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St. Gabriel’s School Child Protection Policy
Child Protection Policy September 2012
This document is a response to recent changes in legislation and takes account of the provisions of each of the following pieces of legislation
- Freedom of Information Act 1997
- The Education Act 1998
- The Child Welfare Act 2000
- Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Pupils 2011.
The new procedures are based on the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011, and Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools (Dept of Education & Skills, 2011)
- Children First (Dept of Children and Youth Affairs 2011)
- Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools (Dept of Education & Skills, 2011).
The Board of Management recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in all of the school’s policies, practices and activities. Therefore, in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills, Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, the Board of Management of St. Gabriel’s School has agreed the following child protection policy.
The Board of Management has adopted and will implement fully and without modification the Department’s Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools as part of this overall child protection policy.
It was ratified at a meeting with the Board of Management of St. Gabriel’s School on 20th January 2015.
Child Protection Policy 2012, updated 2013, updated 2014, updated 2015
- St. Gabriel’s School has an obligation to provide pupils with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well being and protect them from harm. School personnel are especially well placed to observe changes in behaviour, failure to develop or outward signs of abuse in pupils.
Mindful of this primary duty of care, the Board of Management of St. Gabriel’s School fully endorses “Children First 2011: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children”, “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools,” the designated guidelines for the protection and welfare of children issued by the Department of Health and Children, September 1999 and “Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures” issued by the Department of Education and Science in April 2001.
- The BOM nominated and appointed, John F Murphy (Principal) as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) to act as a liaison with outside agencies such as HSE/Gardaí and as a resource person to any staff having child protection concerns.
- In the absence of John F Murphy, Cathy Cooper (Deputy Principal) will act as Deputy DLP.
Definition of Child Abuse:
Child Abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
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, attachment to and affection from adults and medical care. Neglect generally becomes apparent in different ways over a period of time rather than at one specific moment. Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child is being neglected.
Emotional Abuse: occurs when a child’s need for affection, approval, consistency and security are not met. Emotional abuse can be manifested in terms of the child’s behavioural, cognitive, affective or physical functioning. A child may be affected by an event in his/her life and staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child’s emotional needs are being neglected.
Physical Abuse: is any form of non-accidental injury or injury which results from willful or neglectful failure to protect a child. Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child may have been physically abused.
Sexual Abuse: occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal or for that of others. Staff must inform the DLP if he/she is concerned or suspicious that a child may have been sexually abused.
Basis for Reporting to the HSE
The HSE should always be informed when a person has reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been abused, or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse. With regard to emotional abuse and/or physical neglect, consistent indication, over a period of time that a child is suffering from emotional neglect or physical neglect would constitute reasonable grounds for concern.
Procedures in dealing with a disclosure/suspicion from a child/third party:
- Teachers who suspect child abuse/neglect should report their concerns to the DLP at the first instance and carefully record their observations over a period of time.
- Disclosures of Child Abuse/neglect from a third party will be reported to the DLP. If a third party starts to tell a teacher about an alleged child abuse incident the teacher will ask them to speak to the DLP. If the person does not inform the DLP the teacher will do so.
- Where a child discloses alleged abuse/neglect to a staff member, the person receiving that information should listen carefully and supportively. IT IS NOT THE ROLE OF ANY STAFF MEMBER OR DLP TO INVESTIGATE AN INCIDENT/ALLEGATION/SUSPICION. HIS/HER ROLE IS TO LISTEN AND RECORD INFORMATION. Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. This should not be a formal interview.
Procedures in dealing with a disclosure/suspicion from a child/third party (cont.):
- 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 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
- In order to ensure confidentiality the registration number of the child, the date on which the observation was recorded, the observation and the teacher’s signature will be entered in the notebook. Sign and date the record. Retain the record securely
- Whether cases of abuse/neglect are suspected or confirmed, confidentiality will be respected. The information on individual cases will be restricted to the teacher(s) immediately involved with the child and will be on a need to know basis.
- The DLP will record the incident. It is not the function of the teacher or the DLP to investigate the issue.
- 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.
- The Chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed of the disclosure.
- Informal contact with the designated person in the HSE Mid-West will be made, seeking advice as to whether a referral should be made. The DLP will be explicit that s/he is requesting advice and not making a report. It is not necessary at this stage for the DLP to disclose his/her name or the name of the school.
- The advice given by the HSE must be acted upon.
- If the advice is not to refer, the DLP will record this advice as the reason for non-referral. The chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed.
- If the advice from the HSE is to refer the case, the DLP will do so. However, prior to referring, the DLP will inform the parent of his/her intention to refer, unless this course of action is injurious to the child.
- Following referral and the completion of the standard form, the school will have no further part to play in the investigation.
- If a case conference is required, the DLP will be invited to attend.
All records will be held in a central, securely locked location.
Allegations against an employee:
- Procedures followed are similar to those of a disclosure.
- Employee is made aware of the allegation against him/her.
- Employee will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation in writing and at a meeting of the Board of Management.
- BOM meeting to review the allegation, giving due consideration to any advice given by HSE and Gardaí.
- The BOM will consider placing the employee on administrative leave, with full pay, pending the outcome of investigations by the HSE and Gardaí.
- On conclusion of any investigation, the BOM will then determine the employment status of the employee.
Organisational Implications and Prevention of Child Abuse.
- The Board will ensure that appropriate and ongoing training as necessary will be available for the DLP and deputy DLP.
- The Board fully endorses arrangements for the vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff as outlined in Circular 0094/2006 from the Department of Education and Skills.
- Recognising the safety and well-being of pupils attending the school is a priority and the Board undertakes to include (a) Child Protection and (b) Health and Safety matters as items
- on the agenda of all Board of Management meetings and staff meetings.
- The Board will ensure that all school staff, teaching and non-teaching, are aware of their obligations under the guidelines detailed in “Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Pupils” and the procedures to be followed in the event of concern.
- The Board recognises that it has two duties of care. The primary duty is the protection, safety and welfare of the pupils attending St. Gabriel’s School. The Board as an employer, also has duties and responsibilities towards its employees.
- As an employer the Board may seek legal advice if an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee.
- The Board will adhere to the protocol outlined in “Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, Department of Education and Skills, 2011 under Chapter 5: “Allegations or Suspicions of Child Abuse Regarding School Employees”, to authorise any actions required to protect pupils in its care. The Board notes that school employees may be subject to erroneous or malicious allegations. Any allegation of abuse should be dealt with sensitively. The employee should be treated fairly, which includes the right not to be judged in advance of a full and fair enquiry. The Board accepts that the principles of natural justice and fair procedures must be adhered to.
- The Board believes that the academic, personal and social development of pupils flourishes in a culture where good relationships are encouraged, people feel valued and respected and appropriate support is available for those in difficulty.
- All pupils in the school will be made aware that there are adults in the school whom they can approach if they are worried. Opportunities will be included in the curriculum through the S.P.H.E. programme and anti-bullying policy for pupils to develop the skills they need to keep them safe. St. Gabriel’s School teaches the “Stay Safe” programme to all pupils.
- The Board of Management undertakes to circulate this policy to parents at the time of enrolment of pupils. This policy statement and “Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Pupils” will also be available for parents to examine at the Principal’s office and at reception.
- This policy statement regarding Child Protection at St. Gabriel’s School applies to all staff, members of the Board of Management, students on work placement, volunteers and contractors working in our school. It is St. Gabriel’s School policy that all adults interested in working with pupils in a voluntary capacity in the school must be subject to Garda Vetting. Application forms for this are available from the school office.
- This policy statement will be reviewed annually.
Supervision and Visibility.
School supervision policy and routines will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of pupils at all breaks. Pupils will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms where they would not be under adult supervision. Staff are aware at all times of pupil’s whereabouts.
Appropriate Physical Contact.
All staff will apply their professional judgement and common sense with regard to appropriate physical contact with pupils in their care. They will not place themselves in a vulnerable situation where actions could be misinterpreted. They will take account of Child Protection Guidelines and the individual needs of the pupil.
Our protocol for good practice in intimate care addresses the protection of students while involved in intimate care procedures. See Appendix A.
Pupils are to be encouraged at all times to play appropriately 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.
Teachers and SNAs will ensure that pupils are visible in the school at all times.
The school secretary will be aware of all visitors entering the school and will ascertain their intentions. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business. All school entrance/exit doors are locked or supervised after the pupils enter the school. Visitors cannot enter the school without contacting the school secretary and giving their reason for entry.
Swimming/ hydrotherapy pool/attending for therapy.
Pupils will attend their appointments at St Gabriel’s Centre under the supervision of one of the following: their parent(s), a member of school/clinic staff, a third level student, or graduate volunteer.
All adults assisting with supervision in the changing rooms will act in ‘loco parentis’ and as such will act as prudent parents helping pupils to return to school as dry as possible
Pupils travelling in staff cars.
Staff will not carry pupils in their cars.
Induction of Teachers, Students on Work Placement and Ancillary Staff.
The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers, Students on Work Placement and ancillary staff of this policy and the Children First Guidelines.
Dealing With Pupils on a One-To-One Basis.
If a staff member/visiting professional such as Visiting Teacher for the Visually Impaired or Visiting Teacher for the Deaf has to work/deal/communicate with pupils on a one-to-one basis, they are requested to leave the classroom door open if there is not a glass partition fitted on the door.
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.
Video/DVD/Digital Media/Print Media.
Staff will always ensure that any Video/DVD/Digital Media/Print Media shown to the pupils is age appropriate. St. Gabriel’s School is a primary school and as such the following are the only Video/DVDs that should be shown to pupils:
General Viewing (G)
Parental Guidance (PG)
12 A (for pupils who are twelve years old with adult supervision)
No Videos/DVDs rated as suitable for 15 year olds, 18 year olds or adults will be shown to the pupils without the prior approval of the principal.
PROTOCOL FOR GOOD PRACTICE IN INTIMATE CARE
- These guidelines are intended to provide support and protection to both staff and children.
- All staff involved in the intimate care of children must first be familiar with these guidelines and procedures.
- It is good practice for all staff members to exercise common sense in this regard at all times and not to place themselves in a vulnerable situation where actions could be misinterpreted.
- All intimate care procedures should be practiced in a sensitive and respectful manner and according to St. Gabriel’s guidelines and procedures.
- St. Gabriel’s School practices a two-staff policy with regard to intimate care of its pupils.
GOOD PRACTICE IN THE DELIVERY OF PERSONAL AND INTIMATE CARE
- St. Gabriel’s School strives to promote the general welfare, health and full development of the child.
- We aim to create an atmosphere which respects the privacy of each individual child and to treat all children with due sensitivity and care.
- We encourage the child to have a positive image of their own body, to develop a sense of identity and positive self-esteem, promoting self-confidence.
- Children, including those using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) or communication aids, should be enabled to develop an appropriate vocabulary for personal needs and private body parts, taking into account the age and development of the child and in consultation with the parents.
- The child’s ability to distinguish between functional and invasive touches should always be respected and taken into account.
- The child should be enabled to learn about acceptable and appropriate behavior.
- Appropriate segregation of the sexes should be available at all times.
- Children have the right to confidentiality. All information pertaining to children should be treated with discretion.