Child Safeguarding Statement

The annual review of the Child Safeguarding Statement has taken place and was ratified by the Board of Management on March 13th 2019

 

St. Columba’s Comprehensive School

Glenties, Co. Donegal

Roll No: 81010J

St. Columba’s Comprehensive School is a post-primary school providing post-primary education to pupils from First Year to Leaving Certificate Year.

In accordance with the requirements of the Children First Act 2015, Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017, the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2017 and Tusla Guidance on the preparation of Child Safeguarding Statements, the Board of Management of St. Columba’s Comprehensive School has agreed the Child Safeguarding Statement set out in this document.

 

1 The Board of Management has adopted and will implement fully and without modification the Department’s Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2017 as part of this overall Child Safeguarding Statement

 

2 The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is : Mrs. Frances Boner (Principal)

 

3 The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is: Mr. Dom Gallagher (Deputy Principal)

 

4 The Board of Management recognises that child protection and welfare considerations permeate all aspects of school life and must be reflected in all of the school’s policies, procedures, practices and activities In its policies, procedures, practices and activities, the school will adhere to the following principles of best practice in child protection and welfare:

 

The school will:

* recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance, regardless of all other considerations;

* fully comply with its statutory obligations under the Children First Act 2015 and other relevant legislation relating to the protection and welfare of children;

* fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters

* adopt safe practices to minimise the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusations of abuse or neglect;

* develop a practice of openness with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children; and

* fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.

 

The school will also adhere to the above principles in relation to any adult pupil with a special vulnerability.

5 The following procedures/measures are in place:

 

* In relation to any member of staff who is the subject of any investigation (howsoever described) in respect of any act, omission or circumstance in respect of a child attending the school, the school adheres to the relevant procedures set out in Chapter 7 of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 and to the relevant agreed disciplinary procedures for school staff which are published on the DES website.

 

* In relation to the selection or recruitment of staff and their suitability to work with children, the school adheres to the statutory vetting requirements of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 and to the wider duty of care guidance set out in relevant Garda vetting and recruitment circulars published by the DES and available on the DES website.

 

* In relation to the provision of information and, where necessary, instruction and training, to staff in respect of the identification of the occurrence of harm (as defined in the 2015 Act) the school-

 

> Has provided each member of staff with a copy of the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement

> Ensures all new staff are provided with a copy of the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement

> Encourages staff to avail of relevant training

> Encourages Board of Management members to avail of relevant training

> The Board of Management maintains records of all staff and Board member training

 

* In relation to reporting of child protection concerns to Tusla, all school personnel are required to adhere to the procedures set out in the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, including in the case of registered teachers, those in relation to mandated reporting under the Children First Act 2015.

 

* In this school the Board has appointed the above-named DLP as the “relevant person” (as defined in the Children First Act 2015) to be the first point of contact in respect of the child safeguarding statement.

 

* All registered teachers employed by the school are mandated persons under the Children First Act 2015.

 

* In accordance with the Children First Act 2015, the Board has carried out an assessment of any potential for harm to a child while attending the school or participating in school activities. A written assessment setting out the areas of risk identified and the school’s procedures for managing those risks is attached as an appendix to this statement.

 

* The various procedures referred to in this Statement can be accessed via the school’s website, the DES website or will be made available on request by the school.

 

Note: The above is not intended as an exhaustive list. Individual Boards of Management shall also include in this section such other procedures/measures that are of relevance to the school in question.

 

6 This statement has been published on the school’s website and has been provided to all members of school personnel, the Parents’ Association (if any) and the patron. It is readily accessible to parents and guardians on request. A copy of this Statement will be made available to Tusla and the Department if requested.

 

 

7 This Child Safeguarding Statement will be reviewed annually or as soon as practicable after there has been a material change in any matter to which this statement refers.

 

This Child Safeguarding Statement was adopted by the Board of Management on _________________ [date].

 

Signed: _________________________ Signed: ____________________________

Chairperson of Board of Management Principal/Secretary to the Board of Management

 

  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.

 

  1. 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.

 

 

  1. 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. 1.     Adoption and Implementation of relevant procedures

 

The Board of Management has adopted unamended 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 the National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.

 

  1. 2.     Vetting

 

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

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

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

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

 

  1. 3.     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.

 

  1. 4.     Supervision & Substitution

 

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

 

  1. 5.     Building Layout

 

St. Columba’s Comprehensive has in place a system which 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 to safeguard these children. There are also separate toileting facilities for students with disabilities and/or special education needs where the use of a common toilet might compromise their dignity or welfare.

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

 

 

 

  1. 6.     Guidance Counsellor and Chaplain

 

St. Columba’s Comprehensive has a fully trained Guidance Counsellor who links in with students on a regular basis to check on their wellbeing and to offer support for students in crisis. The Guidance Counsellor in the school also conducts 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.

 

 

  1. 7.     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 Head where applicable. The core team has regular meetings to review significant welfare developments in the welfare of identified students who may be at risk. Interventions are discussed and actions implemented where appropriate.

 

  1. 8.     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.

 

  1. 9.     Staff Supports

 

  • Staff CPD – Staff are encouraged and facilitated in attending appropriate CPD to support them in their role of safeguarding the welfare of all children under their care.
  • Induction of new staff – All new staff are inducted in the school. They are provided 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.

 

  1. 10.  Pastoral Care System

 

St. Columba’s Comprehensive operates an effective Pastoral Care system comprising Year Heads and Class teachers who have regular contact with their appointed class or year groups. These staff members are available to students who may be undergoing a welfare or child protection crisis and to whom they may feel comfortable disclosing information.

 

 

  1. 11.  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 Siochana in matters of Child Protection or to the out of hours service Five River

 

  1. 12.  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. This is 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.

 

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. These arrangements involve the deployment of vetted professionals e.g. SNA’s or transport escorts.

 

 

  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:

 

  • Critical Incident Policy
  • Anti-bullying Policy
  • Special Education Needs 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 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 staff meeting and 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 school. 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. Dom Gallagher

 

  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.