Child Protection Policy

child_protectionIntroductory Statement
The staff and management of St Marys College Junior School have developed and agreed this policy in line with the current recommendations and guidelines relating to child abuse prevention and child protection guidelines.
Their policy addresses the responsibilities of the school in the following areas:
(a) Prevention – curriculum provision
(b) Procedures – procedures for dealing with concerns/disclosures.
(c) Practice – best practice in child protection.
An individual copy of this policy document and the appended section from the Department of Education and Science Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures will be made available to all staff.
It is incumbent on all staff to familiarise themselves with “Children First” and the DES child protection guidelines and procedures.

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 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.

The Stay Safe and Walk Tall programmes are the primary resources used in this school to provide education for children on abuse prevention. These programmes are taught as part of the school SPHE curriculum under the strand unit Safety and Protection. On enrolment of their child, parents will be informed that the Stay Safe and Walk Tall programmes are in use in the school and a copy of the Stay Safe “A Parents Guide” will be provided. The formal lessons of the programme will be taught in their entirety every second year in accordance with the SPHE two year cycle plan. Staff will make every effort to ensure that the messages of the programme are reinforced whenever possible.
All school personnel should be well placed to observe behavioural changes/signs of abuse, providing students with the highest standard of care.
All staff (Teachers, SNA’s, ancillary, 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)
Employees include unpaid volunteers.
The Board of Management of this school has appointed Mary O’Donnell as the Designated Liaison person (DLP) and Fiona Murray as the deputy DLP. (The DES guidelines recommend the appointment of the principal or other senior staff members as DLP)
A resource person may also be available for any staff, who may have concerns.
The staff and management of this school have agreed
• All concerns/disclosures involving child protection/child welfare issues will be reported immediately in writing, in the first instance to the DLP (deputy DLP where appropriate.)
• Each report to the DLP will be dated and signed by the person making that report.
• A strict adherance to maintaining confidentiality – information regarding concerns or disclosures of above should only be given on a ‘need to know’ basis.
• However confidentiality should not be promised to the child.
• The child should be given the opportunity, if he so wishes, to make a written account
• Avoid judgements/leading questions
• Parents should be informed of a report to a Health Service Executive, unless this would endanger the child.
• School personnel DO NOT investigate
• In emergency, if the HSE is not available, contact the Gardaí.
The following areas have been considered by the staff and Board of Management of this school as areas of specific concern in relation to child protection. Following discussion and consultation the staff and board of management have agreed that the following practice be adopted.
(a) Physical contact:
Physical contact between school personnel and others authorised by the school and the child should always be in response to the needs of the child and not the needs of the adult. While physical contact may be used to comfort, reassure or assist a child the following should factor in determining its appropriateness:
• It is acceptable to the child
• It is open and not secretive
• The age and development stage of the child.
School personnel should avoid doing anything of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves
(b) Visitors/Guest Speakers:
Visitors/Guest Speakers should never be left alone with pupils. The school (principal/teacher) has a responsibility to check out the credentials of the visitor/guest speakers and to ensure that the material in use by guests is appropriate.
( c) Children with specific toileting/intimate care needs.
In all situations where a pupil needs assistance with toileting/intimate care, a meeting will be convened, after enrolment and before the child starts school, between parents/guardians, class teacher, special needs assistant, principal and if appropriate the pupil. The purpose of the meeting will be to ascertain the specific needs of the child and to determine how the school can best meet those needs. The staff who will be involved in their care will be identified and provision will be made for occasions when the particular staff involved, are absent. A written copy of what has been agreed will be made and kept in the child’s file.
Two members of staff will be present when dealing with intimate care/toileting needs. Any deviation from the agreed procedure will be recorded and notified to the DLP and the parents/guardians.
(d) Toileting accidents:
Clean underwear and suitable clothing will be kept in the school so that if a pupil has an “accident” of this nature they will in the first instance be offered fresh clothing into which they can change. If the pupil for whatever reason cannot change or clean themselves and the parents/guardians cannot be contacted the child will be assisted by members of staff familiar to the child. In all such situations two members of staff should be present. A record of all such incidents will be kept and principal and parents will be notified.
(e) One to One Teaching:
It is the policy in this school that one to one teaching is often in the best interest of the child. Every effort will be made to ensure that this teaching takes place in the open environment. Parents of children who are to be involved in one to one teaching will be informed and their agreement sought.
Work being carried out by special needs assistants will be carried out under the direction of the class teacher in an open environment.
(f) Changing for Games/PE/ Swimming:
Pupils will be expected to dress and undress themselves for games/PE/ swimming. Where assistance is needed this will be done in the communal areas and with the consent of parents. Under no circumstances will members of staff/volunteers be expected to or allowed to dress/undress a child in a cubicle/private area. In such situations where privacy is required the parent/guardian of the child will be asked to assist the child. At all times there must be adequate supervision of pupils.
While every effort will be made to adhere to best practice as agreed and outlined above, in the event of an emergency where this is not possible or practicable a full record of the incident should be made and reported to the DLP/ Principal and parents.
No child should leave the school on a school outing without a permission slip signed by the Parents/guardians.
Links to other policy/planning areas:
Prevention: SPHE curriculum, Strand Unit on ‘Safety and Protection’, The School Code of Discipline.
Procedures: Anti-Bullying Policy Social Media Policy ( 2013)
Health & Safety Statement
Practice: Swimming Policy
School Tours/Outings.
Review & Monitoring:
This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the Board of Management on an annual basis and when the need arises. The Board of Management will ensure that adequate training and support is provided for all staff.
Policy adopted by the B.O.M. November 2010 Reviewed Annually
Margaret Campbell Mary O’Donnell
Chairperson/ Principal/secretary B.O.M.