Bridge Academy Trust to reduce Modern Slavery and in ensuring our supply chains, which rely on people, can demonstrate adherence with local and national laws and regulations, including paying the minimum wage. The members of the Committee work together with the Personnel Committee and Board of Trustees as appropriate on these areas.
Identifying and Addressing Risks
There are two main avenues of risk through which modern slavery could impact Bridge Academy Trust. The first is through matters of a safeguarding nature which covers child sex exploitation or human trafficking which can directly impact our pupils. This also potentially affects the staff of our contractors. The second is our supply chain and the vendors we contract.
Bridge Academy Trust’s procurement regulations set out the requirements we have in relation to our engagement with suppliers. Our suppliers are expected to comply with all local and national laws and regulations. This includes paying their staff the minimum wage, and any on-site staff passing a DBS check. We publish our standard terms and conditions to ensure providers looking to contract with us are aware of our standards. Should suppliers fail to meet our minimum requirements, or be unwilling to make any changes, we may cease to trade with them.
Procurement is subject to internal audit review, as well as assessed by our external auditors annually. Frameworks via public sector buying organisations are being considered for all tenders and these meet the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 by default. In the event we opt not to use an existing framework all tenders go through the Board of Trustees at which point the modern slavery risk will be considered and incorporated into the tender evaluation criteria.
We have completed a desk-based audit of our key suppliers’ statements to reassure ourselves they continue to operate in accordance with the requirements of the act. No areas of risk were identified. We continue to ensure that we support staff in working with existing/new suppliers. With the use of thorough training and understanding of our processes embedded in our procurement practices to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking, and fully understand our duty as a Trust as prescribed in legislation namely in the form of e-learning. Safeguarding colleagues also cover modern slavery within their CPD programme.
Bridge Academy Trust takes safeguarding incredibly seriously in upholding our statutory duties and striving to safeguard staff and pupils through a culture of safeguarding in everything we do. The CEO and the People Strategy Co-Lead are responsible for overseeing safeguarding. There are Designated Safeguarding Leads in each school. Collectively these colleagues work together to implement policy and secure excellence in safeguarding practice across the Trust. These colleagues are incredibly experienced in this area and model excellent practice for all staff. Through their encouragement, each school proactively works with the Local Authority, the local safeguarding partnerships, the LADO and local stakeholders to combat safeguarding issues, including child sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Their good practice is shared, and the focus of safeguarding training always includes detailed training about early identification of those at risk of exploitation.
The quality and impact of our safeguarding practice is reviewed at every level of Trust governance. Safeguarding policy and practice is reviewed at each school annually during the Peer Review Day and a very detailed evaluation is provided to the Executive Leadership Team. In addition, the Chief Executive Officer meets regularly with the People Strategy Co-Lead responsible for Safeguarding.
Statutory safeguarding practices and impact on keeping children safe are formally reviewed and quality assured by the CEO, the Trusts People Strategy Co-Lead and the Governance Professional.
Safeguarding is a termly agenda item at both the full Board of Trustees meetings and Local Governing Committee meetings. We have a named Trustee with responsibility for Safeguarding. This Trustee is also the Vice-Chair of trustees. We also have a local named Governor at each school.
Our Bridge Academy Trust Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy is reviewed annually by the Executive Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees. It is fully complaint with all statutory requirements and guidance set out in Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE 2022).
Each of our schools Designated Safeguarding Lead is required to understand the local safeguarding context. This is included within the policy for each of our schools and published on each school's website.
Key performance indicators to measure effectiveness of steps being taken
All employees are trained on the policy (either in person or via e-learning) and is required to declare annually that they have read and understood the policy and their training.
Bridge Academy Trust has a Whistleblowing Policy which enables those with concerns about any wrongdoing or breaches of law, to raise these concerns in confidence without fear of disciplinary action.
Throughout the year the annual safeguarding training plan across the Trust includes a detailed focus upon on early identification of those at risk of exploitation and training to help all staff know what to do if they become aware of any potential risks. We are fully satisfied that through our robust safeguarding training, staff could identify and act appropriately for at risk pupils, staff and contractors.
We keep under close scrutiny and evaluation our safeguarding policy and practice. This enables us to refine and develop all that we do. In this Modern Slavery Statement for 2022/23 we recognise the impact of the pandemic is not to be underestimated as we continually enhance the knowledge of our staff to prevent slavery and human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Safeguarding awareness sessions for modern slavery (and trafficking) at school level are included within our staff safeguarding CPD plan.
We evaluate our processes for raising concerns to ensure that there are clearly identified ways to report concerns of whistleblowing or modern slavery which are available to all staff and visitors to any of our sites.
To date, no referrals have been made in relation to modern slavery or child sexual exploitation.
Mark Farmer, Accounting Officer for Bridge Academy Trust.
Approved by the Board of Trustees on 13 December 2022.