Child Protection Procedures

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

  1. Practice
  2. Prevention
  3. Procedures


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

Internet Safety

One to one teaching Physical Contact

Record Keeping Recruitment of Staff

Supervision Toileting

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.

Internet Safety

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

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:-

  • It is acceptable to the child
  • It is open and not secretive
  • The age and developmental stage of the child

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.

Record Keeping

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.

Voluntary Disclosure

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:

  • 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 lifelong learning In endeavouring to realise these aims we will create a positive school climate which is open, inclusive, respectful, fair, democratic 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 on 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
  • Developing democratic process
  • 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. Active learning is the principal teaching and learning approach used in the implementation of the SPHE Programme. Co-operative interpersonal skills will be developed through working in pairs and working in groups. Teachers will teach content objectives as laid out under the 10 strand units in our SPHE programme. They are:
  • Self Identity
  • Taking care of my body
  • Growing and changing
  • Safety and protection
  • Making decisions
  • Myself and my family
  • My friends and other people
  • Relating to others
  • Developing citizenship
  • These strand units enable children to develop assertiveness, body integrity, skills relating to self-care, respect for others, identification of feeling and skills necessary to recognise and tell of abuse. The SPHE programme is supported, using the Walk Tall resources, RSE, our Alive-O programme and Be Safe and Stay Safe resources. The Stay Safe programme is the primary resource used in this school to provide education for children on abuse prevention. The programme is taught under the strand unit ‘Safety and Protection’. Staff will make every effort to ensure that the key messages of the programme are reinforced wherever possible
  • Procedures
  • All staff (teachers, SNAs, ancillary, secretarial, caretaking etc) as well as visitors and parents helping out etc. in this school will follow the recommendation for reporting concerns or disclosures as outlines in ‘Children First’ and the Department of Education and Science document, ‘Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools’.
  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. Appointment of a Designated Liaison Person (DLP)
  • The Board of Management has appointed the Principal, Ms. Regina Halpin as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) in Divine mercy SNS to have specific responsibility for child protection.
  • The Deputy Principal, Mr. Joe McDonagh has been appointed as Deputy DLP to take the place of the DLP if she is unavailable for whatever reason.
  • The position of DLP will be addressed at the first meeting of each new Board of Management. The DLP will continue to act as such until such time as 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 responsibility for child protection in the school.
    • All staff has a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children from harm.
  • Role of the Board of Management

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.

  • Specifically they will

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.

  1. Role of the Staff Member (to include Teachers, SNAs, Caretaker, Secretary Etc)
    • 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 (2011) and Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary School.
    • Guidelines for teachers and staff members in handling disclosures from children Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a 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 reassurance 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 .Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate.
    • Retain the record securely.
    • The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
    • The DLP should then be informed and given relevant records.
    • If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on to the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines. Suspicions of Abuse:
      • Staff members who suspect abuse should refer to Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011)
      • Staff members should observe and record over time the details/signs/symptoms/behaviour causing them concern.
      • They should inform the DLP and pass on all records. 5. Role of the Designated Liaison Person (DLP)

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

  • Where the DLP/Deputy DLP have concerns about a child, but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, they should seek appropriate advice. To do this the DLP/Deputy should make contact with the assigned (on Duty) Social Worker. The DLP/Deputy in this case, should be explicit that she is requesting advice and not making a report. If advised to report the matter, the DLP will act on that advice.
  • A report will then be made to the HSE by the DLP/Deputy in person, by telephone and in writing. In the event of an emergency or non-availability of HSE staff, the report should be made to the Gardaí. The DLP should also report the matter to the Chairperson of the BOM, who should then follow the procedures as outlined in Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools(2011)
  1. A standard reporting form is completed by the DLP/Deputy as comprehensively as possible. When such a report is being made to the health board, the Chairperson of the Board of Management is informed.
  2. 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.
  3. When the allegation is against the DLP, the chairperson then assumes responsibility for reporting the matter to the HSE and filling in the standard reporting form.

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 the SPHE
  • Delivery and participation by children in the Stay Safe program
  • Assessment of these procedures by participants following a child protection case
  • Feedback from all staff. Timeframe for Implementation These procedures will be implemented following ratification by the BOM. Timeframe for Review At the first staff meeting of every year the DLP will remind all teachers of the School Protection Policy, The Department Child Protection Procedures and The Children First Guidelines, copies of which will be given to all staff (on their teaching computers). A review will be conducted on an annual basis.
  • DLP
  • Principal
  • All Staff
  • B.O.M.
  • Responsibility for Review
  • Ratification and Communication
  • This updated policy was ratified on February 11th 2015 following a BOM meeting
  • Parents were notified of its existence and were invited to look and comment on the policy, which was displayed on the Parents’ Notice board.
  • Emanon Bourke Chairperson B.O.M. Divine Mercy SNS