Child Protection

Introductory Statement

The staff of the school drafted the following policy on their school development planning day in June 2006.

A review of the policy will take place annually.

Rationale

The BOM of Scoil Ghobnatan has adopted the Department of Education and Science Guidelines and Procedures for schools in relation to Child Protection and Welfare.  This policy is an outline of how Scoil Ghobnatan proposes to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

Scoil Ghobnatan seeks to help the children to grow and develop into healthy, confident, mature adults, capable of realizing their full potential as human beings.  We strive to create a happy, safe environment for the children where they feel secure, knowing that if they have concerns, they will be listened to with understanding and respect and they will be acted on.

Aims

  1. To raise awareness of child abuse namely, emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect, among all members of our school community including Board of Management, teachers, pupils, parents, SNAs, secretary and caretaker.
  2. To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealings with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.
  3. To identify other policy areas which need to be amended in light of the “Child Protection Guidelines”
  4. To identify curricular content and resources that contribute to the prevention of child abuse and to enable children to properly deal with abuse if it occurs.

 

Guidelines

The Guidelines are laid out as follows:

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

2.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines

2.1 Role of the Board of Management

2.2 Role of the Staff Members (Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker, Secretary)

2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person

3.0 Case Conferences

4.0 Organisational Implications

5.0 Curriculum Implications

 

1.0  Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP) 

  1. The Board of Management has appointed Michael Walsh as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in Scoil Ghobnatan to have specific responsibility for child protection.
  2. Carol Desmond has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if he is unavailable for whatever reason.
  3. The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each new Board of Management.  The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as he is replaced by the BOM for whatever reason.

 

2.0  Roles and Responsibilities

  • The BOM has primary responsibility for the care and welfare of their pupils.
  • The DLP has specific responsibility for the child protection in the school.
  • All staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.

 

2.1 Role of the Board of Management

  1. To arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.
  2. To monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.
  3. To provide appropriate staff development and training.

 

Specifically they will:

  1. Appoint a DLP and a deputy DLP.
  2. Have clear procedures for the dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse (See Below)
  3. Monitor the progress of children at risk.
  4. Ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
  5. Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against one of the school’s employees which have been reported to the Health Service Executive (HSE) or Gardai.
  6. To decide on teachers attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to advise teachers with regard to same.
  7. To ensure that Garda clearance is acquired by all new staff members and by any other adults who are in regular contact with the children e.g. sports/games instructions, drama/music teachers etc.

 

Procedures for BOM in cases of allegations or suspicions of child abuse by a school employee:

A.    Reporting

In the event of receiving a complaint or suspicion regarding an employee:

  1. The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.
  2. S/He will seek a written statement of the allegation form the person/agency making the allegation.  Parents/Guardians may make a statement on behalf of the child.
  3. The DLP will seek advice from the relevant HSE and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice.
  4. If the DLP, following consultation with the HSE, decides that this matter is not for reporting, s/he must inform the Chairperson.  They must then inform, in writing, the person or agency making the allegation, of the reasons for this decision.  If this person or agency still has concerns, they are free to consult with or report to the relevant HSE or Gardai on an individual basis.  The provisions of the Protection for Persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 apply, once they report reasonably and in good faith.
  5. If the DLP, following consultation with the HSE, decides that this matter is for reporting s/he should inform the Chairperson, who should then proceed in accordance with the procedures in the Child Protection Guidelines (1999 pg.16)
  6. The DLP/Deputy DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as is possible.
  7. When the Chairman becomes aware of an allegation of abuse, s/he will always seek legal advice and base his/her response on this advice.
  8. S/he will privately inform the employee of the fact and nature of the allegation and whether or not it has been reported by the DLP to the HSE.  (Refer to 4.2, p.16 of Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures (DES, 2001).  The chairperson has a duty to afford the employee fairness and due process – s/he is entitled to details and a copy of the written allegation, to advice and representation and an opportunity to respond to the BOM within a week.

 

B.    Responding

 

  1.  When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse s/he will always seek legal advice and base his/her response on this advice.
  2.  The Chairperson will consider whether there is any risk to pupils’ safety.  If the Chairperson considers that there is a risk –s/he may require the employee to take immediate administrative leave.  If unsure the Chairperson will consult with the HSE/Gardai.
  3.  If administrative leave has been invoked, the Chairperson will inform the DSE.  The HSE (in some cases the Gardai) may also be notified in accordance with legal advice received.
  4.  Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and the Chairperson to make a report (after receiving advice from the HSE) the Chairperson will convene and inform a meeting of the BOM as soon as possible.
  5. Where the alleged abuse has taken place within the school, or relates to the abuse of pupils of the school, by school employees outside of school time, the BOM will investigate the matter.  They will convene a further meeting, once the relevant information has been gathered.  At this meeting the BOM will consider in detail
    • the allegations made and their source,
    • the advice given by relevant authorities
    • and the written responses of the employee.
  6. At this meeting also
    • The person/agency who is alleging abuse by the school employee should be offered an opportunity to present his/her case to the BOM and may be accompanied by another person.
    • Parents/Guardians may act on behalf of a child.
    • The employee should also be afforded an opportunity to present his/her case and may also be accompanied.
  7. The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.
  8. The BOM will make a decision on action, if any, based on their investigation and will inform the employee of this in writing.  They will also inform the DES of the outcome, if the employee has been absent on administrative leave.
  9. Where it is not possible for the BOM to conduct an enquiry into allegations (e.g. where abuse has occurred in past employment, or where the employee is undergoing investigation by relevant authorities, the Chairperson will maintain close contact with the HSE and receive reports and records from them where appropriate.

 

2.2 Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker, Secretary etc.)

It is the responsibility of all teachers and staff members to familiarse themselves with the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999) especially

  • Chapter 3  Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
  • Chapter 4  Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
  • Appendix 1 Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse

Guidelines for Teachers and Staff Members

1. Disclosures from children

  1. Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a staff member, the person receiving the information should listen carefully and supportively.  Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust.  This should not be a formal interview. The following advice is offered:
    • Listen to the child
    • Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
    • Offer reassurances but do not make promises
    • Do not stop a child recalling significant events.
    • Do not over-react
    • Confidentiality should not be assured-explain that further help may have to be sought.
    • Record the discussion accurately noting
      • What, where and when?
      • Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries
      • Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate.
  2. The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
  3. The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.
  4. If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on to the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.

 

2. Suspicions of abuse

  1. Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999) especially
    • Chapter 3 Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
    • Chapter 4 Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
    • Appendix 1 Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse
  2. Staff members should observe and record over time the dates/signs/symptoms/behaviour causing them concern.
  3. They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

 

2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  1. The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, HSE, Gardai and other parties with child protection concerns.
  2. The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Children First guidelines in the school.  S/he will photocopy and circulate to all staff Chapters 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 of these guidelines and advise on good practice.
  3. The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse.  S/he will keep records of these consultations.
  4. The DLP will: seek advice from the HSE.
  5. The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the HSE or / and a Garda Siochana based on this advice.
  6. The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure, confidential manner and in a secure location.
  7. The DLP will keep up to date on current developments regarding child protection.

 

Guidelines for the DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures

  1. Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, they should seek appropriate advice.  To do this the DLP/Deputy DLP should make informal contact with the assigned (on duty) Social Worker.  The DLP/Deputy in this case, should be explicit that she is requesting advice and not making a report.  If advised to report the matter, the DLP will act on that advice.
  2. A report will then be made to the HSE by the DLP/Deputy, in person, by telephone or in writing.  In the event of an emergency or non-availability of HSE staff, the report should be made to the Gardai.  The DLP should also report the matter to the Chairperson of the BOM, who should then follow the procedures as outlined in Chapter 4(section 4.3) of Children First National Guidelines for the protection and Welfare of Children (1999)
  3. A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy as comprehensively as possible (see Appendix 1 Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES).
  4. Parents/Guardians will normally be informed that a report is being made. It may be decided that informing the parent/carer is likely to endanger the child or place the child at further risk.  The decision not to inform the parent/carer should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.
  5. When allegation is against the DLP, the Chairperson then assumes responsibility for reporting the matter to the HSE and filling in the standard reporting form.
  6. Where there are allegations or suspicions of Peer Abuse the DLP will follow the same procedures.
    • Parents of all parties will be notified and the DLP will inform the Chairperson.
    • Principal and class teachers will make arrangements to meet separately with all parents, to resolve the matter.
    • The school will make arrangements to minimise the possibility of the abusive behaviour recurring.

 

3.0  Child Protection Meetings (Case Conferences)

  1. A request is made from the HSE through the DLP who should consult with the Chairman of the BOM of the school. The Chairperson may seek clarification through the DLP as to why the attendance of the school employee is necessary and ascertain who else will be present.
  2. The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference.  (See Appendix 3, Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES).
  3. The school employee will be advised if children/parents/guardians are going to be present.  The school employee may contact the Chairperson of the Child Meeting for advice.
  4. The school employee may keep a child’s behaviour under closer observation, if requested to do so.  This may include observing the child’s behaviour, peer interactions, school progress or informal conversations.
  5. In all cases, individuals who refer or discuss their concerns about the care and protection of children with HSE staff, should be informed of the likely steps to be taken by the professionals involved.  Where appropriate and within the normal limits of confidentiality, reporting staff will be kept informed about the outcomes of any enquiry or investigation following on from their report.
  6. Teachers attending a child protection meeting/case conference should familiarise themselves with the protocol outlined on pg’s. 149-155 of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of children (1999)

 

4.0  Organisational Implications

School procedures already in place and new procedures being put in place will be examined with reference to the Children First guidelines and any child Protection issues that may arise will be addressed.

 

The following issues have been addressed in this review:

  • Accidents
  • Attendance
  • Behaviour
  • Bullying
  • Children travelling in staff cars
  • Communication
  • Induction of all New Staff
  • Induction of Pupils
  • Record keeping
  • Supervision
  • Swimming
  • Visibility
  • Visitors
  • Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs

 

 

Accidents:

While every precaution will be taken under our Health and Safety Statement to ensure the safety of children, we realise that accidents will happen. Accidents will be noted on an Incident Report form and will be addressed under our accident policy as part of Health and Safety.

 

Attendance:

Our school attendance will be monitored. With regards to child protection we will pay particular attention to trends in non-attendance. We will also monitor non-attendance in correlation with signs of neglect/ physical/ emotional abuse.

 

Behaviour:

Children are encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under the code of behaviour. If an incident occurs which we consider to be of a sexualised nature we will notify the DLP who will record it and respond appropriately.

 

Bullying:

Bullying behaviour will be addressed under the Anti- bullying policy. If the behaviour involved is of a sexualised nature or regarded as being particularly abusive then the matter will be referred to the DLP.

 

Children travelling in staff cars:

Members of school staff will not carry children alone in their cars at any time.

 

Communication:

Every effort will be made to enhance teacher- pupil communication. If pupils have concerns they will be listened to sympathetically. The SPHE/ Stay Safe/ RSE/ RE/ Oral language programmes allow for open pupil- teacher communication, which is hoped will aid the teacher- pupil relationship. If the teachers have to communicate with pupils on a one- to- one basis, they are requested to leave the classroom door open or have another child or member of staff present.

 

Induction of Teachers and Ancillary staff:

The DLP will be responsible for informing new teachers and ancillary staff of the Children First Guidelines (1999). The DLP will give a copy of chapters 3& 4 and Appendix 1 and this Child Protection Policy to all new staff. All new teachers are expected to teach the objectives of the SPHE programme. Carol Desmond is responsible for the mentoring of new teachers.  Margaret Butler will be responsible for supporting new teachers as they implement the SPHE objectives. Margaret Butler is also responsible for ensuring that new teachers know how to fill in the roll book and informing the teachers of record keeping procedures.

 

Induction of pupils:

All parents and children will be made aware of the attendance rules and their implications  as laid down in the Education Welfare Act (2000). All parents will be informed of the programme in place in the school that deal with personal development e.g. RSE and SPHE. Parents are encouraged to make an appointment with the class teacher / principal if they wish to discuss their child’s progress/ attendance. A yearly reminder of the school rules is included in the school homework journal for children from 1st- 6th class.

 

Record keeping:

All files relating to the children’s progress are kept in a locked filling cabinet.

 

Supervision:

Supervision is organised within the school to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all break times and on school trips. An Acceptable Use policy is in place to insure that children are supervised while on the internet.

 

Visibility:

Teachers will ensure that children are visible in the schoolyard. Children will not be allowed spend time in classrooms or toilets where they are not under adult supervision. They are not to leave the schoolyard or to engage with adults who are outside of the schoolyard.

 

Visitors:

There is now a security system in place whereby only staff members can enter the school by using a ‘fob system’. All visitors must enter through the front office and report to the secretary or a member of staff.

Staff members on yard duty will be aware of visitors entering the schoolyard and will ascertain their intentions. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business. When people are collecting children early they must report to the office and  sign the child out.

Visitors to the school who are in regular contact with the children will be made aware of our Child Protection policy and will have to adhere to its principles.

 

Children with specific toileting/ intimate needs:

  • In all situations where a pupil needs assistance with toileting/ intimate care, their needs will be discussed at an I.E.P. meeting and the school procedure will be outlined to parents. The purpose of the meeting will be to ascertain the specific needs of the child and to determine how the school can best meet those needs.
  • Where possible the pupil will be involved in identification of his/ her personal requirements.
  • The staff to be involved in this care will be identified and provision will be made for occasions when the particular staff involved are absent. A written copy of what has been agreed will be made up and kept in the child’s file.
  • Two members of staff will be present when dealing with the intimate care/ toileting needs.
  • Staff will wear protective gloves.

 

Toileting accidents:

  • In the first instance the child will be offered fresh clothing to clean & change themselves.
  • If the pupil needs assistance the procedure outlined in section c above will be followed.
  • Parents will be notified of these accidents.

 

Success Criteria:

  • We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:
  • Delivery and participation by all staff in training.
  • Delivery of SPHE curriculum.
  • Resources to support the delivery of SPHE.
  • Delivery and participation by children in the Stay Safe Programme.
  • Assessment of these procedures by participants following a child protection case.
  • Feedback from all staff.

 

Timeframe for Implentation:

These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM.

 

Timeframe for Review:

At first the staff meeting of every year the DLP will remind all staff members of the guidelines and copies of chapter 3 & 4 and Appendix 1 of the Children First Guidelines will be given to all staff members.

 

A review will be conducted ____________________________ or if necessary ; should a child protection issue arise at any time.

 

Responsibility for Review:

  • BOM
  • DLP
  • Principal
  • All Staff

 

Ratification and Communication:

The revised policy was ratified by the BOM in __________________________.

 

A copy of the policy is available for viewing in the office and will be published on our website.