Monday 18 December 2017

Willow Park taken to task on bullying procedures

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

School inspectors have taken a fee-paying boys' school to task over procedures for reporting and recording issues around bullying and child protection.

They found "shortcomings" at Willow Park School, which acts as a first year for Blackrock College, Dublin in relation to meeting key requirements of the Department of Education and the HSE.

The school had formally adopted child protection procedures, but the lack of a process to report and record any incidents meant it was not fully compliant with them.

Reporting and recording should happen at meetings between the principal and school manager, but no minutes were being taken at these meetings. This was "problematic", inspectors said.


It was also told to review its admissions policy to ensure there are no perceived barriers to the entry of pupils with a special educational needs.

These are among the recommendations made in a report following a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) carried out at last December.

Willow Park is the alma mater of a number of international rugby players, such as Luke Fitzgerald, Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen.

Willow Park has a junior school, but the focus of the WSE is on the first year of junior cycle at second level.

Pupils then transfer to Blackrock College to complete their post-primary education.

In relation to special educational needs, inspectors said elements of the admissions policy needed immediate attention to reflect the school's commitment to inclusivity, and to avoid any ambiguity.

They specifically advised that pupils should be enrolled before any consideration is given to whether they need extra support and what resources may be granted by the Department of Education.

Inspectors found much to commend, including a very effective principal and deputy principal, energetic and enthusiastic staff and good care systems for students.

The quality of teaching and learning was described as good or very good, with some examples of exemplary practice.

But another concern raised was the absence of a board of management, because of a reported difficulty in identifying parents willing to sit on one.

The school operates under a manager appointed by its trustees - Des Places Educational Association (DEA) - who is also the chair of the board of management of Blackrock College.

In its response to the WSE report, the school said it had taken immediate measures to address the key recommendations, including formalised fortnightly meetings between the manager and the principal at which minutes are kept "with particular reference to our obligation on anti-bullying procedures and child protection".

The school also advised its admissions policy had been revised in line with recommendations and that trustees had committed to establishing a board of management.

Irish Independent

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