Child Protection Policy

Introduction

The Child Protection Policy for Fionnbarra Naofa BNS was revised and updated between November and December 2011 by the staff (teachers, SNAs), parents (as represented by the Parents’ Association) and Board of Management of the aforenamed school.

Following a review of the previous draft of the school’s Child Protection Policy, during a planning session on 16th November 2011, the teaching staff in the school worked on amending the policy to reflect current best practice. Whole staff training from CAPP organised for 30th November 2011.

The new procedures are based on the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011. They incorporate significant improvements to the previous school guidelines that are intended to better ensure consistent and uniform implementation of Children First across all schools.

The policy was then referred on to the school’s Parent’s Association for discussion. A meeting was then held between representatives of the parent body and the school’s DLP in order to address any issues raised by parents. Following this meeting the policy was presented to the school’s Board of Management for ratification.

Rationale

Fionnbarra Naofa BNS aims to provide its pupils with the highest standards of care and protection in order to promote each child’s well-being and safeguard him from harm. The Board of Management of Fionnbarra Naofa BNS has adopted the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2011 in their entirety and wishes to detail in this policy the procedures that will be followed in relation to child protection.

Relationship to the Characteristic Spirit of the School

Fionnbarra Naofa BNS staff aim to create a happy, child friendly environment, where children can grow and learn in confidence. In order to create this kind of atmosphere all pupils must be afforded a high standard of care and protection.

Aims

In implementing this policy, the Board of Management of Fionnbarra Naofa BNS aims to achieve the following:

  1. The creation of an atmosphere of security and safety for all pupils.
  2. The provision of a clear set of procedures for all staff members to follow.
  3. To raise awareness of child abuse namely, emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect, among all members of our school community including Board of Management, teachers, pupils, parents, SNAs, secretary and caretaker.
  4. To identify curricular content and resources that contribute to the prevention of child abuse and to enable children to properly deal with abuse if it occurs.

Guidelines for School Personnel

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP).

In line with section 3.2.1 of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, DES, 2011, the Board of Management must designate a senior member of staff to act as DLP. The usual arrangement in Fionnbarra Naofa BNS is for the principal to act as DLP and the deputy principal to act as Deputy-DLP. The current DLP is Maeve Daly, while the current Deputy-DLP is Aoife Whelan. The names of the DLP and DDLP will be displayed in the school lobby in a prominent position.

2.0 Roles and Responsibilities.

2.1 Role of the Board of Management.

  • The BoM must undertake an annual review of its child protection policy and use the attached checklist for this purpose. The school must put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement identified by the 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 Parents’ Association. A record of the review and its outcome shall be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department. ”
  • 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 Board of Management meeting the principal’s report shall include the number of all such cases and this shall be recorded in the minutes of the board meeting.”
  • It is the role of the BoM to ensure that a Child Protection Policy is planned and implemented in Fionnbarra Naofa BNS.
  • The BoM will appoint a DLP and a DDLP.
  • The BoM will ensure that appropriate and on-going training as necessary will be available for the DLP and DDLP.
  • The BoM will ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
  • The BoM will ensure that relevant on-going training be made available to all teaching staff e.g. Stay Safe Programme training/CAPP whole staff training.
  • The BoM will allow for teacher attendance at necessary child protection / case conferences during school hours.
  • The BoM fully endorses the vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff as outlined in DES Circular, (see attached circular 0063/2010).
  • The BoM will ensure that Child Protection and Health and Safety matters are listed as items on each BoM meeting agenda.
  • The BoM will ensure that all staff members, full-time and temporary are made aware of the Child Protection guidelines for school personnel specific to Fionnbarra Naofa BNS.
  • The BoM will make copies of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, DES, 2011 available to all staff members in the Principal’s office.
  • The BoM recognises that it has a duty of care to both the pupils and employees of Fionnbarra Naofa BNS.
  • As employers, the BoM will seek legal advice if an allegation of abuse against a school employee is made.
  • In such a case the chairperson of the BoM will have responsibility for addressing the employment issues surrounding such an allegation.
  • While it is normally the responsibility of the DLP to report any matters to the HSE, if an allegation of abuse is made against the DLP then it is the responsibility of the chairperson of the BoM to report the matter.
  • The BoM will undertake to make copies of the Child Protection Policy available in the school office and on the school website.

Procedures for BOM in cases of allegations or suspicions of child abuse by a school employee:

A. Reporting

In the event of receiving a complaint or suspicion re an employee:

  • The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.
  • S/He will seek a written statement of the allegation from the person/agency making the allegation. Parents/Guardians may make a statement on behalf of a child.
  • The DLP will seek advice from the relevant HSE and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice.
  • If the DLP, following consultation with the HSE, decides that this matter is not for reporting, 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 relevant HSE or Gardaí on an individual basis. 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 is for reporting s/he should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with the procedures in the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, DES, 2011.
  • The DLP/Deputy DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as is possible.
  • 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.
  • S/he will privately inform the employee of the fact and nature of the allegation and whether or not it has been reported by the DLP to the HSE. The chairperson has a duty to afford the employee fairness and due process – s/he is entitled to details and a copy of the written allegation, to advice and representation and an opportunity to respond to the Board within a week.(Refer to Appendix 9 of Children First National Guidelines).

B. Responding

  • 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 with the HSE/Gardaí.
  • If administrative leave has been invoked, the chairperson will inform the DES. The HSE (in some cases the Gardaí) may also be notified in accordance with legal advice received.
  • Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and Chairperson to make a report (after receiving advice from the HSE) the Chairperson will convene and inform a meeting of the BOM as soon as possible.
  • Where the alleged abuse has taken place within the school, or relates to the abuse of pupils of the school, by school employees outside of school time, the BOM will investigate the matter. They will convene a further meeting, once the relevant information has been gathered. At this meeting the BOM will consider in detail:
    • the allegations made and their source.
    • the advice given by relevant authorities.
    • the written responses of the employee.
  • At this meeting also:
    • the person/agency who is alleging abuse by the school employee should be offered an opportunity to present his/her case to the BOM and may be accompanied by another person.
    • Parents/guardians may act on behalf of child.
    • The employee should also be afforded an opportunity to present his/her case and may also be accompanied.
    • The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.
    • The BOM will make a decision on action, if any, based on their investigation and will inform the employee of this in writing. They will also inform the DES of the outcome, if the employee has been absent on administrative leave.
    • Where it is not possible for the BOM to conduct an enquiry into allegations (e.g. where abuse has occurred in past employment, or where the employee is undergoing investigation by relevant authorities), the Chairperson will act on advice of authorities. The Chairperson will maintain close contact with the HSE and receive reports and records from them where appropriate.

2.2 Role of the Staff Members

  • It is the responsibility of each staff member to familiarise him or herself with the 2011 DES Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, which will be made available by the BoM in the staffroom.
  • All staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.

Guidelines for teachers and staff members in handling disclosures from children

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.

The following advice is offered:

  • 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.
  • Confidentiality should not be assured – 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.
  • Retain the record securely.
  • The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
  • The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.

If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on to the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.

Suspicions of Abuse

  • Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011, especially
    • Chapter 2: Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse.
    • Chapter 3: Basis for Reporting and Standard Reporting Procedures.
    • Appendix 1:Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse.
  • Staff members should observe and record over time the dates, signs, symptoms, behaviour causing them concern.
  • They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

2.3 Role of the DLP

  • The DLP is responsible for all dealings with the HSE, An Garda Síochána and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse.
  • The DLP must immediately inform the chairperson of the BoM when a report involving a pupil has been submitted to the HSE.
  • The DLP must make herself available to other school personnel for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse and it is essential that all school personnel, both full-time and temporary be aware of who the DLP is and her function.
  • The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure, confidential manner and in a secure location.
  • The DLP will keep up to date on current developments regarding child protection.

Guidelines for the DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures

  • Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, they should seek appropriate advice. To do this the DLP/Deputy should make informal contact with the assigned (on duty) Social Worker. The DLP/Deputy in this case, should be explicit that s/he is requesting advice and not making a report. If advised to report the matter, the DLP will act on that advice.
  • A report will then be made to the HSE by the DLP/Deputy in person, by telephone or in writing. In the event of an emergency or non-availability of HSE staff, the report should be made to the Gardaí. The DLP should also report the matter to the Chairperson of the BOM, who should then follow the procedures as outlined in Chapter 3 (Section 3.4) of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011.
  • A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy as comprehensively as possible (See Appendix 3, Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES).
  • Parents/guardians will normally be informed that a report is being made. It may be decided that informing the parent/carer is likely to endanger the child or place the child at further risk. The decision not to inform the parent/carer should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.
  • When the allegation is against the DLP, the chairperson then assumes responsibility for reporting the matter to the HSE and filling in the standard reporting form.
  • Where there are allegations or suspicions of Peer Abuse the DLP will follow the same procedures.
  • Parents of all parties will be notified and the DLP will inform the Chairperson.
  • Principal and class teachers will make arrangements to meet separately with all parents, to resolve the matter.
  • The school will make arrangements to minimise the possibility of the abusive behaviour recurring.

3.0 Child Protection Meetings / Case Conferences

  • A request is made from the HSE through the DLP who should consult with the Chairperson of the B.O.M. of the school. The Chairperson may seek clarification through the DLP as to why the attendance of the school employee is necessary and ascertain who else will be present.
  • The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference. The HSE may provide templates for this purpose
  • The school employee will be advised if children/parents/guardians are going to be present. The school employee may contact the Chairperson of the Child Protection Meeting for advice.
  • The school employee may keep a child’s behaviour under closer observation, if requested to do so. This may include observing the child’s behaviour, peer interactions, school progress or informal conversations.
  • In all cases, individuals who refer or discuss their concerns about the care and protection of children with HSE staff, should be informed of the likely steps to be taken by the professionals involved. Where appropriate and within the normal limits of confidentiality, reporting staff will be kept informed about the outcomes of any enquiry or investigation following on from their report
  • Teachers attending a child protection meeting/case conference should familiarise themselves with the protocol outlined on pg 34 of Children First Guidelines, 2011; pages 13-14 Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES.

4.0 Organisational Implications

The following areas have been considered by the staff and the Board of management of Fionnbarra Naofa 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.

4.0.1 Physical Contact

Physical contact between school personnel and the child should always be in response to the needs of the child. While physical contact may be used to comfort, reassure or assist a child the following should be factors in determining its appropriateness:

  • It is acceptable to the child
  • It is open and not secretive
  • The age and development of the child
  • School personnel should avoid doing anything of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.

4.0.2 Toileting Accidents

  • Clean underwear and change of clothes (trousers) will be kept in the school office so that if a pupil has a toilet accident they can change.
  • In the event of a soiling accident parent or emergency contacts will be contacted.
  • If a pupil for whatever reason cannot clean or change themselves and the parents cannot be contacted, the child will be assisted by members of staff familiar to the child. In such situations 2 members of staff should be present.
  • Junior Infant parents will be notified of above practices at pre-school meeting.
  • Parents will be notified of toileting accidents when children are collected.

4.0.3 Intimate care / toileting needs for children with special needs

  • Prior to the pupil starting school a meeting between parents, class teacher, SNA will take place.
  • The purpose of this meeting will be to ascertain the specific needs of the child and to determine how the school can best meet those needs.
  • The staff involved in this case will be identified and provision will be made for occasions when the particular staff are absent. A written copy of what has been agreed will be made and kept in the pupil’s file.
  • Two members of staff will be present when dealing with intimate care and toileting needs.
  • Any deviation from the agreed procedures will be recorded and notified to the D.L.P. and the parents.

4.0.4 Inappropriate Physical Contact by pupils

Children in the school setting can at all times be overly emotionally attached to their teacher especially where small group or one to one teaching is taking place. This attachment can manifest itself sometimes in wanting to show affection to their teacher which can appear inappropriate to an onlooker. Such behaviour is also not in the best interest of pupil or teacher. The pupil becomes clingy and dependent and the teacher leaves herself open to allegations of misconduct.

  • Should a teacher have any concerns, a meeting will be arranged with the pupil’s parents and the matter discussed.
  • A written copy of what been agreed will be made and kept in the child’s file.
  • This is for the protection of all parties.

4.0.5 Visitors / Guest speakers

Visitors/Guest speakers should never be left alone with pupils. Accord personnel will have an SNA in the room during sessions. The school has responsibility to check out the credentials of all such personnel and to ensure that the material in use by same is appropriate.

4.0.6 Transporting / escort of pupils

Teachers/ancillary staff are directed not to give lifts or escort sick children home on their own.

In the event of an emergency where this directive cannot be implemented a full record of events is reported to Principal and parents.

4.0.7 One to one teaching

  • One to one teaching may at times be 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 pupils who are involved in one to one teaching will be informed and their permission sought.
  • Work been carried out by Special Needs Assistants will be carried out under the direction of the class teacher in an open environment.

4.0.8 First Aid

  • When administering First Aid teachers/ancillary staff must always have at least 2 pupils present.
  • In the event of a child getting sick the same procedures as for toileting accidents will be observed.

4.0.9 Changing clothes

  • Where assistance is needed in dressing and undressing this will be done in communal areas and with consent of parents. Under no circumstance will members of staff / volunteers be expected to dress/undress a child in a private area. At all times there will be adequate supervision of pupils.
  • Parents will not be allowed back to classrooms to collect children until all the children are dressed.
  • Taking photographs in classroom while children are getting dresses/undressed is strictly prohibited.

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.

5.0 Curriculum Implications

In Fionnbarra Naofa BNS all children will be cherished and in fulfilling the general aims of the Primary Curriculum we will

  • Enable the child to live a full life as a child and to realise his potential.
  • Enable the child to develop as a social being through living and co-operating with others and so contribute to the good of society.
  • Prepare the child for further education and lifelong learning.

In endeavouring to realise these aims we will create a positive school climate which is open, inclusive, respectful, fair, democratic and tolerant and which seeks to support the holistic development of all children and all adults working with our children. The strategies we will use to create this environment are detailed in our SPHE Plan and will involve:

  • Creating a health-promoting physical environment.
  • Enhancing self-esteem.
  • Fostering respect for diversity.
  • Building effective communication within the school.
  • Developing appropriate home-school communication.
  • Catering for individual needs.
  • Developing democratic process.

In Fionnbarra Naofa BNS we work to ensure that our school is physically and emotionally safe.

The Stay Safe Programme is the primary resource used to provide education for children on abuse prevention. The programme is taught as part of school’s S.P.H.E. curriculum under the strand “Safety and Protection”. The formal lessons of the programme will be taught in their entirety every second year in accordance with S.P.H.E two year cycle plan.

Our S.P.H.E. programme promotes the protective skills of self-esteem and assertiveness. Circle time methodology is used on a whole class basis. Our anti-bullying policy is implemented in all classes. Co-operative and interpersonal skills are developed through working in pairs and groups.

On enrolment of their child, parents will be informed that the Stay Safe programme is in use in the school and they sign their consent on the enrolment form.

Staff will make every effort to ensure that the message of the programme are re-enforced whenever possible.

List of school policies, practices and activities that are particularly relevant to child protection

  • Code of Behaviour.
  • Anti-bullying policy.
  • Attendance policy.
  • Supervision.
  • Sporting activities/school outings.

Success Criteria

We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:

  • Delivery and participation by all staff in training.
  • Delivery of the SPHE curriculum.
  • Resources to support the delivery of SPHE.
  • Delivery and participation by children in the Stay Safe Programme.
  • Assessment of these procedures by participants following a child protection case.
  • Feedback from all staff.

Time-frame for Review

Annual BoM review using standard checklist attached.

At the first staff meeting of every year the DLP will remind all teachers of the guidelines and copies of relevant sections of The Children First Guidelines and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES will be given to those who require them.

A review will be conducted based on the criteria above, following any and all incidents when the guidelines are used.

Responsibility for Review

BoM, DLP, Principal, all Staff.

Ratification and Communication

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 13.12.2011. The policy was made available to parents of children in the school via the school website and copies of same in the Parent’s room.