Child Protection

St. Brendan’s N.S

Rathcoole, Mallow, Co. Cork                                         Tel: 029 – 58410

Child Protection Policy

(Revised 2011 – Change in personnel)

1    Introductory Statement

This policy has been drawn up as a response to the implementation of the Education Act, 1998 and Child Welfare Act, 2000.  It was developed in 2008 by the Board of Management (BOM), Principal and staff of St. Brendan’s N.S., Rathcoole, with support from the PCSP and SDPS guidelines and reference to Children First (Dept. Health and Children, 1999) and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures (DES, 2001);

and revised in 2010 in response to St. Senan’s Diocesan Template.

Representatives of parents of the school were involved in the process of drafting and revising the policy.

1.1  Rationale

The BOM of St. Brendan’s N.S. has adopted the Department of Education and Science Guidelines and Procedures for schools in relation to child protection and welfare. This policy is an outline of how St. Brendan’s N.S. proposes to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

1.2  Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

St. Brendan’s N.S. seeks to help the children to grow and develop into healthy, confident, mature adults, capable of realising their full potential as human beings. We strive to create a happy, safe environment for the children where they feel secure, knowing that if they have concerns, they will be listened to with understanding and respect and their concerns will be addressed.

1.3  Aims

  • 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.
  • To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealing with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.
  • 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.
  • To support the creation of a safe, trusting, responsive and caring environment.
  • To promote ongoing training in this and other related areas for all school staff.

2    Child Abuse: a Definition

St. Brendan’s N.S. has adopted the definition of child abuse as described in the ‘Children First Guidelines’.

The ‘Children First Guidelines’, defines child abuse by using 4 categories: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. It should be noted that a child may be subject to more than one form of abuse at any given time.

2.1  Neglect

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, medical care or attachment to and affection from adults. The threshold of significant harm is reached when the child’s needs are neglected to the extent that their well-being and/or development are severely affected.

2.2  Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is normally found in the relationship between a care-giver (an adult person who has responsibility for a child in the short or long term) and a child rather than in a specific event or pattern of events. It occurs when a child’s needs for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. It is rarely manifested in terms of physical symptoms. Children show signs of emotional abuse by their behaviour (for example excessive clinginess to or avoidance of the parent or carer), their emotional state (low self-esteem, unhappiness) or their development. The threshold of significant harm is reached when abusive interactions dominate and become typical of the relationship between the child and parent or carer.

2.3  Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any form of non-accidental injury or any injury that results from willful or neglectful failure to protect a child. Examples of physical injury include:

  • shaking,
  • use of excessive force in handling,
  • deliberate poisoning,
  • suffocation,
  • Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy (where parents make up stories of illness about their child or cause physical signs of illness), or
  • allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.

2.4  Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for their gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • exposing sexual organs or intentionally performing any sexual act in the presence of a child,
  • intentional touching or molesting the body of a child, by a person or object, for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification,
  • masturbating in the presence of a child or involving the child in the act of masturbation,
  • engaging in sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal,
  • sexually exploiting a child, or
  • consensual sexual activity between an adult and a child under 17 years.

(In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that, for the purposes of criminal law, the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years).

2.5  Aggressive/Bullying/Sexualised Behaviour:

While bullying is not a category in itself, it is important to be aware of it in relation to child abuse. Bullying can be defined as repeated verbal, psychological or physical aggression that is conducted

by an individual or group against others. It includes behaviour such as teasing, taunting, threatening and hitting.

In St. Brendan’s N.S. peer to peer bullying as described above will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

Bullying behaviour that is perpetrated by an adult against a child will be dealt with under the provisions of this policy.

Sexualised behaviour displayed by an individual child, or occurring between children is inappropriate. Should such behaviour occur the school:

  • Will arrange meetings (separate meetings if there are children from more than one family implicated) with the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the child/children involved.
  • May if deemed appropriate seek advice from the HSE.

In a situation where child abuse is alleged to have been carried out by another child, the child protection procedures will be adhered to for both the victim and the alleged abuser; that is, the matter will be considered a child care and protection issue for both children.

3    Confidentiality

The Board of Management and staff of St. Brendan’s N.S. give an undertaking to deal with all child protection issues with the utmost confidentiality.

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 has been (or may have been) abused is not a breach of such confidentiality.

The DLP who is submitting a report to the HSE or Gardaí 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.

4    Responsibility to Report Suspected or Actual Abuse

Any person who suspects that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse, has a responsibility and a duty of care to report their concerns to the Health Service Executive or an Garda Siochána, either directly or through the Designated Liaison Person.

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to people who report child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to the HSE or the Gardaí.

Persons furnishing information with regard to suspicions of child abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to the DLP or Chairperson of the Board of Management are protected under ‘Qualified Privilege’ as defined by Common Law.

It is a criminal offence to make a report of child abuse ‘knowing the statement to be false’.


5    Guidelines for school personnel

5.1  Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • The Board of Management has appointed Mrs. Sheila Healy (Deputy Principal) as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in St. Brendan’s N.S. to have specific responsibility for child protection.
  • Mrs. Susan O’Connor (Principal Teacher) has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if she is unavailable for whatever reason.
  • The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each new Board of Management. The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as she is replaced by the BOM for whatever reason.

5.2  Roles and Responsibilities

  • The Board of Management has primary responsibility for the care and welfare of their pupils.
  • The DLP has specific responsibility for child protection in the school.
  • All staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.

5.3  Role of the Board of Management

  • To arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.
  • To monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • To promote appropriate staff development and training

Specifically they will

  • Appoint a DLP and deputy DLP.
  • Have clear procedures for dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse (See below)
  • Monitor the progress of children at risk.
  • Ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
  • Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against one of the school’s employees which have been reported to the Health Service Executive (HSE) or Gardaí.
  • To decide on teachers’ attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.


5.3.1 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 (Principal and) 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 Care Manager 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 Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001.
  • 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. (Refer to 4.2 – 4.3, p.16 of Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001.) 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • At this meeting also
  • 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.

5.3.2 Allegations Against Employees Pertaining to Previous Employment / Incidents Outside of School Hours:

  • In situations where the allegations of abuse relate to the past employment of the school employee and where these allegations are being investigated by either the HSE or An Garda Síochána the Chairperson of the Board of Management will maintain regular and close liaison with those authorities and a decision on the position of the school employee will be taken having due regard to the advice given to the Board of Management by those authorities. If the decision is taken that the school employee should take administrative leave of absence, the Department of Education and Science will be immediately informed.
  • Where the alleged abuse has taken place within St. Brendan’s N.S. or relates to the abuse of pupils of the school by school employees outside of school time, the Board of Management will convene a further meeting. At this meeting the Board will consider in detail the allegations which have been made against the school employee and the source of those allegations, the advice of the HSE and/or An Garda Síochána in relation to the allegation and the written response of the employee to the allegations. At this meeting
    • the person/agency who is alleging abuse by the school employee will be offered an opportunity to present his/her case to the Board and may be accompanied by another person in doing so.
    • Parents/guardians may act on behalf of a child.
    • Likewise the employee will be afforded an opportunity to make a presentation of his/her case to the Board and may also be accompanied by another person.

Having followed the procedures outlined above, and having satisfied itself that it has sufficient information to hand in order to make a determination in relation to the allegation, the Board will then make a decision on the action, if any, it considers necessary to take in respect of the employee. The Department of Education and Science will be informed of the outcome where the school employee had been directed to absent him/herself on administrative leave.

5.3.3 BOM Recruitment and Selection of Staff Policy

  • Garda clearance will be sought for all new staff prior to appointment.
  • Before teachers are appointed to the staff of the school, referees are contacted
  • Before ancillary staff are appointed to the staff of the school, referees are contacted.
  • Referees are consulted prior to the appointment of long-term substitutes or temporary teachers
  • In the case of short-term substitutes or temporary teachers, they are vetted by the INTO or IPPN
  • Volunteers/ Coaches who assist with games always work with teachers present

5.3.4 Induction of New Employees

  • All new employees will be given a copy of this policy.
  • The DLP will be responsible for:
    • providing all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001 and Children First Guidelines, 1999.
    • providing all new staff with a copy of this policy document and discussing their obligations with regard to same.
  • All new teachers are expected to teach the designated SPHE objectives for their class.

5.4  Role of the Staff Members (inc. Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker, Secretary)

  • All staff have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.
  • Staff are responsible for adhering to the child protection procedures as detailed in the school’s child protection policy.
  • Teaching staff are responsible for the delivery of the curriculum aimed at the prevention of child abuse.
  • Staff and volunteers are expected to comply with the child protection Code of Good Practice as detailed in this document.
  • All school personnel are especially well placed to observe changes in behaviour, failure to develop or outward signs of abuse in children. In situations where school staff or volunteers suspect abuse or have concerns regarding the welfare of a child they are required to act in accordance with the procedures detailed in this document.
  • Staff are provided with copies of the following guidelines and it is the responsibility of all staff to familiarise themselves with the guidelines.
  • Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001
  • Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 1999, especially
    • Chapter 3    Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
    • Chapter 4    Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
    • Appendix 1   Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse

5.4.1 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
  • 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.
  • Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children,1999, especially
  • 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.
  • What, where and when?
  • Record your questions as well as their answers
  • Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.
  • Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate.

5.4.2 Suspicions of Abuse

  • Chapter 3 :Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
  • Chapter 4: Basis for Reporting and Standard  Reporting Procedures
  • Appendix 1:Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse

5.4.3 Anonymous Complaints/ Rumours of Abuse

Anonymous complaints and/or Rumours can be difficult to deal with but should not be ignored. In all cases the safety and welfare of the child/children is paramount. Any such complaints or rumours relating to inappropriate behaviour should be brought to the attention of the DLP. The information can then be checked out and handled in a confidential manner.

5.5  Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • The DLP has specific responsibility for Child Protection.
  • The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, HSE, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns
  • The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES and Children First Guidelines in the school. S/he will circulate the DES guidelines and photocopy/circulate to all staff Chapters 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 of the Children First guidelines and advise on good practice
  • The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. S/he will keep records of these consultations.
  • The DLP will seek advice from the HSE.
  • The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the HSE or/and An Garda Síochána based on this advice.
  • 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.

5.5.1 Role of the Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP)

  • The Deputy Designated Liaison Person is responsible for performing the DLP’s responsibilities if he/she in unavailable or in his/her absence.

5.5.2 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/ Care Manager[1]. 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 4 (Section 4.3) of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 1999.[2]
  • A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy as comprehensively as possible (See Appendix 4, 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.
  • If following consultation with the appropriate HSE staff, the Designated Liaison Person decides that the concerns of a school employee will not be referred, the school employee will be given a clear statement, in writing, as to the reasons why action is not being taken. The school employee will be advised that, if he/she remains concerned about the situation, he/she is free to consult with or report to the HSE.
  • 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.

5.6  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. (See Appendix 3, Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES).
  • 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 pgs. 149 – 155 of Children First Guidelines, 1999; pgs. 13-14 Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES.

6    Code of Good Practice for BOM members, Staff & Volunteers

For the purposes of the Code of Good Practice the term personnel describes anyone who engages with pupils of the school during the school day (including school activities organised outside of school hours or off the school premises), whether as a paid employee or as a volunteer.

6.1   General Conduct

  • Physical punishment of pupils is not permissible under any circumstances.
  • Verbal abuse of pupils, the use of sexual innuendo or telling jokes of a sexual nature in the presence of pupils is never acceptable. Great care should be taken if it is necessary to have a conversation regarding sexual matters with a pupil.
  • Being alone with a pupil is not good practice.  If a situation arises where it is necessary to be alone with a pupil, another member of staff should be informed immediately, and the room door should remain open for the duration.  A diary note that the meeting with the young person took place, including the reasons for it, should be made.
  • All pupils must be treated with equal respect; favouritism is not acceptable.
  • Personnel should not engage in or tolerate any behaviour – verbal, psychological or physical – that could be construed as bullying or abusive.
  • A disproportionate amount of time should not be spent with any particular pupil or group of pupils.
  • Under no circumstances should school personnel give alcohol, tobacco or drugs to pupils.

6.2   Respect for Physical Integrity

  • The physical integrity of pupils must be respected at all times.
  • Personnel must not engage in inappropriate physical contact of any kind – including tough physical play, physical reprimand and horseplay (tickling, wrestling). This should not prevent appropriate contact in situations where it is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of a pupil (for example, where a pupil is distressed).

6.3   Respect for Privacy

  • The right to privacy of pupils must be respected at all times.
  • Particular care regarding privacy must be taken when pupils are in locations such as changing areas, swimming pools, showers and toilets.
  • Photographs of pupils must never be taken while they are in changing areas (for example, in a locker room or bathing facility) or toilets.
  • Tasks of a personal nature (for example, helping with toileting, washing or changing clothing) should not be done for pupils if they can undertake these tasks themselves.

6.4   Meetings with Pupils

  • If it is necessary to meet alone with a pupil, such meetings should not be held in an isolated environment. The times and designated locations for meetings should allow for transparency and accountability (for example, be held in rooms with a clear glass panel or window, in buildings where other people are present, and with the door of the room left open).
  • Both the length and number of meetings should be limited.
  • Parents or guardians should be informed that the meeting(s) took place, except in circumstances where to do so might place the pupil in danger.
  • When the need for a visit to the home of a pupil or young person arises, professional boundaries must be observed at all times.

6.5   Pupils with Special Needs or Disability

  • Pupils with special needs or disability may depend on adults more than other pupils for their care and safety, and so sensitivity and clear communication are particularly important
  • Where it is necessary to carry out tasks of a personal nature for a pupil with special needs, this should be done with the full understanding and consent of parents or guardians.
  • In carrying out such personal care tasks, sensitivity must be shown to the pupil and the tasks should be undertaken with the utmost discretion.
  • Any care task of a personal nature which a pupil or young person can do for themselves should not be undertaken by personnel.
  • In an emergency situation where this type of help is required, parents should be fully informed as soon as is reasonably possible.

6.6   Vulnerable Pupils

  • As especially vulnerable pupils may depend on adults more than other children for their care and safety, sensitivity and clear communication are of utmost importance.
  • Personnel should be aware that vulnerable pupils may be more likely than other pupils to be bullied or subjected to other forms of abuse, and may also be less clear about physical and emotional boundaries.
    • It is particularly important that vulnerable pupils should be carefully listened to, in recognition of the fact that they may have difficulty in expressing their concerns and in order that the importance of what they say is not underestimated.

6.7   Handling Disclosures from Pupils

Personnel dealing with disclosures from pupils should act with tact and sensitivity. In particular personnel who find themselves in such a situation should:

  • Listen to the pupil
  • Not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the pupil
  • Offer reassurance but not make promises (e.g. promising not to tell anyone else)
  • Not stop a pupil recalling significant events
  • Not over react
  • Explain that further help may have to be sought
  • Record the conversation accurately and retain the record
  • Report the matter to the DLP (or to the Chairperson of the BoM if the DLP is implicated)

6.8   Maintaining Records

When child abuse is suspected, it is essential to have a record of all the information available.

Personnel should note carefully what they have observed and when they observed it. Signs of physical injury should be described in detail and, if appropriate, sketched. Any comment by the child concerned, or by any other person, about how an injury occurred should be recorded, preferably quoting words actually used, as soon as possible after the comment has been made.

All records so created should be regarded as highly confidential and retained in a secure location by the Designated Liaison Person.


7    Organisational Implications

School procedures already in place and new procedures being put in place have been examined with reference to the Children First Guidelines and any Child Protection issues that may arise have been addressed.

The following areas of specific concern have been addressed in this review:

  • School Security
  • Accidents
  • Attendance
  • Behaviour
  • Bullying
  • Changing (PE/ Swimming etc)
  • Children travelling in staff cars
  • Communication
  • Induction of pupils
  • Induction of staff
  • Internet Use
  • Mobile Phones
  • One-to-one Teaching
  • Photographs and Images of Children
  • Physical Contact
  • Record keeping
  • Safety
  • School Tours/ Outings/ Extra Curricular Activities
  • Supervision
  • Swimming
  • Toileting Issues
  • Visibility
  • Visitors/ Guest Speakers/ Teaching Practice

School Security

  • Access to the school is by one door only (which shall be controlled by members of the ancillary staff)
  • Collection of pupils in instances where a parent is not available to collect must be done by a person who has been authorised by the parent (phone message or note to the school)
  • Pupils doing errands within school/ to Post Office – should be sent in twos
  • Pupils being removed from class temporarily (non-participation/ punishment) – must be sent to another classroom
  • Where parents act as volunteers with regard to assisting in the supervision of an activity such as swimming, they are assigned in twos (with a teacher/ SNA).

Accidents

While every precaution will be taken under our Health and Safety Statement to ensure the safety of children, we realise that accidents will happen. Accidents will be noted in our Incident book and will be addressed under our accident policy as part of Health and Safety.

Attendance

Procedures with regard to the monitoring of school attendance are contained in the school’s Code of Behaviour. With regards to child protection we will pay particular attention to trends in non-attendance. We will also monitor non-attendance in correlation with signs of neglect/physical/emotional abuse.

Behaviour

Children are encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed as per our Code of Behaviour and Discipline. If an incident occurs which we consider to be of a sexualised nature we will notify the DLP who will record it and respond to it appropriately.

Bullying

Bullying behaviour will be addressed as per our Anti-Bullying policy. If the behaviour involved is of a sexualised nature or regarded as being particularly abusive/ extreme bullying behaviour then the matter will be referred to the DLP.

Children travelling in staff cars

Personnel will not undertake any car or minibus journey alone with a pupil. If, in certain circumstances, only one adult is available, there should be a minimum of two pupils present for the entire journey. In the event of an emergency, where it is necessary to make a journey alone with a pupil, a record of this will be made and the pupil’s parent(s) or guardian(s) will be informed as soon as is possible.

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, which is hoped will aid the pupil-teacher relationship. If teachers have to communicate with pupils on a one-to-one basis, they are required to leave the classroom door open.

Induction of Pupils

All parents and children will be made aware of attendance rules and their implications as laid down in the Education Welfare Act (2000). All parents will be informed of the programmes in place in the school that deal with personal development e.g. RSE, Walk Tall, Stay Safe and SPHE. All new parents are given a copy of the school’s enrolment policy, which outlines the procedures parents and children should use when contacting the school if there are absences or concerns of an educational/personal/family matter. Parents are encouraged to make an appointment with the class teacher/principal if they wish to discuss their child’s progress. All parents are given a copy of the school’s Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying policies.

Induction of Staff

The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001 and Children First Guidelines, 1999. The DLP will give a copy of the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, Chapters 3 & 4 and Appendix 1 of Children First and this Child Protection Policy to all new staff.

All new teachers are expected to teach the designated SPHE objectives for their class.

The Principal is responsible for the mentoring of new teachers and will be responsible for supporting new teachers as they implement the SPHE objectives. The Principal is also responsible for ensuring that new teachers know how to fill in the roll book correctly and informing the teacher of record keeping procedures within the school.

Internet Use

All internet use by pupils and staff will be in accordance with the school’s Acceptable Use Policy.

Mobile Phones

The Board of Management has banned pupils from using mobile phones during the school day. Procedures with regard to the possession of mobile phones will be in accordance with the school’s Mobile Phone Policy.

One-to-one Teaching

Parent(s)/Guardian(s) will be made aware when one-to-one teaching is deemed to be in the best interest of a pupil. Written consent will be required for any one-to-one teaching. As per our LS/SEN Policy, if one-to-one teaching is necessary, it shall take place in a clearly visible classroom with a glass door.

Photographs & Images of Children

The school undertakes to seek parents’ or guardians’ permission for the use of photographs of pupils for any publicity purposes.  At school ceremonies and other public events, the school will publicly announce the use of photographic and audio visual equipment so that anyone who would rather not be photographed or videoed can remove themselves.  Only images of pupils in appropriate dress will be used.  Inappropriate use of images of pupils will be brought to the attention of the DLP.  No images of any pupil may be taken by an external agency or person without receiving the prior authorisation of the school principal.

Physical Contact

All teachers act ‘in loco parentis’ and as such physical contact in the manner of a prudent parent is deemed appropriate.  All members of the school community are expected to

  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact
  • Any necessary contact should be in response to the needs of the child and not the adult
  • It should be in an open environment with the permission and understanding of the participant
  • It should be determined by the age and developmental stage of the participant – Don’t do something that a child can do for themselves
  • Never engage in inappropriate touching

Pupil awareness of appropriate and inappropriate touch is taught as an element of the Stay Safe programme.

Record Keeping

Teachers will keep each child’s file updated with results of assessments carried out, dates and details of meetings with parents and notes from parents. The records are kept securely in each teacher’s filing cabinet. Roll books will be updated daily. Sensitive information regarding children will be shared on a need-to-know basis. All educational files of pupils who no longer attend this school are kept in the filing cabinet in the principal’s office for 5 years. Further details on record keeping are found in the school’s Record Keeping Policy.

Safety

  • Teachers / coaches / volunteers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the pupils with whom they work
  • Ensure activities are suitable for age and stage of development of participants
  • Keep a record of any specific medical conditions of the participants
  • Keep a record of emergency contact numbers for parents / guardians
  • Ensure any necessary protective gear is used
  • Ensure First Aid kit is close at hand with access to qualified first-aider
  • Know the contact numbers of emergency services
  • Keep first aid kit stocked up
  • Ensure access to medical personnel if needed and have a emergency plan
  • If an incident occurs, make a brief record of injury and action taken. Make a brief record of the problem/action/outcome. Contact the pupil’s parents and keep them informed of all details
  • Ensure parents / guardians are informed with regard to finishing time of sessions or events

School Tours/ Outings/ Extra-Curricular Activities

When travelling with young people outside of the school, teachers must:

  • Ensure that there is adequate insurance cover
  • Not carry more than the permitted number of passengers
  • Ensure use of safety belts.
  • Avoid travelling with only one participant
  • Make sure there is an adequate adult: child ratio. This will depend on the nature of the activity, the age of the participants and any special needs of the group.
  • Avoid being alone with one participant, if you need to talk separately do so in an open environment, in view of others
  • Clearly state time for start and end of coaching sessions or competitions
  • Leaders should remain in pairs until all participants have been collected
  • Keep attendance records and record of any incidents / injuries that arise
  • Separate permission forms should be signed by parents and participants, containing emergency contact number
  • Communicate with parents and participants with regard to travel times, other activities, gear requirements, medical requirements, special dietary needs and any other necessary details
  • Children should be under reasonable supervision at all times and should never leave a venue or go unsupervised
  • Pupils whose behaviour gives cause for concern are not allowed to go on school tours /outings

Supervision

The school’s supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks. A rota is displayed to cover 11 o’clock and lunchtime breaks. See supervision policy for agreed rules around arrival and dismissal, break-times, and procedures around teacher absences.  Teachers will ensure that pupils are visible in the schoolyard. Pupils will not be permitted to leave the school yard or engage with adults outside of the schoolyard.

Swimming

Children will be brought by bus to the swimming pool. Children will line up in an orderly manner for the bus as stated in the school’s Health and Safety Statement. Staff will assist with supervision in the changing rooms in order to ensure the children’s safety. Children are expected to change and dry themselves.  All adults will act ‘in loco parentis’ and as such will act as prudent parents in helping children to return to school as dry as possible. New helpers will be briefed on our swimming procedures.

Toileting Issues

If a child has specific care needs in relation to toileting/ intimate care,

  • A meeting will be convened, after enrolment and before the child starts school.
  • Parents/Guardians, Principal, Class Teacher, child’s SNA and if appropriate the pupil will attend.
  • The special needs of the child, and how the school will meet them will be clarified.  As far as possible the pupil will be involved in identification of his/her personal requirements, wishes, changes etc.
  • A written copy of the agreement will be kept in the pupil’s school file.
  • Personnel to be involved in such care will be identified, and provision for occasions when such staff are absent will be outlined.
  • Two members of staff to be present if dealing with intimate care needs.
  • Any changes to agreed procedure/ personnel etc. will be discussed with parent/ guardian and pupil if appropriate, and noted in writing in the pupil’s file.
  • At all times the dignity and privacy of the pupil will be paramount in addressing intimate care needs.

Where an occasional wetting or soiling accident occurs, it is school policy that

  • A supply of clean underwear, tracksuit bottoms etc. is kept in the school.
  • The child will be offered a change of clothing, to clean and change themselves.
  • If the child requires assistance in changing, the teacher will ensure that there are always 2 persons familiar to the child present.
  • Parents will be notified of the accident.
  • A record of the incident will be kept in the child’s personal file.

Visibility

Teachers will ensure that children are visible in the school playground. Children will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms or toilets where they would not be under adult supervision. They are not to leave the school playground or to engage with adults who are outside of the school playground.

Visitors/ Guest Speakers/ Teaching Practice

Teachers on playground duty will be aware of visitors entering the school playground and will ascertain their intentions. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business.

Within the classroom, the class teacher is at all times responsible for their class, and therefore must remain in the room with visitors/ guest speakers or students on work experience/ teaching practice.


8    Curriculum Implications

In St. Brendan’s School 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 or her 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
  • Fostering inclusive and respectful language.

We strive to ensure that our school will be physically and emotionally safe and we will deliver the curricular content of our SPHE programme with a view to giving our children the protective skills of self-esteem and assertiveness. The circle time and bubble time methodologies will be used on a whole school basis. Co-operative interpersonal skills will be developed through working in pairs and working in groups. Older children will be encouraged to work positively and skills in negotiation, building consensus and managing conflict will be developed.

8.1  Junior and Senior Infants

The infant programme will include content objectives as laid out under the 10 strand units in our SPHE programme. They are

  • Self Identity
  • Taking care of my body
  • Growing and changing
  • Safety and protection
  • Making decisions
  • Myself and my family
  • My friends and other people
  • Relating to others
  • Developing citizenship.

These strand units would enable children to develop assertiveness, body integrity, skills relating to self-care, respect for others, identification of feelings and skills necessary to recognise and tell of abuse.

The SPHE programme would be supported, using the Walk Tall resources, our Alive-O programme and Stay Safe resources.

8.2    1st & 2nd classes

Again the SPHE programme as laid out under the 10 strand units named above will enable the children to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes pertaining to self-esteem, esteem for others and the environment and skills pertaining to self-care and disclosure. Healthy eating, information on substance use and anti-bullying awareness will be introduced.

The SPHE programme will be supported by using the Walk Tall resources, our Alive-O programme, North Western Health Board materials and the Stay Safe programme.

8.3    3rd and 4th classes

The SPHE programme will again be implemented according to the 10 strand units. Knowledge, skills and attitudes developed in previous classes will be built on. Children will be enabled to develop intra-personal skills and inter-personal skills. As children mature they will be challenged to develop their decision-making skills. They will be encouraged to develop self-protection skills pertaining to smoking and alcohol. Peer pressure and the influence of the media will also be examined. The development of self-esteem, esteem for others, assertiveness, awareness of feelings, and skills around self-protection and disclosure will underpin our teaching.

Our SPHE programme will be supported by the use of Walk Tall resources, Prim-Ed anti-bullying materials, RSE materials and the Stay Safe programme.

8.4    5th and 6th classes

The SPHE programme will be implemented according to the curricular objectives as laid out under the 10 strands in the SPHE Curriculum. Skills, knowledge and attitudes developed in earlier classes will be enhanced. Children will continue to develop self-awareness and positive attitudes to themselves, others, their environment and the wider world in which they live. Self protection and respect for others will be fostered, decision-making skills developed, peer influence and media bias examined. Knowledge in relation to legal and illegal drugs and the prevention of substance misuse will be further developed. Children will be enabled to develop good group-building skills, anti-bullying awareness and conflict resolution skills. Self-protection will be emphasised and protection of younger, less able people. Positive attitudes to sexuality will be developed and respect for self and others fostered (see RSE policy).

The SPHE programme will be supported by the use of the Walk Tall materials, RSE resources, Stay Safe resources and North-Western Health board resources.

9    Implementation

9.1  Success Criteria

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

  • Delivery of the SPHE curriculum
  • 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

9.2  Timeframe for Implementation

These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM.

9.3  Timeframe for Review

At the first staff meeting of every year the DLP will remind all teachers of the guidelines and copies of Chapter 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 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.

9.4  Responsibility for Review

  • DLP, principal, all Staff


10   Ratification and Communication

A draft of this policy was made available to the Parents’ Association of St. Brendan’s N.S., Rathcoole for their views.  Submissions were considered.

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of St. Brendan’s N.S.

11   Patron’s Approval

This policy has been approved by St. Senan’s Education Office.


Child Protection Policy Appendices

Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, DES, 2001

Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 1999

  • Chapter 3         Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
  • Chapter 4         Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
  • Appendix 1        Signs and Symptoms Of Child Abuse
  • Appendix 4       Standard Form

[1] Duty Care Manager 022-54100  Social Welfare Department, 134 Bank Place, Mallow.  9-5, Mon-Fri.

[2] St. Senan’s Education Office 061 317742

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