Risk Assessment – 2021

Child Safeguarding Statement:

Risk Assessment

St. Columba’s Comprehensive School

Glenties, Co. Donegal

Roll No: 81010J

  1. Name of school: St. Columba’s Comprehensive School
  1. St. Columba’s Comprehensive School is a recognised school as defined by the Education Act 1998.
  • Nature of service provided

St. Columba’s Comprehensive provides a high quality inclusive co-educational service to students aged 12-19 years. Students’ classes include mainstream and special educational needs settings.

As a child-centred school, St. Columba’s Comprehensive is committed to safeguarding the welfare of all children under its care. The school is committed to implementing in full all relevant sections of Children First Act 2015 and to complying fully with all regulations and requirements as laid down by the Department of Education and Skills in relation to child protection and welfare.

Risk Assessment

Risks identified

St. Columba’s Comprehensive provides an education service to students ranging on average from 12 years of age to 19 years of age. Students of these ages are by virtue of their age more vulnerable than adults and therefore require increased support to ensure their protection and welfare.

  • In addition, the school also provides an education service to a small number of students with special education needs who are more vulnerable than their peers and who therefore carry a greater duty of care and by extension require more supports than other children might reasonably require.
  • Risk Management

In managing the risk associated with a school, St. Columba’s Comprehensive has put in place a number of structures, systems, policies and procedures to ensure the safety and welfare of students in its care. These include:

  1. Adoption and Implementation of relevant procedures

The Board of Management has adopted un-amended the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017. These procedures have been developed by the Department of Education & Skills in accordance with the Children First Act 2015 and the National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children Act 2017.

  • Garda Vetting
  1. Staff – All teaching staff are Garda-vetted by the Teaching Council and this is a requirement for registration and employment purposes. Special Needs Assistants, caretaking, cleaning or administrative staff are also Garda-vetted through our management body ACCS.
    1. Non-staff –

Regular service providers such as canteen operators are Garda-vetted through ACCS.

Student placement teachers are Garda-vetted through their colleges and a shared vetting agreement is in place with schools.

Personnel involved in activities with students, eg TY modules, are Garda-vetted through the ACCS.

  • Mandated Persons

All teachers, including substitute teachers who are registered with the Teaching Council, are now mandated persons under the terms of the Children First Act 2015. This means that all teachers are now required to report concerns disclosed to them by students or parents / guardians directly to TUSLA.  A mandated person must remain in the room with students at all times during talks or workshops with personnel from outside the school.

  • Supervision & Substitution

The school’s supervision and substitution scheme is operated by the school’s staff who have all been Garda-vetted either through the ACCS, or the Teaching Council. The scheme provides supervision for all arrivals in the morning, scheduled breaks and dismissal in the evening. Substitution arrangements are put in place as the need arises to ensure no student is left unsupervised in class. Students are not to be removed from class to be left unsupervised.

  • Building Layout

St. Columba’s Comprehensive has in place a system that keeps younger and older students separate for some key times. First year students have lockers near the student entrance where there is more supervision. Students with special education needs may have special lockers assigned in quieter parts of the school building (upon request) to safeguard these children. There are also separate toileting facilities for students with disabilities and/or additional needs where the use of a common toilet might compromise their dignity or welfare. The school also has a designated all-gender toilet.

All classrooms have a glass panel in the door. Staff who talk to students on a 1:1 basis keep the room door open.

  • Guidance Counsellor and Chaplain

St. Columba’s Comprehensive has 2 fully trained Guidance Counsellors who check in with students on a regular basis to check on their wellbeing and to offer support for students in crisis. The Guidance Counsellors in the school also conduct surveys of students to ascertain if any student may be struggling either in school or at home. The school also has a full-time Chaplain who is available to support students. Students can be referred to these support services by any teacher; by the Student Support Team; by SNAs or they can self-refer.

  • Student Support Team

St. Columba’s Comprehensive has a Student Support Team comprising of the Deputy Principal, the Guidance Counsellor, the Chaplain and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and Year Heads. The core team has weekly meetings to review significant welfare developments in the welfare of identified students/groups who may be at risk. Interventions are discussed and actions implemented where appropriate.

  • Inter-agency cooperation

The school cooperates with a number of agencies to ensure that child welfare is safeguarded for all children under its care. Such cooperation includes liaising with TUSLA, CAMHS, Jigsaw, NEPS, Downstrands Family Resource Centre, The Hub, HSE, An Garda Síochana, Foróige, Donegal Youth Services etc.

  • Staff Supports
  • Staff CPD – Staff are required to and facilitated in attending appropriate CPD to support them in their role safeguarding the welfare of all children under their care. All staff are required to do the Children First online course and evidence of completion is filed.
  • Induction of new staff – All new staff are inducted in the school providing them with the staff handbook and an overview of child protection procedures. In addition, as part of the recruitment process, all interviewees are asked about Child Protection Procedures and their knowledge of the Children First Act. They also receive a copy of the handbook Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children, published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
  1. Pastoral Care System

St. Columba’s Comprehensive operates an effective Pastoral Care system, in addition to the Student Support system, comprising Year Heads and Class teachers who have regular contact with their appointed class or year groups. These staff members are available to support students who may be undergoing a welfare or child protection crisis and to whom they may feel comfortable disclosing information. This regular contact assists them to spot any problems. In addition, the student Mentor system provides an extra layer of support to first year students. Mentors are Leaving Certificate students. They meet with the first years once every week for Term 1 at lunchtime. They can observe the students in an informal setting and detect problems. Students also feel more comfortable talking to their Mentor than to an adult. Mentors then report any concerns to their co-ordinator – the Chaplain – or to school management.

  1. Managing allegations against members of the public

Where a Child Protection / Welfare allegation is made against a member of the public (including parents / guardians of the student) the Designated Liaison Person, or Deputy Designated Liaison Person in her absence, will make a report (or joint report where the disclosure was made to a teacher) to the Social Work Intake team of TUSLA. If TUSLA cannot be contacted then a report will be made to the Garda Síochana in matters of Child Protection or to the out of hours service Five Rivers.

  1. Managing allegations against members of staff

In accordance with the Child Protection Procedures developed by the Department of Education & Skills, where an allegation is made against a member of staff, the Principal will meet with the member of staff and ask him/her to remove himself/herself from the school immediately as a precautionary measure to protect the child and to ensure the Board of Management is in a position to deal with the allegation. The staff member will remain on full pay. The action taken by the Principal is precautionary and not disciplinary and the employee’s right to a presumption of innocence remains.

If the allegation is against the Principal, the Chairperson of the Board of Management will take over this role as DLP. If the allegation is against a member of the Board of Management the appropriate Trustee will take over this role.

In addition to the measures outlined above separate extra measures are put in place to support the most vulnerable students and manage any risk in respect of their welfare.

  1. Specialised programmes are run for students with additional and / or special education needs. These programmes are delivered by staff who are trained in the delivery of special education supports.
  1. Students with assessed special education needs have access to SNA support to ensure their care needs and welfare are safeguarded.
  2. Special arrangements are put in place at social times to support students with complex special educational needs when necessary.
  1. Policies and Procedures

Our Child Safeguarding Statement has been developed in line with requirements under the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, the Children First Act 2015, the Children First: National Guidance, and TUSLA’s Child Safeguarding: A Guide for Policy, Procedure and Practice. In addition to the procedures listed in our risk assessment, the following policies and procedures support our intention to safeguard children while they are availing of our service (whether in-person or online):

  • Critical Incident Policy
  • Anti-bullying Policy
  • Special Education Needs Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Code of Practice for dealing with complaints made by parents / guardians or students over the age of 18.
  • Teaching Council Complaints procedure for registered teachers
  • Child Protection Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools 2017
  • Procedure for the reporting of child protection or welfare concerns to TUSLA
  • Procedure for maintaining a list of the persons in the service who are mandated persons.
  • Procedure for appointing a relevant person.
  • All students who go home, or go downtown, at lunchtime must have a signed Indemnity Form from their parents/guardians.

All procedures listed are available upon request.

All visitors to the school must sign the visitors’ book in the main office.

Child Protection is on the agenda of every Board of Management meeting.

Students who are being collected by parents/guardians, or by other arrangements made by parents/guardians, must be collected at the main school entrance. Notes regarding the collection of students must be retained in the office.

  1. Designated Liaison Person(s)

While all teaching staff in the school are mandated persons as defined and described in the legislation the school also has in place a Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and a Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP).

  • The Designated Liaison Person is Mrs. Frances Boner, Principal
  • The Deputy Designated Liaison Person is Mr. Brendan O Mahony, Deputy Principal
  1. Implementation

St. Columba’s Comprehensive recognises that implementation is an ongoing process. Our school is committed to the implementation of this Child Safeguarding Statement and the procedures that support our intention to keep children safe from harm while availing of our service.

This Child Safeguarding Statement will be reviewed on _______________ , or as soon as practicable after there has been a material change in any matter to which the statement refers.

Signed:___________________________                         Date___________________

             Chairperson (Board of Management)

Signed:___________________________                         Date___________________

             Principal

For queries please contact the Principal (Relevant Person as defined in the Children First Act 2015