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De La Salle College faces independent review of child safeguarding

Published 30/08/2016

An expert panel has outlined serious problems at the west Belfast establishment
An expert panel has outlined serious problems at the west Belfast establishment

An independent review is to be held into child safeguarding at De La Salle College in Belfast.

An incident last October has already been described by experts as a significant turning point which disrupted the normal functioning of the school. It is the subject of legal proceedings.

An expert panel led by Professor Sir Robert Salisbury has outlined serious problems at the west Belfast establishment including claims of bullying following leadership difficulties.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: "The Department can confirm that an independent external review of safeguarding policies, practice, training and understanding in relation to safeguarding issues at De La Salle is planned to take place as soon as possible.

"It has not yet been confirmed who will carry out the review."

Sir Robert's panel said it was unacceptable that broken relationships were allowed to affect pupils.

The panel received extensive submissions about the handling of the aftermath of the safeguarding incident.

It wrote: "Overall, however, the panel records that it is not in keeping with normal standards and requirements for the management of a child protection/safeguarding incident for a wide group of staff and others to become involved in discussions and actions relating to that incident.

"It is also our view that many of the actions and reactions by all parties were influenced by the pre-existing underlying lack of trust and confidence in school working relationships."

It said school management considered actions by staff unacceptable.

But the expert group heard that the staff's response was in part strongly motivated by growing concerns that the school management would no longer support any staff member in dealing with difficult situations with pupils.

A group of parents noted the safeguarding review.

A statement said: "The Concerned Parents Committee have been advised that following the concerns that were confirmed regarding the serious child protection issues there will now be a full and thorough independent investigation into child protection safeguarding procedures and responsibilities.

"All those authorities and persons responsible for safeguarding our children will be subject to this investigation."

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