Many of you have been extremely generous with your time in volunteering to help out in the school over the years. Parents have accompanied children on field trips, have organised after-school picnics and walks, run fun activities at the Christmas Fair, provided snacks at Sports Day and concerts, and visited classrooms to talk about jobs, hobbies and / or areas of expertise. Some parents have volunteered to come in on a regular basis to hear reading or to help out in classrooms. The Parents’ Association after-school activities could not go ahead without the parent supervisors who give of their time. Also worthy of mention are the parents who bring children to chess matches or who stand on the sidelines cheering on our hurling team!
This work is all invaluable to the school in enhancing the education of the children and encouraging their sporting, social and artistic development. We would really like this parental involvement to continue.
The new Garda Vetting requirements are now in force and must be complied with. Any person who volunteers regularly in a school (even if it’s only to supervise after-school activities once a term) must be garda vetted. I am asking therefore that as many parents as possible should get themselves garda vetted over the next few weeks. It’s become a much quicker process and can be done mostly online.
I’m attaching the guidelines and form (it’s all one document) and do please fill it in and return it to the school as soon as possible.
The form is quite short. I will have lots of hard copies photocopied for those who need them, and will provide every family in the school with two.
You also need to give me a photocopy of an identification document (e.g. passport or driving licence) and a recent utility bill to prove your address, and you can use the school photocopier if you need to.
I will then send your form and the other documents to the Garda Vetting Liaison Person (currently Ruth Burleigh) at the Church of Ireland Representative Body. She will review your form, and if it has been correctly completed, she will email you a PIN number and a link to the vetting website. You then fill in your application online.
The National Vetting Bureau will process your application and email a “vetting disclosure” (equivalent to the current Garda Vetting Certificate) to Ruth Burleigh, who will send it to me. I will then provide you with a copy of it.
Any disclosure by the Gardai on your form (e.g. of a misdemeanour completely unrelated to any child protection concern, motoring offences etc.) will only be seen by the Church Liaison person and by me as the school’s Vetting Contact Person. You can be assured that we will treat any such disclosures with the strictest confidentiality. No other member of the school community will see it.
It’s very important that a significant number of parents undergo this process. Please, please do not leave it to others to do this – I know it’s a bit of a nuisance but it is for the sake of child protection and safety. If everyone gets it done now, we’ll be good to go in September without having to waste time waiting for people to get garda vetted. I think too there will be a rush at that stage as other schools realise the importance of this new Act.
Unfortunately, those who are vetted by other bodies e.g. Scouts, sports clubs etc., still must apply under the school process. This is the one part of the Act I frankly don’t understand, but they must have their reasons!!
The essential point is that an adult who comes into a school to do any kind of volunteering or work is automatically trusted by children. (“That’s ____’s mum (or dad) who gave us the fruit at Sports Day.”) If the child meets that adult in another context, outside of school, that trust has been established and could be used by an unscrupulous adult to establish a relationship with the child for criminal purposes. It’s a horrible thought and hopefully very unlikely to ever happen, but we are all morally and legally obliged to make it as difficult as possible for such people to gain those positions of trust.
So please do co-operate with us and get the form back (along with the identity document and utility bill) as soon as possible. I would be hoping to send off our first batch of applications on Friday week, June 10th.
Don’t hesitate to email or phone me with any queries you may have.
St. Catherine’s National School, Donore Avenue, Dublin 8