In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of St. Colmcille’s Senior National School has adopted the following anti-bullying policy within the framework of the school’s overall code of behaviour. This policy fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools which were published in September 2013.
The Board of Management recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils and is therefore fully committed to the following key principles of best practice in preventing and tackling bullying behaviour:
A positive school culture and climate which -
is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity
encourages pupils to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a non-threatening environment and
promotes respectful relationships across the school community
A school-wide approach
A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact
Implementation of education and prevention strategies (including awareness raising measures) that –
build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils and
explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils
Supports for staff
Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies) and
On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, bullying is defined as follows:
Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted, by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.
The following types of bullying behaviour are included in the definition of bullying:
deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying.
identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.
Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging, do not fall within the definition of bullying and shall be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.
However, in the context of this policy, placing a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people will be regarded as bullying behaviour.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.
The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows:
A pupil or parent may bring a bullying concern to any member of staff in the school. The relevant teacher for investigating the allegation will, in the first instance, be the class teacher. The class teacher will inform the Deputy Principal or the Principal of the fact that they are investigating an allegation of bullying.
Education and Prevention Strategies
St. Colmcille’s Senior National School believes that the cultivation of a school culture and climate that is based on respect, trust, consideration and support for others is paramount in the prevention of bullying. In our school, among the education and prevention strategies that will be used to cultivate this atmosphere and to address bullying, including cyber-bullying and identity based bullying, are:
Weekly Year Group Assemblies. (Tionóil)
These will be used to influence attitudes and set standards. Key themes of Respect for Others, Self-respect, Community, Contribution and Interdependence will be emphasised.
Examples of kindness, courtesy and concern for others by members of the school community will regularly be highlighted by all teachers and by the Principal on the intercom. Each Morning, as school begins ‘Thought for the Day’ focuses on KINDNESS.
Concepts such as ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’ and ‘Ubuntu’ (I am because we are) will be discussed and explained.
Diversity and tolerance of difference will be specifically addressed. The message ‘We don’t all have to be the same’ and ‘It’s ok to be different’ will regularly be emphasised.
Contribution to the Common Good will be explained, highlighted and reinforced.
Diverse achievements and talents will be highlighted.
Senior pupils will consistently be reminded of their leadership role in relation to modelling the highest standards of behaviour and respect. They will be regularly reminded of the influence they have on the behaviour of younger pupils in the school.
School Houses (Tithe Scoile)
The six Tithe Scoile include one class from each year group. They have been specifically devised to cultivate a sense of belonging and community among pupils of different age groups in the school.
The Tithe Scoile will continue to meet on a regular basis. At these Teach Tionóil (House Assemblies), pupils will be given the opportunity to talk to each other in small groups, to get to know each other and will be encouraged to watch out for each other throughout the school. Older pupils will be encouraged to adopt a protective role towards the younger members of their Teach (House).
St. Colmcille’s Week This event will continue to be an annual focus for the creation of a strong sense of community and identity in St. Colmcille’s Senior National School. It provides numerous opportunities for pupils of all classes to interact with each other, to admire each other’s work and to come together in teams. Among the events which are specifically designed with this purpose in mind are Design and Make Exhibition, House Relay Race, Pilgrimage to St. Colmcille’s Well, Drama and Knocklyon 2K Run.
School Teams, Clubs and Extra-Curricular Activities Teams, extra-curricular clubs and music activities are regarded in St. Colmcille’s as valuable opportunities to build a positive sense of self-worth. They also strengthen the bonds of community and commitment, which are very important in determining attitudes and behaviour. Extra-curricular activities allow pupils from different classes and age-groups to interact. We will continue to encourage as many pupils as possible to participate.
Meetings With Parents Of Incoming Third Class Pupils We will continue to hold a preliminary meeting with the parents of all incoming third class pupils. At this meeting, the school ethos is clearly explained and the central importance of community, relationships and appropriate behaviour by pupils towards each other is highlighted. The school’s commitment to providing a safe and secure learning environment where pupils can flourish in emphasised. As is our custom, parents will be encouraged to contact the school if they have any concerns relating to their child.
Nuachtlitir an Phríomhoide We will continue to use the monthly Nuachtlitir an Phríomhoide as an important channel of communication between school and home. It gives parents and pupils an overview of events and activities in St. Colmcille’s. It serves to promote and reiterate key messages in relation to the culture and values of the school. Parents are regularly reminded of the vital role they play in regard to their children’s behaviour, safety and well-being. The dangers associated with lack of proper supervision at sleepovers and unsupervised access to the internet are continually highlighted. Parents’ and pupils’ responsibilities in relation to the prevention of cyber bullying is continually emphasised.
Visits from Community Garda
St. Colmcille’s S.N.S. liaises on a regular basis with our Community Garda. The Garda also visits our senior classes on an individual basis to discuss proper and safe use of the Internet and to highlight the dangers associated with cyber bullying.
An Garda Síochána conducts similar meetings with parents, in consultation with our community Garda.
Social Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.)
This is taught in all classes. This programme addresses bullying as well as inter-related areas of belonging, integrating, communication, conflict, personal safety, friendship and relationship.
Stay Safe Programme
This programme enhances children’s self-protection skills and their ability to recognise and deal with bullying.
Relationship and Sexuality Programme (R.S.E.)
In fifth and sixth classes, we will continue to provide a module presented by facilitators from Accord. This deals with changes during puberty and respectful attitude and relationships as we grow and mature in teenage years.
‘I’m OK, You’re OK.’
This programme was designed for our sixth class pupils and forms an important part of their S.P.H.E. Programme. It emphasises the dignity of each person, builds self-esteem and promotes tolerance of difference.
Our school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behaviour are as follows, in according with D.E.S. guidelines.
It is very important that all involved understand the approach from the outset.
Our school has a consistent and clear approach to dealing with bullying when it is reported or when it occurs. A pupil or parent may bring a bullying concern to any teacher in the school who will then report the matter to the Class Teacher. It is common practice that the relevant teacher for investigation and dealing with bullying is the class teacher who deals with bullying incidents which affect any child/children in his/her own class. The Principal and Deputy Principal will be informed by the Class Teacher of the allegations and of their subsequent investigation.
The primary aim for the relevant teacher in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved (rather than to apportion blame.)
In investigation and dealing with bullying, the teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved.
All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance. It will be made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly.
Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), and other ancillary staff will be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
Parents and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved as quickly as possible.
Teachers will take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.
Incidents are generally best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved.
All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of the pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information.
When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher will seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This will be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner.
If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved will be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member will be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s statements.
Each member of a group will be supported through the possible pressures that they may face from other members of the group after interview by the teacher.
It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s).
In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the parties involved will be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken according to school policy. The school will give parents an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports for their pupils.
Where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts will be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parents) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupils being disciplined, his or her parents and the school.
Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved will be arranged separately with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the pupil who has been bullied is ready and agreeable. This can have a therapeutic effect.
In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template.
In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant teacher must, as part of his/her professional judgement, take the following factors into account:
Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased
Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as is practicable
Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable
Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the Principal or Deputy Principal.
Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.
In the event that a parent has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
Procedures for recording bullying behaviour
The Board of Management of St. Colmcille’s Senior National School has clear procedures for the formal noting and reporting of bullying behaviour and these are documented in the school’s anti-bullying policy. All records will be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour adhere to the following:
While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher will use his/her professional judgement in relation to the records to be kept of these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same.
When investigating allegations of bullying, before such allegations are verified, the teacher may record such allegations using the ‘Alleged Bullying Incident’ Template (Green Form)
If it is established by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, the relevant teacher will keep appropriate written records which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.
The relevant teacher will use the Template for Recording Bullying Behaviour (Pink Form), a copy of which will be passed onto the Principal or Deputy Principal.
Bullying as part of a continuum of behaviour
It is also important to note that bullying behaviour can be part of a continuum of behaviour rather than a stand-alone issue and is some cases behaviour may escalate beyond that which can be described as bullying to serious physical or sexual assault or harassment. To ensure that any such cases are dealt with appropriately, the school’s anti-bullying policy must provide for appropriate linkages with the overall code of behaviour and provide for referral to be made to relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate. In cases where a school has serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a pupil, the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) will be sought.
Referral of serious cases to the HSE
In relation to bullying in schools, Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011(Children First) and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools provide that in situations where ‘the incident is serious and where the behaviour is regarded as potentially abusive, the school must consult the HSE Children and Family Social Services with a view to drawing up an appropriate response, such as a management plan’.
Serious instances of bullying behaviour will, in accordance with these guidelines, be referred to the HSE Children and Family Services and/or Gardaí as appropriate.
Where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, the Designated Liaison Person will seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.
Supports for pupils affected by bullying
Pupils affected by bullying will be supported and monitored by the school. They will at all times be assured that the bullying was not their fault. They will be provided with opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop their friendships, social skills and thereby build resistance whenever this is needed. Learning strategies will be applied within the school to allow for the enhancement of the pupil’s self-worth. Several social skills programmes are available in the school. These include ‘Even Friends Fight’, ‘Friends for Life’, ‘One hundred and one Social Skills’, ‘Helping Children to Build Self-Esteem’ – Practical ideas that really work for students with disruptive, defiant or difficult behaviour, ‘The Salt Programme – Stop, Ask, Listen, Talk.’
A programme of support for those pupils involved in bullying behaviour will also be a part of the school’s intervention process. Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an ongoing basis. For those with low self-esteem, opportunities will be developed to increase feelings of self-worth. Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may need counselling to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour should be encouraged to discuss them with teachers. This can be done through SPHE classes, Circle Time or Worry Box or in private conversation with the teacher.
Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils
The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervisions and monitoring policies and practices are in place both to prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible.
Ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy
The effectiveness of the school’s anti-bullying policy will be subject to continuous review in the light of incidents of bullying behaviour encountered. The school will make provision for periodic examination of the prevention and intervention strategies in place. Data gathered from Recording Templates will be regularly collated and analysed with a view to monitoring levels of bullying behaviour and identifying any particular issues that require attention or any significant trends in behaviour. A record of this analysis will be made available to the Board of Management. Appropriate responses to any issues identified will be drawn up and implemented.
Prevention of harassment
The Board of Management confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all such steps that are reasonably practicable to prevent the sexual harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified i.e. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller Community.
This policy was adopted by the Board in November 2013 and was reviewed every year thereafter.
This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.
This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. Written notification that the review has been completed will be made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.