EGLISH NATIONAL SCHOOL

CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

This is the Child Protection Policy of Eglish National School.

Introductory Statement:

The staff, parents and management of Eglish National School have developed and agreed this policy in line with the current recommendations and guidelines relating to child abuse prevention and child protection guidelines.

This policy addresses the responsibilities of the school in the following areas:-

  1. Prevention – curriculum provision.
  2. Procedures – procedures for dealing with concerns/disclosures.
  3. Practice – best practice in child protection.An individual copy of this policy document and the appended section from the Department of Education & Science Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures will be made available to all the staff.It is incumbent on all staff to familiarize themselves with ‘Children First’ and the DES child protection guidelines and procedures.Aims:This policy aims to:
  • Create a safe, trusting, responsive and caring environment.
  • Provide a personal safety skills education which specifically addresses abuse prevention for all children in the school.
  • Develop awareness and responsibility in the area of child protection amongst the whole school community.
  • Put in place procedures for good practice to protect all children and staff.
  • Ensure that all staff members are aware of and familiar with the ‘Children First’ and the DES guidelines and procedures in relation to reporting concerns and /or disclosures of child abuse.
  • Provide for ongoing training in this and related areas for all school staff.
  • To provide pupils with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and protect them from harm.

Prevention:

Child Abuse can be categorised into four different types:

Neglect 

Emotional Abuse

Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Eglish National School aims to provide pupils with the highest possible standards of care in order to promote their well-being and protect them from harm.

Teachers and other staff members contribute to the prevention of child abuse through curricular provision and through providing a safe, secure and predictable environment for the child.

Prevention Strategies:

  1. Education aimed at preventing child abuse will be incorporated within the broad context of SPHE and RSE, and through programmes such as Stay Safe and Alive O.
  2. Specific SPHE time to be given on the curriculum to deal with Stay Safe issues.
  3. Considerations, which will inform the content and methodologies of education initiatives to include: age appropriateness; needs of environment and pupils, need to support particular people.
  4. Other initiatives to enhance the work of the classroom, to include annual talks for 6th class pupils and their parents/guardians.
  5. Procedures for dealing with abuse related incidences are clearly outlined.

Procedures:

All staff (teacher, special needs assistants, ancillary staff, secretarial, caretaking etc.) in this school will follow the recommendations for reporting concerns or disclosures as outlined in ‘Children First’ and the Department of Education and Science document, ‘Child Protection, Guidelines and Procedures’.

(See attached Appendix, pages 5 to 20 from the above DES guidelines).

The Board of Management of this school has appointed

Ms. Siobhán Fitzgerald as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and

Miss Carmel Rourke as the deputy DLP.

(The DES guidelines recommend the appointment of the principal or another senior staff member as DLP)

Guidelines for Recognition of Child Abuse:

All signs and symptoms must be examined in the total context of the child’s situation and family circumstances.There are commonly three stages in the identification of child abuse.

These are:

  1. Considering the possibility.
  2. Looking out for signs of abuse.
  3. Recording the information.Guidelines for Staff:Recognising Signs of Abuse: (See Chapter Three and Appendix One of Children First)The following examples constitute reasonable grounds for concern:
  • Specific information from the child that he/she was abused.
  • An account by a person who saw the child being abused.
  • Evidence, such as injury or behaviour, which is consistent with abuse and unlikely to be caused another way.
  • An injury or behaviour which is consistent both with abuse and with an innocent explanation, but where there are corroborative indicators supporting the concern that it is a case of abuse, for example, a pattern of injuries, an implausible explanation, other indications of abuse, dysfunctional behaviour, and
  • Consistent evidence, over a period of time that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect.Handling Disclosures from Children:When information is offered in confidence, staff will act with sensitivity in responding to the disclosure.The member of staff will need to reassure the child, and retain his/her trust, while explaining the need for action and the possible consequences, which will necessarily involve other adults being informed.It is important to tell the child that everything possible will be done to protect and support him/her, but not to make promises that cannot be kept e.g.; promising not to tell anyone else.The welfare of the child is regarded as the first and paramount consideration.In so far as is practicable, due consideration will be given, having regard to age and understanding, the wishes of the child.The following advice is offered to school personnel to whom a child makes a disclosure of abuse:
  1. Remain calm.
  2. Listen to the child with sensitivity and openness.
  3. Take all disclosures seriously.
  4. Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
  5. Offer reassurance but do not make promises.
  6. Do not stop a child recalling significant events.
  7. Do not over-react.
  8. Explain that further help may have to be sought.
  9. Record the discussion accurately and retain the record of dates, times, names, locations, context and factual details of conversation.This information should then be passed on to the DLP and a record will be retained in the school.

Safeguards:In the interest of Child Protection, the school will endeavor not to have adults in a situation where they are alone with children.Special Educational Teachers and Special Needs Assistants, where possible, will work with groups of children, or with single children in a room where there are other pupils or teachers.In the event of a pupil having to be taken home or elsewhere due to illness, injury or other reasons, by a teacher, they should by accompanied by and adult or two other pupils.When a member of staff wishes to interview a pupil, it should be done in the presence of another member of staff, or pupil, or in a room with the door open.When a visitor, health worker etc. wishes to see a pupil, the same guidelines as for a member of staff will apply.Special Needs Assistants, when assisting children with nappy-changing, toileting or dressing, should do so accompanied by another adult or with the door open, so that other pupils or teachers are present.In the event of the pupil requiring nappies, please refer to the contingency plan (attached) signed by the parent. If a phone call is made to a pupil, a teacher should first speak to the caller to ascertain the motive of the call.If a parent/guardian wished to have a pupil collected by somebody other than the person who normally collects them, then they should inform the school.If the reporting person or member of the school staff and the DLP are satisfied that there are reasonable ground for the suspicion/allegation, the procedures for reporting as laid out in ‘Children First’ – Section 4.4 page 38 (Appendix 10) will be adhered to.The Chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed before the DLP makes contact with the relevant authorities unless the situation demands that more immediate action to be taken for the safety of the child in which case the Chairperson may be informed after the report has been submitted.Any Professional who suspects child abuse should inform parents/carers if a report is to be submitted to the Health Board or An Garda Síochána, unless doing so is likely to endanger the child.In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk, and a duty social worker is unavailable, An Garda Síochána should be contacted.Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending Health Board intervention.

Allegations against School Employees:The most important consideration for the Chairperson, Board of Management or the DLP is the safety and protection of the child.However, employees also have a right to protection against claims which are false or malicious.As employers, the Board of Management should always seek legal advice as the circumstances can vary from one case to another.There are two procedures to be followed:

  1. The Reporting Procedure
  2. The Procedure for dealing with the Employee.

The DLP has responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board.The Chairperson, Board of Management has responsibility, acting in consultation with his/her Board, for addressing the employment issues.If the allegation is against the DLP, the Chairperson of the Board of Management will assume the responsibility for reporting the matter to the Health Board.

Reporting:

When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the DLP should immediately act in accordance with the procedures outlined in ‘Child Protection’.

A written statement of the allegation should be sought from the person/agency making the report.The DLP should always inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

School employees, other than the DLP who receive allegations against another school employee, should immediately report the matter to the DLP.School employees who form suspicions regarding conduct of another school employee should consult with the DLP.The procedures outlined in will then be followed.

The Chairperson of the Board and DLP should make the employee aware privately

  1. That an allegation has been made against him/her.
  2. The nature of the allegation.
  3. Whether or not the Health Board or Gardaí has been/will be/must be/should be informed.The employee should be given a copy of the written allegation and any other relevant documentation.

The employee should be requested to respond to the allegation in writing to the Board of Management within a specified period and told that this may be passed to the Gardaí, Health Board and legal advisors. The priority in all cases is that no child be exposed to unnecessary risk.Therefore, as a matter of urgency, the Chairperson should take any necessary protective measures.These measures should be proportionate to the level of risk and should not unreasonably penalise the employee in any way unless to protect the child.If the nature of the allegations warrants immediate action in the Chairperson’s opinion, the Board of Management should be convened to consider the matter.The Board will consider feedback if any has been received from the Health Board, Gardaí or relevant source.This may result in the Board of Management directing that the employee absent him/herself from the school forthwith while the matter is being investigated (Administrative Leave).When the Board of Management is unsure as to whether this should occur, advice should be sought from the Gardaí and/or the Child Care Manager of the Health Board and the legal advisors to the Board of Management.

Administrative Leave:Should the Board of Management direct that the employee absent him/herself as above, such absence of the employee would be regarded as administrative leave of absence with pay and not suspension and would not imply any degree of guilt.The DES should be immediately informed.

Board of Management:The Chairperson should inform the Board of Management of all the details and remind the members of their serious responsibility to maintain strict confidentiality on all matters relating to the issue and the principles of due process and natural justice.A copy of ‘Children First’, the Department of Health & Children’s national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children and the ‘Child Protection Guidelines for Primary Schools’ which issued from the Department of Education & Science can be found in the Principal’s Office/Staffroom.

Designated Liaison Person:The Principal is the DLP with specific responsibility for child protection.Where the principal is unavailable, the deputy principal will assume her responsibility as DLP. The DLP will deal with the Health Board, An Garda Siochana and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse.Those other parties will conduct all matters through the DLP. When the DLP is unavailable, arrangements will be made for another nominated member of staff to assume his/her responsibilities.Any person who suspects that a child is being abused, through neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and/or sexual abuse, will report their concerns to the DLP.The Health Board will always be notified where there is a reasonable suspicion or reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse.The ‘Protection for Person’s Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998’ makes provision for the protection from civil liability of persons who have reported child abuse ‘in reasonable and in good faith’. Actions to be taken by the DLP:If the DLP is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or allegation, he/she should report the matter to the Health Board immediately.The procedures for reporting as laid down in this procedure will be adhered to.In the event of an emergency or unavailability of the Health Board staff, the report should be made to An Garda Siochana.When making a report the “standard form for reporting Child Protection and/or Welfare concerns” should be used.The Chairperson of the Board of Management should then be informed that a report has been made.A decision on whether or not parent/guardian of the child should be contacted should be taken, in light of the circumstances of the case.In cases where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter or not, the DLP should seek advice (without making a report, and without giving identifying details) from the appropriate Health Board staff.The DLP should act on that advice.Where no action is being taken, the DLP should give a clear statement, in writing, to the school employee who raised the concern, as to the reason why action is not being taken.That employee is free to consult with or report to the Health Board.


Keeping Records:

        • School personnel should note carefully what they have observed and when they observed it.
        • Signs of physical injury should be described in detail and sketched, if appropriate.
        • Comments by the child concerned or by any other person, about how the injury occurred should be recorded as soon as possible, preferably quoting words used.
        • All such reports should be treated in the strictest confidence and retained in a secure location by DLP.

Peer abuse and Bullying:Sexualised behaviour between children will be taken seriously, will never be ignored and as appropriate, will be recorded and reported to the Health Board.Parents will be informed.Separate meetings with parents of all the children involved will be arranged with a view to resolving the situation.Reporting procedures as outlined above will be followed.Appropriate arrangements will be put in place to minimise the possibility of any abusive behaviourre-occurring within the school.This policy was formulated during the school year 2002/2003 through a process of consultation between staff and representatives of Eglish NS Parent’s Association.The policy was presented to Parent’s Association and Board of Management and ratified in June 2003 and became fully operational in September 2003.

Review and Monitoring:This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the Board of Management on an annual basis and when the need arises.This policy is reviewed annually. Staff will be requested on a regular basis to review the school policy in this area and every effort will be made to ensure that the attention of all new staff is drawn to the child protection policy.The Board of Management will ensure that adequate training and support is provided for all staff.

Sample Letter from school to parents/guardians

Eglish National School,Eglish, Ahascragh,Ballinasloe,Co. Galway.

Phone: 090.9688874

Date:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

In recent years, as a society, we have become very aware of the problem of child abuse through neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse.Each one of us has a duty to protect children and Children First, the National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children noted that teachers, who are the main care givers to children outside the family, are particularly well-placed to observe and monitor children for signs of abuse.In response to this, the Department of Education & Science published Guidelines and Procedures for all schools in relation to child protection and welfare. These guidelines promote the safety and welfare of all children and are to be welcomed.The Board of Management of Eglish NS has adopted these guidelines as school policy.Consequently, if school staff suspect or are alerted to possible child abuse they are obliged to refer this matter to the Health Service Executive (HSE).The HSE will then assess the situation and provide support for the child/children concerned.‘Children First’ the National Guidelines for the Protection of Children may be accessed on the website of the Department of Health and Children (www.dohc.ie) and the Department of Education & Science Child Protection Guidelines can be read on the Department’s website (www.education.ie).Parents/Guardians are also welcome to look through the guidelines here at the school.

Yours Sincerely,__________________

Siobhán Fitzgerald,Principal.