How the Sisters of Mary protect the children in their care

The Sisters of Mary formalised child protection policy supports their practices to ensure that all children are protected from any form of violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying and any other form of abuse prejudicial to their development. The policy provides staff at the schools with clear guidance on how to approach safeguarding and the protection of children. The policy also applies to DBS checked WVC UK staff during their visits to the schools for compliance and programme monitoring.

The Sisters of Mary child protection policy has been developed by reference to legislation from overseas agencies where the schools are based, particularly in the Philippines where Department of Education guidance on child protection and anti-bullying has been adopted as well as statutory guidance and good practice examples within the UK and European education agencies including UK Department of Education guidance, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE, September 2016) and good practice guidance from UK children’s charities including the NSPCC. 

The policy guidance is regularly updated to reflect the changing obligations on the Sisters of Mary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children in their care and the implementation of the Sisters of Mary’s child protection policy is overseen by an independent ombudsman in the Philippines. The ombudsman enhances the transparency of their compliance with the guidelines of the policy. He carries out his duties neutrally and is available for any child or employee to contact.

The Sisters of Mary child protection policy applies to all children regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity. 

Scope

The child protection and anti-bullying policy covers all children in the care of the Sisters even if over the age of 18. It covers all members of the school administration, faculty, staff and any partners and stakeholders involved in the interests of the children at the Sisters of Mary schools.  

Protection of children is at the heart of the Sisters of Mary programmes. The children stay with the Sisters of Mary full time for the duration of their studies, from the age of 12 until 18. Each Sister of Mary school is a self-contained and secure same sex educational village where the children sleep, eat and learn in peace and safety. The physical security of these villages is a priority to protect all the children and everyone working for the programmes.

Within the schools, the welfare of the children is paramount and the Sisters keep the children safe by ensuring that all members of the schools comply with the terms of the child protection and anti-bullying policy.  They ensure the rights of children are respected and upheld in all matters and procedures affecting their welfare by ensuring that all members of the community, visitors and guests are made aware of the child protection policy.

The schools all have appointed Child Protection Committees (CPC) composed of school staff, counsellors and the Sisters. The CPC disseminates information regarding the child protection policy and ensures training and capacity building for all staff and Sisters in child protection matters. The CPC develops and implements a referral and monitoring system for children who may have suffered harm prior to their time at school, providing referral to the appropriate local welfare or police authorities where necessary.  They monitor the implementation of positive measures and effective procedures within school to provide the necessary support for the child and those who care for the child and ensure training and updating for all staff where necessary.

In practice

In addition to the formalised child protection policy, the studies of the children at school and the programme of their daily activities raise awareness of children's rights through role playing, essay writing and school wide initiatives centred on the development of healthy relationships and understanding of and respect for individual differences.  

2018 Report from Sister Elena Belarmino on behalf of the Sisters of Mary programmes

By the grace of God, we have never had any incidents of abuse since the time we started and we hope and pray that it will never happen. All our sisters are in constant supervision even during class hours and evening time, Sisters take turns in going around mainly to see to it that when any one of our children is sick, medical attention could immediately be given and so that the teachers and other personnel do their duties properly and are properly supervised and monitored, etc.

Our teachers and employees know that everything we do is for the welfare of the children and the poor we take care of and educate.

If you would like a copy of the Sisters of Mary's Child Protection policy in relation to all programmes, all representatives working on their behalf at the schools and the children in their care please email enquiries@worldvillages.org.uk or call us on 0207 629 3050.