Anti-Bullying Policy

In order to comply with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post- Primary schools issued in September 2013 and also to comply with the Education Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines from the NEWB, The Board of Management of St. Patrick’s N.S. has adopted the following anti- bullying policy within the context of our overall code of behaviour.

Principles of Best Practice
As a Board of Management we recognise the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils and we are fully committed to the following principles of best practice to prevent and to tackle bullying behaviour.

The Board will promote:

  • A positive culture and climate which:
  • Will be 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
  • Promotes respectful relationships across the school community
  • Effective Leadership
  • A school-wide approach
  • A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact
  • Implementation of education and prevention strategies that
  • Build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils
  • Explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity- based bullying including homophobic and transphobic bullying.
  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils
  • Supports for staff
  • Consistent recording, investigation and follow-up of bullying behaviour
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary school defines bullying as follows:
“Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person 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
  • Identity based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s ethnicity 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 do not fall within the definition of bullying and will be dealt with in line with the school’s code of behaviour.

However to fully implement this policy, placing any offensive message, image or statement on any social network site or public forum where the aforementioned can be viewed and repeated by other people may be regarded as bullying behaviour.

When instances of Cyber-Bullying, sourced outside the school, are reported to the school the Board of Management/Staff will not be in a position to investigate the allegations. However, the effects of such bullying will be dealt with in line with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

Relevant Personnel:
Those responsible for investigating and dealing with bullying will be:

  • The Class Teacher
  • Principal/Deputy Principal

Education & Prevention Strategies.
Prevention and awareness strategies will be appropriate to the type of bullying and will be mindful of the age and stage of development of those involved. The education and prevention strategies that will be employed by the school are:

  1. Promoting an all- inclusive school with respect, tolerance and empathy shown by all to all
  2. Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum taught throughout the school. This helps with the implementation of the anti-bullying policy. Curricular integration and cross curricular approaches will be used where appropriate to help children to understand the positive and negative effects of bullying.
  3. Staff are very vigilant and monitor all areas where bullying can take place. Particular attention is paid to those at risk of bullying or of being bullied.
  4. An Anti-Bullying week is implemented each year. This emphasises the message that bullying is unacceptable and focuses on our school motto that “Bullies are not welcome here”. It also helps the children to understand the definition of bullying and the causes and effects of bullying.
  5. Positive behaviour is encouraged and rewarded. Reporting incidences of bullying/suspected bullying will also be encouraged and rewarded. Parents will be encouraged to discuss/report concerns they may have.
  6. In senior classes awareness will also focus on Cyber-Bullying- discussion regarding appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe online and the importance of reporting any concerns/worries to a trusted adult in school or at home. The school will accommodate guest speakers to talk to pupils and/or parents on the subject of internet safety. Advice and tips for parents and children on internet safety are available on our school website. The school has an Acceptable Usage Policy for our own internet usage at school.
  7. The use of mobile phones are prohibited on school premises and this specific strategy aids the prevention of Cyber-Bullying on the school premises. However, as stated earlier, the effects of Cyber-Bullying will be dealt with under our Code of Behaviour.
  8. The Board of Management will review this policy annually.

Investigating, Recording and Follow-up Procedures

  • The main aim for the teacher involved in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve the issues and to restore, as far as is possible, the friendships/relationships of those involved.
  • The teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and if so how best to resolve the situation.
  • Parents and pupils will be expected to co-operate with any investigation and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring the status quo where possible. Co-operation of all parties with the relevant teacher is expected and must be timely and constructive.
  • All reports of bullying will be investigated and children will be encouraged to tell and reassured that by telling they are acting responsibly
  • All non-teaching staff will be encouraged to report anybullying incidents they have witnessed, or have had reported to them, to the relevant teacher.
  • Teachers will remain calm and adapt an unemotional problem solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.
  • Incidents will be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all those involved
  • All interviews to be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide useful information regarding the alleged incidents
  • When investigating 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 will be interviewed individually at first. Next all those involved will be met as a group. Each member will be asked for an account of what happened so that each member will be aware of each other’s account. It may also be helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident
  • Each member of a group will be supported through the pressures that they may face from the other members of the group after being interviewed by a teacher
  • Where it has been established that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of those involved will be contacted as soon as possible to inform them of the situation and explain the actions being taken. Parents will be given an opportunity to discuss the role they can play in reinforcing and supporting the actions being taken by the school and the supports for the students
  • When it has been determined that a pupil has engaged in bullying behaviour, it will be made clear to the pupil that they are in breach of the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy and efforts will be made to try to get them to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied using some of the strategies outlined earlier.
  • It will be made clear to all involved (parents and pupils) that disciplinary sanctions is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his/her parents and the school
  • Follow up meeting with the relevant parties will be arranged separately with a view to bringing them together at a later date if the pupil being bullied is willing to do so. This can have a therapeutic effect
  • All notes taken during an investigation will be recorded in a book and kept in Principal’s office. The principal will be informed at this time. When an incidence of bullying is confirmed the teacher will record the evidence on a recording template contained in the guidelines
  • In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the following factors will be taken into account
    • Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased
    • Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as it is possible
    • Whether the relationship between the parties has been restored as far as is practicable
    • Any feedback received from those involved, their parents, the Principal or the Deputy Principal

Where a parent is not satisfied that the incident has not been dealt with adequately in accordance with these procedures the parent will be referred to the school’s complaints procedures. If the parent is still not satisfied, the school will advise the parent of his/her right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.

Supports for Affected Children

  • Meeting with parents to discuss support for their child
  • In class strategies that may be used: Circle Time, Art, Drama, ICT etc
  • Whole class lessons where appropriate to help the pupil cope
  • Age appropriate activities will be used in the younger classes
  • Opportunities will be provided to help pupils raise their self esteem, develop their friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever it is needed. The SPHE Curriculum will help achieve this as well as the following programmes: Walk Tall, Stay Safe, RSE and RE Programmes.
  • When instances of bullying cannot be effectively dealt with satisfactorily by the school alone NEPS will be contacted and advice sought on whether referral to an outside agency is necessary to support the pupil concerned
  • Similar strategies will be used for pupils engaging in bullying behaviour.

Supports for Staff
The BOM will ensure, via the principal, that all staff members will be familiar with the school’s Anti Bullying Policy so as to be competent in applying the policy when required. Staff members will also be familiar with the Child Protection Policy. Staff will be enabled to recognise bullying, implement strategies for preventing bullying and when possible intervene effectively in bullying cases. The BOM will also ensure, via the Deputy Principal, that all substitutes and temporary staff will familiarise themselves with the school’s Code of Behaviour and the Anti -Bullying Policy.

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.

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 reasonable 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, 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 on October 2014.

This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the website and communicated to all parents at enrolment. A hard copy will be available in the office for inspection

This policy will be reviewed by the Board of Management annually.

Date: 17-10-2019