Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ceisteanna (204)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

204. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to a full review of child protection procedures in relation to schools in view of the experience of a person (details supplied) to which his attention has been drawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25288/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The primary statutory responsibility for child protection lies with the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). The role of my Department is to provide guidance and support to schools in implementing national child protection policy and to refer any allegations the Department receives to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

In December 2017, my Department published the updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017. The purpose of the updated procedures is to give clear direction and guidance to school authorities and to school personnel in relation to meeting their 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 published by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

The updated procedures apply to all recognised primary and post-primary schools and to all members of school personnel. Responsibility for ensuring that the child protection requirements are complied with rests with the school board, the principal and the staff of each school.

In relation to the correspondence supplied by the Deputy, I can confirm that the reference to a child protection concern in the correspondence in question was previously brought to the attention of my Department in March of this year. In accordance with my Department’s internal Procedures for responding to Child Protection Concerns brought to the attention of staff , my Department forwarded the matter to Tusla. My Department has no role in assessing or investigating allegations of harm against children, or any other child protection concerns. Its role is to refer any allegations it receives to the appropriate authorities and to do so without making judgment on same.

In the correspondence supplied, the parent in question also raises other concerns about the school including in relation to its handling of alleged bullying behaviour. Whereas my Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, my Department does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of action with regard to allegations or other complaints. In dealing with complaints, my Department's role is to provide advice to parents and students on the operation of schools' complaints procedures and to clarify for parents and pupils how grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. In that regard, further information for parents in relation to making a complaint about a school and on the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post -Primary Schools is available on my Departments website at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Complaints-Bullying-Child-Protection-Discrimination/Complaints-about-schools.html

In relation to securing a school place for the children concerned, the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of Tusla is the statutory body who can assist parents in securing a school place. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718815 / 01 7718500.