This document is formulated in response to recent changes in Guidance and Procedures in relation to Child Protection matters and takes account of the provisions of each of the following important 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 Children 2011.
The new procedures are based on the recently published Children First – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.
- ‘Children First’ (Department of Children and Youth Affairs 2011)
- ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills 2011)
The Board of Management (BoM) recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in each school policy, school practices and activities. Accordingly, in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Education and Skills, Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, the BoM of St. Paul’s has approved this Child Protection Policy.
The BoM has adopted and will fully implement without modification the Department of Education and Skills Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2011. These procedures will therefore underpin the content of this policy.
The following key personnel have been identified and ratified by the BOM:
- The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is Nora Molloy.
- The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is Jim Griffin
In its policies, practices and activities, St. Paul’s will adhere to the following principles of best practice in Child Protection and Welfare. Our school recognises that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations and will therefore;
- Fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters
- Adopt safe practices to minimise 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
- Fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters
- Adhere to the above principles in relation to any adult pupil with a special vulnerability
Specific policies named hereunder are key elements of this overall document and must be referred to in the context of this policy:
- Code of Behaviour
- Health & Safety
- Record Keeping
- Supervision (Pending)
- Special Ed
- Induction of Staff (Pending)
- Tours/Trips (Pending)
- Critical Incidents
This policy will also be considered with reference to the participation by pupils in sporting activities, other extra-curricular activities and school outings. Other practices and activities, where child protection might have particular relevance, will consider the procedures outlined within this policy. The Board has ensured that the necessary policies, protocols or practices as appropriate are in place in respect of each of the above listed items.
This policy is available to all school personnel and the Parent Association and is readily accessible to parents on request. It is also available in hard copy in each classroom. A copy of this policy is available for the attention of the DES and the patron if requested.
Designated Liaison Person (DLP): In St. Paul’s, the Principal, appointed by the BoM, is the DLP. Jim Griffin acts as Deputy DLP. Both teachers will undertake training from the Child Abuse Prevention Programme at the earliest opportunity. CAPP provides training to the whole school community (staff, parents and Boards of Management) on the stay Safe Programme.
The DLP has specific responsibility for Child Protection Procedures and will represent the school in all correspondence with Health Boards, An Garda Siochana and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse. All matters pertaining to child abuse concerns should be processed through the DLP (DES Procedures 3:2)
The DLP acts appropriately where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion or where an allegation has been made.
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 giving of information to those who need to have that information is not a breach of confidentiality. This procedure exists for the protection of a child who may have been or has been abused. The DLP who is submitting a report to the Health Board or An Garda Siochána 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.
In emergency situations, where the Health Board cannot be contacted, and the child appears to be at immediate and serious risk, An Garda Siochána should be contacted. A child should not be left in a dangerous situation where Health Board intervention is not forthcoming.
Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse: The protection for persons reporting Child Abuse Act 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to any person who reports a child protection concern ‘reasonably and in good faith’ to designated officers of Health Boards or any member of an Garda Siochána (DES Procedures 1:10).
Qualified Privilege: People making a report to the DLP in good faith have ‘qualified privilege’ under common law. Reports made to Health Boards may be subject to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997. This act enables members of the public to obtain access to personal information relating to them which is in the possession of public bodies. However, the act also provides that public bodies may refuse access to information obtained by them in confidence (DES Procedures 1:11)