Holy Trinity National School

Child Protection Policies

Introduction 
The school staff drafted the child protection policy in September 2007. The policy was ratified in October 2007 by the Board of Management having consulted with the parents association. Our school strategic plan 2010-2012 has prioritised the child protection policy for review in 2011.

Rationale 
This policy is an outline of how Holy Trinity NS proposes to implement the Child Protection Policy Guidelines issued by the Department of Education and Skills as well as the ‘Children First Guidelines. We propose to implement these guidelines in order to ensure the protection and welfare of all children attending our school.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the school 
Holy Trinity National School strives 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.

Aims 

  • To raise awareness of child abuse namely, emotional, physical, sexual and neglect, among all the education partners in our school.
  • To put in place clear procedures for all school personnel dealing with suspicions and allegations of child abuse.
  • To identify other policy areas which need to be amended in light of the “Child Protection Guidelines”.
  • To identify curricular content and resources that contributes to prevention of child abuse and to enable children to properly deal with abuse if it occurs.




Guidelines
The Guidelines are laid out as follows;

  1. Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)
  2. Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines
  3. Role of the Board of Management
  4. Role of the Staff Members (Teachers, SNA’s, Caretaker, Secretary)
  5. Role of the Designated Liaison Person
  6. Case Conference
  7. Organisational Implications


Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

  • The Board of Management has appointment Mr James Tobin as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in Holy Trinity NS to have specific responsibility for child protection.
  • Loretta Redmond has been appointed as Deputy DLP ( DDLP) to take the place of the DLP if he is unavailable for whatever reason.
  • The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each 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.


Roles and Responsibilities 

  • The Board of Management has primary responsibility for the care and welfare of their pupils.
  • The DLP has specific responsibly 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.


Role of the Board of Management 

  • To arrange for the planning, development and implementation of an effective child protection programme.
  • To monitor and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • To provide appropriate staff development and training.

  
Specifically the board of management will 

  1. Appoint a DLP and deputy DLP
  2. Have clear procedures for dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse.
  3. Ensure the curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
  4. Investigate and respond to allegations of child abuse against one of the schools employees which have been reported to the Health Board or Gardai.
  5. To decide on teachers attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.


Procedures for BOM in cases of allegations or suspicions of child abuse by a school employee:

Reporting 

In the event of receiving a complaint or suspicions re an employee:

  1. The DLP will immediately inform the chairperson.
  2. 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.
  3. The DLP will seek advice from the relevant Health Board and will take responsibility for reporting, based on this advice.
  4. 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/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 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.
  5. 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)
  6. The DLP complete a standard reporting form as comprehensively as is possible.
  7. When the Chairperson becomes aware of an allegation of abuse s/he will always seek legal advice and base his/her response on advice.
  8. 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 Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures DES 2001)


Responding 

  1. 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.
  2. The chairperson will consider whether there is any risk to pupils’ safety.  If the chairperson will considers that there is a risk – s/he may require employee to take immediate administrative leave. If unsure the chairperson will consult with the health board/Gardai.
  3. If administrative leave has been invoked, the chairperson will inform the DES. The Health Board (in some cases the Gardai) may also be notified in accordance with legal advice received.
  4. 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 the Board of Management as soon as possible.
  5. 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.
  • The allegations made and their source,
  • The advice given by relevant authorities
  •  And the written responses of the employee.

At this meeting 

  • 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 be accompanied by another person.
  • Parents/ guardians may act on behalf of the child.
  • The employee should also be afforded an opportunity to present their case and may also be accompanied,
  • The BOM must deal with the matter sensitively and the employee must be fairly treated.
  • The BOM will make a decision on action, if any, based on their investigation will inform the employee of this ion writing. They will also inform the DES of the outcome, if the employee has been absent on administrative leave.
  • 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.  


Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, SNA’s, Caretaker, Secretary etc.)

  1. 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) especially:
  • Chapter 3 Definition & Recognition of Child Abuse
  • Chapter 4 Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures
  • Appendix 1 Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse


Guidelines for teachers and staff members in handling:

  1. Disclosures from children

Where a child discloses alleged abuse to staff member, the person receiving that information should listen carefully and supportively. Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. This should not be a formal interview. The following Advice is offered:

-          Listen to the child.

-          Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.

-          Offer reassurances but do not make promises.

-          Do not stop a child recalling significant events.

-          Do not over react

-          Confidentiality should not be assured – explain that further help may have to be sought.

-          Record the discussion accurately noting:
 

  1. What, where and when?
  2. Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injury.
  3. Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if possible.
  4. Retain records securely.
  5. The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
  6. The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.
  7. If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on the chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.


Suspicion of Abuse
Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, especially Chapter 3: Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse. Chapter 4. Basis for Reporting & Standard Reporting Procedures. & Appendix 1. Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse.                                                

Staff members should observe and record over time the dates/ signs/ symptoms/ behaviour causing them concern. They should inform the DLP and pass on all records.

Role of DLP
The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, HSE, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns.

The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Children First Guidelines in the school. He will photocopy and circulate to all staff Chapter 3, & 4 & Appendix 1. Of these guidelines and advise on good practice.

The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. He will keep records of these consultations. The DLP will seek advice from the HSE. The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the HSE and/or Gardaí Síochána based on this advice. The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure confidential manner and in a secure location. The DLP will keep up to date and briefed on current developments regarding child protection.

Guidelines for DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures. Where the DLP /DDLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the Health Board, they should seek appropriate advice. To do this the DLP/ DDLP should make informal contact with the assigned on duty social worker.

The DLP/DDLP in this case should be explicit that he is requesting advice and not making a report. If advised to report the matter, the DLP will act on this advice. A report will then be made to the Health Board by the DLP/ DDLP in person, by telephone or in writing.

In the event of an emergency or non-availability of HSE personnel, the report should be made to the Gardaí. The DLP should also report to the chairperson of the BoM, who should then follow the procedures in Chapter 4 ( section 4.3) of Children First Guidelines.

A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/DDLP as comprehensively as possible.

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.

When the allegation is against the DLP, the chairperson then assumes responsibility of reporting the matter to the HSE and filling in the standard reporting form.

Where there are allegations or suspicions of Peer Abuse the DLP will follow the same procedures.

Parents of all parties will be notified and the DLP will inform the chairperson.

Principal and class teachers will make arrangements to meet with all parents to resolve the matter.

The school will make arrangements to minimise the possibility of the abusive behaviour recurring. 

Child Protection Meetings ( Case Conferences)
A request is made from the HSE 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 attendances of the school employee is necessary and ascertain who else will be present. 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.

The school employee may keep a child’s behaviour under close observation, if requested to do so. This may include observing the child’s behaviour, peer interactions, school progress or informal conversations.

In all cases, individuals who refer or discuss their concerns about the care and protection of children with the HSE 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. Teachers attending a child protection meeting should familiarise themselves with protocol outlines on pgs 149-155 of Children First Guidelines.

Organisational Implications.
School procedures already in place and the 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 Policy             

- Behaviour Policy                                                                                                                    

- Anti Bullying

- Swimming

- Induction Communication

- Attendance

- Record Keeping.

Supervision
School supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is comprehensive supervision of children at all breaks. The supervision roster is displayed in staffroom and in office.

Behaviour
Children  are to be encouraged at all times to play cooperatively and inappropriate behaviour will be addressed under the 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.

Visibility and Security
Teachers on supervision duty will be aware of any visitors entering the school yard and will ascertain their intentions. They will be supervised in the discharge of their business. Children will be at all times visible to teacher on duty.

If a child needs to use the toilet during yard-break, two buddies are assigned to bring the child into classroom and back to yard. 

Anti- 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, then the matter will be referred to the DLP.

Swimming
Children will be brought by bus to the swimming pool. Children will be the responsibility of teaching staff and assisted by snas. Any accident should be noted in the accident report book. Teachers should not enter the changing room area, except in the event of a serious incident or accident. Any staff member must never be alone with a child in the changing area.

Induction of New Staff.
The DLP will be responsible for informing all new staff of the Children First Guidelines. All new teachers are expected to teach the objectives in the SPHE programme. The principal is responsible for the mentoring of new teachers and will be responsible for supporting new teachers as they implement the SPHE objectives. The principal is also responsible for ensuring that new teachers of all record keeping procedures within the school.

Induction of Pupils.
All parents are made aware of attendance rules and their implications as laid down in the Education Welfare Act(2000).

All parents will be informed of the programmes in place in the school that deal with personal safety and personal development. Parents are made aware at the beginning of each year at induction meeting, how to contact the school if there are absences or concerns of an educational/ 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.

Communication
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 will always leave the classroom door open.

Attendance
Our school attendance will be monitored closely. 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/ sexual abuse.

Curriculum Implications.
In Holy Trinity NS all children will be cherished and in fulfilling the general aims of the Primary School Curriculum.

  • Enable the child to live a full life as a child and to realise his or her potential.
  • Enable the child to develop as a social being through living and co-operating with others and so contribute to the good of society.
  • Prepare the child for further education and life-long learning.

In endeavouring to realise these aims we will create a positive school climate which is open, inclusive, respectful, fair and 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:

- Creating a health-promoting physical environment                                                            

- Enhancing self-esteem                                                                                                    

-Fostering respect for diversity                                                                                             

- Building effective communication within the school        

- Developing appropriate home-school communication                                                

- Catering for  individual needs

- 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. Our anti-bullying policy operates on the ‘restorative process. ’Cooperative 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.

Success Criteria
We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria:

Delivery and participation by all staff in training.

Delivery of the SPHE Curriculum Resources to support  the delivery of SPHE

Delivery and participation by children in the Stay Safe programme

Assessment of the procedures by participants following a child protection case.

Feedback from all staff.

Timeframe for implementation.
These procedures will be discussed with the parent association and will be implemented following ratification by the BoM

Timeframe for Review
At the first staff meeting every year, the DLP will remind all teacher and ancillary staff of the guidelines and copies of Chapter 3 & 4 & Appendix 1 will be given to those who require them. A review will be conducted based on the criteria above, following any an all incidents when the guidelines are used.

Responsibility for Review

DLP

Principal

ALL Staff

Ratification and Communication.
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management  on ____________  2010.Parents were notified of its existence and were invited to look and comment on the policy, which is displayed on the Parent  Noticeboard  on October 1st 2010.

Junior & Senior Infants SPHE and Stay Safe Programme

Myself and Others Myself and the Wider World 

  • Identifying Safe and Unsafe Feelings
  • If I am bullied it is not my fault
  • Touches I Like
  • Touches I don’t like
  • My Friends
  • I am a good friend when
  • What is bullying
  • What to do if bullied
  • IO must not bully, it hurts others
  • If I see it happening to someone else
  • My special helpers
  • My 5 Senses
  • Good Secrets
  • Bad Secrets
  • Getting lost; What to do
  • Knowing my name, address, telephone number

  
Holy Trinity National School Social Personal and Health Education and Stay Safe Programme

First & Second Class.

Myself Myself  and Others Myself and the Wider World Identifying  ‘yes’ and ‘no’ feelings Touches I like/ dislike Unsafe Touches and inappropriate touches Touches and Secrecy If someone makes me feel unsafe, it’s not my fault

Friendship Bullying Safety Rules The Rule is never bully anyone- being considerate What to do if others are being bullied My Helpers- adults I can trust telling 

Strangers- Who are they? The rules about strangersOther Safety Rules Answering the Door and Telephone How to make a telephone Call

Social, Personal and Health Education  & Stay Safe Programme

Third and Fourth Class

The following core Stay Safe concepts are incorporated into the SPHE programme.

Myself & Others Myself & the Wider World Feelings and Emotions with specific reference to safety. My Right to Privacy- personal boundaries. Unsafe Touches, Inappropriate touches. My Right to be safe- If someone touches me in a way that makes me feel unsafe it is not my fault Treating Others with Respect- their right to privacy What to do about Bullying. Telling – Asking for Help- Who? When? Where? How? Safety Strategies to deal with Unsafe or inappropriate touches. At Home Alone _ Answering door/ telephone.How to contact emergency services.Rules for being out and aboutRules if in a large gathering. Strangers –Safety Strategies

Threats and Bribes and what to do

Social, Personal and Health Education  & Stay Safe Programme

Fifth & Sixth Class

The following core Stay Safe concepts are incopporated into the SPHE programme

Myself Myself & Others Myself & the wider world  My feelings if I don’t feel safe I can…My right and that of others to personal boundaries and body space. My Safety Strategies

 Friends and different groups Making and Changing Friends- Friends confiding in one-another Bullying understanding and dealing with it as the injured party, the onlooker, the perpetrator. Difficult secrets- It is ok to ask for help.

Choosing the appropriate time to talk, the best person to help.

Dilemmas about telling- feeling culpable, won’t be believed, it’s disloyal, adults not listening, telling and nothing happens.