Chapter 13 pastoral care and child protection of guide for school governorsThis chapter explains the role and responsibilities of Boards of Governors in relation to the pastoral care and protection of registered pupils at grant-aided schools.
In this chapter:
- Pastoral care system
- Child protection
- Health promotion in schools/healthy schools
- The law
Role of the Board of Governors
The role of the Board of Governors is to ensure that the school’s pastoral care arrangements protect the pupils from harm, safeguard their health and welfare and support their learning and development.
The Board of Governors has a statutory duty to
13.1. All schools are in a unique position to promote and safeguard the welfare of children and young people who are their pupils. For this reason, the Department takes the role of schools in safeguarding children very seriously and has in place robust arrangements to support schools in this work.
13.2. This approach is underpinned by international and domestic legislation relating to children’s welfare and protection. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, provides that children have the right to be protected from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse by those looking after them. The Children (NI) Order 1995 provides for the welfare of the child to be the paramount consideration in specific court proceedings and Boards of Governors have specific statutory responsibilities under education legislation, to safeguard and promote the welfare of registered pupils.
13.3. Collectively, all the policies and arrangements which schools have in place to keep pupils safe, promote physical and mental health and general welfare, are described as the pastoral care system. In recent years this aspect of a school’s activity has been given a much stronger focus: some of this has been driven by failures of the past, for example, in areas of child protection and more recently in recognition that pupils will not achieve good educational outcomes if they are experiencing stress and are unsupported in the school environment.
13.4. This chapter covers an overview of the pastoral care system and two key elements – child protection arrangements and health promotion activity. Related policies in areas such as safety on educational visits and pupil behaviour and discipline, and safety are covered in chapters 14 and 15.
13.5. Through its pastoral care arrangements and provision, a school demonstrates its continuing concern for the personal and social development of all its pupils, regardless of age or ability, as individuals and as secure, successful and fully participating members of the school and its wider community. Pastoral care is also concerned, in the post primary school, with preparing pupils for the demands and challenges of adult and working life. Pastoral care is at its most effective when it is all pervasive and fully integrated into the school’s daily routines, its curriculum and its extra curricular activities.
13.6. The Board of Governors of a grant-aided school has a statutory duty, under Article 17 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, to safeguard and promote the welfare of registered pupils at the school at all times when
- on the premises of the school; or
- in the lawful control or charge of a member of the staff of the school.
This duty does not apply to pupils for whom accommodation is provided by the Board of Governors of a voluntary school, as an equivalent statutory provision is made by Article 176(1) of the Children (NI) Order 1995.
13.7. The outworkings of the Entitlement Framework may mean that some schools will have pupils attending from other schools. The Board of Governors must safeguard and promote the welfare of all pupils attending its school, whether registered or not, when they are on the premises of the school or in the lawful control or charge of a member of school.
13.8. Pupil welfare embraces all aspects of school life through the pastoral care system, child protection, pupil behaviour, health and well-being, physical safety and security. Boards of Governors have a responsibility to take an active interest in all aspects of their schools’ activities that promote pupil welfare.
13.9. The quality of pastoral care influences the whole-school ethos. It is of crucial importance in creating an atmosphere in which all young people feel secure, know they are valued as individuals and encouraged in their learning, growth and social development in a healthy and safe environment. While Boards of Governors, principals and members of senior management have primary responsibility for the care and welfare of pupils, all school staff, have a responsibility for pastoral care. The management arrangements within schools should enable all staff to contribute effectively to establishing and maintaining a climate which is characterised by good relations and mutual respect.
13.10. Pastoral care provision will differ from school to school. The actual provision will include the way in which pupils are equipped to cope with personal challenges through the curriculum on offer, the systems for monitoring of pupils’ academic progress and wellbeing and the range of support available within the school to pupils experiencing difficulties.
13.11. The revised curriculum, offered by all schools, will better equip young people to deal with the challenges they face in life. It includes a new area of Personal Development and Mutual Understanding at primary level and Learning for Life and Work at post-primary level. Both provide opportunities to promote positive mental and emotional health among young people. Throughout their schooling, children and young people have to deal with a wide range of personal and social issues that affect them, such as relationships, working with others, sex, drugs, smoking, alcohol and other health related issues. To do so effectively, requires them to have opportunities provided through the curriculum to discuss and explore such issues, so that they are able to make good choices and decisions.
13.12. Schools are free to supplement this part of the curriculum they offer by either, using resource materials prepared by agencies or organisations external to the school or by using individuals or staff from these agencies or organisations to take lessons or learning programmes. This is normally done where a specialist expertise, for example medical knowledge, is helpful in dealing with a particular issue or where an agency has a relevant expertise through its normal business.
13.13. A pupil may, at any time, experience difficulties in their personal and social circumstances which impair their ability to learn. Schools’ staff should be alert to the signs of distress and equipped to respond appropriately. The pastoral care system will include the support which a school offers pupils at vulnerable times, such as mentoring or counselling provided either by school staff or external experts.
13.14. The Education and Library Boards’ pupil support services are available to all schools, and post primary schools, in particular, can use the Independent Counselling Service for Schools, should they so wish. Many schools have established links with local statutory services, such as Social Services, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and community and voluntary sector organisations, such as the NSPCC or Barnardo’s, which offer support to children and young people.
13.15. The current main guidance for schools is set out in the document attached to the Department’s Circular 1999/10 PDF 27 KB. Other advice on specific areas, in particular recruitment, selection and pre-employment checking has been issued by means of subsequent circulars.
13.16. The Board of Governors has a statutory duty, under Article 18 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, to decide on the measures to be taken by all persons associated with the school (whether by the Board of Governors, the school staff or other persons) to protect pupils from abuse, whether at school or elsewhere, and to review these measures from time to time or as directed by DE.
13.17. Further, when drawing up these measures, the Board of Governors must have regard to any relevant guidance. Relevant guidance is normally either prepared by DE or issued with the Department’s endorsement.
13.18. The Board of Governors also has a duty to ensure that a written statement of these measures (the child protection policy) is prepared and implemented. A copy of the statement (the child protection policy) must be made available free to parents of registered pupils and available for inspection at the school.
Designated Governor for Child Protection
13.19. The Board of Governors, as a matter of good practice, should delegate lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection to a specific member of the governing body. This Designated Governor, after appropriate training from the Education and Library Board’s Child Protection Support Service for Schools, will be able to advise the governors on issues such as
- the role of designated teachers;
- the content of child protection policies; and
- the content of a code of conduct for adults within the school.
13.20. It is also recommended, as a matter of good practice, that the Parent or Teacher Governor do not act as the Designated Governor for Child Protection. There is the potential for a conflict of interest, when the Board of Governors is required to deal with specific allegations of child abuse involving members of staff and/or pupils and this could impede the Designated Governor in discharging an appropriate challenge function.
13.21. The school should have a trained Designated Teacher with specific responsibility for child protection matters. There should also be a second named trained teacher (Deputy Designated Teacher) to assume the responsibilities in case of absence. The names of both teachers should be known to all pupils, teaching staff, parents and members of the Board of Governors.
13.22. There should be a statement about the standards of behaviour expected of staff in their interactions with pupils. The statement should be tailored to suit the age and ability of the pupils in the school and address the specific issues which will arise, for example, in a nursery school, issues around toileting and changing children’s clothes or in post primary schools issues around relationships outside of school with pupils. The code should also deal with situational issues which can arise, such as interviews with individual pupils and giving pupils a lift home after school events.
13.23. There should be clear procedures to be followed where there are concerns that a child is being abused, whether the concerns come by way of a disclosure from the child, observed behaviours by members of staff, or a report from a parent or another member of the public. The procedure to be followed should include, the role of the Designated Teacher (or Deputy) as the source of advice and person who will act on concerns, how referrals will be made to the investigating agencies, the involvement of parents and record keeping arrangements.
13.24. There should be clear procedures to be followed where an allegation of child abuse is made against a member of staff. The procedure to be followed will depend on whether the complaint is about the principal, the Designated Teacher or another member of staff and the requirements of the employing authority.
13.25. The school should maintain a confidential Record of Child Abuse Complaints made against members of staff. The record should be reviewed by the Board of Governors at least annually and available on request to the Education and Training Inspectors during inspections. The Board of Governors should request a report on all aspects of Child Protection within the school at least annually.
13.26. The school should acknowledge in any statement about child protection, the part that the curriculum will play in promoting the keeping safe agenda with all its pupils. Pupils should understand the child protection arrangements and information should be displayed in the school about how they can raise a concern or complaint.
13.27. The chairperson of the Board of Governors shares responsibility with the principal to ensure that
- governors are vetted in line with the Department's requirements;
- a sufficient number of governors are suitably trained in child protection matters, to serve on staff recruitment and selection interview panels;
- the child protection elements of the process of recruiting selecting teaching and non-teaching staff are strictly adhered to;
- staff who work in schools, including members of a work force employed by a firm working in the school, are properly pre-employment checked and vetted to ensure that the confidence of parents and the public, in their arrangements to protect children, is sustained; and
- all reasonable steps are taken to guard against employing people who might harm children or put them at risk.
13.28. The CPSSS was established to address the needs of schools’ staff for ready access from day to day, to expert advice on issues around child protection, support in dealing with specific cases and for relevant training.
13.29. The CPSSS has some 15 dedicated staff and operates a telephone helpline service for schools’ staff during normal school hours, on all days that schools are open.
13.30. The CPSSS provides training tailored to the roles and responsibilities of staff with child protection responsibilities in a school setting – Designated Teachers and their deputies, principals and members of the Board of Governors. Every year CPSSS conducts an audit with schools about their training needs, which covers new appointments and those who have been in position for more than three years and who require refresher training.
13.31. Every inspection carried out in a school includes an assessment of the pastoral care and child protection arrangements. The ETI will rate the arrangements as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Where an unsatisfactory rating has been given, the Department will expect prompt action to rectify any deficiencies.
13.32. Schools have a vital role to play in health promotion and are in a position to contribute positively to the growth and development of healthy children and young people. They can do this by promoting healthy eating, physical activity, personal development and emotional health and well being, for example via
- becoming a 'healthy school' – information on the Public Health Agency website http://hpani.org/Work/hpschools/toolkit.htm;
- a robust and comprehensive health education policy;
- elements of the curriculum such as physical education (DE recommends a minimum of two hours of PE per week), the taught pastoral care programme; the personal development strand of the curriculum; science education and home economics;
- extra-curricular activities, for example, breakfast clubs, after school sporting activities, cookery, drugs and alcohol awareness and smoking cessation classes etc;
- the provision of healthy foods and drinks in the school, in line with the Department’s Nutritional Standards for School Lunches and Other Food and Drinks in Schools and compliance with the DE and DHSSPS Food in Schools policy (the draft policy is currently being finalised taking account of comments received during earlier consultation);
- school assemblies;
- where appropriate, engaging with external organisations to support the delivery of the curriculum;
- health-based sponsored activities;
- participation in health related campaigns;
- anti-bullying measures;
- the school health service (for example school nurses); and
- the Education Welfare Service.
Boards of Governors, in all grant-aided schools, are required to ensure that the promotion of the health and well-being of staff and pupils is included in their School Development Plan.
13.33. Boards of Governors are advised to cooperate with the Health Service, when it engages in campaigns to tackle a serious health-related issue affecting school-aged children. Mass campaigns of, for example, child vaccination are probably most efficiently and effectively undertaken in schools where the children are in significant numbers.
13.34. Pupils with medical needs have the same rights of admission to a school or setting as any other pupils. Schools must not discriminate against disabled pupils in relation to their access to education and associated activities, such as school trips, residentials and attendance at clubs. Most pupils will, at some time, have short-term medical needs, for example, finishing a course of antibiotics, while some pupils will have longer term medical needs and may require medicines on a longer term basis to keep them well, for example, pupils with well-controlled epilepsy or cystic fibrosis. Other pupils may require medicines in particular circumstances, for example, pupils with severe allergies who may need an adrenaline injection or those with severe asthma who need daily inhalers and additional doses during an attack.
13.35. Most pupils with medical needs can attend school and take part in normal activities, sometimes with some support. Staff, however, may need to take extra care in supervising such activities to ensure that pupils are not put at risk.
13.36. There is no legal duty that requires school staff to administer medicines. It is important, however, that the staff members who take responsibility for administrating medicines are appropriately trained and have support from health professionals. In dealing with this issue, the Board of Governors should ensure that
- they take cognisance of the DE guidance entitled 'Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs';
- there is a clear policy on the management of medicines in its school;
- proper account is taken of the views of the principal, staff and parents and of any guidance provided by DE and the Education Welfare Service of the education and library boards in developing this policy. In line with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child (who is capable of forming their own views) should have the right to freely express their views and due weight given to those views, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child;
- there are robust systems in place to ensure that medicines are managed safely;
- there is an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of the staff and others; and
- measures are put in place to manage any identified risks.
13.37. The role of schools in relation to drugs is twofold: prevention (via the school’s taught drugs education programmes) and protection (via the school’s drugs education policy).
13.38. Boards of Governors should be aware that all grant-aided schools have a statutory duty to
- have a drugs education policy in place;
- publicise the drugs education policy in their prospectus; and
- inform the police where they believe or suspect a pupil to be in possession of a 'controlled drug' – if in any doubt about the nature of the substance, the police should be informed.
DE Circular 2004/9 - 'Drugs: Guidance for Schools' provides further advice. As the misuse of drugs is not confined to illegal drugs, the advice contained in the circular is applicable to the misuse of alcohol, tobacco, volatile substances, over the counter and prescribed medication and performance-enhancing drugs in sport.
13.39. Boards of Governors should ensure that their schools have a Relationships and Sexual Education policy linked to their pastoral care/child protection policy. This policy should be the subject of consultation with staff and parents and be endorsed by the Governors. DE Circular 2001/15: 'Relationships and Sexuality Education' (RSE) provides further advice. Also see web links under the Guidance section below.
Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986 – Articles 58 and 59
Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003 - Article 17
(Duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils)
Education (NI) Order 2003 - Article 18
(Child protection measures)
Education (NI) Order 2006
Education (School Development Plans) Regulations (NI) 2005 SR No. 303
(Regulation 3 Schedule, paragraph 3(a)(ix))
(shall continue to apply to school development plans prepared or last revised before 1 August 2010)
The Education (School Development Plans) Regulations (NI) 2010
(came into operation on 24 January 2011)
CPSSS School Governors Handbook on Child Protection - February 2012
(issued by Child Protection Support Service for Schools)
DE Circular 1999/10: Pastoral Care in Schools: Child Protection
http://www.deni.gov.uk/dc1999-10circular-3.pdf PDF 27 KB
DE Circular 2001/15: Relationships and Sexuality Education
http://www.deni.gov.uk/2001-15.pdf PDF 26 KB
Also see guidance of Equality Commission at
http://www.equalityni.org/archive/pdf/SOEducationguide1(1).pdf PDF 1.6 MB; and
http://www.deni.gov.uk/2001-15-2.pdf PDF 185 KB for primary schools ; and
http://www.deni.gov.uk/2001-15-3.pdf PDF 225 KB for post-primary schools, which includes the responsibilities of school governors
DE Circular 2003/13: Welfare and Protection of Pupils
http://www.deni.gov.uk/dc2003-13circular-5.pdf PDF 17 KB
DE Circular 2004/9: Drugs: Guidance for Schools
http://www.deni.gov.uk/2004-9.pdf PDF 66 KB
DE Circulars 2006/06: Child Protection Recruitment of People to work with children and young people in educational settings
http://www.deni.gov.uk/circular_2006_06.pdf PDF 122 KB
http://www.deni.gov.uk/circular_2006-06_appendix_a__checks_on_applicants_from_abroad.pdf PDF 31 KB
DE Circulars 2006/07: Child Protection: Employment of Substitute Teachers
http://www.deni.gov.uk/circular_2006_07.pdf PDF 35 KB
DE Circular 2006/08: Child Protection: Training Requirement for School Governors on Staff Recruitment and Selection Panels
http://www.deni.gov.uk/circular_2006_08.pdf PDF 30 KB
DE Circulars 2006/09: Child Protection: Criminal background checking of staff in schools - Programme to extend coverage
http://www.deni.gov.uk/circular_2006_09.pdf PDF 39 KB
DE Circular 2006/25: Child Protection: Vetting of School Governors
http://www.deni.gov.uk/vetting-of-school-govs-2006-25.pdf PDF 41 KB
DE Circular 2010/22 School Development Planning – Regulations and Guidance
http://www.deni.gov.uk/sdp_circular_22_of_2010_english_version.pdf PDF 86 KB
DE/DHSSPS 2008: Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs
Nutritional standards for school lunches: a guide for implementation
Nutritional standards for other food and drinks in schools: a guide for implementation
School food: the essential guide