Child Protection Policy
Scoil Eoin Baile an Chollaigh
The staff, parents and management of Scoil Eoin, Baile an Chollaigh, Co Chorcaí
have developed and agreed this policy in line with the current recommendations and guidelines relating to child abuse prevention and child protection guidelines.
This policy addresses the responsibilities of the school in the followings areas:-
a) Prevention – curriculum provision
b) Procedures – procedures for dealing with concerns / disclosures
c) Practice – best practice in child protection
An individual copy of this policy document and the appended section from the Department of Education and Science Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures will be made available to all staff.
This document has been drawn up as a response to changes in legislation. It further develops previous policy in this area and takes account of the provisions of the following pieces of legislation.
The Education Act 1998
The Child Welfare Act 2000
In all instances of suspicion or allegations of abuse or neglect, the following two resource books will be referenced.
“Children First” – Department of Health & Children 1999
“Child Protection” – Department of Education & Science 2001
It is incumbent on all staff to familiarize themselves with ‘Children First’ and the DES child protection guidelines and procedures.
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 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.
‘Zippy’s Friends’ an emotional wellbeing programme is taught in first class
Staff will make every effort to ensure that the messages of the programme are reinforced whenever possible.
Class teacher will consult with resource teacher, learning support teacher, S.N.A. to ensure that the messages of the programme are delivered to pupils with special needs.
All staff(Teachers, SNAs, ancillary, secretarial, caretaking etc.) in this school will follow the recommendations for reporting concerns or disclosures as outlined in ‘Children First’ and the Department of Education and Science document, ‘Child Protection, Guidelines and Procedures’. The Board of Management of Scoil Eoin fully endorses the provisions of these references.
The Board of Management of this school has appointed
Gobnait Uí Nuanáin (DLP) b Designated Liaison Person
Leo Lowney ( the deputy DLP.)
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.
• The Board will follow protocol in Chapter 4 of Child Protection Guidelines & Procedures in protecting children in its care.
• All children are made aware that there are adults in the school whom they can approach if they are worried their safety/protection.
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 test is whether or not the person has any legitimate involvement or role in dealing with the issue.
Giving information to those who need to have that information for the protection of a child who may have been or has been abused, is not a breach of confidentiality.
The DLP who is submitting a report to the Health Board or An Garda Síochána 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 Síochána should be contacted immediately.
A child should not be left in a dangerous situation pending Health Board intervention.
Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse
Child abuse can be categorised into four different types.
• Emotional abuse
• Physical abuse
• Sexual abuse
A child may be subject to more than one form of abuse at any given time. Definitions for each abuse are detailed in “Children First “ – (Dept of Health & Children) chapter 3 Sections 3.2 – 3.5 pgs 31 – 33.
Guidelines for Recognition of Child Abuse
A list of child abuse indicators is contained in Appendix 1 “Children First” – Pg 125 – 131. It is important to stress that, no one indicator should be seen as conclusive in itself of abuse; it may indicate conditions other than child abuse. 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.
i. Considering the possibility
ii. Looking out for signs of abuse
iii. Recording of information
Each of these stages is developed in “Children First” Pg 34 – 35 Section 3.9.
Handling Disclosures From Children
“Child Protection” – Pg 9 Section 2.4 gives comprehensive details of how disclosures should be approached.
When information is offered in confidence the member of staff will need tact and sensitivity in responding to the disclosure. The member of staff will need to reassure the child, and retain his/her trust, while explaining the need for action and the possible consequences, which will necessarily involve other adults being informed. It is important to tell the child that everything possible will be done to protect and support him/her but not to make promises that cannot be kept e.g. promising not to tell anyone else.
The following advice is offered to school personnel to whom a child makes a disclosure of abuse.
• Listen to the child
• Take all disclosures seriously
• 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 and retain the record
The following areas have been considered by the staff and board of management of this school 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
Physical contact between school personnel and the child should always be
in response to the needs of the child and not the needs of the adult.
While physical contact may be used to comfort, reassure or assist a child the following should be factors in determining it’s appropriateness:-
• It is acceptable to the child
• It is open and not secretive
• The age and developmental stage of the child
School personnel should avoid doing anything of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
b) Visitors / Guest Speakers:
Visitors/guest speakers should never be left alone with pupils. The school (principal/teachers) has a responsibility to check out the credentials of the visitor/guest speaker and to ensure that the material in use by guests is appropriate.
c) Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs:
In all situations where a pupil needs assistance with toileting /intimate care a meeting will be convened, after enrolment and before the child starts school, between parents/guardians, class teacher, special needs assistant, principal and if appropriate the pupil . The purpose of the meeting will be to ascertain the specific needs of the child and to determine how the school can best meet those needs. The staff to be involved in this care will be identified and provision will be made for occasions when the particular staff involved are absent. A procedure will be agreed with the parents
Two members of staff will be present when dealing with intimate care/ toileting needs. Any deviation from the agreed procedure will be recorded and notified to the DLP and the parents/guardians.
d) 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 in the first instance 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 members
of staff familiar to the child. In all such situations two members of staff should be present.
The parents will be notified.
e) One- to One teaching
It is the policy in this school that one-to-one teaching is often in the best interest of the child. Every effort will be made to ensure that this teaching takes place in an open environment. Parents of children who are to be involved in one-to-one teaching will be informed and their agreement sought.
Work being carried our by special needs assistants will be carried out under the direction of the class teacher in an open environment.
f) Changing for Games/ PE/ Swimming
Pupils will be expected to dress and undress themselves for games/PE/ swimming. Where assistance is needed this will be done in the communal areas and with the consent of parents. Under no circumstances will members of staff/ volunteers be expected to or allowed to dress/undress a child in a cubicle/private area without another member of staff assisting/observing. In such situations where privacy is required the parent/guardian of the child will be asked to assist the child.
In all cases there will be at least two staff members present to supervise changing areas. No staff member will enter changing area on his/her own.
At all times there must be adequate supervision of pupils.
g) School Tours
Children will be supervised at all times on school tours , children should always be in pairs and if public toilets are being used supervision will be as far as practicable ensuring safety.
While every effort will be made to adhere to best practice as agreed and outlined above, in the event of an emergency where this is not possible or practicable a full record of the incident should be made and reported to principal and parents.
Allegations or Suspicions Re: School Employees
The most important consideration for the Chairperson, Board of Management or the DLP is the safety and protection of the child. However Employees also have a right to protection against claims, which are false or malicious.
As employers, the Board of Management should always seek legal advice as the circumstances can vary from one case to another.
There are two procedures to be followed (Section 4.1.3 Page 15 ‘Child Protection’)
i. The reporting Procedure
ii. The Procedure for dealing with the Employee.
The DLP has responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board. The Chairperson, Board of Management has responsibility, acting in consultation with his/her board, for addressing the employment issues.
If the allegation is against the DLP, the Board of Management Chairperson will assume the responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board.
When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the DLP should immediately act in accordance with the procedures outlined in Ch 3, Section 3.2, Pg 11 – Child Protection.
A written statement of the allegation should be sought from the person/agency making the report. The DLP should always inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management.
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 procedures outlined in Section 4.2.3, pg16 – ‘Child Protection’ will then be followed.
The employee, the chairperson and DLP should make the employee aware privately
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/will be/must be/should be 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 Board of Management within a specified period and told that this may be passed to the Gardaí, Health Board, and legal advisers.
The priority in all cases is that no child be exposed to unnecessary risk. Therefore, as a matter of urgency, the Chairman should take any necessary protective measures. These measure should be proportionate to the level of risk and should not unreasonably penalise the employee in any way unless to protect the child.
If the nature of the allegations warrants immediate action in the Chairperson’s opinion, the Board of Management should be convened to consider the matter. This may result in the Board of Management directing that the employee absent him/herself from the school forthwith while the matter is being investigated (administrative leave).
When the Board of Management is unsure as to whether this should occur, advice should be sought from the Gardaí and/or the Child Care Manager of the Health Board and the legal advisers to the Board of Management and regard be had to this advice.
Should the Board of Management direct that the employee absent him/herself as above, such absence of the employee would be regarded as administrative leave of absence with pay and not suspension and would not imply any degree of guilt. The DES should be immediately informed. (Children First – Pg 17).
Board of Management
• The Board of Management has two duties of care; the primary duty is the protection, safety and welfare of the children in its care and the secondary duty is its responsibilities towards its employees.
• As an employer, the Board will seek legal advice if an allegation is made against a school employee. The Board will regularly include Child Protection matters on its agenda.
• The Board will ensure that appropriate and ongoing training as necessary will be provided to the DLP and deputy DLP.
• The Board of Scoil Eoin fully endorses arrangements for the vetting of teaching and non teaching staff as outlined in Circular 0094/2006.
• The Board of Scoil Eoin will ensure that all school staff, teaching and non teaching, are aware of their obligations detailed in “Children First” and procedures to be followed in the event of concern.
• At least one staff meeting per year will have a dedicated slot to remind all personnel of the correct procedures to ensure all personnel are fully aware of the policy on Child Protection, as it applies to Scoil Eoin.
The Chairperson should inform the Board of Management of all the details and remind the members of their serious responsibility to maintain strict confidentiality on all matters relating to the issue and the principles of due process and natural justice.
Links to other policy / planning areas:
Prevention: SPHE curriculum, Strand Unit on ‘Safety and Protection’,
The School Code of Discipline
Procedures: Anti-Bullying Policy.
Health and Safety Statement.
Practice: Swimming Policy/ School Tours / Outings
Review and Monitoring
This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the Board of Management on an annual basis and when the need arises. The board of management will ensure gthat adequate training and support is provided for all staff.
Policy adopted by the BOM on 24/03/2014
Chairperson Kieran Costello