Child Protection Policy


Introductory Statement

 This document is formulated in response to recent changes in Guidance and Procedures in relation to Child Protection matters and takes account of the provisions of each of the following important pieces of legislation: 

 Freedom of Information Act 1997

  • The Education Act 1998
  • The Child Welfare Act 2000
  • Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011

 The new procedures are based on the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011. 

 References

  • Children First  (Department of Children and Youth Affairs 2011)
  • Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills 2011)

 The Board of Management of Sacred Heart Primary School recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in all of the school’s policies, practices and activities. Accordingly, in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills’ Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, the Board of Management has agreed the following child protection policy.

The Board of Management has adopted and will implement fully and without modification the Department’s Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2011. These procedures will therefore underpin the content of this policy. 

In its policies, practices and activities, Sacred Heart Primary School will adhere to the following principles of best practice in child protection and welfare.  The school will:

  • Recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations. 
  • Fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters. 
  • Adopt safe practices to minimise the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusations of abuse or neglect.
  • Develop a practice of openness with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children.
  • Fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters. 

 The school will also adhere to the above principles in relation to any adult or pupil with a special vulnerability. 

 This policy addresses the responsibilities of the school in the followings areas:

  • PREVENTION – curricular provision
  • PROCEDURES – procedures for dealing with concerns /disclosures
  • PRACTICE – best practice in child protection

This policy document is made available to school personnel, members of the Board of Management and the Parents Association and is readily accessible to parents on request. It is also published on the school website www.presprimarytralee.com.   A copy of this policy will be made available to Department of Education & Skills personnel and the Patron if requested.     

It is incumbent on all staff to familiarise themselves with the Department of Education & Skills’ document: “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools.”

 

Aims

 This policy aims to:

  • Create a safe, trusting, responsive and caring environment.
  • Provide a personal safety skills education which specifically addresses abuse prevention for all children in the school.
  • Develop awareness and responsibility in the area of child protection amongst the whole school community.
  • Put in place procedures for good practice to protect all children and staff.
  • Ensure that all staff members are aware of and familiar with “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools” Department of Education & Skills.
  • Provide for ongoing training in this and related areas for all school staff. 

 Prevention

 The Stay Safe Programme is the primary resource used in this school to provide education for children on abuse prevention. The programme is taught as part of the school’s Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum under the strand unit Safety and Protection.

On enrolment of their child, parents will be informed that the Stay Safe Programme is in use in the school and a copy of the ‘Stay Safe: A Parent’s Guide’ provided.

The formal lessons of the programme will be taught in their entirety in Senior Infants, Second Class, Fourth Class and Sixth Class in accordance with the SPHE two-year cycle plan.

Staff will make every effort to ensure that the messages of the programme are reinforced whenever possible.  The Stay Safe Pack “Personal Safety Skills for Children with Learning Difficulties” will be used where appropriate.

Procedures

All staff (Teachers, Special Needs Assistants, Secretary, Caretaker etc.) in this school will follow the recommendations for reporting concerns or disclosures as outlined in the  Department of Education and Skills’ document, ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools.’

 The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is Patrick Sayers (Principal)

The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP) is Celine O Callaghan (Deputy Principal)

 The staff and management of this school have agreed:

  • All concerns/disclosures involving child protection/child welfare issues will be reported in the first instance to the DLP (deputy DLP where appropriate)
  • Each report to the DLP will be dated and signed by the person making that report
  • A strict adherence to maintaining confidentiality – information regarding concerns or disclosures of abuse should only be given on a “need to know” basis.

 Links to other Policy/Planning areas

 Specific policies/plans named hereunder are key elements of this overall document and must be referred to in the context of this policy:

  • SPHE curriculum – Strand Unit on ‘Safety and Protection’,
  • Code of Behaviour
  • Anti Bullying Policy
  • Health and Safety Statement
  • Data Protection and Record Keeping
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Special Educational Needs
  • Swimming Policy
  • School Tours/Outings
  • Children with Specific Toileting / Intimate Care Needs
  • Toileting Accidents
  • School Attendance
  • Supervision
  • Critical Incidents
  • Enrolment Policy

 This policy will also be considered with reference to the participation by pupils in sporting activities, other extra-curricular activities and school outings. Other practices and activities, where child protection might have particular relevance, will consider the procedures outlined within this policy.  The Board has ensured that the necessary policies, protocols or practices as appropriate are in place in respect of each of the above listed items. 

 Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

In Sacred Heart Primary School, the Principal, Patrick Sayers, appointed by the BoM, is the DLP.  Celine O Callaghan, the Deputy Principal, acts as Deputy DLP. Both teachers will undertake training from the Child Abuse Prevention Programme at the earliest opportunity. CAPP provides training to the whole school community (staff, parents and Boards of Management) on the stay Safe Programme.

 The DLP has specific responsibility for Child Protection Procedures and will represent the school in all correspondence with Health Boards, An Garda Siochana and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse. All matters pertaining to child abuse concerns should be processed through the DLP (DES Procedures 3:2)

 The DLP acts appropriately where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion or where an allegation has been made.

 Confidentiality

All information regarding concerns of possible child abuse should only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis in the interests of the child. The giving of information to those who need to have that information is not a breach of confidentiality. This procedure exists for the protection of a child who may have been or has been abused. The DLP who is submitting a report to the Health Board or An Garda Siochána should inform a parent/guardian, unless doing so is likely to endanger the child or place that child at further risk. A decision not to inform a parent/guardian should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.

In emergency situations, where the Health Board cannot be contacted, and the child appears to be at immediate and serious risk, An Garda Siochána should be contacted. A child should not be left in a dangerous situation where Health Board intervention is not forthcoming.

 Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse

The protection for persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to any person who reports a child protection concern ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of Health Boards or any member of an Garda Siochána (DES Procedures 1:10)

 Qualified Privilege

People making a report to the DLP in good faith have ‘qualified privilege’ under common law.  Reports made to Health Boards may be subject to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997. This act enables members of the public to obtain access to personal information relating to them which is in the possession of public bodies. However, the act also provides that public bodies may refuse access to information obtained by them in confidence (DES Procedures 1:11)

 Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse

Child abuse can be categorised into four different types:

  • Neglect
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

 Each of these categories is defined in full in ‘Children First’ (Dept. of Children & Youth Affairs Chapter 2).

Neglect can be defined in terms of an omission, where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, medical care.

Guidelines for Recognition of Child Abuse

A list of child neglect indicators is contained in Chapter 2:2 of Children First. This policy draws particular attention to ‘persistent evidence’ of neglect, including indicators such as no lunch, lack of uniform, no homework, poor attendance, persistent health problems, lack of sleep indicating inappropriate television viewing late at night and other evidence that would indicate lack of supervision in the home. All signs and symptoms must be examined in the total context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.

There are commonly three stages in the identification of child abuse:

1. Considering the possibility

2. Looking out for signs of abuse

3. Recording of information

Each of these stages is developed in ‘Children First’ (2:2)

 

Handling Disclosures from Children

(DES Procedures 3:5) gives comprehensive details of how disclosures should be approached. Staffs are advised to deal with each situation sensitively, reassure the child but not to make promises that cannot be fulfilled.

 The adult should not ask leading questions or make suggestions. They should explain that further help may have to be sought. The discussion should then be recorded accurately.

 The record should include reference to what was observed with sketches of physical injury where necessary. It should also record when the alleged incident took place. Records should be kept in a secure place. The information should then be conveyed to the school DLP.

If the reporting person and the DLP are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion/allegation, the procedures outlined in ‘Children First’ must be adhered to. Standardised reporting forms should be used (DES Procedures Appendix 4). The content of the report should follow the guidelines in ‘Children First’. 

 Allegations or Suspicions in relation to School Employees (DES Procedures Chapter 5)

The Chairperson and the DLP are concerned with the protection of the children in their care in the first instance. However, employees must be protected against false and malicious claims. Due process must be observed in relation to allegations against employees.  Legal Advice should be sought by the BoM in relation to an allegation in relation to an employee.  If the allegation is against the DLP, the Chairperson of the BoM will assume the responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board.

 Reporting

When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the DLP should act in accordance with the procedures outlined in Children First. A written statement of the allegation should be sought from the person/agency making the report. A parent/guardian may make a statement on behalf of a child.  The DLP should always inform the Chairperson of the BoM and is responsible for liaising with the HSE. The Chairperson assumes responsibility for dealing with the employee.

 School employees, other than the DLP, who receive allegations against another school employee, should immediately report the matter to the DLP.  School employees who form suspicions regarding conduct of another school employee should consult with the DLP.

 The employee should be informed by the Chairperson (Employer) that:

a. An allegation has been made against him/her

b. The nature of the allegation

c. Whether or not the Health Board or Gardaí has been informed.

 The employee should be given a copy of the written allegation and any other relevant documentation. The employee should be requested to respond to the allegation in writing to the BoM within a specified period and told that this may be passed to the Gardaí, Health Board and legal advisers.

The Chairperson must take the necessary steps to protect the child and may consult the BoM in this matter. The BoM may direct that the employee take administrative leave with pay and avoid suspension, thus removing any implication of guilt.  The DES should be immediately informed.

Practice

The staff and Board of Management of this school have identified the following as areas of specific concern in relation to child protection. Following discussion and consultation, the staff and Board of Management have agreed that the following practices be adopted:

A.  Physical Contact 

  • Accident / Injury.  Where injuries need to be checked, two adults will always be present – in a public area.
  • In cases of emergency, where a child needs to be taken to hospital:
    • Parents will be contacted immediately.
    • The child will be taken to hospital by the Principal and another adult.
    • An ambulance may be called.
  • PE/Gymnastics – The class teacher is always present with instructors and physical contact is kept to a minimum.

B.  Visitors / Guest Speakers

 

  • All visitors should go to the office when they enter the school.
  • An adult or two children should convey the guest to a specific classroom.
  • Such visitors will usually be known to the staff.
  • Visitors are never left alone with the class.
  • Teachers are always present and ensure that the context/material is appropriate.

C. Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs 

  • Please refer to policy on Children with Specific Toileting/Intimate Care Needs and Toileting Accidents.
  • The Principal/Deputy Principal, in their initial meeting with new parents, outline our policy of care in cases of specific toileting/intimate care needs. 
  • The Class Teacher and the SNA (if one is assigned) will assist the child where necessary.
  • Toileting Accidents.  The child is conveyed to Room 2 Junior Building (Ms. King).  With the assistance of an SNA or Class Teacher, the child is encouraged to change himself/herself.  New garments are supplied.  A note of the accident is recorded.  The Class Teacher informs the parent. In cases of extreme soiling, parents are contacted immediately.

D.  One-to-one teaching.   

  • In cases where the Resource Teacher has a child alone in the room, the door is always left ajar.  

E.  Changing for Games/PE and Swimming. 

  • Games.  Children change in toilets themselves.  Teacher remains outside.
  • PE.  Children come to school attired in school tracksuit.
  • Swimming.  Children come to school with costumes under uniforms or change themselves at the swimming pool.
  • At least two teachers will be present at the swimming pool. 

F.  Recruitment and Selection of Staff. 

The recruitment of staff and volunteers is crucial to ensuring that those working with the children in the school are safe adults in so far as this can be determined.  Correct procedures will always be followed in relation to advertising, interviewing and the selection of staff.  All applicants will be asked to supply in writing the following information:

  • Appropriate personal details
  • A resumé of past and current work/volunteering experience, indicating relevant qualifications or skills acquired.
  • At least two written references- verification of references will be sought through making verbal contact with the referees.

 

Garda Vetting.  Appointments (teaching and non-teaching) must fully comply with the requirements of Circular 0063/2010 (Recruitment procedures – Requirements for Garda vetting).

 Any adult wishing to do voluntary work or work experience in the school will also be required to supply the information detailed above.

 It is the responsibility of the Board of Management to ensure that all personnel are properly supervised and supported in the work they are doing.

 G.  General Conduct 

 It is the ethos of the school to respect and protect the dignity of each child as outlined in our Anti Bullying Policy and Health & Safety Policy.  

Children who need to be brought home are transported by the Principal/Deputy Principal and another adult or two children.  

 H.  Supervision of Pupils

  • Children are supervised at all times by teaching staff.  There is a roster in place to ensure adequate supervision during break times.  The Principal reinforces the importance of proper supervision regularly at Staff Meetings.
  • Children in the Junior Building who attend the toilets outside of class line up and go in pairs.
  • Homework Club.  The supervisors collect children from the Junior Classes and escort them to the club.
  • Children who are picked up late after school will wait outside the Secretary’s Office.
  • Older girls/children are not permitted to convey younger children to the toilets. 

I.  Information & Communication Technology 

  • Please refer to our Internet  Acceptable Use Policy
  • A teacher is always present in the Computer Room during class or supervises computer use in the classroom.
  • Children are not allowed to have mobile phones in their possession in school.  If a mobile phone is required for after-school use it must be left in the office and collected when child is going home. 

J.  The Sacraments 

The Deputy Principal will liaise with the clergy and Parish Council on matters relating to the preparation of children for the Sacraments.   

K.  Charitable Events/ Fundraising Events. 

Children are discouraged from collecting door-to-door for such events. 

L.  Communication 

Clear communication between home and school is essential.  Parents must inform the Class Teacher if there is a change in pick-up arrangements.  Parents are reminded regularly to inform the school of any change of address or contact numbers. 

M.  Discipline 

While respecting the differences in cultural attitudes, teachers have a duty to outline to parents/guardians the inappropriateness of adults slapping/shouting at a child. 

N.  Stay Safe Programme 

Where parents do not want their children to participate in these lessons, the children are supervised in a corresponding class. 

O.  Parent Education 

Parents are encouraged to attend English Language lessons or in-school support programmes organized under the SCP or HSCL programmes.  An information evening on Child Protection will be organized every two years. 

P.  School Tours 

  • Staff members will always accompany groups.
  • When attending the cinema/theatre children will sit together as a group.
  • Visits to the toilet are supervised by a teacher.
  • When children are involved in outdoor pursuits, Health & Safety practices are adhered to.  

Q.  School Resources 

Staff are always aware of the content of CDs, DVDs and Library Books available to classes. 

R.  School Attendance 

Children’s attendance is monitored and reports and referrals are made to the National Education Welfare Board in accordance with the provisions of the Education Welfare Act 2000. See School Attendance Policy. 

T.  Staff Awareness and Response 

  • Each teacher is supplied with a copy of “Child Protection – Key Information for Staff.”
  • Reports to the DLP are kept on file in the office.
  • If there is any suspicion of child abuse proper procedures are adhered to.
  • If the Principal needs to meet with a parent regarding suspected abuse, the Deputy Principal is also present. 

U. Identification 

The name of the DLP and the Deputy DLP are displayed in a prominent position near the main entrance to the school. 

V. Reporting to BoM 

In addition to informing the school authority of those cases where a report involving a child in the school has been submitted to the HSE, the DLP shall also inform the school authority of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made. At each BoM meeting, the Principal’s Report shall include the number of all such cases and this shall be recorded in the minutes of the BOM meeting.  

W. Annual Review 

Sacred Heart Primary School will undertake an annual review of its Child Protection Policy and its implementation by the school. A checklist, to be used in undertaking the review is included at Appendix 1. The school has put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement which might be identified in the annual review. The Board of Management shall make arrangements to inform school personnel that the review has been undertaken. Written notification that the review has been undertaken shall be provided to the Parent Association. A record of the review and its outcome shall be made available, if requested, to the patron and the DES.  

This policy will be made available to all school staff, together with student teachers, substitute teachers, individuals on work experience programmes, games coaches and other individuals who visit the school from time to time. Individuals/Groups who organize extra-curricular activities will also receive a copy of this policy.

 

Appendix 1: Checklist for Annual Review of the Child Protection Policy 

 The Board of Management must undertake an annual review of its Child Protection Policy and the following checklist shall be used for this purpose. 

 The checklist is designed as an aid to conducting this review and is not intended as an exhaustive list. The BoM may wish to include other items in the checklist that are of particular relevance to Sacred Heart Primary School and reserves the right to do so if/when the need occurs.

  

 

As part of the overall review process, Boards of Management should also assess other school policies, practices and activities vis a vis their adherence to the principles of best practice in child protection and welfare as set out in the school’s Child Protection policy

YES

NO

 

Has the Board formally adopted a child protection policy in accordance with the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?

YES

NO

 

As part of the school’s child protection policy, has the Board formally adopted, without modification, the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?

YES

NO

 

Are there both a DLP and a Deputy DLP currently appointed?

YES

NO

 

Are the relevant contact details (HSE and An Garda Síochána) to hand?

YES

NO

 

Has the DLP attended available child protection training?

YES

NO

 

Has the Deputy DLP attended available child protection training?

YES

NO

 

Have any members of the Board attended child protection training?

YES

NO

 

Has the school’s child protection policy identified other school policies, practices and activities that are regarded as having particular child protection relevance?

YES

NO

 

Has the Board ensured that the Department’s ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary

and Post Primary Schools’ are  available to all school personnel?

YES

NO

 

Does the Board have arrangements in place to communicate the school’s child protection policy to new school personnel?

YES

NO

 

Is the Board satisfied that all school personnel have been made aware of their responsibilities under the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?

YES

NO

 

Since the Board’s last annual review, was the Board informed of any child protection 

reports made to the HSE/An Garda Síochána by the DLP?

YES

NO

 

Since the Board’s last annual review, was the Board informed of any cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report to the HSE was made?

YES

NO

 

Is the Board satisfied that the child protection procedures in relation to the making of reports to the HSE/ An Garda Síochána were appropriately followed?

YES

NO

 

Were child protection matters reported to the Board appropriately recorded in the Board minutes?                                           

YES

NO

 

Is the Board satisfied that all records relating to child protection are appropriately filed and stored securely?

YES

NO

 

Has the Board ensured that the Parents’ Association has been provided with the school’s child protection policy?

YES

NO

 

 Ratification of Policy

 

This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. 

 This policy was reviewed by the Board of Management on:  15th February 2016

 

 Signed: Fionnuala Murphy                                                 Signed: Patrick Sayers

             Chairperson of Board of Management                                                      Principal 

 

 

             Date:   15th February 2016                                       Date:  15th February 2016

 

 

Date of next review :  February 2017

  

The Board further endorses Patrick Sayers, Principal, as the school DLP and Celine O Callaghan, Deputy Principal, as Deputy DLP.