Child Protection Policy

Child Protection Policy


The Montfort College of Performing Arts is dedicated to developing the potential of children in an environment of safety and security. 

Child abuse is an all-encompassing term that encapsulates many ways that a child’s health or development can be damaged by other people. Anything that prevents a child achieving his or her full potential or contradicts the dignity and rights of a child is abusive behaviour.   

In addition to government requirements, our concerns about having an 'Aware Culture’ has always been at the top of our agenda.  The training we offer our staff, the structures we have in place to recruit and monitor teaching staff and the creation of an environment where children can safely express themselves and find their true potential has always been our goal. We have a duty of care to our students, and their parents need to feel confident that as an organisation, we have the safety of their children as our primary concern.  

The Children First Act 2015 places specific obligations on particular organisations that provide relevant services to children and young people, including a requirement to have a Child Safeguarding Statement in place.

The purpose of this document is to give a clear picture of the expectations that the Montfort College of Performing Arts has with regard to Child Protection and Safeguarding. There are expectations in terms of how team members should behave with pupils in their care and expectations and duties upon them as adults working in the field of education.  

This document is therefore split into sections, one relating to the standards of professional behaviour that we expect from all of those working at the Montfort College of Performing Arts, information about types of abuse and instruction on what to do if a particular incident or concern occurs with regard to child protection. 

All existing staff and new staff have been given a copy of this policy to read. The Director must ensure that all team members read the policy and sign to confirm that they have read it, and are bound by it.  All teachers ​must​ sign one copy of this Child Protection Policy, and a copy must be on file for parents to see if they require it. 


Section 1: Recruitment of Teachers

Section 2: Standards of Professional Behaviour

Section 3: Abuse


Section 1: Recruitment of Teachers

When thinking about the safe recruitment of teachers the main elements of the process include the following: 

1. Ensuring the job description makes reference to the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. 

2. Ensuring that the person specification includes specific reference to suitability to work with children.

 3. Obtaining and scrutinising comprehensive information from the required application form, and taking up and satisfactorily resolving any discrepancies or anomalies in cv’s. 

4. Obtaining independent professional and character references that answer specific questions to help assess an applicant’s suitability to work with children and following up any concerns.

 5. A face-to-face interview that explores the candidate’s suitability to work with children as well as his or her suitability for the post. 

6. Verifying the successful applicant’s identity. 

7. Verifying that the successful applicant has any academic or vocational qualifications claimed.

 8. Checking his or her previous employment history and experience and discussing most recent  employment. 

9. Verifying that s/he has the health and physical capacity for the job

Garda Vetting

The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 provide a statutory basis for the vetting of persons carrying out relevant work with children or vulnerable persons. The Act also creates offences and penalties for persons who fail to comply with its provisions.

The Act stipulates that a relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation, unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person. 

All potential staff members will be Garda vetted as part of the recruitment process.


Section 2: Standards of Professional Behaviour


If we are to ensure the safety of pupils in our care then it is important that we have a sense of professional standards that complement the development of a safe environment. Everyone working with the Montfort College of Performing Arts needs to demonstrate safe behaviour in order to protect the pupils in their care and also to protect themselves from allegations of misconduct. Pupils will see teachers as role models. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate. 

Good Practice 

Always work in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets). Never allow yourself to be left alone with a pupil. There may be rare occasions when a confidential interview or a one-to-one meeting is necessary and in such circumstances, the interview should be conducted in a room with an open door or one with visual access. Where this is not possible, the teacher should ensure that there is another adult nearby, and this is particularly important with regard to LAMDA training, which in some cases can be on a one-to-one nature. For the LAMDA training parents need also to be aware that this is done on a one-to-one basis. 

It is unrealistic and inappropriate for the Montfort College of Performing Arts to prohibit physical contact between the teachers and pupils. Touch is very much part of what we do and it is an essential part of the creative interpretation of roles as well as a means of directing movement, encouraging performance and providing comfort and re-assurance. Where physical contact is necessary the teacher should explain the reason. However teachers must bear in mind that even innocent actions can be misconstrued. It is important for them to be sensitive to a pupil’s reaction to physical contact and to act appropriately. No pupil should ever be touched on a part of his/her body or in a way that is indecent. The areas covered by bra and pants in an adult should never be touched except in case of emergency. If there is a reason why you have had to touch a child in these areas then you should record what you have done and contact the Montfort College of Performing Arts director to discuss. Touch must always be related to the needs of the pupil rather than to those of the member of the team. 

Treat all pupils equally, and with respect and dignity. The Montfort College of Performing Arts will take positive action to eliminate discrimination against any person or group of people. Teachers should ensure that pupils are protected from discrimination on any grounds, including ability, and challenge discriminating comments and behaviour. Activities should be designed to include all pupils and to promote positive attitudes towards difference. 

Maintaining a safe and appropriate adult distance with pupils (e.g. it is not appropriate for any teacher to have an intimate relationship with a pupil or to share a room with them during any overnight school trips). 

Conducting yourself in a manner that sets a good example to the pupils. Be an excellent role model – this includes not drinking alcohol in the company of/whilst responsible for pupils. 

Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.  

Securing parental consent in writing if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment. First aid given should be recorded in writing and reported to the Director who should then inform the parent or carer. 

Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given. 

Requesting parental consent in advance if staff are required to transport pupils in their cars, or if a pupil expects to leave Montfort College of Performing Arts without a parent, i.e. to catch a bus. 

Always refer any child protection concerns to the Director of the Montfort College of Performing Arts. 

Question any unknown adult who enters the premises and/or who attempts to engage with the pupils.  

Bad Practice  

Practices never to be sanctioned: These sorts of behaviours give rise to serious concerns about a teacher, are deemed as gross misconduct, and should be reported.  

  • Using physical force against a pupil, unless it constitutes reasonable restraint to protect him/her or another person or to protect property. The incident should be recorded in writing, with a witness statement (where possible), immediately afterwards. 
  • Engaging in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.  
  • Sharing a room with a pupil. 
  • Using physical punishment. 
  • Engaging in any form of inappropriate touching.  
  • Tolerating a pupil’s inappropriate use of language and/or behaviour. This should always be challenged. 
  • Sexually suggestive comments to a pupil, even in fun.  
  • Sarcasm and bad language.
  • Reducing a pupil to tears as a form of control.  
  • Allowing allegations made by a pupil to go unrecorded or not acted upon. 
  • Doing things of a personal nature for pupils that they can do for themselves (e.g. apply sunscreen). 
  • Allowing pupils access to your personal Facebook account or any other ‘Social Networking sites’ or accessing their sites  (for further information please see Appendix 2 ‘The Internet and Social Networking sites’). 
  • Exchanging personal mobile phone numbers with pupils. 
  • Inviting, or allowing, pupils to stay with you at your home, or arranging meetings with them away from the school. 


A Safe Environment

Of particular importance is the control of who comes onto the premises and whether doors can be locked to ensure that unidentified people cannot enter, and that pupils cannot leave without us being aware of it. In doing this we are creating a safe zone.  

Have clear instructions to the pupils that we are teaching as to toilets and rules around their use. It is not realistic to escort children to the toilet on all occasions, and if the toilets are within the safe zone then there is no need to do this. If the toilets are elsewhere then we have to make judgments about escorting pupils to and from them. We need to be aware that the ‘potential’ for abuse comes not only from outside but also from older more capable pupils. 

Creating and ensuring that a safe environment is maintained is probably the most important aspect of keeping pupils safe. This involves being thoughtful about potential risk, and planning how risk can be minimized. 

Whilst our priority is keeping our pupils safe, we must also recognise teachers or team members can be subject to intimitadion and bullying, and we must be aware of any concerns.  These policies are outlined in the Staff Manual.


Section 3: ABUSE


What is abuse? Abuse is a form of mistreatment of a child; somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to prevent harm. It can take many forms but is usually divided into up to five categories. 

Sexual abuse  

This refers to the involvement or enticement of a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative and non​penetrative acts. Sexual activities may also include non​contact activities, e.g. involving children in looking at, or in production of abusive images, watching sexual activities or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. This may include use of photographs, films, pictures, cartoons, literature or sound recordings e.g. the internet, books, magazines, audio cassettes, tapes, CD’s. 

Ultimately it is a corruption of relationship that leaves children damaged and potentially unable to function. 

As you are engaged in a professional role with children and young people under 18 years of age you need to be clear that they cannot provide lawful consent to any sexual activity with an adult who is their teacher.  

Physical abuse 

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, giving children alcohol and/or inappropriate drugs, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer encourages symptoms that are not genuine, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after. 


Is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in serious impairment of health and development. Neglect is by far the most common form of abuse and may involve a parent or carer failing to: 

Provide adequate food, shelter and clothing (including exclusion from home or abandonment). Protect a child from physical harm or danger. Meet or respond to a child’s basic emotional needs. Ensure adequate supervision including use of adequate caretakers. Ensure adequate access to appropriate medical care or treatment. Ensure that educational needs are met.  

Emotional abuse  

Is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child that would adversely affect the child’s emotional development. It may involve: 

  • Conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. This may be verbally or via electronic or written communication. 
  • Imposing age or developmentally inappropriate expectations, for example overprotection or limitation of exploration and learning. 
  • Causing children to feel frightened or in danger for example witnessing domestic abuse, seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. 
  • Exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone. 


Physical, e.g. hitting, kicking, theft.  

Emotional, e.g. Name-calling, constant teasing, sarcasm, racist or homophobic taunts, threats, graffiti, gestures, ridiculing, humiliating, ignoring  

Sexual, e.g. unwanted physical contact, abusive comments  

The damage inflicted by bullying is often underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children, to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes them significant harm (including self harm and suicide).  

Teachers need to be aware that cyber bullying, involving the use of mobile phones and the Internet, is increasingly being used.

Signs of abuse 

It is important to remember that a child may suffer or be at risk of suffering from one or more types of abuse and that abuse may take place on a single occasion or may occur repeatedly over time. There is no absolute criterion on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. The following indicators are signs and symptoms that teachers might notice, that may be consistent with abuse; but children may exhibit them for other reasons too. For this reason any concerns about a child must be raised with the Director at the earliest opportunity. 

Sexual abuse :

  • Frequent unexplained abdominal pains discomfort when walking/sitting 
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour or knowledge for the child’s age 
  • Promiscuity 
  • Sudden changes in behaviour, including emotional withdrawal or aggression  
  • Inappropriate sexually explicit stories or performances 
  • Overeating or anorexia 
  • Substance/drug misuse 
  • Reports of assault 
  • Physical abuse Frequent or unexplained bruising, marks or injury 
  • Bruises that reflect hand marks or shapes of articles e.g. belts 
  • Cigarette burns  
  • Bite marks  
  • Flinching when approached or touched 
  • Unexplained broken or fractured bones  
  • Scalds 
  • Fear of parent being contacted  
  • Reports of injury caused by parents 
  • Neglect 
  • Poor hygiene  
  • Weight loss/underweight 
  • Inappropriate dress  
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs 
  • Constantly tired/listless 
  • Poor relationship with parent or carer 
  • Behavioural extremes – aggressive/angry outbursts/ withdrawn or violent behaviour 
  • Fear of going home  
  • Emotional abuse 
  • Delays in physical development or progress  
  • Sudden speech disorders 
  • Failure to thrive 
  • Impairment of intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development 
  • Bullying 
  • Stomach aches headaches 
  • Reduced concentration becoming withdrawn clingy, depressed 
  • Tearful, erratic mood swings 
  • A drop in performance at school or standard of play 


 Action: What to do If you observe bad practice

If you have concerns about a teacher working for Montfort College of Performing Arts who shows signs of bad practice in line with the examples given above, then talk this through with the Director. The safe thing is to report concerns and allow others to make a decision about which of these it is. 

Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognize a situation where abuse may occur, or has already taken place. Whilst it is accepted that teachers are not experts at such recognition, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or a child) towards a pupil. All team members have a duty to discuss any concerns they may have about the welfare of a pupil immediately with the Director.

If a pupil tells you something 

When a pupil tells you something or you observe any of the behaviour detailed above, it is important that our actions do not abuse the pupil further or prejudice further enquiries, for example: 

Listen to the pupil if they are telling you something. If you are shocked by what is being said try not to show it. It is OK to observe bruises but not to ask a pupil to remove or adjust their clothing to observe them.

If a disclosure is made the pace should be dictated by the pupil.

It is our role to listen not to investigate. Use open questions such as “is there anything else you want to tell me?” or “yes?” or “and?” Try not to press the student or introduce your own hypotheses about what you are being told.  

 Accept what the pupil says.  Be careful not to burden them with guilt by asking questions such as “why didn’t you tell me before?” 

Do acknowledge how hard it was for them to tell you this. 

Don’t criticise the alleged perpetrator, this may be someone they love. 

Don’t promise confidentiality, reassure the pupil that they have done the right thing, explain that you will have to tell the Director and inform the relevant body.  It is important that you don’t make promises that you cannot keep such as “I’ll stay with you all the time” or “it will be alright now”. 

If you see something of concern

Looking through the list of signs of abuse as set out above can lead people to be hypersensitive to the possibility of abuse, but it is important that if you notice something, particularly any changes in line with the signs of abuse, that you take action. 

After talking with the pupil or noting any concerns this must then be discussed with the Director as soon as possible and no later than the end of the teaching session. If the Director is not available and a child is known to be in imminent danger then you must phone the gardai immediately. 

Recording the information 

Make some brief notes at the time or immediately afterwards; record the date, time, place and context of the disclosure or concern, recording facts and not assumption and interpretation. 

The Aftermath  

The Montfort College of Performing Arts recognises that pupils who are abused or who witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self worth and to view the world in a positive way.  Being at Montforts may be the only stable, secure and predictable element in the lives of children at risk. For this reason we would encourage teachers to allow pupils who have made disclosures to ‘feel normal’ whilst they are at the Montfort College of Performing Arts.  

Parents play an important role in protecting their children from abuse. We are required to consider the safety of the pupil and should a concern arise the Director’s advice must be sought prior to contacting parents. The reason for this, at this stage, is that it may be that we need to be clear that they are not involved in any potential abuse. We will work with parents to support the needs of their child. 

We aim to help parents understand that the Montfort College of Performing Arts, like other schools, has a responsibility for the welfare of all pupils and has a duty to refer appropriate cases to the gardai and/or Social Services in the interest of the pupil. 


Teachers have the professional responsibility to share relevant information about the protection of children with other professionals, particularly investigating agencies. If a pupil confides in a teacher and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the teacher tells the pupil sensitively that he/she has a responsibility to speak to the Director for the pupil’s own sake.  Within that context, the pupil should however be reassured that the matter will be disclosed only to the people who need to know about it. Teachers who receive the information about children and families in the course of their work should have the information only within professional context.