New Child Protection Procedures for Schools
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has commenced the remaining provisions of the Children First Act, 2015 from 11 December 2017. The Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 published on 2 October 2017 also became operational on 11 December 2017.
The Children First Act, 2015 provides for a number of key child protection measures that are relevant to schools, as follows:
- A requirement on organisations provided services to children, which includes all schools, to keep children safe and to produce a Child Safeguarding Statement;
- A requirement on defined categories of persons (mandated persons), which includes registered teachers, to report child protection concerns over a defined threshold to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla);
- A requirement on mandated persons which includes registered teachers, to assist Tusla in the assessment of a child protection risk, if so requested to do so by Tusla.
The commencement of the Children First Act, 2015 and the publication of the new Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017 has necessitated changes to the existing Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
The Department of Education and Skills circular 0081/2017 (published on 11 December, 2017) informs school management authorities that new Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 have been developed and published following an extensive consultation with the education partners.
The purpose of the new procedures is to give clear direction and guidance to school authorities and to school personnel in relation to meeting the new statutory obligations under the Children First Act, 2015 and in the continued implementation within the school setting of the best practice guidance set out in the updated Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.
The new Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 include-
a) the reporting procedures to be followed by registered teachers in respect of their role as mandated persons, including a requirement to liaise with the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and, where applicable, to submit mandated reports jointly with the DLP to Tusla
b) guidance and direction for schools in relation to meeting their statutory obligations in relation to Child Safeguarding Statements. In that regard, the procedures require that all boards of management use templates published by the Department when preparing, publishing and reviewing their Child Safeguarding Statement.
c) enhanced oversight measures which are aimed at ensuring full compliance by schools with the Children First Act 2015, Children First National Guidance 2017 and with the Department’s requirements as set out in the procedures for schools.
All of the requirements of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, apart from those relating to a school’s Child Safeguarding Statement, apply to all school personnel and school authorities with effect from 11 December 2017.
From 11 March 2018 the requirement to have a Child Safeguarding Statement replaces the previous requirement to have a child protection policy which was in place under the previous Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools published in 2011.
Address: Department of Education and Skills, School Governance Section, Cornamaddy, Athlone, County Westmeath, N37 X659