Child Protection Policy

Child Protection Policy of Loughmore N.S.

Introductory Statement

The Board of Management, staff, and representatives of parents of the school reviewed the existing Child Protection Policy and re-drafted the following policy on the 7th of December 2011, in compliance with recent changes to Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, as outlined in Circular 0065/2011.

Rationale

The Board of Management of Loughmore National School has adopted and will implement without modification the Department’s Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools as part of this overall Child Protection policy.  This policy is an outline of how Loughmore National School proposes to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School.

Loughmore National School 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 they will be acted on with sensitivity.

Aims

1. To raise awareness of child abuse amongst all school staff (including Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker, Secretary, etc.), namely, emotional, physical, sexual and neglect, among all the education partners in our school.

2. To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealing with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.

3. To identify other policy areas which need to be amended in light of the ‘Child Protection Guidelines 2011’.

4. To identify curricular content and resources that contributes to the prevention of child abuse and to enable children to properly deal with abuse if it occurs.

 In its policies, practices and activities, Loughmore N.S. will adhere to the following principles of best practice in child protection and welfare:

The School will

  • Recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other consideration.
  • Fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters.
  • Adopt safe practices to minimize the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusations of abuse or neglect.
  • Develop a practice of openness  with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children, and
  • Fully respect the confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.

 Guidelines

The guidelines are laid out as follows:

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

2.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines.

2.1 Role of the Board of Management BOM

2.2 Role of the staff members (Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker,Secretary)

2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person DLP

3.0 Case Conferences

4.0 Organisational Implications

5.0 Curriculum Implications

1.0 Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

a. The Board of management has appointed Mrs Angela Dunne as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in Loughmore National School to have specific responsibility for child protection.

b. Mrs Nina Scott has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if she is unavailable for whatever reason.

c. The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each new Board of Management (BOM). The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as she is replaced by the BOM for whatever reason.

2.0 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.

2.1 Role of the Board of Management

a. To arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.

b. To monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.

c. To provide appropriate staff development and training.

Specifically they will:

d. Appoint a DLP and Deputy DLP.

e. Have clear procedures for dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse. (See below)

f. Monitor the progress of children at risk

g. Ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse

h. Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against one of the school’s employees which have been reported to the Health Board or Gardai.

i. Decide on teachers attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.

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:

i. The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.

ii. She will seek a written statement of the allegations from the person/agency making the allegation. Parents/Guardians may make a statement on behalf of the child.

iii. The DLP will seek advice from the relevant Health Board and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice.

iv. If the DLP, following consultation with the Health Board, decides that this matter is not for reporting, she 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 Health Board or Gardai 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.

v. If the DLP, following consultation with the Health Board, decides that this matter is for reporting she should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with the procedures in the Child Protection Guidelines 2011.

vi. The DLP /Deputy DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as is possible.

vii. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse he will always seek legal advice and base his response on this advice.

viii. 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 Health board. (Refer to 4.2 – 4.3, pg. 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

i. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse he will always seek legal advice and base his response on this advice.

ii. The Chairperson will consider whether there is any risk to pupils’ safety. If the Chairperson considers that there is a risk – he may require the employee to take immediate administrative leave. If unsure the Chairperson will consult with the Health Board/Gardai.

iii. If administrative leave has been invoked, the Chairperson will inform the DES. The Health Board (in some cases the Gardai) may also be notified in accordance with legal advice received.

iv. Once it is deemed necessary by the DLP and Chairperson to make a report (after receiving advice from the Health Board) the Chairperson will convene and inform a meeting of the BOM as soon as possible.

v. 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,
  • · and the written responses of the employee.

vi. 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 the child.
  • · The employee should also be afforded an opportunity to present their case and may also be accompanied.

vii. The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.

viii. 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.

ix. 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 maintain close contact with the Health Board and receive reports and records from them where appropriate.

2.1 Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, SNAs,

Caretaker, Secretary etc)

a. It is the responsibility of all teachers and staff members to familiarise

themselves with the new Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools (hard copy available in office) and also with the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

(These have been photocopied and distributed to all staff members along with a copy of Circular 0065/2011 and a revised Child Protection Policy and a revised school Code of Conduct).

b. Guidelines for teachers and staff members in handling…..

1. Disclosures from children

a. 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 reassurances 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

o What, where and when?

o Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.

o Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate.

o Retain the record securely.

b. The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.

c. The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.

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

2. Suspicions of Abuse:

a. Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

b. Staff members should observe and record over time the dates/signs/symptoms/behaviour causing them concern.

c. They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

a. The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, Health boards, Gardai and other parties with child protection concerns.

b. The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Children First Guidelines in the school. She will arrange to photocopy and circulate these guidelines to all staff members and advise on good practice.

c. The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. She will keep records of these consultations.

d. The DLP will seek advice from the Health Board where necessary.

e. The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the Health Board and/or Gárda Síochána based on this advice.

f. The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure, confidential manner and in a secure location.

g. The DLP will keep up to date on current development regarding child protection.

Guidelines for the DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures.

a. Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the Health Board, they should seek

appropriate advice. To do this the DLP/Deputy DLP should make informal contact with the assigned (on duty) Social Worker. The DLP/Deputy DLP in this case, should be explicit that she is requesting advice and not making a report. If advised to report the matter the DLP will act on that advice.

b. A report will then be made to the Health Board by the DLP/Deputy DLP in person, by telephone or in writing. In the event of an emergency or non-availability of Health Board 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 the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

c. A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy DLP as comprehensively as possible.

d. 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.

e. When the allegation is against the DLP, the chairperson then assumes responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board and filling in the standard reporting form.

f. 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. A request is made from the Health Board through the DLP who should consult with the chairperson of the BOM 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.

b. The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference.

c. 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.

d. 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.

e. In all cases, individuals who refer or discuss their concerns about the care and protection of children with Health Board 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.

f. Teachers attending a child protection meeting/case conference should familiarise themselves with the protocol outlined in the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011).

4.0 Organisational Implications

School procedures already in place and new procedures being put in place will be examined with reference to the Children First Guidelines and any Child Protection issues that may arise will be addressed. The following policies will be addressed in this review:

Health & Safety, Enrolment, Code of Discipline, Supervision,  Anti- Bullying, Accidents,  Swimming, Data Protection, Children travelling in teachers cars, Communication, Induction of all new staff, Attendance, Induction of pupils, Garda Vetting.

Supervision

School supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks. See supervision policy for agreed rules around break-times and sporting activities. See brief absences policy for procedures around teacher absences.

Behaviour

Children are to be encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under our Code of Behaviour. 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.

Visibility

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

Visitors

All visitors must report to the office on their arrival in Loughmore NS. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business.

Bullying

Bullying behaviour will be addressed under our Anti-Bullying policy. Incidents of bullying/ suspected bullying in the yard will be noted in our Incident Book, which will be kept in the staffroom. Any issues regarding bullying/suspected bullying will be recorded by individual teachers in their own class incident books and reported to the Principal/Deputy Principal. If the behaviour involved is of a sexualised nature or regarded as being particularly abusive then the matter will be referred to the DLP.

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 Accident Book, which will be kept in the staffroom and will be addressed under our accident policy as part of Health and Safety.

Swimming

Children will be bused to the swimming pool. 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. Parent helpers will be briefed around our swimming procedures and will be Garda Vetted.

Children Travelling in Staff Cars

Teachers will not carry children alone in their cars at any time.

Data Protection

Teachers will keep each child’s file updated with bi-annual reports (Parent-Teacher Meetings and summer reports). Results of Standardised Attainment Tests, (S.A.T.s) are filed in filing cabinet in Learning Support room and the Office. Results of other testing are likewise filed in Learning Support room and also in individual pupil files in a locked filing cabinet in the relevant classrooms. Current psychological reports are kept in filing cabinet in the Principals office, as are exemption from Irish certificates. Roll books are 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 will be kept in a locked press/filing cabinet in a secure location for 9 years. Old roll books and registers will likewise be kept in a filing cabinet in secure location, indefinitely. Further details on record keeping are found in the school’s Data

Storage/Protection Policy.

Induction of Teachers and Ancillary Staff

The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Children First Guidelines (2011). The DLP will give a copy of relevant Chapters  and this Child Protection Policy to all new staff. All new teachers are expected to teach the objectives in the SPHE programme. The DLP/Deputy DLP is responsible for ensuring that new teachers know how to fill in the roll book correctly and informing the teachers of record keeping procedures within the school. All staff/ Ancillary staff will be Garda Vetted to comply with relevant legislation.

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 and SPHE. The school’s enrolment policy will be communicated to parents via the school website. The information booklet which, is given to parents at the annual Open Night 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 can access the school’s Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying policies on the school web-site following ratification by the BoM.

Communication

Every effort will be made to enhance pupil-teacher communication. If pupils have concerns they will be listened to sympathetically. The SPHE/Oral English/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 requested to leave the classroom door open. Resource room are equipped with a window to allow full view into the rooms when one-on-one teaching is going on.

Attendance

Our school attendance will be monitored as per our attendance policy. With regards to child protection we will pay particular attention to trends in nonattendance. We will also monitor non-attendance in correlation with signs of neglect/physical/emotional abuse.

 

5.0 Curriculum Implications

Introduction

In Loughmore National School all children will be cherished and in fulfilling the general aims of the Revised Primary Curriculum we will:

  • · Enable the child to live life as a child and to realise his or her potential
  • · Enable the child to develop as a social being through living and cooperating with others and so contribute to the good of society
  • · Prepare the child for further education and lifelong learning
  • · To help the child develop healthy friendships and relationships
  • · Enable the child to get a positive sense of self awareness
  • · To develop strategies to make decisions and solve problems.

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 i.e. consultation with all members of the

school community ion decision making

  • · Fostering inclusive and respectful language

We strive to ensure that Loughmore National 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 selfesteem and assertiveness. The Circle Time methodology 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 with conflict resolution and negotiation and consensus building developed.

Junior and Senior Infants

Infant teachers will teach 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
  • · Sharing and co-operating
  • · Resolving conflict
  • · Special people in my life
  • · Feelings and emotions.

After discussion teachers felt that 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 should be supported using the Walk Tall resources, our Alive-O programme and Stay Safe resources.

1st  and 2nd Classes

Again teachers agreed that implementing our SPHE programme as laid out under the 10 strand units named above would 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. The Healthy Eating programme will be implemented, positive attitudes to drug use and anti-bullying awareness will be introduced.

Topics Covered:

  •  Self esteem
  •  Growing and changing
  •  New life
  •  Keeping safe
  •  Feelings and emotions
  •  Making decisions
  •  Myself and my family/friends
  •  Relating to others
  •  Sharing and co-operating
  •  Resolving conflict.

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

3rd and 4th Classes

Our 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 interpersonal 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.

Topics Covered:

  •  Self esteem
  •  Developing and expressing self-confidence
  •  Growing and changing
  •  Birth and new life
  •  Personal hygiene/safety
  •  Making decisions

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

5th and 6th Classes

Our SPHE programme will be implemented according to the curricular objectives as laid out under the 10 strands in the SPHE Revised Primary Curriculum Skills, knowledge and attitudes developed in earlier classes will be enhanced. Children will continue to develop self-awareness and positive to themselves, others, their environment and 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 of drugs and positive attitudes to drug use 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).

Topics Covered:

  •  Accepting Myself
  •  Developing and expressing self-confidence
  •  Physical development
  •  Becoming an adult
  •  Parenthood
  •  Feelings and emotions
  •  Personal hygiene
  •  Personal safety
  •  Making decisions

 

The SPHE programme will be supported by the use of the Walk Tall materials, RSE resources, Bi Follain,  Stay Safe resources, Prim Ed Health education publications,  and  HSE resources ( in particular ‘Busy Bodies’) and making the Links Programme.

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.

Timeframe for Implementation

These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM.

Timeframe for Review

At the first staff meeting of every year the DLP will remind all teachers of the guidelines and relevant chapters of the Children First Guidelines 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

  • · DLP/Principal
  • · Deputy DLP
  • · All Staff

Ratification and Communication

This policy was ratified on the 29th of February 2012 and will be communicated to parents via the school website. Hard copies are available on request.

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