St Mary's Catholic School aims to ensure the safety, wellbeing, and security of all children by practising open and accountable child-centred decision-making. We recognise the importance of involving family/whānau in decision-making about their children, and will involve children in decision-making about themselves in age-appropriate ways. We acknowledge that child protection is everyone’s responsibility and we promote our child protection policies to our school community.
"Child", in the context of our school's child protection policies, means a child or young person aged under 18 years (who is not married or in a civil union) – Children's Act 2014.
We share information with appropriate agencies if sharing that information will protect or improve the health, safety, and/or wellbeing of a child. In all circumstances, St Mary's Catholic School is carefully guided by privacy considerations in the sharing of information. By law, we can share information with the police and Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children.
Student and staff safety
We take concerns about the safety of students seriously, and respond to them quickly. Prevention and early intervention are important, and we use the least intrusive intervention possible to protect vulnerable children.
We promote a culture where staff feel confident that they can challenge poor practice, or raise issues of concern without fear of reprisal. See Protected Disclosure.
When addressing a formal complaint, the school does not use settlement agreements where these contradict a culture of child protection. See Investigate a Formal Complaint or Serious Allegation.
Child protection policy requirements
Schools are subject to the Children's Act 2014, and must have child protection policies which are readily available. As required by the Act, child protection practices are incorporated into our policies and procedures. St Mary's Catholic School has a designated person responsible for child protection policies. Our designated person is the principal, and is the primary point of contact for concerns about a child, including concerns about abuse or neglect. Our child protection policies apply to school staff, contractors, and volunteers.
External agency interviews
If Oranga Tamariki – Ministry of Children contacts the school to interview a child, that child has the right to a support person to sit alongside them if they wish. This support person (e.g. guidance counsellor, teacher, or principal) focuses on the safety and wellbeing of the child.
The police may contact the school to question a student – that student has the right to remain silent, and the right to a lawyer. If the student is under 18 and is interviewed by police they can nominate an adult to support them. See Youth Law: Rights with the Police.
Reviewing our policies and procedures related to child protection
Child protection policies and procedures are reviewed at least once every three years as part of the SchoolDocs review cycle (see table below). Our school's designated person/people for child protection are involved in reviewing any policies and procedures related to child protection.
The principal assures the board yearly on the implementation of key child protection policies/procedures.