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Child Protection Policy

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ScoilÍosa___________________________________________________Child Protection Policy


Introduction.
This policy was revised and adapted in response to the revised child protection guidelines as published in February 2011.

Rationale.

The Board of Management of Scoil Íosa Ballyhaunis has adopted the Department of Education and Skills Guidelines and Procedures in relation to child protection and welfare. This policy is an outline of how this school proposes to implement these guidelines so that due protection is afforded to all of the children attending Scoil Íosa.

Relationship to the Characteristic Spirit of the School.

Scoil Íosa seeks to help all children attending this school to grow and to develop into healthy, confident, mature adults, capable of realising their full potential as human beings. It is our intention to do all in our power to create a happy, safe environment for the children where they feel secure in the knowledge that, if they have concerns, they will be listened to with understanding and respect and that their concerns will be appropriately addressed.

Aims.

 To raise awareness of child abuse in all of its forms, namely, emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect among all members of our school community including Board of Management, teaching staff(including substitute teachers),  pupils, parents, SNAs, secretaries, caretaker and all such personnel who form any facet of school life. This also includes peripatetic instructors/teachers hired into the school such as music teachers, dance teachers, external sports coaches, RSE speakers and any personnel who may have access to the school or the pupils.
 To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealing with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.
 To identify other areas of school policy which may need to be amended.
 To identify curricular content and resources that contribute to the prevention of child abuse and enable children to properly deal with abuse should it occur.

Guidelines for School Personnel.

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person.
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 Child Protection meetings / Case Conferences.
4.0 Organisational Implications.
5.0 Curriculum Implications.



1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person.
The Board of Management has ratified the selection of Kenneth Dennedy(School Principal) as the Designated Liaison person (DLP) of Scoil Íosa to have specific responsibility for child protection policy implementation within the school.
Mr.James Duggan (Deputy Principal) has been appointed as Deputy Designated Liaison Person to take the place of the DLP if he is unavailable for any reason.
The position of DLP will be addressed at the initial meeting of each new Board of Management. The appointed DLP will act as such until he/she is replaced by the Board of Management for whatever reason.

2.0 Roles and Responsibilities.

 The Board of Management has the primary responsibility for the care and welfare of all pupils attending the school.
 The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) has specific responsibility for child protection in the school.
 All members of staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place and are adhered to, to protect children from harm.

2.1 Role of the Board of Management.
The Board of Management shall:
 Arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.
 Continually monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.
 Provide and support effective and appropriate staff development and training

Specifically the Board of Management will:


 Appoint a DLP and Deputy DLP.
 Have clear procedures in place for dealing with allegations, suspicions and disclosures of any form of child abuse (as outlined below).
 Monitor the progress of children at risk.
 Ensure that adequate and appropriate curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
 Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against any of the schools employees who have been reported to the relevant authorities including the Health Service Executive and the Gardaí.
 To decide on teachers’ attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to appropriately advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.

PROCEDURES FOR THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT IN CASES OF ALLEGATIONS OR SUSPICIONS OF CHILD ABUSE BY A SCHOOL EMPLOYEE.

A. REPORTING
.
In the event of receiving a complaint or suspicion re. n employee:
 The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.
 The Chairperson will seek a written statement of the allegation from the person/agency/source
 The DLP will seek advice from the relevant HSE and will take responsibility for reporting based on this advice.
 If the DLP, following on from advice based on consulting with the HSE, decides that the matter is not for reporting, he/she must inform the Chairperson of the decision and the rationale for such a decision. They must then inform, in writing, the person responsible or agency responsible for making the allegation, of the reasons behind this decision. If the person or agency still express concerns, they are free to consult with or report to the relevant HSE or Gardaí on an individual basis. The provisions of the Protection of Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 apply, once they have acted reasonably in the reporting and in good faith.
 If the DLP following consultation with the HSE and acting on such advice, decides that the matter is for reporting, he/she should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with up to date guidelines and procedures as published by the DES.
 The DLP or Deputy DLP must complete a standard reporting form issued by the HSE as comprehensively as possible.
 When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse he/she should seek legal advice and should base their response on this advice.
 The Chairperson will privately inform the employee of the fact of and nature of the allegation and whether or not it has been reported by the DLP to the HSE. Reference should be made to up to date Child Protection Guidelines as issued by the DES. In cases such as this, the Chairperson has a duty to afford the employee due process and fairness. The employee is entitled to details and a copy of the written allegation, to appropriate advice and the opportunity to respond to the Board of Management within one week.

B. RESPONDING.


When the Chairperson becomes or is made aware of an allegation of abuse, he/she should always seek legal advice and should base his/her response based on this advice.
 The Chairperson must consider whether there is any risk to pupils safety. If it is the opinion of the Chairperson that  there is a considered risk, he/she may require the employee to take immediate administrative leave. In cases where the Chairperson is unsure of such risk, he/she should consult with the HSE or the Gardaí.
 Should administrative leave be invoked, the Chairperson should inform the DES of such a decision in writing. If legal advice decrees, the HSE (and the Gardaí if advised) should also be notified.
 Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and Chairperson to make a report, acting as advised by the relevant authorities(in the case of Scoil Íosa, this will be the HSE West), the Chairperson will convene and inform a meeting of the Board of Management as soon as possible.
 Where the alleged abuse has taken place within the school, or if it relates to the abuse of pupils attending the school, by an employee/employees of the school outside of school hours, the BOM will investigate the matter. A further meeting should be convened, once all relevant information has been gathered. At such a meeting. The BOM will consider in detail, the following:

 The allegations made and their source.
 The advice given by the relevant authorities.
 The written responses of the employee.

At this meeting also, the following will also be considered:

 The person/agency who is alleging abuse by the school employee should be offered an opportunity to present his/her case to the Board of Management. In doing so they may be accompanied by an other person.
 Parents/Guardians may act on behalf of a child.
 The employee should also be offered the opportunity to present their case. They may also be accompanied.

 The Board of Management must deal with the matter sensitively, mindful of the rights of the employee and at all times must ensure that the employee is fairly treated and is afforded due process.
 The Board of Management will base their decision on the facts presented as part of their investigations 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.
 Where it has not been possible for the BOM to conduct an enquiry into allegations (e.g. where the alleged abuse has occurred in past employment, or where the employee is undergoing investigation by relevant authorities), the Chairperson will act on the advice of such authorities. The Chairperson should maintain close contacts with the HSE and should receive reports and records where appropriate.




ROLE OF ALL STAFF MEMBERS. (Teaching and Ancillary)

All staff should be provided with access to copies of the following guidelines and it is the responsibility of the staff members to familiarise themselves with the contents therein.
Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures. DES 2001.
Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 1999.
Note: As the above publications are updated, revised and reissued or in the event of new publications being made available to schools, staff will be notified and access will be given to these.
Particular attention is drawn to the following chapters in the Children First Guidelines:
 Chapter 3 – Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse.
 Chapter 4 – Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures.
 Appendix 1 – Signs & Symptoms of Child Abuse.

Guidelines for Teachers and Staff members in handling:


1.Disclosures from Children.

Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a staff member, the staff member receiving such information should always deal with the situation in a sympathetic, supportive manner and should listen attentively to the disclosure. Particular care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. Under no circumstances should this be a formal interview.

The following guidelines are appropriate for dealing with initial disclosures:
 Listen to the child.
 Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
 Offer reassurance but do not make promises.
 Do not stop a child recalling significant events.
 Never over react – keep all reactions measured and such that the child will be as comfortable as possible when recounting their story.
 Confidentiality should not be assured – explain that further help may have to be sought.
 Record the discussion accurately in writing noting:
 What, where & when.
 Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.
 Explanations of injuries using direct, verbatim quotations if appropriate.
 Retain the record securely, preferably in a locked place until these are passed to the DLP. The staff member should endeavour to obtain only necessary and relevant facts. Be clear that it is not the duty or responsibility to investigate allegations of abuse.
 The DLP should be informed immediately and should be given all relevant records.
 If  the alleged abuser is the DLP, then the suspicion and any records should be passed onto the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.
SUSPICIONS OF ABUSE.
Any staff member who suspects abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 1999, Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Appendix 1.

 Staff members should observe and record over time the dates, signs, symptoms causing concern.
 They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

ROLE OF THE DLP.

 The DLP acts as the point of contact to liase with outside agencies such as the HSE, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns.
 The DLP should circulate all relevant child protection guidelines and publications to the staff where possible and should make staff aware of school policy documents pertinent to child protection. All relevant chapters from the Children First and Child Protection Guidelines should be photocopied for each staff member and kept by them as a reference material in case of disclosure or suspicion of abuse. The DLP is responsible for insuring access to these documents for every staff member.
 Te DLP should be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. Written records should be kept of all such consultations.
 The DLP will always seek advice from the HSE.
 The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the HSE and/or the Gardaí based on advice received from the HSE.
 The DLP should maintain proper records in a secure manner and in a secure location with emphasis on confidentiality.
 The DLP should keep up to date on current developments regarding child protection.

GUIDELINES FOR THE DLP IN HANDLING REPORTED CONCERNS AND DISCLOSURES.

Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are unsure as to whether to report the matter to the HSE, they should seek appropriate advice. This is done through informal telephone contact with the duty Social Worker. It is essential that the DLP is explicit that he/she is requesting advice and is not making a report. If advised to report on the matter, the DLP should then proceed accordingly, acting on this advice.
At this point, a formal report should be made to the HSE by the DLP/Deputy DLP in person, by telephone or in writing. Where the HSE staff is not available the report should be made to the Gardaí. The DLP should also make a full report to the Chairperson of the BOM who should then follow the appropriate procedures as outlined in the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 1999(Chapter 4 Section 4.3).
A standard form should be completed by the DLP as comprehensively as possible.
Parents/Guardians will normally be informed that a report is being made. In certain cases it may be decided that this is not appropriate as doing so may endanger the child or place the child at further risk. All decisions of this nature should be accurately recorded and should be kept on record with the rationale for the decision reached in this regard included.
Where the allegation is against the DLP, the Chairperson must then assume the responsibility of reporting the matter to the HSE and filling in the standard reporting form.
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 informs the Chairperson.
 Principal and class teachers will arrange to meet separately with all parents to resolve the matter.
 The school will make the necessary arrangements to minimise the possibility of the abusive behaviour recurring.

3.0 CHILD PROTECTION MEETINGS / CASE CONFERENCES.

 A report is made from the HSE through the DLP who should consult with 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 may also ascertain who else will be present.
 The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference.(Appendix 3 Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures DES).
 The School employee should be advised if the child’s parents or Guardians will be present. The employee may contact the Chairperson of the Child Protection meeting for advice.
 The school employee/teacher may be required to keep the child’s behaviour under closer observation. This may include observing the child’s behaviour, peer interactions, school progress or informal conversations.
 In all cases individuals who refer or discuss their concerns with the HSE staff should be informed of the likely steps to be taken by the professionals involved. Where appropriate and in line with confidentiality arrangements, reporting staff should be kept informed about the outcomes or actions involved in any intervention arising from the report.
 Teachers attending the child protection meeting/case conference should familiarise themselves with the protocol outlined on pages 149-155 of Children First Guidelines and with pages 13-14 of the Child Protection Guidelines (DES).

4.0 ORGANISATIONAL IMPLICATIONS.

School procedures already in place and any new procedures and guidelines published will be examined with reference to the Children First Guidelines and any Child Protection issues that may arise will be addressed. In addition to child abuse policy, this policy revision also addresses the following policies:

 Accidents.
 Attendance.
 Behaviour.
 Bullying.
 Children travelling in staff cars.
 Communication.
 Induction of Staff.
 Induction of Pupils.
 Supervision.
 Swimming.
 Visibility.
 Visitors.


Accidents.

The recommended procedure for dealing with accidents and playground mishaps is dealt with comprehensively within our school Health and Safety Policy. However while every possible precaution will be taken under this policy, we realise that accidents can and do happen. In cases where accidents occur during break times, these will be noted in the Playground Incident Book carried by each supervising teacher in the Senior School and in the Accident Report Book in the Junior School as relevant. Where accidents occur at any other time in school, these should be recorded on the Accident/Incident Report form.

Attendance.

School attendance will be monitored on an informal basis by the relevant class teachers through observations and through the daily Register of Attendance (Roll Book). Quarterly reporting of attendance will also be undertaken as required by the NEWB. It is school policy that parents are informed by letter of cases where their child is causing concern to the teachers due to poor attendance. There are three occasions where this is undertaken,

 Where the absences are above 15 days a warning letter is sent to this effect.
 Where children’s absences have reached 21 days, parents are informed of impending report to NEWB.
 Where the attendance continues to be a cause for concern, a letter of warning is sent informing parents that the matter will be referred to the Educational Welfare Officer and the Gardaí.

Parents are required to provide an appropriate explanation for any absences. With regard to child protection we will pay particular attention to trends in non-attendance. We will monitor attendance patterns in correlation with signs of neglect/ physical/emotional abuse.

Behaviour.

It is school policy that children are always encouraged to p[lay appropriately and co – operatively with other children. This is expressed informally by the class teachers and is regularly addressed at school assemblies. Inappropriate behaviour will always be dealt with in line with the schools Code of Behaviour and within the guidelines as laid out in the School Discipline Policy. In cases where incidents are considered to be sexualised in nature it is school policy to notify the DLP and to ensure that this is recorded and responded to appropriately.

Bullying.

All bullying behaviour will be addressed under our Anti Bullying Policy. Again if the bullying behaviour is deemed sexualised in nature the matter is referred to and dealt with by the DLP.


Children Travelling in Staff Cars.

Members of the school staff may only carry children in their cars in exceptional cases and must notify the school principal of their intentions. In these cases the staff member must be aware that this is undertaken at their own risk and appropriate care must be taken to ensure the safety of the children. Under no circumstances should any staff member carry an unaccompanied child in their vehicle. Where possible, the children should not travel in the front passenger seat. Staff members should be made aware of the risks associated with carrying children in their cars and must judge accordingly.

Communication.

Children must be made aware of the availability of staff to listen to their concerns and that staff will always listen sympathetically. In cases where teachers are in communication with a pupil on a one to one basis, it is advisable that the classroom door should be left open.

Induction of Staff.

All teachers joining the school will be provided with a copy of the school Child Protection policy and will be informed by the DLP of all relevant child protection guidelines and publications. A laminated copy detailing the appropriate steps in dealing with disclosures of abuse will be given to each staff member as a point of reference. All teachers are expected to follow the provisions of the school SPHE policy as relevant to their class level. The Principal, Deputy Principal and relevant post holders will provide guidelines for the teachers in this regard. New staff will also ensure that they are familiar with the procedures for filling in the roll books and will be briefed on their responsibilities to inform the Principal or Deputy Principal where there are concerns with regard to attendance.

Induction of Pupils.

All parents will be made aware of the implications of the Educational Welfare Act (2000) with reference to attendance requirements. Parents should also be informed of school programmes such as Stay Safe, SPHE and also where the school is engaging outside speakers to deal with RSE. All new parents are given a copy of the School Handbook detailing school policies including enrolment, attendance, Code of Behaviour and Anti Bullying Policy. This should include information for parents on the procedures for informing the school, of the reasons for absence and of procedures for contacting school regarding any issue of concern. Parents are always encouraged to make appointments with the school Principal, Class teachers or Support teachers as necessary to discuss aspects of the child’s progress.

Supervision.

The school’s supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure the safety of the children attending Scoil Íosa. The supervision rota is displayed in the staff room and provides for supervision at First Break (11:00 – 11:10 a.m.) and at Lunch Break (1:00 – 1:30 p.m.) Under the terms of the Croke Park Agreement (2010), morning in class supervision is also provided from 9:00 – 9:15 a.m. by all staff.

Swimming
.
Children may
attend swimming lessons at Claremorris Leisure Centre during the course of the last term of the school year. The children travel to the swimming pool by bus. Teachers supervise in the changing areas and in this regard it is school policy that two teachers minimum travel with the children and that this must include a gender balance of teachers. Teachers must not help children to change and should avoid any occasion in which they could be compromised such as accompanying/chaperoning children leaving the pool to use toilet. As we do not take the Junior classes to swimming  at present it is not necessary to invite parents to accompany the children.

Visibility.

Teachers on duty will attempt at all times to ensure that the children are constantly visible in the school playground. Children should not be allowed to spend time alone in classrooms, sheds or secluded areas of the playground where they would not be under adult supervision. Where it is necessary for a child to leave the playground to use the toilet, permission must be sought from the teacher who should always inform the child as to appropriate behaviour in this instance. Children should never be allowed to leave the school premises or to engage with adults who are outside of the school grounds. In cases where children must leave the school premises for medical appointments etc, the school must be informed by the parent/guardian and the children must be signed out in the office by the parent/guardian.

Visitors.

Teachers on playground duty must be aware of any visitors entering the school premises and will ascertain their intentions should they enter the school playground. It is school policy that all visitors to the school must report to the school office and should not be allowed unsupervised access to any area of the school.

5.0 CURRICULUM IMPLICATIONS.


Introduction.

At Scoil Íosa we endeavour to create a positive school climate, which is open, inclusive, respectful, fair, democratic and tolerant. Our aims seek to support the holistic development of each and every child regardless of age, sex, ethnic origin or disability.  The strategies for achieving such aims are outlined as part of the school SPHE plan and will involve:

 Creating a Health promoting physical environment.
 Enhancing self-esteem.
 Fostering respect for diversity.
 Building effective communication within the school.
 Developing appropriate home-school communication.
 Catering for individual needs.
 Developing democratic process.
 Fostering inclusive and respectful language.

We strive to ensure that this school will be physically and emotionally safe and we will deliver the curricular content of our SPHE programme with a view to giving our pupils the protective skills of self-esteem and assertiveness. The no blame approach will be used in investigating misdemeanours. Co-operative skills will be nurtured through use of a number of strategies including working in pairs and working in groups. Older children will be encouraged to work positively and to utilise skills in negotiation, building consensus and managing conflict.


Junior and Senior Infants

Infant teachers should teach content objectives as laid out under the 10 strand units in the SPHE programme as follows:

 Self identity
 Taking care of my body
 Growing and changing
 Safety and protection
 Making decisions
 Myself and my family
 My friends and other people
 Relating to others
 Developing citizenship

The aim of this content is to  enable child to develop assertiveness, body integrity, skills relating to self care, respect for others, identification of feelings and skills necessary to recognise and tell of abuse.

The SPHE programme should be supported using the Walk Tall resources. Alive O programme and Stay Safe resources.


1st and 2nd Class

The SPHE programme as laid out under the 10 strand units named above would enable the children to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes pertaining to self esteem, esteem for others and the environment and skills pertaining to self –care and disclosure. Healthy eating, information on substance use and anti bullying awareness will be introduced.

The SPHE programme will be supported by using the Walk Tall Resources. Alive O programme and Stay Safe programme.

3rd and 4th Classes

Our SPHE programme will again be implemented according to the 10 strand units. Knowledge, skills and attitudes developed in previous classes will be built on. Children will be enabled to develop intra personal skills and inter personal skills. As children mature they will be challenged to develop their decision-making skills. They will be encouraged to develop self protection skills pertaining to smoking and alcohol. Peer pressure and influence of the media will also be examined. The development of self esteem, esteem for others, assertiveness, awareness of feelings and skills around self protection and disclosure will underpin our teaching.

Our SPHE programme will be supported by the use of Walk Tall resources, Prim Ed anti bully materials, RSE materials and the Stay Safe Programme.

5th and 6th classes

Our SPHE programme will be implemented according to the curricular objectives as laid out under the 10 strands in the SPHE curriculum. Skills knowledge and attitudes developed in earlier classes will be enhanced. Children will continue to develop self-awareness and positive attitudes to themselves, others, their environment and the wider world in which they live. Self-protection and respect of others will be fostered, decision-making skills developed, peer influence and media bias examined. Knowledge in relation to legal and illegal drugs and the prevention of substance misuse will be further developed. Children will be enabled to develop good group building skills, anti -bullying awareness and conflict resolution skills, Self protection will be emphasised and protection of younger less able people. Positive attitudes to sexuality will be developed and respect of self and others fostered (see RSE Policy)
The SPHE programme will be supported by the use of the Walk Tall materials, RSE resources and Stay Safe resources. Children in sixth class will be afforded the opportunity to avail of talks facilitated by guest speakers (at present Mrs Orla Moran). These talks cover the requirements of the RSE programme and deal with issues pertinent to personal hygiene and to general emotional issues relevant to adolescence including sex education. It is school policy that parents will be notified of all such sessions and will be given the opportunity to decline participation for their own children if they so desire.


SUCCESS CRITERIA


We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:

 Delivery and participation by staff in training
 Delivery of the SPHE curriculum
 Resources to support the delivery of SOHE
 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 Implementation

These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM.


Time frame for review

At the first meeting of the year the DLP will remind all teachers of the guidelines and copies of Chapter 3&4 and Appendix 1 of the Children First Guidelines and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES will be given to those who require them. A review will be conducted based on the criteria above following any and all incidents when the guidelines are used.

Responsibility for review

DLP principal and staff


Revision published on
February 17th 2011
Ratified by Board of Management on 25th October 2012

 


 


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