- In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelinesissued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of St. Rynagh’s N.S. 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 positive school culture and climate which-
- Effective leadership
- 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 trans phobic 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.
- Cyber-bullying and
- 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 should 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.
Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the Anti-bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
- The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:
(see Section 6.8 of the Anti-bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools).
Pupils, parents and teachers who observe bullying or have concerns about bullying should report to the class teacher. If pupils from more than one class are involved the class teachers of all the children involved should be reported to.
The class teacher than becomes the relevant teacher for investigating and dealing with the report.
Teachers on yard duty will deal with incidents of misbehaviour that are not specifically bullying in accordance with our behaviour policy. Teachers in charge of pupils in Learning Support or in a supervisory capacity will deal with incidents of misbehaviour in accordance with our behaviour policy.
- The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows:
· Everyone is encouraged to report bullying
· The provision of opportunities to develop a positive sense of worth and confidence in pupils by rewarding effort and improvement in all aspects of school life.
· Promoting an atmosphere of friendship, respect and tolerance.
· Children are told to use only the proper names of their peers. Adults within the school community use children’s given names at all times.
· To discourage homophobic and transphobic bullying adults never comment on the sexual interests or sexuality of others even if children tell a story relating such.
· Boys who have an interest in more feminine hobbies etc. should not draw significant comment and should be protected from comment.
· Girls who have an interest in more masculine pursuits should not draw comment and should be protected from comment.
· We have a school uniform. Outside from the correct wearing of the uniform no member of the school community should comment in a transgender specific manner on any item of clothing or hairstyle worn by a pupil once it complies with our uniform policy.
· In order to make everyone feel comfortable and secure in the primary school setting and to discourage homophobic and transgender related comments, conversation and comment relating to boyfriends and girlfriends are discouraged.
· The S.P.H.E. curriculum including the Walk Tall, Stay Safe and R.S.E. is used throughout the school to raise awareness of inappropriate behaviour. This teaches children how to respect others and how to know if they are being unfairly treated.
· Staff are particularly vigilant in monitoring pupils who are considered at risk of bullying others or being bullied.
· Pupils are helped to develop empathy by discussing feelings and by trying to put themselves in the place of others.
· The prevention of bullying through the careful and continuous monitoring of playground exercises, lunchtime breaks, access to and egress from school. Some of our Croke Park hours are used to monitor children as they leave school to ensure that no bullying occurs and to encourage positive cooperation and tolerance of others.
· Teachers, principal and deputy principal continually remind children of the anti-bullying policy through the S.P.H.E. programme, their presence on yard and reminding pupils that good behaviour is good for all.
· Positive role play in drama stressing that yard time is for fun and relaxation and stressing how important it is that we are all treated equally and treat others equally will be done continuously.
· As bad behaviour is dealt with efficiently at all times the pupils develop a lack of tolerance of bad behaviour in their peers.
· It is important that the whole school community feels pride in how they behave. This way bullying becomes an antisocial, negative behaviour that places the bully as not playing their part in supporting the school community. Cyber bullying and Netiquette from policy:-
- There is a module as part of the webwise programme that specifically deals with online harassment and text message harassment. If appropriate our own code of behaviour will be used to deal with cyberbullying. The webwise module also gives guidelines to children on cyberbullying out of school hours.
Netiquette and Cyber bullying
Warning – These webwise skills are not designed to replace parental, guardian or school supervision of internet access.
The following Netiquette guidelines will be taught to children from first class. These guidelines inform children on how to behave online or on the phone.
Some tips …
- Do trust your instincts. If it doesn’t look or ‘feel right’, it probably isn’t. If you find something online or on your phone that you don’t like or makes you feel uncomfortable, turn off the machine/device and tell an adult.
- Do tell an adult you know and trust. You are not alone.
- Do keep the messages that are sent from the cyberbully. You don’t have to read it, but keep it. It is your evidence.
- Don’t send messages when you are angry. Wait until you have had time to calm down and think. You will regret sending a ‘Flame’ (angry message) to someone else. Once you have sent a message it is VERY hard to undo the damage.
- Don’t open messages from people you don’t know.
- Don’t reply to messages from cyberbullies. Even though you may really want to, this is exactly what cyberbullies want. They want to know that they’ve got you worried and upset. They are trying to mess with you and control you and put fear into you – don’t give into that.
The immediate strategy for dealing with Cyberbullying is - Stop! Block! Tell!
- STOP! - Don’t do anything. Take 5! to calm down.
- BLOCK! - Block the cyberbully or limit all communications. Do not reply.
- And TELL! - Tell a trusted adult. You don’t have to face this alone.
Warning – These webwise skills are not designed to replace parental, guardian or school supervision of internet access.
Learning support/resource, class teachers and S.N.A.’s will take particular account of the needs of SEN pupils and will promote inclusivity in class and throughout the school day including yard.
The 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:
1. Pupils, parents and members of staff are encouraged to report concerns regarding bullying to any teacher initially.
2. 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.
3. Incidents should be referred to the relevant teacher as explained previously. A teacher on yard or in any other supervisory capacity may decide that a minor incident of misbehaviour can be dealt efficiently themselves through our behaviour policy.
4. The relevant teacher once informed of an incident of bullying speaks to both the victim and the offender individually to ascertain the extent of the problem.
5. All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved may be asked for evidence.
6. If a group is involved efforts should be made if feasible to interview each member of the group separately first then together. At some stage the group should be spoken to collectively and made clear about each other’s statements.
7. Pupils should be made aware of the fact that the school appreciates they may be under pressure from the group and will support honesty.
8. When analysing incidents of bullying the relevant teacher should use his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved.
9. Teachers should take a calm unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour. This does not preclude the relevant teacher making clear to a bully the consequences of bullying behaviour for all, nor does it preclude the sanctioning of a pupil.
10. In cases where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it must be made clear to the pupil that they are in breach of the anti-bullying policy. Efforts should be made to try to get the bully to see the situation from the point of view of the victim.
11. The relevant teacher can refer to our Code of Behaviour “strategies including Sanctions”, section and use their professional judgement to give an appropriate sanction.
12. In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the parties involved should be contacted to explain the actions being taken in line with our policy. Parents who wish to discuss ways of reinforcing actions taken by the school and supports for pupils should be invited to do so.
13. Parents and pupils are required to cooperate with any investigation and assist.
14. It must be clear that the school will not discuss the sanctions applied with any other parents other than the parents of the pupil who is sanctioned.
15. If the pupil being bullied is comfortable with this situation and the relevant teacher deems it worthwhile the victim and the bully can be brought together in order to help restore or create an equitable relationship.
16. All reports including anonymous reports must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. This is to ensure that pupils gain confidence in telling.
17. The relevant teacher should seek answers to what, where, when, who and why questions during investigations. This should be done calmly setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non aggressive yet assertive and decisive manner. Bullies should be left with a clear understanding that bullying behaviour has consequences for both victim and perpetrator.
18. Relevant teachers can use their professional judgement to decide if they need to document the incident themselves or get those involved to write down their account of the incident. See section on procedures for recording bullying behaviour.
19. 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 attached.
20. 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 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:
- and any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the School Principal or Deputy Principal.
21. The relevant teacher can ask the Deputy Principal or the Principal to assist them at any stage of the process.
22. The Principal can use his/her judgement to get involved in the process at any stage.
23. 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.
24. 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 must ensure that the school has clear procedures for the formal noting and reporting of bullying behaviour and these must be documented in the school’s anti-bullying policy. All records must be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour must adhere to the following:
- While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must 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;
- If it is established by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, the relevant teacher must keep appropriate written records which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as it practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.
- The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:
- In cases where he/she considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour occurred; and
- Where the school has decided as part of its anti-bullying behaviour policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.
In each of the circumstances at (a) and (b) above, the recording template at Appendix 3must be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable. It should also be noted that the timeline for recording bullying behaviour in the recording template at Appendix 3 does not in any way preclude the relevant teacher from consulting the Principal or Deputy Principal at an earlier stage in relation to a case
Supports for Pupils affected by Bullying
The greatest support for pupils who have been bullied is to assure them that they are entitled to be equitably treated. It is our duty to explain to pupils that they are entitled to complain about bullying.
The second greatest support for pupils who have been bullied is to guarantee that the school will always take steps to protect them if they are being bullied.
Our programme of support for pupils who have been bullied is sourced from the S.P.H.E. Curriculum including Walk Tall, Stay Safe and R.S.E.
Class teachers will return if necessary to lessons in the S.P.H.E. programme in order to provide opportunities for victims to participate in activities designed to raise self-esteem, to develop their friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience where this is needed.
As each bullying situation is different the support in place must be fitted to the situation. The class teacher may seek the support of the Learning Support Team to support victims of bullying if necessary. The S.P.H.E. programme will provide the programme for working with pupils for the Learning Support Team.
Support will also be given to those pupils involved in bullying behaviour on an on-going basis. Opportunities to increase feelings of self-worth will be developed through the S.P.H.E. programme and Religion Class. The pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may be referred to N.E.P.S. if the Principal and the B.O.M. think this is necessary. Efforts will be made to encourage those pupils involved in bullying to access aspects of the school curriculum and aspects of school life that help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour are encouraged to discuss them with teachers through S.P.H.E. and Religion Class.
Referral of Serious Cases to the H.S.E.
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 should, in accordance with the Children First and the child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, be referred to the HSE Children and Family Services and/or Gardaí as appropriate.
The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools also provide that where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, the Designated Liaison Person must seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.
On Going Evaluation of the Effectiveness of this Anti-bullying Policy
The effectiveness of this anti-bullying policy will be included on the agenda for staff meetings annually.
If Staff, Pupils, Parents Association or the B.O.M. have significant concerns about this policy a review of the policy will be undertaken by staff. This review will then be submitted to the B.O.M.
The inspectorate may decide to conduct an assessment of our anti-bullying policy involving parent/pupil questionnaires. We will cooperate as a staff with this process.
Periodic Summary reports to the Board of Management
At least once in every school term, the Principal must provide a report to the Board of Management setting out:
- The overall number of bullying cases reported (by means of the bullying recording template at Appendix 3 since the previous report to the Board
- Confirmation that all cases referred to a (I) above have been or are being, dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy and the Anti-bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary schools.
The minutes of the Board of Management must record the above but in doing so must not include any identifying details of the pupils involved.
Annual Review by the Board of Management
The Board of Management must undertake an annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation by the school.
A standardised checklist to be used in undertaking the review is included in Appendix 4 to these procedures. It should be noted that in order to complete the checklist, an examination and review involving both quantitative and qualitative analysis as appropriate across the various elements of the implementation of the school’s anti-bullying policy will be required.
The school must put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement identified by the review.
Written notification that the review has been completed must be made available to school personnel, published on the school website (or where none exists, be otherwise readily accessible to parents and pupils on request) and provided to the Parents Association (where one exists). A standardised notification which must be used for this purpose is included at Appendix 4. A record of the review and its outcome must be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.
The Department’s Inspectorate conducts a programme of school evaluation in primary and post-primary schools. Inspectors evaluate aspects of the school’s work, including policies and procedures to support pupils’ well-being. Arising from commitments made in the Action Plan on Bullying, the Inspectorate will be placing a stronger focus on the actions schools take to create a positive school culture and to prevent and tackle bullying. This will take effect in the 2013-14 school year and it will apply to whole-school and other evaluations.