Reviewed May 2017
The Board of Management 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 of Scoil Barra Naofa has agreed the following child protection policy:
1. 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’ as part of this overall child protection policy.
2. The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is Ciara Iníon Uí Bhuaigh (Principal)
3. The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP) : Ms. Miriam Murphy (Deputy Principal)
4. In its policies, practices and activities, Scoil Barra Naofa 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; and fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters. The school will adhere to the above principles in relation to any pupil over 18 with a special vulnerability.
5. Please note the content of following in Scoil Barra Naofa:
Appendix 1: Programmes used by teachers with relevance to child protection
Appendix 2: School Policies with relevance to child protection
Appendix 3: Code of Best Practice
Appendix 4: Procedures
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.
6. This policy has been made available to school personnel and the Parents’ Association and is readily accessible to parents on request. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.
7. This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. This policy was initially adopted by the Board of Management on 18th May 2015 and most recently reviewed on 15th May 2017.
Signed: Don McAleese (Chairperson) Date: 15/05/2017
Signed: Ciara Ní Bhuaigh (Principal) Date: 15/05/2017
Date of next review: May 2018
Appendix 1: Programmes with relevance to Child Protection
The following programmes are taught in Scoil Barra Naofa in order to increase awareness around child protection issues and for the prevention of abuse in any form:
- Relationship & Sexuality Programme (RSE) Mandatory
- Stay Safe Programme New edition January 2017 Mandatory
- Walk Tall Programme
- SPHE Curriculum & Making the Links (A useful manual which links the first 3 programmes to the content objectives of the SPHE curriculum.)
- Scoil Barra Naofa Code of Behaviour & Anti-Bullying Policy
Appendix 2: School Policies with Regards to Child Protection
The following school policies have relevance for child protection and are available for viewing in the school office.
- Code of Discipline
- Anti Bullying Policy
- School Attendance Policy
- Access Policy
- Guidelines for Physical Interventions & Restrictive Practices
- Supervision Policy
- Intimate Care Needs Policy
- School Tour / Outings Policy
- Guidelines for working with External Partners
- Acceptable Usage Policy
Appendix 3: Code of Best Practice
Recruitment and selection of volunteers
All staff employed (or volunteering) must be Garda Vetted through the National Vetting Bureau (NVB) and will not be allowed work with children unless they provide a copy of this to the school. The Teaching Council arranges vetting for teachers newly appointed to the school before commencement of employment. Staff will be asked for copies of their vetting forms and these will be kept in the Principal’s office. New Garda Vetting Procedures apply for all employees / volunteers from 29th April 2016 – See Circular 0031/2016
In addition, the child protection-related Statutory Declaration must be provided by all persons appointed to teaching and non-teaching positions of any duration. The school must obtain and view the original statutory declaration and retain a copy for its own records.
Supervision of children
School routines will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of school at all breaks and on all trips and tours. See Supervision Policy.
Early withdrawal of pupils
Any child leaving the school before the end of the school day must be signed out by a parent / guardian in the office. The parent / guardian should enter the school via the door near the office. If they are not known to the Principal / secretary they should be asked for identification. (If another adult is collecting the child, the school much be informed either by phone or in writing by the parent / guardian, as to the identity of the adult collecting their child.) The adult will be given a permission slip which they may bring to the classroom and give to the Class Teacher. Parents and children then exit the school again through reception. (See Access Policy)
Collection of children at home time
Infants are collected at 1:30pm and are released into the care of parents / guardians or adults identified to the school (by parents / guardians) at the beginning of the school year e.g. child minder etc. If a person outside of these named adults is to collect an infant pupil on a given day, the school must be informed of the identity of this other adult either verbally in person, or by phone, or in writing. Equally if a child is to be collected by a classmate’s parent etc., the school should be informed in advance, again either verbally, or by phone, or in writing. If the school has not been informed of a change as above, the school will not release the pupil into the care of another adult. The school will attempt to contact the parents / guardians to confirm the collection details.
Children from 1st to 6th Class are walked by their class teacher to the school gates, where depending on arrangements made by their family, they either are met by an adult etc. or commence their walk home. The school provides supervision at the school gate until 2:40pm (usually the Principal, but in his/her absence another member of staff). Any child remaining at this point / unsure of who is collecting them etc. is brought to the office, where a call is made to their parent / guardian. If there is a change to the collection plans made with the child, parents / guardians should contact the school so that they can update the child.
Changes in Family Circumstances
If there any changes in family circumstances (separation of parents etc.), the school will continue to release the child into the care of either parent (assuming both have guardianship). In the event of a court order, furnished to the school by a parent, the school will only release the child into the care of the adult / provide access as directed by the court. In such circumstances, the school has internal systems in place to ensure communication with relevant staff members, so that they are aware of these changes.
Children are to be encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under our Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying Policy, if an incident occurs which is considered to be of a sexualised nature the DLP will be notified, who will record it and address it appropriately.
Teachers will ensure that children are visible in the school yard. Children will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms where they would not be under adult supervision. They are allowed to leave the school yard only to go to the bathroom with a Toilet Pass. (See Scoil Barra Naofa’s Supervision Policy).
Visitors/ Guest Speakers
Teachers on yard duty will be aware of visitors entering the school yard. All external tutors/ trades people/ visitors sign in and out of school at reception. All school entrances are locked after the children enter the school. (See Access Policy). Guest speakers are never left unsupervised with pupils. The school has a responsibility to check out the credentials of the speaker and to ensure that the materials in use by guests are appropriate.
Relationships and Attitudes
Teachers should ensure that their relationships with students are appropriate to the age, maturity and sex of the children and that their conduct does not give rise to comment or speculation. Attitudes, demeanour and language all require care and thought when dealing with older children.
Physical Contact with Children
Teachers are advised not to make unnecessary physical contact with children. However a distressed child may need reassurance involving physical comforting such as a Parent might provide. Physical punishment is illegal as is any form of physical response to misbehaviour, unless it is by way of restraint using the minimum force necessary to ensure the safety of the children / adults involved. See Guidelines for Physical Interventions & Restrictive Practices
Whenever possible this should be done in the presence of others. First-aid to a pupil should also be administered whenever possible in the presence of others. Following any incident where a Teacher feels that his/her actions may be misconstrued, a written report of the incident should be submitted immediately to the Principal.
Children travel to the pool in Leisureworld in a bus accompanied by two teachers and two parents / SNAs. A rota of Parents is set up in June to accompany children to the pool. These parents are subject to Garda vetting. (It is ensured annually that Garda Vetting for parents have been updated & are in date. New procedures apply from 29th April 2016). At the pool the Teacher stands at the door of the changing room which is slightly ajar. The teacher can then keep an eye on the children lining up on the corridor and the children in the changing room. Two parents / SNAs are allowed into the changing room at a time. On no account should a teacher or parent be alone in the changing room with the children. If the need arises, a parent may accompany his or her own child to a private cubicle if he / she is having difficulty with changing. If a child needs to go to the toilet during the pool time, he / she is accompanied to the bathroom door by the teacher and escorted back to the pool when finished.
Teachers will not carry children alone in their cars. At least two children must travel with the teacher in the car or another adult and child. Necessary insurance to transport children in a private vehicle would be in place.
Induction of Teachers and Ancillary Staff
The DLP, Ciara Iníon Uí Bhuaigh, will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of this policy and the Children First Guidelines.
One to One Teaching / Interactions with Children
If a Teacher and / or other Professional e.g. Psychologist has to work with an individual child, they are requested to leave the door open if there is not a glass partition.
We monitor trends in non-attendance in terms of possible neglect, physical or emotional abuse.
Toileting / Intimate Care Needs
See Intimate Care Policy.
Staff will always ensure that any DVD shown to the children is age appropriate and is educational in their content.
Children will only have access to websites deemed age-appropriate. All other sites are blocked using the NCTE filters. Photographs of children are only placed on the school website / other sites deemed appropriate by the school with parental permission. Internet Safety talks are provided annually for both parents and pupils. Scoil Barra Naofa is pro-technology and we attempt to make our pupils and staff aware of any dangers, to the best of our ability, especially those dangers linked with child protection concerns. See Acceptable Usage Policy.
Appendix 4: Procedures
Guidelines for Recognition
The ability to recognise child abuse depends as much on a person’s willingness to accept the possibility of its existence as it does on their knowledge and information. The following constitute reasonable grounds for concern:
1. Specific information from the child that he / she was abused.
2. An account by a person who saw the child being abused.
3. Evidence, such as injury or behaviour, which is consistent with abuse and unlikely to be caused another way.
4. An injury or behaviour which is consistent both with abuse and with an innocent explanation but where there are corroborative indicators supporting the concern that it is the case of abuse e.g. a pattern of injuries, an implausible explanation or dysfunctional behaviour.
5. Consistent evidence, over a period of time that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect.
Teachers who suspect child abuse should report their concerns to the DLP at the first instance and carefully record their observations over a period of time. (Note Record facts only using child’s registration number.)
Disclosures of child abuse from a third party will be reported to the DLP. If a third party starts to tell a teacher about an alleged child abuse incident the teacher will ask them to speak to the DLP. If the person does not inform the DLP the teacher will do so.
Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a staff member, the person receiving that 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.
- 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
- Do not over-react
- 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
- Sign and date the record
- Retain the record securely
Whether cases of abuse are suspected or confirmed, confidentiality will be respected. The information on individual cases will be restricted to the teacher(s) immediately involved with the child and will be on a need to know basis. Giving information to others for the protection of the child is not a breach of confidentiality. The DLP will record the incident.
It is not the responsibility of the teacher or the DLP to investigate the issue. Informal contact will be made with the HSE, seeking advice as to whether a referral should be made. The DLP will be explicit that s/he is requesting advice and not making a report. It is not necessary at this stage for the DLP to disclosure his/her name or the name of the school. The advice given by the HSE must be acted on.
In the event of emergency and the unavailability of the HSE, the matter is referred to An Garda Siochána. A child should not be left in a dangerous situation pending Health Board intervention.
If the advice is not to refer, the DLP will record this advice as the reason for non – referral. The Chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed. The Teacher who informed the DLP should also be given a clear statement, in writing, as to the reasons why action is not being taken. The Teacher should be advised that if he / she remains concerned about the situation, he / she is free to consult with or report to the HSE.
If the advice is to refer the case, the DLP will do so using the standard form (Children First Appendix 3). However, prior to referring, the DLP will inform the Parent(s) of his intention to refer, unless this course of action is injurious to the child. Following referral and the completion of the standard form, this school will have no further part to play in the investigation. If a case conference is required, the DLP will be invited to attend. The HSE does not have an obligation to report back to the school on the outcome of an investigation but the reporter may contact the HSE for an update.
Where a child transfers from or leaves the school (including transfer from primary to post-primary) and where the DLP is aware that a child protection report relating to that child has been made to the HSE, he or she must inform the HSE of the child’s transfer.
Allegations against an Employee
If an allegation of abuse is made against the DLP, then the suspicion and any records will be passed to the Chairperson of the Board of Management and will proceed as per guidelines.
Legal advice will always be sought if an allegation of abuse is made against an employee.
A written statement of the allegation should be sought (by the DLP) from the person making the report.
The employee is made aware of the allegation against him / her.
The employee will be given an opportunity to respond to the allegation in writing and at a meeting of the Board of Management. The most important consideration for the Board of Management is the safety and protection of the child but is also aware that school employees may be subject to erroneous and / or malicious allegations and as such are entitled to a full and fair enquiry.
The Board of Management will review the allegation, giving due consideration to any advice given by the HSE.
The Board of Management will consider placing the employee on administrative leave, with full pay, pending the outcome of investigations.
On conclusion of any investigation the BOM will then determine the employment status of the employee.
Protection for Reporters
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report a concern ‘reasonably and in good faith’.
If a concern is reported to the DLP a promise or guarantee of anonymity cannot be made.
Qualified privilege exists as a legal protection within schools where teachers and other staff have a duty, right or interest to act in a child’s best interests and pass on a concern to the DLP or Board of Management.
Appendix 5: 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. This checklist will act as an aid in carrying out this review.
Has the Board formally adopted a child protection policy in accordance with the ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’?
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’?
Are there both a DLP and a Deputy DLP currently appointed?
Are the relevant contact details (HSE and An Garda Siochána) to hand?
Has the DLP attended available child protection training?
Has the Deputy DLP attended available child protection training?
Have any members of the Board attended child protection training?
Has the school’s child protection policy identified other school policies, practices and activities that are regarded as having particular protection relevance?
Has the Board ensured that the Department’s ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools’ are available to all school personnel?
Has the Board arrangements in place to communicate the school’s child protection policy to new school personnel?
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’?
Since the Board’s last annual review, was the Board informed of any child protection reports made to the HSE/An Garda Siochána by the DLP?
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?
Is the Board satisfied that the child protection procedures in relation to the making of reports to the HSE / An Garda Siochána were appropriately followed?
Were child protection matters reported to the Board appropriately recorded in the Board minutes?
Is the Board satisfied that all records relating to child protection are appropriately filed and stored securely?
Has the Board ensured that the Parents’ Association has been provided with the school’s child protection policy?
Signed: __________ (Chairperson) Date: ________________
Signed: _____________ (Principal) Date: _________________
Notification regarding the Board of Management’s annual review of the Child Protection Policy
To: Staff of Scoil Barra Naofa, Parents’ Association & Wider School Community
The Board of Management of Scoil Barra Naofa wishes to inform you that:
The Board of Management’s annual review of the school’s Child Protection Policy was completed at the Board meeting of 15th May 2017.
This review was conducted in accordance with the checklist set out in Appendix 2 of the Department’s ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary & Post Primary Schools’.
Signed: Don McAleese (Chairperson) Date: 15/05/2017
Signed: Ciara Ní Bhuaigh (Principal) Date:15/05/2017