Child Protection

Child Safeguarding Statement

We the Limerick School of Acting are committed to a child-centered approach to our work with children and young people. We undertake to provide a safe environment and experience, where the welfare of the child/young person is paramount. We will adhere to the recommendations of
Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, published by the Department of Health and Children. We have implemented procedures covering:

– Code of behaviour for all staff;
– Reporting of suspected or disclosed abuse
– Confidentiality;
– Recruitment and selecting staff;
– Managing and supervising staff;
– Involvement of primary carers;
– Allegations of misconduct or abuse by staff;
– Incidents and accidents.
This policy will be reviewed on 1st March 2024


Nigel Mercier,
Director Limerick School of Acting

Code of behaviour for staff
Our policy applies to all staff and volunteers working for the school. We practice safe recruitment in checking the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with children.
The code of behaviour is categorised under the following headings:
• Child-centred approach;
• Good practice;
• Appropriate behaviour;
• Physical contact;
• Health and safety.

Child-centred approach
All drama teachers, staff, and volunteers at the Limerick School of Acting will:

• Treat all children and young people equally;
• Listen to and respect children and young people;
• Involve children and young people in decision-making, as appropriate;
• Provide encouragement, support and praise (regardless of ability);
• Use appropriate language (physical and verbal);
• Have fun and encourage a positive atmosphere;
• Offer constructive criticism when needed;
• Treat all children and young people as individuals;
• Respect a child’s or young person’s personal space;
• Discuss boundaries on behaviour and related sanctions, as appropriate, with children and young people and their primary carers;

• Encourage feedback from group;
• Use age-appropriate teaching aids and materials;
• Lead by example;
• Be aware of a child’s or young person’s other commitments when scheduling rehearsals or activities, e.g., school or exams;
• Be cognisant of a child’s or young person’s limitations, due to a medical condition for example;
• Create an atmosphere of trust;
• Respect differences of ability, culture, religion, race and sexual orientation.

Good practice
All drama teachers, staff, and volunteers at the Limerick School of Acting will:
• Register each child/young person (name, address, phone, special requirements, attendance, emergency contact);
• Make primary carers, children/young people, visitors and facilitators aware of the Child Protection Policy and procedures;
• Have emergency procedures in place and make all staff aware of these procedures;
• Plan and be sufficiently prepared, both mentally and physically;
• Report any concerns to the Designated Person and follow reporting procedures;
• Encourage children and young people to report any bullying, concerns or worries and to be aware of anti-bullying policy.
• Observe appropriate dress and behaviour;
• Evaluate work practices on a regular basis;
• Provide appropriate training for staff and volunteers;
• Report and record any incidents and accidents;
• Update and review policies and procedures regularly;
• Keep primary carers informed of any issues that concern their children;

• Ensure proper supervision
• Not be passive in relation to concerns, i.e., not ‘do nothing’;
• Not let problems get out of control;
• Maintain awareness around language and comments made.

Appropriate behaviour
All drama teachers, staff, and volunteers at the Limerick School of Acting will:
• Avoid spending excessive amounts of time alone with children/young people;
• Not use or allow offensive or sexually suggestive physical and/or foul verbal language
• Not single out a particular child/young person for unfair favouritism, criticism, ridicule, or unwelcome focus or attention;
• Not allow/engage in inappropriate touching of any form;
• Not hit or physically chastise children/young people;
• Not socialise inappropriately with children/young people, e.g., outside of structured organisational activities.

Physical contact
All drama teachers, staff, and volunteers at the Limerick School of Acting will:
• Seek consent of child/young person in relation to physical contact (except in an emergency or a dangerous situation);
• Avoid horseplay or inappropriate touch;
• Check with children/young people about their level of comfort when doing touch exercises.

Health and safety
All drama teachers, staff, and volunteers at the Limerick School of Acting will:
• Not leave children unattended or unsupervised;

• Provide a safe environment;
• Be aware of accident procedure and follow accordingly.

The Limerick School of Acting has put in place a standard reporting procedure for
dealing with disclosures, concerns or allegations of child abuse.

Definition and Recognising Child Abuse
Child abuse can be categorised into four different types: neglect, emotional abuse,
physical abuse and sexual abuse. A child may be subjected
to one or more forms of abuse at any given time.

Responsibility to Report Child Abuse
Everyone must be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be experiencing abuse or have been abused in the past. This is an important responsibility for staff and volunteers when working with children and young people.

The guiding principles in regard to reporting child abuse are summarised as follows:
o The safety and well-being of the child or young person must take priority
o Reports should be made without delay to the HSE
o While the basis for concern must be established as comprehensively as possible,
children or parents should not be interviewed in detail about the suspected abuse.

The reporting procedure for dealing with disclosures, concerns or allegations of child abuse is outlined in the following steps:
•The employee or volunteer who has received a disclosure of child abuse or who has concerns of abuse should bring it to the attention of the Child Protection Officer immediately.
•The Child Protection Officer will assess and review the information that has been provided. The CPO may contact the HSE for informal advice relating to the allegation, concern or disclosure.
•After consultation with the HSE officials, the Child Protection Officer will then take one of two options:
o Report the allegation, concern or disclosure to the HSE or
o Not make a formal report to HSE but keep a record of the concerns on file. The reasons for not reporting the allegation, concern or disclosure will be clearly recorded. The employee/volunteer who made the initial report will be informed if a formal report is not being made to the HSE and it is open to him/her to make a formal report themselves, directly to the relevant authority if they feel this is necessary.
•Where a formal report is made the HSE will then liaise with An Garda Síochána. It is likely that the HSE will want to speak to the person who first made the report to clarify facts and the circumstances of the report.

In an emergency a report should be made directly to An Garda Síochána.

In making a report on suspected or actual child abuse, the individual must ensure that the first priority is always for the safety and welfare of the young person and that no young person is ever left in an un-safe situation.

Parents/guardians of the child will be informed of the allegation, concern or disclosure unless doing so is likely to endanger the child.


We in the Limerick School of Acting are committed to ensuring peoples’ rights to confidentiality. However, in relation to child protection and welfare we undertake that:
• Information will only be forwarded on a ‘need to know’ basis in order to safeguard the child/young person;
• Giving such information to others for the protection of a child or young person is not a breach of confidentiality;
• We cannot guarantee total confidentiality where the best interests of the child or young person are at risk;
• Primary carers, children and young people have a right to know if personal information is being shared and/or a report is being made to the Health Service Executive, unless doing so could put the child/young person at further risk;
• Images of a child/young person will not be used for any reason without the consent of the parent/carer (however, we cannot guarantee that cameras/videos will not be used at public performances);
• Images and video recordings taken with mobile phones or other recording devices by staff and students are not permitted without the permission of primary carers.

Recruitment and selection policy statement:
We will ensure that staff are carefully selected, trained and supervised to provide a safe environment for all children and young people, by observing the following principles:
• Roles and responsibilities will be clearly defined for every job (paid or voluntary);
• We will endeavour to select the most suitably qualified personnel;

• No person who would be deemed to constitute a ‘risk’ will be employed;
• Some of the exclusions would include:
° any child-related convictions;
° insufficient documentary evidence of identification;
° concealing information on one’s suitability to working with children;
To protect both staff (paid and voluntary) and children/young people, we undertake that:
New staff will:
• Be made aware of the organisation’s code of conduct, child protection procedures, and the identity and role of who has been designated to deal with issues of concern;
• Undergo a probationary or trial period.
All staff will:
• Receive an adequate level of supervision and review of their work practices;
• Be expected to have read and signed the Child Protection Policy Statement;
• Be provided with child protection training.

We at the Limerick school of Acting are committed to being open with all primary carers.
We undertake to:
• Advise primary carers of our child protection policy;
• Inform primary carers and schools of all activities and potential activities;
• Issue contact/consent forms where relevant;

• Comply with health and safety practices;
• Operate child-centered policies in accordance with best practice;
• Adhere to our recruitment guidelines;
• Ensure as far as possible that the activities are age-appropriate;
• Encourage and facilitate the involvement of parent(s), carer(s) or responsible adult(s), where appropriate.
If we have concerns about the welfare of the child/young person, we will:
• Respond to the needs of the child or young person;
• Inform the primary carers on an on-going basis unless this action puts the child or young person at further risk;
• Where there are child protection and welfare concerns we are obliged to pass these on to the Duty Social Worker and, in an emergency, the Gardaí;
• In the event of a complaint against a member of staff, we will immediately ensure the safety of the child/young person and inform primary carers as appropriate.
As a child-centred organisation, we are committed to putting the interest of the child/young person first. To that end we will:
• Contact local Health Service Executive and Gardaí where there is a child protection welfare concern;
• Encourage primary carers to work in partnership with us under the guidelines set out by our organisation to ensure the safety of their children;
• Have a designated contact person available for consultation with primary carers in the case of any concern over a child or young person’s welfare.

Two separate procedures will be followed:
1. In respect of the child/young person Nigel Mercier will deal with issues related to the child/young person.
2. In respect of the person against whom the allegation is made Nigel Mercier will deal with issues related to the staff member.

• The first priority is to ensure that no child or young person is exposed to unnecessary risk;
• If allegations are made against the Designated Person, then the appropriate actions outlined below should be followed;
• The reporting procedures outlined in Section 3 of these guidelines should be followed. Both the primary carers and child/young person should be informed of actions planned and taken. The child/young person should be dealt with in an age-appropriate manner;
• The staff member will be informed as soon as possible…
° of the nature of the allegation;
° the staff member should be given the opportunity to respond;
• Any action following an allegation of abuse against an employee should be taken in consultation with Health Service Executive and Gardaí;
• After consultation, Nigel Mercier should advise the person accused and agreed procedures will be followed.

• The Limerick School of Acting will maintain an up-to-date register of the contact details of all children/young people involved in the organisation;
• External organisations with whom our organisation has dealings must provide proof that they have public liability insurance;
• First-aid boxes will be available and regularly re-stocked;
• The location of the first-aid box(es) will be made known to staff;
• Availability of first-aid should be in accordance with the organisation’s Health and Safety guidelines. The location of accident/incident books will be made known to staff;
• Take cognisance of responsibility for first-aid on off-site trips.