- 96% of Community and Comprehensive schools have a formal Child Protection and Welfare Policy in place
- Report recommends more training and more widespread use of formalised recruitment procedures
- Schools would welcome more practical guidance on child protection and welfare
The State Claims Agency (SCA) and the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) have today published the findings of their Survey of the Management of Child Protection and Welfare in Community and Comprehensive Schools at the annual ACCS In-school Management In-service for Principals and Deputy Principals.
The Children First Bill was published in April, 2012. This Bill will establish Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on a statutory basis. According to the bill, all organisations where children attend without their parents – such as schools, sports clubs or religious groups – will be legally required to ensure they provide a safe environment for children.
In anticipation of the impending legislation, the SCA and the ACCS conducted a survey of child protection and welfare management in Community and Comprehensive schools.
The survey aimed to:
- Assess the current practices and arrangements in place to manage child protection and welfare in Community and Comprehensive schools by benchmarking their existing management practices against the current national guidance Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children and the Department of Education and Skills associated procedures and circulars; and
- Present the survey results to Community and Comprehensive schools together with findings and recommendations.
- The survey found that Community and Comprehensive Schools are acutely aware of the importance of having the necessary measures in place to identify and manage the risks associated with child protection and welfare.
- It also found that, while child protection measures vary from school to school, the overall level of child protection could be improved by implementing a number of key recommendations across the Community and Comprehensive School sector.
Commenting on the findings, State Claims Agency Director, Ciarán Breen said:
“This survey is an important step in enabling schools to meet impending legal requirements set out in the Government’s proposed Children First Bill to provide a safe environment for children. It provides a clear assessment of the strength of child protection and welfare measures currently in place and identifies further measures that can be applied across the Community and Comprehensive Schools sector”.
Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools General Secretary, Ciarán Flynn said:
“The findings provide a clear roadmap of the measures that schools should take to ensure that they follow best practice in protecting children and managing their welfare. While it is reassuring that the survey identifies that the majority of schools have a formal Child Protection and Welfare Policy in place, the recommendations published today will be an essential tool in improving child protection across our Community and Comprehensive schools”.
Other summary findings
- 96% of schools surveyed have a formal child protection and welfare policy in place. The report recommends that all schools do so.
- More than 90% of Boards of Management covered by the survey have been briefed on child protection and welfare issues but 28% of boards surveyed have not received formal training on these issues. The report recommends that Boards of Management undertake all necessary training to ensure they have the skills to deal with issues which may arise.
- 85% of schools surveyed have formally issued their child protection and welfare policy to all teaching staff but this number falls to 64% for non-teaching staff. The report recommends that all staff (teaching and non-teaching) should be issued with the relevant policy to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities in relation to child protection and welfare.
- 95% of schools surveyed have written procedures for staff on what to do in the event of a suspected case of child abuse or if a student discloses abuse or neglect. The report recommends that all Boards of Management have written procedures in place.
- 47% of schools surveyed have a formal data protection policy in place, while 36% have a policy on confidentiality. Recommended best practice is to have such policies in place.
- 84% of schools surveyed have written procedures for hiring teaching staff but this number falls to 61% for catering staff and 57% for cleaning staff. The recruitment and selection of staff (both teaching and non-teaching) is an essential part of creating a safe environment for children and thorough recruitment procedures should apply to all staff.
The full report was launched today at the annual ACCS In-school Management In-service for Principals and Deputy Principals.
View questionnaire and survey results
The survey results and questionnaire are available below.
The State Claims Agency (SCA) is the name used by the National Treasury Management Agency when performing the risk and claims management functions delegated to it under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2000. This legislation sets out two objectives for the SCA:
- To provide risk advisory services to State authorities, including the HSE, with the aim of reducing over time the frequency and severity of claims.
- To manage claims so as to ensure that the State’s liability and associated legal and other expenses are contained at the lowest achievable level;
The Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools is the official representative body for the Community and Comprehensive School sector. It has an advisory role through policy setting and implementation, while also supporting schools in research, development and training.
The survey was carried out using a web-based questionnaire and included responses from 60% of Community and Comprehensive Schools. There are a total of 93 Community and Comprehensive schools in the State. Community and comprehensive schools were established in the 1960s. These schools are financed entirely by the Department of Education and Skills.