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Child Protection Policy


Child Protection Policy

The Board of Management of Four Masters National School has adopted the Department of Education and Science Guidelines and Procedures for schools in relation to Child Protection and Welfare.  This policy is an outline of how Four Masters National School proposes to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

1 Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School

Four Masters 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.


1. To raise awareness among all school staff (including teachers, secretary, caretaker etc.), of child abuse 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’.
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.


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
2.2 Role of the Staff Members (Teachers, Caretaker, Secretary)
2.3 Role of the Designated Liaison Person
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 John Britton
as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in Four Masters N.S. to have specific responsibility for child protection.
b. Gerardine Gallagher has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if he/she is unavailable for whatever reason.
c. The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of
new Board of Management.  The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as he/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 any school employee which have been reported to the Health Board or Gardaí.
i. To decide on teachers attendance at child protection meetings / case conferences and to advise teachers before attending such meetings / case conferences.

Procedures for Board of Management in cases of allegations of 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. S/He will seek a written statement of the allegation from the person/agency making the allegation.  Parents / Guardians may make a statement on behalf of a 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, s/he 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 Gardaí 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 s/he should inform the Chairperson, who should proceed in accordance with the Procedures in the Child Protection Guidelines (1999 pg.16).  
vi. The DLP / Deputy DLP completes a standard reporting form as comprehensively as possible.
vii. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse s/he will always seek legal advice and base his/her response on this advice.
viii. S/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
s/he will always seek legal advice and base his/her 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 – s/he may require the employee to take immediate administrative leave.  If unsure the chairperson will consult with the Health Board / Gardaí.
iii. If administrative leave has been invoked, the chairperson will
Inform the DES.  The Health Board ( in some cases the Gardaí) 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
o The allegations made and their source
o The advice given by relevant authorities
o And the written responses of the employee

vi. At this meeting also
o 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.
o Parents / guardians may act on behalf of child.
o 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 act on advice of authorities.  The Chairperson will maintain close contact with the Health Board and receive reports and records from them where appropriate.

2.2 Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, Caretaker, Secretary etc)

a. It is the responsibility of all teachers and staff members to familiarise themselves with the Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999)
o Chapter 3 Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
o Chapter 4 Basis for reporting and standard reporting procedures
o Appendix 1 Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse
b. Guideline 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 following advice offered:
o Listen to the child
o Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
o Offer reassurance but do not make promises.
o Do not stop a child recalling significant events.
o Do not over-react.
o Confidentiality should not be assured – explain that further help may have to be sought.
o Record the discussion accurately noting
o What, where and when?
a. Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.
b. Explanation of injuries using direct
c. 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 records 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 (1999) especially
o Chapter 3; Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
o Chapter 4: Basis for Reporting and Standard Reporting Procedures
o Appendix 1: Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse
    b. Staff members should observe and record over time the
          dates / signs / symptoms / behaviour causing them
d. 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, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns.
b. The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the circulate to all staff Chapters 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 of  these guidelines and advise on good practice.
c. The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding  suspicions or disclosures of abuse.  S/he will  keep records of these consultations.
d. The DLP will seek advice from the Health Board.
e. The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child  abuse to the Health Board or / and Garda 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 developments 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 they 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 in this case, should be explicit that s/he 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 theDLP / Deputy 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 Chapter 4 (Section 4, 3) of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999).
c. A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP / Deputy as comprehensively as possible (See Appendix 1.)
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.
o Parents of parties will be notified and the DLP will inform the Chairperson.
o Principal and class teachers will make arrangements to meet separately with all parents to resolve the matter.
o 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 employees is necessary and ascertain who else will be present.
b. The school employee may complete a report for the meeting/conference. (See Appendix 3).
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 on pgs. 149 – 155 of Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (1999).

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 have been addressed in this review;
Supervision    Bullying
Accidents   Children travelling in teachers cars
Record Keeping  Induction of all New Staff
Attendance    Communication

School supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks.

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

Teachers on yard duty will be aware of visitors entering the schoolyard and will ascertain their intentions.  They will be supervised in the discharge of their business.

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 then the matter will be referred to the DLP.
While every precaution will be taken under our Health and Safety Statement to ensure the safety of children, we realises that accidents  will happen.  Accidents will be noted in our Incident Book and will be  addressed under our accident policy as part of Health and Safety.

Children traveling in staff cars
Teachers will not carry children alone in their cars at any time.
Record Keeping
Each child’s assessment results for standardised tests in English, Maths and Intelligence are kept in a locked fining cabinet in  school
office.  Copies of each child’s annual school  report are also kept in this  cabinet as are all educational files on past pupils since June ’09.  Roll Books in each teacher’s classroom, are updated daily and Ms. Kenny Deputy Principal, keeps all school rolls, including boys’ and girls’ register and leabhar tinrimh.
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 programme in place in the school  that deal with personal development e.g. RSE, Walk Tall and SPHE.  
All new parents are given a copy of the school’s enrolment policy, which outlines the procedures parents and children should use when
contacting the school  if there are absences or concerns of an education / 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 are given a copy of the school’s
Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying policies.

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.

Our school attendance will be monitored as per our attendance policy.  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.  Absences of twenty days or more / school year will be reported to National Education Welfare office in Dublin pending appointment of local school attendance officers.

5.0 Curriculum Implications

In Four Masters School all children will be cherished and in fulfilling the general aims of the Revised Primary Curriculum we will:
o Enable the child to live a full life as a child and to realise his or her potential
o Enable the child to develop as a social being through living and co-operating with others and so contribute to the good of society
o Prepare the child for further education and lifelong learning

In endeavouring to realise these aims we will create a positive school climate which is open, inclusive, respectful, fair, democratic, 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:
o Creating a health-promoting physical environment
o Enhancing self-esteem
o Fostering respect for diversity
o Building effective communication within the school
o Developing appropriate home-school communication
o Catering for individual needs
o Developing democratic process
o Fostering inclusive and respectful language

We strive to ensure that our 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 self-esteem and assertiveness.  The circle time methodology will be used on a whole school basis and bubble time also.  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 and negotiation and consensus building skills developed.

From Junior Infants to Sixth Class the nine strand units in our SPHE programme will be taught to help ensure the safety and protection of the pupils on our care.  The units in question are:
o Self identity
o Taking care of my body
o Growing and changing
o Safety and protection
o Making decisions
o Myself and my family
o My friends and other people
o Relating to others
o Developing citizenship

Success Criteria
We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:
o Delivery and participation by all staff in training
o Delivery of the SPHE curriculum
o Resources to support the delivery of SPHE
o Assessment of these procedures by participants following a child protection case
o 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 copies of Chapter 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 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
o Principal
o All Staff

Ratification and review
This policy will be reviewed once every year or more often if deemed necessary.

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management at a meeting in June 2016.

Signed: ___________________________ (Principal)              

Date: ______________________

Signed: ___________________________ (Chairperson)     

Date: ________________________

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