Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (109)

Brendan Smith

Question:

108 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his liaisons with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs regarding putting the Children’s First guidelines on a statutory basis; if this will impact on single teacher schools; if he will put extra staffing resources into such schools when legislation on the guidelines is enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35764/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs published the Heads of the Children First Bill on the 24th April last. I fully support this Bill, the purpose of which is to put Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on a statutory basis.

Last autumn, my Department published updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools based on the updated Children First 2011. These along with the Department's vetting requirements already address, on a non-statutory basis, the requirements and obligations arising from Children First 2011 and they apply to all primary and post-primary schools, irrespective of size.

As the Deputy will also be aware, following its publication, the Heads of Bill was sent to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for consultation with key stakeholders to take place before the Bill is finalised. My Department is also liaising on an ongoing basis with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in relation to the how the proposed legislation will impact on the schools system and to ensure, as far as possible, that its implementation at school level will complement the updated child protection procedures in place within the education sector.