The staff and representatives of parents of the school drafted the following policy on February 8th 2015. It was an update of a previous policy drafted in 2012.
The BOM of Divine Mercy SNS has adopted the Department of Education and Skills Guidelines and Procedures for schools in relation to Child Protection and Welfare. This policy is an outline of how Divine Mercy SNS proposes 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
Divine Mercy SNS 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.
To raise awareness of child abuse namely, emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect, among all members of our school community including Board of Management, teachers, pupils, parents, SNAs, secretary and caretaker. To put in place clear procedures for all school personal dealing with and reporting suspicions and allegations of child abuse. Endeavour to safeguard the well being of the child and intervene when necessary to protect their rights. 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 Policy is set out on 3 sections
School procedures already in place and new procedures bring 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 staff and Board of Management of this school have
identified the following as areas of specific concern in relation to child protection and following discussions and consultation have agreed that the following practices be adopted:
Accidents Attendance Behaviour Bullying
Children travelling in staff cars Communication
Induction of all New Staff Induction of Pupils
One to one teaching Physical Contact
Record Keeping Recruitment of Staff
Visitors Voluntary Disclosure
While every precaution will be taken under our Health and Safety Statement to ensure the safety of children, we realise that accidents will happen. Accidents will be recorded and will be addressed as part of Health and Safety.
Our school attendance will be monitored as per our attendance strategy. 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.
Children are 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.
Bullying behavior will be addressed under our Anti-Bullying policy. If the behavior involved is of a sexualized nature or regarded as being particularly abusive then the matter will be referred to the DLP.
Children travelling in staff cars
Members of the school staff will not carry a child alone in their cars at any time.
Every effort will be made to enhance pupil-teacher communication. If pupils have concerns they will be listened to sympathetically. The SPHE in particular allows for open pupil-teacher communication, which is hoped will aid the pupil-teacher relationship. There is a whole school approach to the teaching of SPHE which is founded on an ongoing relationship between pupil and teacher based on trust. If teachers have to communicate with pupils on a one-to-one basis, they are requested to leave the classroom door open.
Induction of Teachers and Ancillary Staff
The DLP will be responsible for informing all new teachers and ancillary staff of the Children First Guidelines (2011) and the Department of Education Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools and Divine Mercy SNS Child Protection Policy. All new teachers are expected to teach the objectives in the SPHE programme.
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 programmes in place in the school that deal with personal development e.g. SPHE. All new parents will be made aware of procedures which parents and children should use when contacting 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 or informed of how to access it on the school website.
Child protection concerns have been addressed in the schools Acceptable Use Policy
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 an 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.
Physical contact between school personnel 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 be factors in determining it’s appropriateness:-
School personnel should avoid doing anything of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
Recruitment of Staff
Garda vetting will always be sought for new staff members while noting that this in itself is not a complete safeguard.
Teachers will keep each child’s file updated. Records will be kept in accordance with the schools Data Protection Policy.
School supervision policy will be followed by all staff to ensure that there is a comprehensive supervision of children at all times. At no time will a class, group of children or a child be left unsupervised. During playground time children will not be allowed to spend time in classrooms where they would not be under adult supervision. They are not to leave the school or to engage with adults who are outside of the school yard.
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 clean or change 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. Parents will be notified of such incidents.
Visitors entering the school will be supervised in the discharge of their business. Visitors/guest speakers should not be left alone with pupils. The school has a responsibility to check out the credentials of the visitor/guest speaker and to ensure that the material in use by guests is appropriate.
Anyone being considered to assist in a voluntary capacity in the school where unsupervised pupil contact may occur is required to fill out a Statutory Declaration Form. All such personnel will be properly supervised by a teacher at all times
In Divine Mercy SNS all children will be cherished and in fulfilling the general aims of the Primary Curriculum we will:
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.
a) Appoint a DLP and deputy DLP.
b) Have clear procedures for dealing with allegations or suspicions of child abuse (see below)
c) Monitor the progress of children at risk.
d) Ensure that curricular provision is in place for the prevention of child abuse.
e) Investigate and respond to allegation of child abuse against one of the schools employees which have been reported to the Health Service Executive (HSE) or Gardai.
f) To decide on teachers attendance at child protection meetings/case conferences and to advise teachers before attending such meetings/conferences.
a) The DLP acts as a liaison with outside agencies, HSE, Gardaí and other parties with child protection concerns.
b) The DLP will inform all school personnel of the availability of the Children First Guidelines in the school. The DLP will be available to staff for consultation regarding suspicions or disclosures of abuse. She will keep records of these consultations.
c) The DLP will seek advice from the HSE.
d) The DLP will report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to the NSE or/and An Garda Siochana based on this advice.
e) The DLP will maintain proper records in a secure, confidential manner and in a secure location.
f) The DLP will keep up to date on current developments regarding child protection.
Guidelines for the DLP in handling reported concerns and disclosures
We will evaluate the success of this policy using the following criteria: