Child Protection Policy
In recent years child abuse as a social problem has risen considerably in Ireland. Following on from a number of major enquiries, new legislation and procedures are now in place with an emphasis on the importance of inter-professional and integrating co-ordination and co-operation.
In September 1999 the Department of Health and Children issued new guidelines for the protection and welfare of children called, “Children First”.
Our school policy in relation to Child Abuse has been reviewed. This document was re-drawn following and in-service day on Child Protection attended by the School Principal, an afternoon session given by C.A.P.P. to the whole school staff and a B.O.M. seminar in the Diocesan Centre in Cavan on Child Protection. The members of the Parents Association were all given a copy of the propose document and they discussed it with the School Principal. The Board of Management also discussed the document and all parties are happy that this policy has been developed 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:-
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, and a copy will also be made available in the ‘Welcome Pack’ for new teachers.
It is incumbent on all staff to familiarize themselves with ‘Children First’ and the DES child protection guidelines and procedures.
This policy aims to
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 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.
Staff will make every effort to ensure that the messages of the programme are reinforced whenever possible.
Our resource teachers will liaise with the classroom teachers so that they can also reinforce the Programme.
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’.
(See attached Appendix, pages 5 to 20 from the above DES guidelines)
Designated Liaison Person
- The school principal, Mr Brendan McGowan has been ratified by the Board of Management as the designated liaison person for St. Mogue’s N.S. in all dealings with health boards, An Garda Siochana and other parties, in connection with allegations of abuse. Those other parties should conduct all matters pertaining to the processing or investigation of alleged child abuse through the Designated Liaison Person.
- Where the Designate Liaison Person is unavailable for whatever reason, the Vice-Principal will assume his responsibilities. The Vice-Principal (Mrs Evelyn McManus) has been ratified as the Deputy D.L.P. by the B.O.M.
- The Designated Liaison Person, or his nominated replacement, should immediately inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management of the school that a report involving a pupil in the school has been submitted to the HSE.
Action to be taken by Designated Liaison Person
- If the school employee and the Designated Liaison Person are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion or allegation the Designated Liaison Person should report the matter to the relevant health board immediately. It may be useful to note:
A report should be made to the HSE in person, by phone or in writing.
Duty Social Worker, Drumalee Cross, Cavan. 049 - 4377300
It is generally most helpful if persons wishing to report child abuse concerns make personal contact with the duty social worker.
In the event of an emergency, or the non-availability of HSE staff, the report should be made to An Garda Siochana.
It is recommended that all reports should include as much as possible of the information sought in the Standard Reporting Form as outlined at the end of the policy. Since all information requested might not be available to the person making a report, the forms should be completed as comprehensively as possible. When such a report is being made to the HSE, the Chairperson of the Board of Management of the school should be informed. A decision on whether or not parents/guardians of the child should also be informed should be taken in accordance with the information contained in the confidentiality section of this policy.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs:
At the time of re-writing this policy we do not have any pupils with these needs. However, if a situation arises 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 written copy of what has been agreed will be made and kept in the child’s file.
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.
- Toileting accidents:
A suitable change of 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.
A record of all such incidents will be kept and principal and parents will be notified.
- 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 i.e. one that is not visibly closed off from the main hall. 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.
- Changing for Games/Swimming
Pupils will be expected to dress and undress themselves for games/school matcher/training/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. In such situations where privacy is required the parent/guardian of the child will be asked to assist the child.
When attending swimming, a female member of staff will remain in the female changing area when the children are changing before and after swimming. The school principal, Master McGowan will remain in the male changing area. If the principal is not available, every effort will be made to re-arrange the lessons until he is. If a parent is to take his place, this will only be done after the proper vetting procedures.
At all times there must be adequate supervision of pupils.
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.
Links to other policy / planning areas:
Prevention: SPHE curriculum, Strand Unit on ‘Safety and Protection’,
The School Code of Discipline
Procedures: Enrolment Policy
Health and Safety Statement.
Practice: Swimming Policy
School Tours / Outings
ICT (Use of websites)
It is envisaged that all these policies will serve to reinforce our Child Protection Policy.
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 that adequate training and support is provided for all staff.