Gotoco Participant Code of Conduct, and Safeguarding Code of Conduct

Participant Code Of Conduct

General Participant Code of Conduct

As laid out in the Terms and Conditions, Gotoco expects all participants to adhere to the Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct requires all participants to demonstrate reasonable and sensible behaviour, covering, but not limited to:

  1. Observing the laws of the host country, including all academic and government disciplinary regulations of that country. If participants do not abide by the regulations, participants agree to abide by the appropriate disciplinary actions up to and including premature termination of the programme.
  2. Respecting all local customs and cultures, and ensuring that they remain culturally sensitive at all times, as explained in the Pre-Departure Information and Culture Shock documentation and in Gotoco’s FAQs.
  3. We operate a zero-tolerance stance towards racism, bullying or other discriminatory behaviour. The details of our stance on this subject and procedures for handling instances of bullying or discrimination are outlined in the ‘Bullying & Harassment Policy, which is available on request.
  4. Gotoco is against all forms of fraud and bribery, our anti-fraud and bribery policy is available on request
  5. Working as directed by the project leader, as agreed in the Terms and Conditions and in the programme information provided prior to departure and during on-site training, respecting all timings, dress-codes and procedures as much as reasonably possible.
  6. Maintaining a positive and friendly attitude, remaining approachable, and communicating effectively.
  7. Ensuring they have obtained all required health insurance and communicated it clearly to Gotoco prior to departure.
  8. Ensuring they have access to emergency information and follow the Risk Assessment guidelines at all times during their time abroad.
  9. Making sure they do not damage, purposefully or through negligent behaviour, any property or environments in the host country, including, but not limited to, accommodation, host project property and natural environment.
  10. Committing to completing their project in the host country as agreed upon signing the Terms and Conditions and prior to departure, unless in exceptional circumstances and following the Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures.

Participants are aware that there are inherent risks in travel and study in international settings. Gotoco has no special knowledge regarding unsafe conditions, health hazards, weather hazards, climate extremes or volatile political situations at locations to which you may travel. For information concerning potential risks to safety at the destinations you will travel, Gotoco recommends consulting the following three governmental sources:

  • Travel advisories of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office 
  • Travel Warnings Section of the U.S. State Department or on +1 (202) 647-5225
  • Travel advisories of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • For medical information, Gotoco recommends consulting the U.S. Centre for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or online at www.cdc.gov/travel.

General Guidance

  1. Seek feedback from your supervisors, accept suggestions for corrective changes in behaviour and attempt to improve performance during your placement
  2. During your placement, communicate appropriately, listen and ask questions in a culturally sensitive manner as explained by Gotoco during pre-departure and upon induction.
  3. Familiarise yourself with, and adhere to, relevant organisational structure and procedures
  4. During your placement, dress appropriately for work and adhere to company dress-code
  5. Be fair, considerate, trustworthy, and cooperative when dealing with co-workers
  6. Assert yourself and your ideas in an appropriate and tactful manner
  7. Keep an open mind; respect cultural differences and try to make informed judgments
  8. Seek to enhance your professional effectiveness by improving skills and acquiring new knowledge

Drugs & Alcohol Code of Conduct

  1. It is the responsibility of the Participant to exercise judgement when drinking and to ensure that they do not become intoxicated. If you do choose to consume alcohol while you are in your programme location, drink responsibly, and pay attention to your limits, as you may react differently than expected to the alcohol being served.
  2. All Participants must adhere to the laws of their programme location regarding drugs and drug use.

Professional Conduct During Your Placement Code of Conduct

  1. While you are on a placement, you are a representative of Gotoco, your university and your home country to your placement colleagues and host. During your placement you will be in a real working environment, and you are expected to behave professionally at all times.
  2. An placement is a valuable way of gaining new skills and experience, so it should be treated as a learning experience. 
  3. No harassment, abuse, or discourtesy to colleagues at your host company will be tolerated.
  4. Absences from work for 2 consecutive days require a Doctor’s Note. Gotoco staff are available 24/7 to assist with medical emergencies although they are not trained medical or translation professionals so cannot advise on any procedures.
  5. Your host company has the right to dismiss you from your placement. If this happens, Gotoco is not obligated to find you another placement and you may be asked to leave the programme accommodation.
  6. Gotoco Programme Managers are available to help with any problems you have at work, but you must maintain open communication with them to allow them to assist you. If a problem at work is not resolved, you should follow this up with your Programme Manager so that Gotoco is aware that the problem is ongoing. If you are abusive or discourteous to Gotoco staff members we reserve the right to eject you from the programme and accommodation.
  7. If you wish to change programmes you must contact the Gotoco manager and we will endeavour to seek alternative options for you. Your reasons for wishing to move companies must be genuine and reasonable.
  8. If the participant feels victimised or is made uncomfortable by a work-related incident, they should contact us immediately by phone, email or in person as per the contact details listed in their welcome package.
  9. The participant agrees to maintain confidentiality for placement work-related projects and personnel
  10. Any problems at the placement must be reported to Gotoco by phone, email or in person as per the contact details in the participants’ welcome package.
  11. It is generally illegal for the participant to receive any kind of payment from their host company during the placement programme. Any request for payment by the participant will be regarded as an breach of our code of conduct and may result in immediate termination of their programme
  12. Your feedback is important to us; it is the only way that we can maintain an excellent program. We therefore require that you fill out the feedback form provided at the end of your placement before deposits can be returned.

Apartment or University Accommodation Conduct

  1. The room shall be used solely as a private residence by the designated occupants
  2. The participant agrees to comply with all present and future laws, ordinances and regulations of any public authority relating to the use of the accommodation.
  3. The participant shall not make, permit, or allow any noisy or offensive use of the accommodation which might interfere with the enjoyment of others and in respect for neighbours in the building.
  4. The participant will not permit any hazardous act or use of the accommodation.
  5. The participant agrees to act respectfully and politely to fellow tenants in the shared accommodation.
  6. The participant agrees to keep communal areas clean and tidy and respect the privacy of other tenants.
  7. The participant agrees to pay in full for any deliberate or accidental damage to the accommodation or items in the accommodation provided by Gotoco or the host.
  8. The participant agrees to exercise common sense when using gas, water or electricity, in order to keep consumption to a sensible level. The participant will be charged extra for usage deemed excessive by the host.
  9. Theft will be dealt with by Gotoco in accordance with the local laws.
  10. Participants are not permitted to allow pets into the accommodation.
  11. The participant agrees to allow Gotoco’s staff full access to the apartment upon request. Gotoco agrees to give 24 hours notice before accessing the apartment, but shorter notice may be given in situations deemed to be particularly urgent or in case of emergency

Homestay Conduct

Please note: Acceptance to homestay is subject to the discretion of Gotoco upon consideration of a homestay application request, which must be completed by the participant.

  1. The participant should respect the culture and values of the host family
  2. The participant should make effort to interact with the host family on a daily basis and be proactive in attending appropriate family activities
  3. The participant should endeavour to participate in language exchange with the family
  4. The participant should contact Gotoco if problems arise between family members and work with Gotoco in trying to reach a reasonable, equitable solution for all concerned
  5. The participant should keep their bedroom and communal areas clean and tidy and assist with general chores as part of the family routine where appropriate
  6. The participant should always inform their host family if they plan to stay out in the evening or miss meals
  7. The participant may not use the landline telephone without permission from the host family
  8. The participant should restrict staying out late to the absolute minimum between Sunday and Thursday
  9. The participant is responsible for washing their own clothes
  10. The bedroom shall be used solely as a private residence. Occupancy shall be limited to one person
  11. No smoking is permitted without permission in the host family’s apartment

Employee And Participant Safeguarding Code Of Conduct

This Safeguarding Code of Conduct applies to all Gotoco programme staff irrespective of their role or contract type and any person or organisation working on our behalf, whether they be working in the UK or abroad.  Gotoco programme staff must read and agree to comply with the Code.  Local project teams around the world will be briefed on this Code of Conduct by Gotoco’s Leadership Team and be asked to demonstrate understanding and compliance.

Gotoco’ers are all responsible for:

  1. Reporting any safeguarding concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Coordinator. 
  2. Taking any concern seriously and informing the Designated Safeguarding Coordinator. 
  3. Remaining calm and to show support in any instance of disclosure by a child or vulnerable adult. Gotoco’er’s should be familiar with, and should follow, their training on how to respond in a situation where a child tries to tell them about abuse. 
  4. Uphold programme expectations as detailed in their ‘Gotoco’er Pledge’ and the ‘Participant Code of Conduct’. 

Mitigating Child Safeguarding Risks In Project Planning And Implementation

Risk Assessments need to be conducted by our local partners for all programming and activities involving children or those having a direct impact on children, these are supplemented by the overall Gotoco risk assessments. 

Where possible and practical, the “Two-Adult Rule,” wherein two or more adults supervise all activities where children are involved and are present at all times, should be followed.

Protecting Children, Vulnerable Adults And Gotoco Programme Staff

This code of conduct outlines the behaviour expected of Gotoco programme staff  who work in, visit or assist with projects involving enrolled student participant whether they be children, young people or vulnerable adults. It is based on best practice input from Safenetwork, the National Safeguarding Unit for the Third Sector, managed by the NSPCC. It should be used in conjunction with our ethical travel policy and other relevant documents.

We hope that by following this code you will understand and maintain the standard of behaviour expected of you, help to protect any children and vulnerable adults that we come into contact with from abuse and inappropriate behaviour, and reduce the possibility of unfounded allegations of abuse being made against you.

Working With Children And Vulnerable Adults

When working with children and vulnerable adults we are acting in a position of trust. Gotoco programme staff are likely to be seen as role models by enrolled student participants, and must act in an appropriate manner at all times. The following list provides a guide for what we consider to be important and appropriate.

  • follow the guidance provided by Gotoco and any procedures that local Project Leaders may have in place;
  • ensure your contact with children and vulnerable adults is only in direct pursuit of your role on the project;
  • avoid favouritism and treat all children and adults fairly and without prejudice or discrimination;
  • listen to and respect children and vulnerable adults at all times;
  • value and take children’s contributions seriously, actively involving children and young people in planning activities wherever possible;
  • ensure your language is appropriate to age and ability, and not offensive or discriminatory;
  • provide examples of good conduct you wish children and young people to follow;
  • respect a person’s right to personal privacy;
  • encourage young people and adults to feel comfortable enough to point out attitudes or behaviour they do not like;
  • recognise that special caution is required when you are discussing sensitive issues with children or young people;
  • seek advice from the local Manager on issues that require additional sensitivity locally;
  • always ensure equipment is used safely and for its intended purpose;
  • ensure that whenever possible there is more than one adult present during activities with children and vulnerable adults or, if this isn’t possible, that you are within sight or hearing of other adults;
  • be close to where others are working. If a child specifically asks for or needs some private time with you, inform the other staff so that they know where you and the child are;
  • some behaviours that are considered acceptable in the country you are visiting may not be acceptable in your home country and Gotoco. Seek advice from our local Manager if you are uncomfortable with something you have experienced while overseas. After discussion with the local Manager, challenge unacceptable behaviour and report allegations/suspicions of abuse to the local coordinator and the UK team;

Please report any breaches of this code of conduct promptly so that we can investigate.

Things To Avoid: In No Circumstances Must You Ever:

  • develop inappropriate relationships such as contact with children and vulnerable adults that is not a direct part of your role on the programme or agreed with the Programme Manager;
  • do things of a personal nature for a child or vulnerable adult that they can do for themselves;
  • administer any medication unless qualified and authorised by the Programme Manager to do so;
  • patronise or treat children and adults as if they are silly;
  • let children and vulnerable adults have your personal contact details (mobile number or address);
  • make sarcastic, insensitive, derogatory or sexually suggestive comments or gestures to or in front of children and adults;
  • act in a way that can be perceived as threatening or intrusive;
  • make inappropriate promises to children and young people, particularly in relation to confidentiality;
  • jump to conclusions about others without checking facts;
  • either exaggerate or trivialise abuse issues;
  • conduct a sexual relationship with a child or vulnerable adult or indulge in any form of sexual contact with a child or vulnerable adult. Any such behaviour between an adult member of Gotoco programme staff and a child or young person represents a serious breach of trust on the part of the Gotoco programme staff member and is not acceptable under any circumstances; we also caution against forming a relationship with any member of staff on the project.
  • allow allegations about abuse or misconduct to go unreported;
  • rely on your reputation or that of Gotoco to protect you.

Representatives Must Never:

  • act in ways that may be abusive or place children at risk of abuse;
  • hit, physically assault or physically abuse children or threaten to do so;
  • engage in behaviours that are physically inappropriate or sexually provocative;
  • engage in sexual activity or have a sexual relationship with anyone under the age of 18 years irrespective of the age of majority/consent or local custom
  • stay alone overnight with one or more children who are not part of their family, whether in their house, project premises or elsewhere;
  • have a child, who is not a part of their family, stay overnight at their home;
  • sleep in the same bed as a child or sleep in the same room as a child, who is not a part of their family;
  • invite children to stay overnight in a compound, hotel or other accommodations, domestically or internationally, with a non-relative Gotoco representative
  • exchange personal contact information or ask for children’s personal information;
  • develop relationships with children which could in any way be deemed exploitative or abusive;
  • use language, make suggestions or offer advice to Children which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive;
  • do things for children of a personal nature that they can do themselves (e.g., toileting, dressing, feeding, washing, etc.);
  • condone or participate in behaviour of children which is unsafe or illegal;
  • act in ways that shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse;
  • discriminate against, show unfair preferential or differential treatment towards particular children to the exclusion of others;
  • ask to meet children away from other adults or spend excessive time alone with children away from others in a manner which could be interpreted as inappropriate; and/or
  • expose children to inappropriate images, films, music and websites including mature content, indecent images (pornography) and violence.

This is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. Representatives must, at all times, avoid actions that could be construed to constitute poor practice or potentially abusive behaviour. Representatives must never place themselves in a position where they are made vulnerable to allegations of misconduct.

Special Note On Social Media And Child Safeguarding

As a representative of Gotoco, please be mindful when using your personal social media accounts. Remember, the Child Safeguarding Policy and Code of Conduct applies to your personal and professional lives, and all use of social media should be governed by the principles of respecting and protecting children. To ensure that children are safe and represented with dignity and care, the following guidance has been developed:

  • Sensitive, Confidential or Internal Communications about Children: Discussing or sharing, via public communication, any sensitive, confidential or internal matters concerning children, their data or Child Safeguarding violations is strictly prohibited.
  • Use of Social Media: It is not acceptable for representatives to accept or make friend requests from/to any beneficiary who is a child and/or has been or continues to be a recipient of services provided through Gotoco linked programmes. Similarly, making contact with a child’s caretaker or guardian for purposes of connecting with a child for reasons unrelated to Gotoco is not allowed.

Always exercise caution and professional judgment when communicating with an unknown social media request or a person you have reason to be believe is under the age of 18.

  • Following Children via Social Media: Where profiles are often public, you may want to follow a child due to her/his public persona or relevancy to your work. This is acceptable as long as you have undertaken due diligence to ensure that this is appropriate and in alignment with this Policy and the Code of Conduct.
  • Communicating with Children: If part or all of your work includes communicating with children, this must be done via professional channels such as your work email address or an official social media account. Personal social media should never be used to conduct work activities, especially as it relates to communications with children. If you have had an occasion to communicate with a child through anything other than a Gotoco account (e.g Wechat), your manager must be informed and alternatives means of communication arranged.
  • Public Profile: If your social media are in public settings, always remember that any content you generate can be viewed by anyone, including children.
  • Child Sends a Social Media Request: If a child contacts you or sends a social media request to your personal account, consult with your manager for guidance and direction on how to proceed.
  • Posts and Blogging: If your social media or blogs are public and accessible to children, you should be cautious with the information that you are sharing about yourself and loved ones, including images of your friends, family and children (whether a beneficiary or not), and exercise caution and good judgment when posting pictures or videos of children.

If your blog is public and content contained therein refers to work that is performed on behalf or because of your association with Gotoco, you are responsible for adhering to this Policy. Photos, video, artwork or stories of participating children that have not been obtained with proper consent and for purposes of Gotoco operations cannot be used for personal accounts without permission from our managers. After approval, any photo, video, artwork or story referring to children in our programmes must adhere to the rules and norms of this policy.

If you see any inappropriate or indecent content, communication, images or video of children online, please report this immediately to the social media’s reporting system. If you believe that any inappropriate or indecent content is connected to or implies a connection to Gotoco, you must immediately report this to your direct manager or a  Director of Gotoco within one (1) business day.

All representatives are required to report any suspected or known social media violations in the same manner as any other Child Safeguarding Policy violation. You are not expected to provide evidence or proof but any that you may have should be included in your report. You are not to investigate the concern; however, you may take whatever action is necessary to ensure the safety of children involved.

Upholding This Code Of Conduct

All Gotoco programme staff are expected to abide by these guidelines and report any observed breaches of this code to the Gotoco Directors Mr Richard Lloyd and Mr Daniel Parrott who can be reached at recruitment@go-to.co as soon as is practicably possible.

Action In The Event Of A Breach Of Our Safeguarding Code

Gotoco programme staff who breach this code of behaviour may be asked to leave their placement with immediate effect and with no deposit refund available. Gotoco programme staff may be subject to Gotoco’s disciplinary procedures. Where it is reported that a local member of staff or the manager of a project are in breach of this code then the directors of Gotoco will investigate the breach and support for the project may be withdrawn.

Any serious breaches may result in a referral being made to a statutory agency such as the police or an independent safeguarding authority.