Please note: this policy is currently being reviewed by the Board of Management
Scoil Náisiúnta Mhuire, Rathpeacon
Anti-Bullying Policy (Pupils)
(Ratified by Board of Management – June 9th, 2014)
In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Code of Behaviour guidelines issued by the N.E.W.B., the Board of Management of Scoil Náisiúnta Mhuire, Rathpeacon, Mallow Road, Cork 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) 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;
(b) Effective leadership
(c) A school-wide approach
(d) A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact
(e) 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.
(f) Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils
(g) Supports for staff
(h) Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies); and
(i) On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.
What is Bullying?
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.
Types of Bullying Behaviour
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 (available to view on the DES website.)
Examples of Bullying Behaviours (this list is non exhaustive)
General behaviours which apply to all types of bullying include:
- Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc. (see top of page 4.)
- Physical aggression
- Damage to property (personal belongings)
- Name calling
- The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person
- Offensive graffiti
- Insulting or offensive gestures
- The “look”
- Invasion of personal space
- A combination of any of the types listed.
- Denigration: Spreading rumors, lies or gossip to hurt a person’s reputation
- Harassment: Continually sending vicious, mean or disturbing messages to an individual
- Impersonation: Posting offensive or aggressive messages under another person’s name
- Flaming: Using inflammatory or vulgar words to provoke an online fight
- Trickery: Fooling someone into sharing personal information which you then post online
- Outing: Posting or sharing confidential or compromising information or images
- Exclusion: Purposefully excluding someone from an online group
- Cyber stalking: Ongoing harassment and denigration that causes a person considerable fear for his/her safety
- Silent telephone/mobile phone call
- Abusive telephone/mobile phone calls
- Abusive text messages
- Abusive email
- Abusive communication on social networks e.g. Facebook/Ask.fm/ Twitter/You Tube or on games consoles
- Abusive website comments/Blogs/Pictures
- Abusive posts on any form of communication technology
Identity Based Behaviours
Including any of the nine discriminatory grounds mentioned in Equality Legislation (gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community).
Homophobic and Transgender
- Spreading rumours about a person’s sexual orientation
- Taunting a person of a different sexual orientation
- Name calling e.g. Gay, queer, lesbian…used in a derogatory manner
- Physical intimidation or attacks
Race, nationality, ethnic background and membership of the Traveller community
- Discrimination, prejudice, comments or insults about colour, nationality, culture, social class, religious beliefs, ethnic or traveller background
- Exclusion on the basis of any of the above
This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying. Behaviours include:
- Malicious gossip
- Isolation & exclusion
- Excluding from the group
- Taking someone’s friends away
- Spreading rumours
- Breaking confidence
- Talking loud enough so that the victim can hear
- The “look”
- Use or terminology such as ‘nerd’ in a derogatory way
- Unwelcome or inappropriate sexual comments or touching
Special Educational Needs / Disability
- Name calling
- Taunting others because of their disability or learning needs
- Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to recognise and defend themselves against bullying
- Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to understand social situations and social cues.
- Mimicking a person’s disability
- Setting others up for ridicule
Who investigates and deals with bullying?
The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with alleged bullying of pupils are the class teachers.
However, any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.
Serious cases of bullying are reported to the Principal (Mrs. Susanna O’Neill) or Deputy Principal (Mrs. Mary O’Brien).
Education and Prevention Strategies
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:
A School-Wide Approach
- A school-wide approach to the fostering of respect for all members of the school community.
- The promotion of the value of diversity to address issues of prejudice and stereotyping, and highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
- The fostering and enhancing of the self-esteem of all our pupils through both curricular and extracurricular activities. Pupils will be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth through formal and informal interactions.
- Whole staff professional development on bullying to ensure that all staff develops an awareness of what bullying is, how it impacts on pupils’ lives and the need to respond to it-prevention and intervention.
- An annual audit of professional development needs with a view to assessing staff requirements through internal staff knowledge/expertise and external sources
- Professional development with specific focus on the training of the relevant teacher(s)
- School wide awareness raising and training on all aspects of bullying, to include pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s) and the wider school community.
- Supervision and monitoring of classrooms, corridors, school grounds, school tours and extra- curricular activities. Non-teaching and ancillary staff will be encouraged to be vigilant and report issues to relevant teachers. Supervision will also apply to monitoring student use of communication technology within the school.
- Involvement of the pupils in contributing to a safe school environment e.g. Lunchtime Pals, Pupil Wardens and other student support activities that can help to support pupils and encourage a culture of peer respect and support.
- Development and promotion of an Anti-Bullying Code for the school-to be included in student journals and displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.
- The school’s Anti-Bullying Policy is discussed with pupils at an age appropriate level.
- Parent(s)/guardian(s)s have access to a copy via the school’s website as well as on request from the school office.
- It is a condition of enrolment to the school that all parents/guardians read and sign their acceptance of the Anti-Bullying Policy as part of the school’s Code of Behaviour
- The implementation of regular (e.g. per term) whole school awareness measures e.g. a dedicated notice board in the school hall and posters in classrooms on the promotion of friendship, respect and bullying prevention; annual Friendship Week and parent(s)/guardian(s) information meetings; regular assemblies by principal, deputy principal and teaching staff.
- Encourage a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance. It should 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.
- Ensuring that pupils know who to tell and how to tell, e.g.:
- Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class.
- Hand note up with homework.
- Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school.
- Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.
- Administer a confidential questionnaire during the course of the year to pupils from 3rd to 6th Class.
- Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.
- Identify clear procedures to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied. The protocol should be developed in consultation with parents.
- The school’s Acceptable Use Policy including the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored, as is the pupils’ use of mobile phones (See the school’s Code of Behaviour).
- The listing of supports currently being used in the school and the identification of other supports available to the school.
Implementation of curricula
- The full implementation of the SPHE curriculum and the RSE and Stay Safe Programmes.
- Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.
- School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g. Stay Safe Programme and The Walk Tall Programme
- School wide delivery of lessons on Cyber Bullying (Be Safe-Be Web wise, Web wise Primary teachers’ resources)
- Delivery of the Garda SPHE Programmes. These lessons, delivered by Community Gardai, cover issues around personal safety and cyber-bullying
- The school will specifically consider the additional needs of SEN pupils with regard to programme implementation and the development of skills and strategies to enable all pupils to respond appropriately.
- Links to other policies
- The following school policies, practices and activities are also particularly relevant to bullying: Code of Behaviour, Child Protection Policy, Supervision of pupils, Acceptable Use policy, Attendance, Sporting activities.
Procedures for Investigation, Follow-up and Recording of Bullying
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 (taken from Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools):
6.8.9. Procedures for Investigating and Dealing with Bullying
The primary aim 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);
The school’s procedures must be consistent with the following approach.
Every effort will be made to ensure that all involved (including pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s)) understand this approach from the outset.
Reporting bullying behaviour
- Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) may bring a bullying incident to any teacher in the school.
- All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying, will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher along with the support of the Principal, and/or Deputy Principal as required.
- Teaching and non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretakers, cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
6.8.9 Investigating and dealing with incidents: Style of approach
- In investigating and dealing with bullying, the (relevant)teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved;
- Parent(s)/guardian(s) 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 should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach.
- Where possible incidents should be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;
- All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way;
- When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This should 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 should be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved should be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member should 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 should be supported through the possible pressures that may face them from the other members of the group after the 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 parent(s)/guardian(s) of the parties involved should be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken (by reference to the school policy). The school should give parent(s)/guardian(s) an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports provided to the 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 should 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 parent(s)/guardian(s)) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his or her parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school.
Follow up and recording
- 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 parent(s)/guardian(s)s or the school Principal or Deputy Principal
- Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved should 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.
- Where a parent(s)/guardian(s) is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parent(s)/guardian(s) must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.
- In the event that a parent(s)/guardian(s) has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parent(s)/guardian(s) of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
Recording of bullying behaviour
It is imperative that all recording of bullying incidents must be done in an objective and factual manner.
The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour are as follows:
Informal- pre-determination that bullying has occurred
- All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them.
- All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher
- Such records will be made in a ‘Record of Bullying Incidents Book’ maintained by each class teacher and kept confidentially.
- The ‘Record of Bullying Incidents Book’ is passed to the next class teacher as a class progresses through the school at the end of each school year.
- While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher must keep a written record of the reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same
- The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.
Formal Stage 1-determination that bullying has occurred
- 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 is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.
- The school in consultation with the relevant teacher/s follows the agreed protocol for the safe storage of all such records.
Formal Stage 2-Appendix 3 (From DES Procedures)
The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 (copy attached) to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances
- a) 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
- b) Where the school has decided as part of its anti-bullying policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.
Listed below is a non exhaustive list of behaviours that must be recorded and reported immediately to the principal. These are in line with the school’s Code of Behaviour.
- Any aggressive, threatening or violent behaviour towards another pupil, teacher or other member of staff
- Where a pupil’s behaviour has had a detrimental effect on the education of another pupil(s)
- Where a pupil’s continued presence in the school constitutes a threat to safety
- Where a pupil is responsible for serious damage to property or personal belongings
- Where a pupil defames a member of staff or another pupil
- Actual violence or physical assault
- Supplying illegal drugs to other students in the school
- Sexual assault
- Seriously offensive postings on social media or other fora.
When the recording template is used, it must be retained by the relevant teacher in question and a copy maintained by the principal.
These records are kept on the pupil’s file with access only by the teaching staff, Principal, and Deputy Principal. The records will be retained until the pupil reaches the age of 21 years.
Established intervention strategies
- Teacher interviews with all pupils
- Negotiating agreements between pupils and following these up by monitoring progress. This can be on an informal basis or implemented through a more structured mediation process
- Working with parent(s)/guardian(s)s to support school interventions
- No blame approach
- Circle Time
- Restorative interviews (the relevant teacher and pupil(s) and/or parents
- Restorative conferencing (the relevant teacher and relevant parties)
A combination of intervention strategies from the following programmes will be used:
- The traditional disciplinary approach
- Strengthening the victim
- Restorative Practice
- The Support Group Method
- The Method of Shared Concern
The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows (see Section 6.8.16 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools) :
- All in-school supports and opportunities will be provided for the pupils affected by bullying to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop friendships and social skills and build resilience e.g
– SPHE Curriculum
- Stay Safe Programme
- Group work such as circle time
- Friends for Life Programme
- If pupils require counselling or further supports the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to facilitate same. This may be for the pupil affected by bullying or involved in the bullying behaviour.
Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher.
Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils
The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervision and monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible.
For further information on this refer to our Day to Day Organisation and Procedures for the school and our Acceptable Use Policy, and other school policies.
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 or the 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 of Management at the meeting of June 9th, 2014.
This policy has been made available to school personnel, is published on the school website and has been provided to the Parents’ Association. It is also accessible on request via the school office. 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 will be readily accessible on request via the school office. A copy will also be 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.
Signed: Frank Maguire
(Chairperson on behalf of the Board of Management)