According to Children First: National Guidance, which was published in 2011, school authorities have primary responsibility for the care and welfare of their pupils. The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for developing and implementing child protection procedures for schools based on the Children First: National Guidance.
The aim of such procedures is to give direction to school management and staff regarding the identification of and response to child protection concerns and the continued support of the child. It is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Skills to inspect and evaluate the implementation of these procedures for education staff.
4.8.2 It is the responsibility of the Board of Management of each school:
4.8.3 Teachers are particularly well placed to observe and monitor children for signs of abuse and neglect. They are the main care-givers to children outside the family context and have regular contact with children in the school setting.
4.8.4 Teachers have a general duty of care to ensure that arrangements are in place to protect children and young people from harm. In this regard, children need to be facilitated to develop their self-esteem, confidence, independence of thought and the necessary skills to cope with possible threats to their personal safety, both within and outside the school. Management arrangements within primary and
post-primary schools should provide for the following:
4.8.5 If a child discloses to a teacher or to other school staff that he or she is being harmed by a parent/carer or any other person, including another child, the person who receives that information should listen carefully and supportively. This applies equally where the child implies that he or she is at risk of being harmed by a parent/carer or any other person. It also applies equally if a parent/carer or any other person discloses that he or she has harmed, or is at risk of harming, a child. The child should not be interviewed formally; the teacher or other staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts if and when clarification is needed.
Confidentiality must never be promised to a person making a disclosure subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Acts and the requirement to report to the HSE Children and Family Services must be explained in a supportive manner. The discussion should be recorded accurately and the record retained securely. The teacher or other staff member should then inform the designated liaison person who is responsible for reporting the matter to the HSE Children and Family Services, or in the event of an emergency and the unavailability of the HSE, to An Garda Síochána.