21 June, 2019 - Publication of the first set of Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection Reports

The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills has today published 11 Initial Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection reports and 11 Final Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection reports on its website www.education.ie.

The reports arise from the new Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection model introduced by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. in January 2019. This fulfils a commitment made in the Government’s Action Plan for Education 2018.

The Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections are focused and in-depth inspections which look at how school boards and school staff are fulfilling their legal responsibilities in relation to the protection and safeguarding of children as required of them under the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017.

Welcoming the publication of the inspection reports Minister McHugh said: “The new inspections are designed to strengthen our child protection systems. They help to guide and direct schools in relation to meeting their child protection obligations.

“The publication of the inspection reports today is an important step in this process as they provide clear information to the public about the levels of compliance with the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 and the quality of provision for mandatory aspects of the curriculum such as Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Stay Safe and Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) in our schools.’’

Minister McHugh noted the value of each school having an Initial Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection followed, within a relatively short period of time, by a Final Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection. This feature of the inspection model was developed following an extensive research and consultation process with the education partners, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, and the schools that participated in the trial phase of the inspections.

Minister McHugh said: “The process of conducting an initial and final inspection is important in promoting improvement in the implementation of child protection procedures by schools; it also facilitates the promotion of best practice in school leadership as it relates to child protection.”

The reports published today show:

  • Almost all of the schools inspected were, at the time of the Final Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection, compliant with the checks undertaken by inspectors in relation to how the 2017 Procedures were being implemented.
  • Implementation of the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum and Stay Safe programme was evident in all of the primary schools inspected.
  • Provision for SPHE and Relationship and Sexuality Education was evident in all of the post-primary schools at the time of their Final Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection.

Minister McHugh noted that, where a school is less than fully compliant with the checks undertaken in this new form of child protection inspection, the Department will continue to engage with the school until deficiencies found during the final inspection have been successfully addressed.

He said: “The process of having an initial and final inspection facilitates real improvements in areas such as the way schools communicate their child protection procedures to parents, the provision of information and training about child protection to school personnel, and the provision of a child protection oversight report to boards of management. It also enables schools to improve their provision for important aspects of the SPHE and RSE programmes.”

A link to the reports is available here: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/child-protection-and-safeguarding-inspection/

 

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

 

Purpose of the new inspections

Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections are part of a range of inspection work to support the implementation of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017. The 2017 Procedures provide direction and guidance to schools in relation to meeting their child protection obligations under the Children First Act 2015 and in the continued implementation of the best practice guidance in Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.

  • The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 set out detailed oversight arrangements for child protection, including inspection by the Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate of the implementation of child protection procedures in schools.
  • Two levels of inspection checks were introduced into school inspections in December 2017 and March 2018 and have been operating satisfactorily.
  • The new detailed Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections provide a further level of inspection of child protection procedures in primary and post-primary schools.

The Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections enable the Inspectorate to:

  • Promote best practice in the implementation of child protection arrangements in schools
  • Monitor  the implementation of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and  Post-Primary Schools 2017 in a sample of primary and post-primary schools annually 
  • Publish  written reports on the implementation of Child Protection Procedures  for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 in the sample of schools inspected
  • Report to the Child Protection Oversight Group of the Department of Education and Skills and the Minister on the extent to which the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 are implemented in the sample of schools inspected.
  • Gather information to inform the further development of child protection and safeguarding requirements by the Department of Education and Skills and by other government departments and agencies involved in child protection. 

 

What are Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections focused on?

  • Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections are based on an inspection framework based on the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017. Essentially, the inspections comprise ten overarching checks, each of which has a number of sub-checks. The inspection framework, that is, the ten checks and sub-checks, is set out in the published Guide to Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections available at www.education.ie.     

 

Will schools receive notice of the Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspections?

Normally, a school receives between 24 hours and 48 hours’ notice of a Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection. However, the Inspectorate reserves the right to conduct the inspections without any notice. 

What happens during a Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection?

In each school selected for a Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection, two inspections are held – an Initial Child Protection Inspection and a Final Child Protection Inspection. Usually, the inspections take place within four to six weeks of each other.

A separate report from each inspection is published simultaneously. Having two inspections provides schools with a period for developing and improving its child protection procedures in order to become more fully compliant with the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017.

During the inspections, inspectors:

  • Engage in a focussed discussion with primary school pupils about their learning in Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Stay Safe and with post-primary students about SPHE and Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE). The written consent of parents and of post-primary students is obtained in advance of the learners’ participation in focus groups with the inspectors
  • Invite all parents in the Initial Child Protection Inspection to complete an online parent survey that explores issues relevant to school climate and parents’ awareness of the school’s child protection procedures, and the school’s anti-bullying procedures
  • Hold a meeting with members of the school’s parents’ association in the Final Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection
  • Hold  meetings with:
    • The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and/or Deputy Designated Liaison Person in the school
    • The Chairperson of board of management
    • A sample of school personnel
    • The teacher who is the coordinator for SPHE in the school (if relevant)
  • Review the following documents:
    • Board of management minutes
    • The school’s Child Safeguarding Statement and Risk Assessment
    • Relevant school plans, monthly progress records (primary) and timetable data (post-primary)
  • Review child protection records

 

Following the inspection:

  • Each inspection results in oral feedback to relevant school personnel and a written report on the inspection findings which outlines the level of school compliance with each of the ten overarching checks.
  • All Child Protection and Safeguarding Inspection reports, from both the Initial Inspection and Final Inspection, are published on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.