Child Protection Policy

INTRODUCTION

The Board of Management of St. Michael’s National School recognizes 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. Accordingly, 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. Michael’s National 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.

The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is: Áine Murphy (Principal)

The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is: Michael Hussey (Vice-Principal)

SCHOOL PHILOSOPHY

Children enrolled in St. Michael’s National School will be supported in reaching their full potential: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially. This support will be differentiated in an atmosphere and environment in which children feel safe, valued and secure and in which respect for self and others is the norm.

AIMS

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

Recognize that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations.

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 confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.

CONTENT

It is the policy of our school to follow the procedures as laid down in Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures DES 2001 and Children First Document 2011 in any case where we suspect, or are alerted to, child abuse, including where a child discloses abuse. All disclosures will be documented, dated and kept on file by the DLP. All disclosures will be treated in a highly confidential manner.

The Board of Management has appointed the Principal Teacher (Áine Murphy) as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in our school to have specific responsibility for child protection.

The Deputy Principal (Michael Hussey) has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if unavailable.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Board of Management has primary responsibility for the care and welfare of all pupils.

The DLP has specific responsibility for Child Protection in the school.

All staff has a duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.

PROCEDURES The procedures for dealing with allegations /suspicions/disclosures of Child Abuse are set down in the Children First Guidelines and will be followed. Please find below a brief outline of guidelines and the procedure for handling disclosures.

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:

Considering the possibility

Looking out for signs of abuse

Recording of information

Handling disclosures from children

When information is offered in confidence the member of staff will need to 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 considered 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.

Remain calm.

Listen to the child with sensitivity and openness.

Take all disclosures seriously.

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.

Explain that further help may have to be sought.

Record the discussion accurately and retain the record of dates, times, names, locations, context and factual details of conversation.

This information should be passed onto the DLP and a record will be retained in the school.

If the reporting person or member of the school staff and the DLP is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion/allegation, the procedures for reporting as laid out in ‘Children First’ – Section 4.4 pg. 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 situations demands that more immediate action be taken for the safety of the child in which case the Chairman 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.

In regards to allegations against school employees and the reporting of employees the DLP should act in accordance with the procedures outlined in “Child Protection”.

ORGANISATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

Supervision: Every effort will be made to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children throughout the school day. A roster of staff on duty will be drawn up and displayed in the administration area/staff room. Teachers will ensure that the children are visible in the schoolyard. Children will not leave the schoolyard or engage with adults outside of the schoolyard. Children are not permitted to spend break times in the classrooms.

Visitors: All unscheduled visitors to the school are expected to report to a staff member on arrival. Staff on yard duty will be aware of visitors entering the schoolyard and direct them to the staff room. The drop-off/pick-up of children throughout the teaching day will be supervised by teaching staff.

Bullying: Bullying behaviour will be addressed under our Anti-Bullying Policy. If the behaviour involved is of a sexualised nature or regarded as being particularly abusive, the matter will be referred to the DLP.

Behaviour: Children are to be encouraged at all times to play co-operatively and to show respect for themselves and others. Our Positive Behaviour Policy clarifies this.

Toilets: It is school policy that only one child is permitted to enter a toilet cubicle at a time. Children who need to use the toilet during yard time must seek the permission of the teacher on yard. During yard time the toilet area closest to the yard will be used.

If a child has a wetting accident during the school day, a staff member will assist them change into dry clothes. Before assisting the child the staff member will inform a second staff member and the second person will remain in the room adjoining the toilet area. Alternatively, the child may be taken to the administration area.

It is school policy to call a Parent/Guardian if a child soils themselves in school and requires intimate care. In the unlikely event of failing to make contact staff will follow the procedures as for (1) above. All accidents of this nature will be reported to Parents/Guardians.

Staff Cars: In rare instances where a staff car must be used to transport a child, children will never be taken alone.

School Tours/Trips: School staff accompanying children on school tours/trips (including after school sporting events) will deliver a duty of care commensurate with the trip/venue. The higher the risk factor the higher the number of teachers/responsible adults involved. As per School Tour Policy, hired buses/vehicles must provide safe transportation and a functioning seatbelt for every child/adult.

Induction of Teachers and Ancillary Staff: It is the responsibility of the designated Special Duty Post Holder to inform all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Children First Guidelines.

Attendance: School attendance is monitored carefully. Attendance Certificates are awarded at the end of each term to children who achieve full attendance. The NEWB will be informed of any concerns relating to a child’s attendance. We will issue a letter to parents when their child has missed 10 days/20days. Children who miss 20 days or more will be reported to the NEWB in accordance with legislation.

One-to One Teaching: Parents will be made aware when one-to-one teaching is in the best interests of the child. Parental permission (or that of a primary guardian) is required for all one-to-one teaching. Where possible, children in Learning Support/Resource will be taught in small groups. The doors to all the rooms all have glass windows and therefore people can see into the rooms at all times.

Intimate Care: If any child in our school requires intimate care the procedures involved with such care will be agreed in consultation with the pupil, their Parents/Guardians and any other personnel involved in the care of the pupil. This is in keeping with best practice, keeps the best interests of the child to the fore and maintains the child’s personal dignity. Such procedures, when agreed will be communicated to all parties involved and recorded.

Curricular Implications

The Stay Safe Programme will be taught in Senior Infants, First Class, Third Class and Fifth Class.

The SPHE programme will be supported by the Walk Tall Programme and the RSE Programme.

Signed:

__________________________________ Chairperson

__________________________________ DLP

__________________________________ Deputy DLP

Policy adopted by the BOM on the 30th of April, 2013.

To be reviewed on an annual basis or when legislative changes arise in the interim.

An individual copy of this document was made available to all staff members and parents that wish to have a copy.