Garda Vetting Policy
The Garda Vetting Policy operates in conjunction with the Child Protection Policy which serves to ensure the safety of all children in the school.
As and from 29th April 2016 section 12 of the Vetting Act requires that a school authority must not, other than where certain exemptions apply, commence the employment of any employee to undertake relevant work or activities before the school authority receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau of An Garda Síochána in respect of that person. This requirement applies in respect of all types of appointment of any duration including full time, part time and substitute positions. A school authority that contravenes this requirement commits a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to €10,000 or a prison term of up to 5 years or both.
Cosby National School will undertake thorough recruitment procedures, including the checking of references and any gaps in career history, which are an essential element of child protection practice. Statutory vetting will play a vital role, however it will not take the place of good recruitment procedures, but will be used alongside them.
As an additional safeguard a Statutory Declaration and a Form of Undertaking must be completed and provided to the school prior to making a teaching or non-teaching appointment of any duration (unless the person has previously provided this school with said forms, during the same or previous calendar year).
Ref. also Circular 0031/2016 and 0016/2017 (Retrospective Vetting)
Aims of the Policy
• To ensure that the school is a safe and secure environment for the children in our school
• That the National Vetting Bureau plays a part in the wider process ensuring the protection and safety of all members of the school community.
The teaching Council will use an electronic vetting system (e-vetting) which has been introduced by the Bureau. As and from 29th April 2016, a vetting disclosure in respect of a registered teacher which has been received by the Teaching Council from the Bureau will be made available electronically to the relevant school authority.
The teacher controls the sharing of his/her vetting disclosure with the school via the Teaching Council’s secure on-line solution, Digitary.
The school, having provided the teacher with a confidential valid email address, will receive an email from the teacher containing a secure link to the login section of the online system, allowing the disclosure to be viewed.
The teacher has the option to add a secure PIN number to the shared document. Where the teacher chooses to use an added PIN number they must provide the details of this PIN separately to the school. The PIN number may be provided by separate email, text message or phone call to an appropriate person.
In the interest of confidentiality Cosby N.S. has set up a dedicated email address for the receipt of vetting disclosures.
Garda Vetting Disclosures will only be retained by the school in the event of a successful appointment and will be appropriately sealed and retained securely in the locked filing cabinet in the office.
Non-teaching Staff / Volunteers
All offers of employment to non-teaching staff and all relevant volunteer roles are ‘subject to satisfactory vetting by the Vetting Bureau’.
Volunteer Roles which require Vetting, as specified in the Act and in the DES Circular 0031/2016 include volunteers who assist the school on a regular basis (rather than occasional) and whose role involves coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training of children. Roles which do not fall into these categories may not require Vetting.
The Church of Ireland Board of Education will continue to act as a conduit for schools for the purpose of Garda Vetting of persons other than registered teachers who are employed, contracted, permitted or placed to undertake relevant work or activities by the school.
The existing paper based arrangements remain, for these persons, unchanged for now.
The designated contact person for Cosby National School (Daphne Harding) will liaise with the liaison person in the Church of Ireland Board of Education currently Ruth Burleigh) in relation to vetting applications on behalf of the school.
Jackie Cooper will deputise for the contact person during her absence
All rules of Data Protection will be observed in respect of any data received following a Garda Vetting:
• Information will be obtained and processed fairly
• Information will be kept for a specified, explicit and lawful purpose
• Use of and disclosure of information obtained occurs only in ways compatible with these purposes
• Information will be kept safe and secure
• It will be retained only while necessary for the purpose obtained
Failure to complete the Garda Vetting will automatically disqualify the candidate. The provision of inaccurate information to the Garda Vetting Bureau, such as inaccurate date of birth or address, may also disqualify.
This policy will be updated as necessary to reflect the changes in legislation.
This Policy was ratified by the BoM of Cosby N.S. at its meeting on 13th June 2017
Signed Thomas Cosby
New vetting arrangements
In tandem with the commencement of the vetting legislation, the Church of Ireland Board of Education will be utilising the new online garda vetting system. All garda vetting application forms will be processed online only and it is anticipated that this will result in a speedier and more efficient service.
As before, the Teaching Council will have responsibility for processing vetting applications for teachers and the Church of Ireland Board of Education will have responsibility for processing vetting applications for non-teaching employees and volunteers in schools.
Schools have been issued with the following documents;
(i) Service level agreement
(ii) Vetting invitation form
Each school must complete and return the service level agreement, signed by the Principal/Chairperson of Board of Management or person authorized to sign the form on behalf of the school.
In relation to the definitions in the service level agreement, the Principal/Chairperson of Board of Management will generally be the ‘vetting contact person,’ each school is an ‘Affiliate’ and the authorized signatory is now the ‘liaison person’ (currently Ruth Burleigh).
DES Circular 31/2016 and accompanying FAQ document set out the statutory requirements that now apply to schools in relation to garda vetting.
The school furnishes the vetting applicant with a vetting invitation form for completion.
The six pieces of information required on the vetting form are:
a. The applicant’s name
b. The applicant’s date of birth
c. The applicant’s email address
d. The applicant’s contact number
e. The role the applicant is being vetted for
f. The applicant’s current address
The school inserts the name of organisation i.e the name of the school, on the vetting invitation form.
The school validates the identity of the vetting applicant by both photographic and address documentation. A copy of the documentation used to validate the identity will be retained by the school.
The school checks that the form has been completed, signed and dated by the vetting applicant and the declaration box ticked.
Documentation accepted for identity: passport, driving license or national identity card.
Documentation for current address: recent utility bill or bank/building society/credit union statement or birth certificate.
In the absence of this documentation, an applicant has the option of swearing an affidavit/affirmation before a Commissioner for Oaths to verify his/her identity. There may be separate requirements by a Commissioner for Oaths in this regard.
Further information in relation to validation of identity may be found at https://vetting.garda.ie/Help/FAQ
The school posts the completed invitation form to the liaison person (currently Ruth Burleigh) at Church House.
The liaison person reviews the form and if completed correctly emails the applicant a unique pin code and link to the vetting website and invites him/her to complete and submit a vetting application form online.
The National Vetting Bureau processes the application and emails a vetting disclosure (i.e. the result of the vetting application) to the liaison person.
The liaison person posts a copy of the vetting disclosure to the vetting contact person in the school. A copy of the vetting disclosure must be provided by the school to the vetting applicant on request.
The school will be obliged to retain a copy of the identity documents and the vetting disclosure. Guidelines will be provided shortly in relation to the period of time for which identity documents and vetting disclosures need to be retained by the school.
Vetting of Minors
The National Vetting Bureau permits the vetting of those over the age of 16 years old. Where an application is being made for a 16/17 year old, consent of the parent/guardian must also be obtained. All applications for people under 18 years old must be accompanied by a Parent/Guardian Consent form (NVB 3).
Schools should also ensure that the email address and contact number provided on the Invitation to Vetting form (NVB 1) is the email address and contact number of the parent/guardian and not of the young person.
The DES has published Circular 0016/2017 which sets out the requirements for retrospective vetting of teaching staff, non teaching staff and volunteers.
Under the Vetting Act, there is now a statutory requirement that those who are currently employed and/or volunteering in a school and carrying out ‘relevant work’ who have not previously been vetted (under the National Vetting Bureau or Garda Central Vetting Unit) must be now retrospectively vetted.
Schools and Boards of Management must therefore ensure compliance with retrospective vetting requirements as failure to do so is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to €10,000 or a prison term of up to 5 years or both.
All registered teachers (including resource and learning support) who have not been vetted to date will be retrospectively vetted by the Teaching Council in the context of their annual renewal of registration
A substitute teacher who is on the school’s list of substitute teachers and who has given a copy of the Teaching Council vetting letter to the school need not provide a vetting disclosure from the Bureau. This applies even if the person has not been previously employed as a substitute teacher with the school. However, the school must have received the Teaching Council Letter prior to 29th April 2016.
The school is not required to obtain a vetting disclosure from the Bureau if the person’s initial employment with the school authority as a substitute or casual employee occurred after 29th April 2016 and a vetting disclosure from the Bureau was received by the school authority in respect of that initial employment. In such a case there is no requirement to obtain vetting disclosure in subsequent positions.
Contractors/volunteers (including coaches)
Vetting obligations also apply where the school:
Enters into a contract for services with any person for the provision by that person of services that constitute relevant work or activities or permits any person to undertake relevant work or activities on the school’s behalf
Places or make arrangements for the placement of any person in work experience or activities where a necessary part of the placement involves participation in relevant work or activities
Schools are not required to obtain vetting disclosure in the case of an unpaid volunteer who assists the school on an occasional basis provided such assistance does not involve the coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training of children or vulnerable persons
Two or more organisations
In the case of some persons undertaking relevant work or activities in a school, another relevant organisation may also be required to have that person vetted prior to the person undertaking relevant work or activities with children or vulnerable persons.
The Vetting Act provides that in cases where two or more relevant organizations have jointly agreed in writing to the employment, contract, placement or permission of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, it shall be a defence in a prosecution to show that the other organization who was a party to the agreement had received a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in respect of the person.
It is important to note that the National Vetting Bureau does not provide clearance for persons to work with children in a school.
Schools should ensure that their vetting policies are updated to reflect the changes in legislation and are ratified by the Board of Management of the school.