CHILD PROTECTION POLICY MAY 2015
There is an obligation on schools to provide pupils with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and protect them from harm. (DES Child Protection Procedures - Circular 0065/2011) The staff and management of the Central Model Senior School have developed and agreed this policy in line with the current recommendations and guidelines relating to child abuse and child protection guidelines. The Primary aim of this policy is to ensure the safety, protection and welfare of the children in our school.
This policy addresses the responsibilities of the school in the following are Prevention-curricular provision Procedures-procedures for dealing with concerns/disclosures Practice-best practice in child protection
Copies of this policy document will be accessible to all staff on classroom computer desktops. The Department of Education and Skills Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures (2011), Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011) and relevant recording and reporting forms are available in the principal’s office.
Create a safe, trusting, responsive and caring school 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 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 the Children First (2011) and DES guidelines (2011) and procedures in relation to reporting concerns and/or disclosures of child abuse
Provide for ongoing training in this and related areas for all school staff
The Stay Safe programme is the primary resource used to provide education for children on abuse prevention. The programme is taught as part of the schools’ 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 every second year in accordance with the SPHE two–year cycle plan.
All staff (Teachers, SNA's, Ancillary, Secretarial, Caretaking, etc) will follow recommendations for reporting concerns or disclosures as outlined in Children First (2011) and the DES Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures (Circular 0065/2011).
Handling Disclosure from Children:
The following advice is offered to school personnel if a child discloses abuse.
Do listen attentively
Do accept what the child is saying
Do seek clarity gently
Do reassure the child without making promises
Do explain that further help may have to be sought
Do record in writing what the child has said in (as near as possible) the words the child used as soon as possible noting:
What, where and when?
Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries
Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate
Retain the record securely and inform the DLP.
Don't ask leading questions
Don't over react
Don't promise to keep secrets
Don't conduct your own investigation
Don't promise a specific action
Don't' embellish or alter the facts, as you know them.
Action by staff member-If a school employee receives an allegation or has a suspicion that a pupil is being abused they should record the information and report it to the DLP. Ongoing information may be recorded on the record sheet available from the principal. The pupil name is not to appear on any record; the pupil's roll book registration number is to be used instead. All such information is to be kept in a secure, locked place in the school. Confidentiality is vital at all times.
Action by the DLP:
If school staff have concerns about a pupil but are not sure whether to make an actual report, the DLP can consult with the HSE making it clear that he is seeking advice and not making a formal report. If the DLP is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion of child abuse he will:
Report to the HSE immediately - Child and Family Agency, Child Protection Social Work Services (TULSA)
A report should be made to the Duty Social Worker in person, by phone or in writing
In the event of an emergency, the report should be made to the Garda Siochana
The DLP should provide the HSE with as much information as possible as outlined in the Standard Reporting Form.
The DLP should inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management that such a report is being made.
The DLP should inform the parents of a child a report has been made unless it puts the child at further risk. The DLP can have the DDLP or another staff member present if support is needed.
Care Team: Care team is made up of Principal, Deputy Principal, Support Teacher and Home School Liaison Teacher. The purpose of this team is to co-ordinate roles in relation to the children’s needs. It integrates whole school and community approaches to meeting needs of the children identified, to set up supports for the child, parent and teacher and to remediate problems of children. Any teacher may make a referral of a child to the Care Team.
Supervision: All staff will follow the school supervision policy to ensure there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks. Each teacher has a copy of the supervision rota, and a copy is on display in the staffroom.
Bullying: Children are encouraged to play co-operatively at all times. Inappropriate and bullying behaviour is addressed in our Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying policy. If any incident occurs which is considered to be of a sexualized nature the DLP will be notified and will respond accordingly. (See also Code of Behaviour)
Attendance: Our school attendance will be monitored as per our attendance policy. Special attention will be paid to trends in non-attendance and reported to the Education Welfare Officer. Mr. Conway will collate this data. The school’s Care Team will also monitor attendance.
Communication: Every effort will be made to enhance pupil-teacher communication. If pupils have concerns they will be listened to sympathetically. The SPHE/Oral Language/RE programmes allow for open pupil-teacher communication, aiding the pupil-teacher relationship. Opportunities to speak privately to teachers are fostered through “Bubble Time” (if a child wishes to speak to a teacher privately he/she writes or asks for private “Bubble Time” with the teacher).
Toileting Accidents: Clean underwear and suitable clothing will be kept in the school so that if a pupil has an accident of this nature they will be offered fresh clothing into which they can change. If the pupil for whatever reason cannot clean or change themselves and the parents/guardians cannot be contacted the child will be assisted by a member of staff. Class teachers will keep a written record of such incidents and parents will be notified.
One to One Teaching: It is the school policy that one to one teaching may sometimes be necessary. Every effort will be made to ensure that this teaching takes place in an open environment, with accessibility a priority. There are many drop-in visits by the principal to these rooms.
Changing for Swimming: Pupils will be expected to dress and undress themselves for swimming. Where assistance is needed this will be provided in communal areas. At all times there will be adequate supervision of pupils. It is forbidden by law to use any photographic or recording technology in swimming pools in Ireland. Due to the compliment of staff (male and female teachers) it will not always be possible to have gender balance. The Board of Management recognises it is not always possible to have male/female teacher in attendance at swimming. However Board of Management Policy is to have two members of staff present in each dressing/changing room. From September 2011 all reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that staff undertake Garda vetting procedures.
Board of Management:
The Board of Management will arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme, monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and ensure that appropriate information on child protection is provided for all staff, parents and Board of Management members.
Designated Liaison Person:
The DLP is John Caul (Principal) the Deputy Designated Liaison Person is Deirdre Gartland (Deputy Principal).
Act as a liaison with outside agencies, HSE and Gardai.
Inform all school personnel of the availability of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES and Children First Guidelines in the school.
Be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. DLP will keep records of these consultations.
All concerns/disclosures/allegations involving child protection and child welfare issues will be reported to the DLP first (Deputy DLP if DLP is not available).
Each report will be dated and signed by the person making the report. There will be a strict adherence to maintaining confidentiality.
Inform the Chairperson Board of Management that such a report has been made.
Inform the Principal of Central Model Infants School if the child has siblings attending that school.
Definition of Child Abuse:
Child abuse can be categorized into four different types:
Neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. (Children First, pp. 31-36).
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 and/or medical care. Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period time rather than at one specific moment.
Emotional Abuse: is normally to be found in the relationship between caregiver and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning.
Physical Abuse: is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from willful or neglectful failure to protect a child.
Sexual Abuse: occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others.
Allegations/Suspicions of School Employees:
In situations where an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, while the most important consideration is the protection of the child, the Board of Management (BOM) has a duty in respect of their employees as well. As employers the Chairperson of the BOM should seek legal advice in such cases as circumstances can vary from one case to another and guidelines cannot address every scenario.
In such cases there are two procedures that should be followed:
The reporting procedure in respect of the allegation
The procedure for dealing with the employee
The Reporting Procedure in Respect of the Allegation:
The DLP will immediately inform the Chairperson of the BOM
The DLP will seek a written statement of the allegation from the person/agency making the allegation. Parents/guardians may make a statement on behalf of the child
The DLP will seek advice from the HSE and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice
If the DLP, following consultation with the HSE, decides that this matter should not be reported, 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 HSE or Gardai. The provisions of the Protection for Persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 apply, once they report reasonably and in good faith.
If the DLP, following consultation with the HSE, decides that this matter should be reported, he should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with the procedures in the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2011.
The DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as possible.
The Procedure for Dealing with the Employee:
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
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 the HSE/Gardai.
If administrative leave has been invoked, the chairperson will inform the DES. The HSE (and in some cases the Gardai) may also be notified in accordance with the legal advice received.
Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and Chairperson to make a report the Chairperson will inform the BOM as soon as possible.
The BOM will consider the allegations and their source, the advice given by relevant authorities and the written responses of the employee. The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.
Induction: All parents will be made aware of attendance rules and their implications as laid down in the Education Welfare Act (2000). All parents will be given a copy of the Code of Behaviour/Anti-Bullying Policy and RSE policy on their child's enrolment. New teachers and SNA's will be made aware of the school's Child Protection Policy and procedures by the DLP. This policy and Child Protection procedures and practices will be included in the first staff meeting of each new school year.
Acceptable Internet Use Policy: This policy ensures that pupils will benefit from learning opportunities offered by the school’s Internet resources in a safe and effective manner.
Special Educational Needs:
Specific issues may arise when dealing with children with special educational needs/speech and language difficulties/English as a Second Language. They may include:
Communication-some children may have limited verbal skills and other methods of communication may be needed, such as drawing.
Level of Understanding-It is important to take into account a child’s level of understanding when seeking an explanation of events.
Time-some children may have difficulty with the time scale and recall of events.
Ethnicity and Culture:
We recognise and celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity. Our child protection policy applies equally to all pupils, parents and staff.
We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:
Every member of our school community will be aware of and follow our child protection procedures
Delivery of the SPHE curriculum
Resources to support the delivery of SPHE
Delivery and participation of children in the Stay Safe Programme and the RSE programme.
Feedback from all staff.
Timeframe for Implementation:
These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM.
Timeframe for Review:
At the first staff meeting of every year the DLP will initiate a review of the Children First Guidelines and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES.
A review will be conducted based on the criteria above, following any incidents when the guidelines are used.
The policy will be monitored and reviewed by the BOM when the need arises. The BOM will ensure that adequate training and support is provided for all staff.
Policy ratified by the Board of Management on ____________________