Code of Conduct

The staff and Board of Management of St. Patrick’s National School recognise that good behaviour and conduct is based on good relations between parents/guardians, child and school. In St. Patrick’s NS we hope to foster this ideal in co-operation with our parents/guardians. We have adopted a positive code of behaviour with emphasis on encouragement and reward so that good behaviour can prevail in our school. The Board of Management of the school has ultimate responsibility for behaviour in the school.  Within the school, the overall day to day responsibility for behaviour rests with the Principal.  Each teacher has the responsibility for the maintenance of good behaviour and good order within his/her classroom while sharing a common responsibility for good behaviour within the school premises. Parents/guardians have a responsibility to support the school by encouraging their children to understand the need for school rules, reinforcing good standards of behaviour with their own children and by communicating any relevant concerns to the school in the appropriate way.

Aims & Principles of the code

  • To create a positive learning environment that encourages and reinforces good behaviour
  • To promote self-esteem and positive relationships
  • To encourage consistency of response to both positive and negative behaviours
  • To foster a sense of responsibility and self-discipline in pupils and to support good behaviour patterns based on consideration and respect for the rights of others
  • To enable teachers to teach without disruption
  • To ensure that the school’s expectations and strategies are widely known and understood through the school website, newsletters, availability of policies and an ethos of open communication
  • To encourage the involvement of both home and school in the implementation of this policy

School Rules

  1. We always do as a member of staff requests straight away and in a quiet manner.
  2. We sit at our place of work and allow others to work as well.
  3. We show respect for all staff at all times during the school day.
  4. We show respect for all other pupils.
  5. Bullying in any form is strictly forbidden.
  6. Bad language in class or in the school environment will not be tolerated.
  7. School uniform must be worn except on P.E. days.
  8. Mobile phones or similar electronic devices are not allowed in school.

These can be summed up as 6 Golden Rules:

  1. We listen. We don’t interrupt.
  2. We are gentle. We don’t hurt others.
  3. We are honest. We tell the truth.
  4. We are kind.
  5. We work hard. We don’t waste time.
  6. We look after property. We don’t damage things.

These 6 “Golden Rules” will be the main ones used for infant and special classes. Rules apply during school-time and during all school related activities.

Class Rules

At the beginning of each academic year the class teacher will draft a list of class rules with the children, based closely on our school rules. Class rules will be kept to a minimum and are devised with regard for the health, safety and welfare of all members of the school community. They emphasise positive behaviour (e.g. ‘Walk’ and not ‘Don’t run’).  Rules will be applied in a fair and consistent manner, with due regard to the age of the pupils and to individual difference.  Where difficulties arise, parents will be contacted at an early stage.

Incentives/Reward System

All teachers in St. Patrick’s NS will operate a reward/positive reinforcement system within their classroom. This will be explained to children at the beginning of the school year and will be operated on a consistent basis. Rewards will be given to children based on this system in order to incentivise good behaviour. Children will be encouraged, praised and listened to by adults in the school.

The following are some samples of how praise will be given:

  • A quiet word or gesture to show approval
  • A comment in a pupil’s copy or homework journal
  • A visit to another member of staff or to the Principal for commendation
  • A word of praise in front of a group or class
  • Delegating some special responsibility or privilege
  • A mention to parent, written or verbal communication
  • Reward at school assembly


The Principal will lead an assembly for pupils at least once a month. This will be an opportunity to reinforce the Catholic ethos of the school as well as good conduct among the pupils. High standards of work and behaviour will be emphasised. Classmate of the Month awards will be given out at assemblies to pupils chosen by their teacher as having shown excellent standards of behaviour and kindness towards others. Award winners will be photographed and displayed on a notice board in a prominent position within the school.


Unacceptable Behaviour

Three levels of misbehaviour are recognised by this policy;

  • Minor
  • Serious
  • Gross

Dealing with instances of unacceptable behaviour is the responsibility of the class teacher, the supervising teacher at break-times or the teacher who observes the behaviour. Any instances of misbehaviour dealt with at break times should also be brought to the attention of the class teacher.

In cases of repeated serious misbehaviour, or single instances of gross misbehaviour, parents will be involved at an early stage and invited to meet the teacher and/or the principal to discuss their child’s behaviour.

Any time a pupil receives a white card (detention) through an accumulation of 3 yellow cards, or for a single serious misdemeanour, parents/guardians will be contacted.

Examples of minor, serious and gross misbehaviour are set out below. These are not comprehensive lists but rather examples of the types of behaviour which may fall into each category. If pupils engage in behaviour which is not detailed on the list, but which is still deemed by the teacher/principal to be unacceptable, that pupil will be subject to the code of discipline.

Examples of minor misbehaviour include:

  • Being discourteous/unmannerly towards any members of staff or fellow pupil
  • Bringing electronic equipment or mobile-phones to school – If pupils bring these items to school they will be confiscated and kept in the principal’s office until collected by a parent or guardian. They will not be given back to the pupil.
  • Not wearing appropriate uniform
  • Not following instructions

Examples of serious misbehaviour include:

  • Behaviour that is hurtful (including *bullying, harassment, discrimination and victimisation)
  • Using foul language
  • Behaviour that interferes with teaching and learning
  • Threats or physical hurt to another person
  • Damage to property
  • Theft

Examples of gross misbehaviour include:

  • Assault on a teacher or pupil
  • Aggressive, threatening or violent behaviour towards a teacher or pupil
  • Serious Theft
  • Serious damage to property
  • Repeated *bullying (including online abuse)
  • Carrying drugs, alcohol, cigarettes
  • Leaving school/school activities without permission.
  • Bringing dangerous equipment to school

*Cases of Bullying will be dealt with using the school’s Anti-bullying policy which has been devised using the guidelines set out in Departmental Circular 0045/2013.


The purpose of a sanction is to bring about a change in behaviour by:

  • helping children to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable
  • helping children to recognise the effect of their actions and behaviour on others
  • helping children (in ways appropriate to their age and development) to understand that they have choices about their own behaviour and that all choices have consequences
  • helping children to learn to take responsibility for their behaviour

The following steps may be taken when a child behaves inappropriately.  The list is by no means exhaustive.  Teachers may use alternative measures bearing in mind the circumstances involved. The aim of any sanction is to prevent the behaviour occurring again and if necessary to help the pupil devise strategies for this. The issuing of yellow or white cards can come at any stage along with the steps below at the discretion of the teacher/principal.

  • Reasoning with pupil
  • Verbal reprimand including advice on how to improve
  • Temporary separation from peers within class and/or temporary removal to another class (only class of same age group or older)
  • Writing out the story of what happened
  • Loss of privileges*
  • Detention during break
  • Communication with parents
  • Referral to Principal
  • Principal communicating with parents
  • Exclusion (Suspension or Expulsion) from school (in accordance with Rule 130 of the Rules for National Schools as amended by circular and Education Welfare Act 2000)

*School tours, participation in school teams, sports days, attendance at special events and certain extra-curricular activities are dependent on a consistent standard of good behaviour from pupils. The school has an entitlement to expect good manners, good conduct and adherence to school rules from all its pupils. Pupils who do not meet the set standards must be aware that they are potentially denying themselves the opportunity to participate in activities such as those listed above.

Card System

St. Patrick’s NS operates a system of yellow and white behaviour cards to encourage good conduct. The issuing of cards will depend on the nature of the misbehaviour and the circumstances in which the behaviour occurs. A list of the three categories of unacceptable behaviour is set out in this policy.

Children in St. Partick’s N.S. are reminded on an on-going basis of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Good behaviour and conduct are reinforced constantly through lessons, classrooms rules, assemblies, circle time, modelling of behaviour by staff etc. Positive reinforcement of good and desirable behaviour is the stated aim of this policy but children are aware that there are consequences for unacceptable behaviour. The card system of the school has been devised to complement this ethos of positive reinforcement and fair sanctions.

Yellow Cards:

A yellow card may be given for continuous minor misbehaviour and/or for a single instance of serious misbehaviour.

  • When the first yellow card of a school term is given it will be sent home with pupil and a text will be sent to parents.
  • It is expected that parents will take the opportunity to speak with their child regarding their behaviour.
  • Yellow cards must be signed by the child and parent and returned to the school.
  • The class teacher will reinforce the message of changing behaviour and making good choices with pupils who have received their first card.
  • If a pupil receives no further cards in a given term, the card they previously received will not carry over to the next term. This is so pupils who make an effort to improve their conduct are rewarded.
  • If a pupil receives a second yellow card within the same school term they will be spoken to by the school principal about their behaviour.
  • The second yellow card will be sent home as per the steps detailed above.
  • If a pupil receives a third yellow card within the same term notice of detention will be sent home via a white card.

White Cards:

  • A white card is issued to give notice of detention.
  • White cards will usually be issued after the accumulation of three yellow cards within one term.
  • White cards can also be issued immediately for single instances of serious and/or gross misbehaviour. This can be done regardless of any previous yellow cards issued.
  • When a white card is issued a phone call will be made to the parents of the child involved either to discuss the matter over the phone or to arrange an appointment to meet with teacher and/or school principal.

NB:  In certain cases of serious and/or gross misbehaviour, where it is necessary to ensure that order and discipline are maintained and to secure the safety of pupils and staff, an immediate suspension for a period not exceeding three school days can be given.

Suspension and Expulsion

When a pupil is involved in repeated instances of unacceptable behaviour, a meeting will take place between the parents/guardians of that pupil, the class teacher and school principal.

If a meeting between parents/guardians of a pupil, class teacher and principal has taken place but there are still repeated instances of unacceptable behaviour, the Chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed and the parents will be requested in writing to attend at the school to meet the Chairperson and the principal.

Parents will be requested to give an undertaking regarding the pupil’s behaviour into the future and the situation will be kept under ongoing review. If, in spite of parental undertakings, the behaviour does not improve or if parents refuse to give undertakings regarding pupil’s future behaviour, suspension will follow.

Prior to suspension, where possible, the Principal may review the case in consultation with teachers and other members of the school community involved. Records of previous misbehaviours, their pattern and context, sanctions and other interventions used and any relevant medical information may be taken into consideration. Suspension will be in accordance with the Rules for National Schools and the Education Welfare Act 2000.

As previously stated, in the case of gross misbehaviour an immediate suspension for a period not exceeding three school days may be given.

Expulsion may be considered in an extreme case, in accordance with the Rule for National Schools and the Education Welfare Act 2000.  Before suspending or expelling a pupil, the Board shall notify the Education Welfare Officer in writing in accordance with Section 24 of the Education Welfare Act.

The school reserves the right to arrange a meeting with the parents/guardians of a child at any time, should the child’s behaviour be deemed to be unacceptable. If a parent refuses to meet with a class teacher the matter will be referred to the Principal.  Any refusal to meet with the Principal and/or Chairperson will automatically be referred to the Board of Management and regarded as a serious breach of co-operation in our school’s code of conduct.

Removal of Suspension (Reinstatement)

Following or during a period of suspension set by the Board of Management, parents/guardians may apply in writing to have the pupil reinstated in the school. Parents/guardians and the pupil in question must give satisfactory undertakings that said suspended pupil will behave in accordance with the school’s code of discipline. The Principal must be satisfied that the pupil’s reinstatement will not constitute a risk to the pupil’s own safety or that of the other pupils or staff.

The Principal will facilitate the preparation of a behaviour plan for the pupil if this has not already occurred. A meeting of the Board of Management will be held to consider the reinstatement of the suspended pupil.

Children with Special Needs

All children are required to comply with the code of behaviour.  However, the school recognises that children with special needs may require assistance in understanding certain rules.  Specialised behaviour plans will be put in place in consultation with parents and relevant staff.

These members of staff will work closely with home to ensure that optimal support is given. Cognitive development will be taken into account at all times. Professional advice from psychological assessments will be used to inform actions taken.

The children in the class or school may be taught strategies to assist a pupil with special needs adhere to the rules and thus provide peer support.  This will be done in a supportive and safe way, acknowledging and respecting the difference in all individuals.

Responsibilities of Adults

The adults encountered by the children at school and at home have an important responsibility to model high standards of behaviour, both in their dealings with the children and with each other, as their example has an important influence on the children.

Adults should aim to:

  • Create a positive climate with realistic expectations
  • Promote positive behaviour, through example, honesty and courtesy
  • Provide a caring and effective learning environment
  • Encourage relationships based on kindness, respect and understanding of the needs of others
  • Ensure fair treatment for all regardless of age, gender, race or ability
  • Show appreciation of the efforts and contribution of all
  • Discourage physical aggression and encourage ‘Kind Hands, Kind Words, Kind Feet’


Bullying is repeated aggression – physical, verbal or emotional – conducted by an individual or group against another or others.

  • PHYSICAL: includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking, tripping, etc.
  • VERBAL: name calling which hurts, insults or humiliates.
  • EMOTIONAL: threats or persistent hurtful remarks regarding sensitive areas e.g. appearance, dress, progress, colour, culture and disability. Isolating or shunning a child. Threats to extort money or possessions. Cyber or text bullying.

The school takes particular care to intervene early in responding to the needs, fears or anxieties of individual pupils in a sensitive manner. Issues in relation to bullying are explored continually during SPHE lessons and using Circle Time, Drama etc.

Should a parent/guardian have any concerns which need to be discussed, teachers will facilitate a meeting made through the proper channels. As per agreed procedures, the first person to be informed of concerns should be the class teacher.

Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, while never to be condoned, cannot be described as bullying. Cases of Bullying will be dealt with in the first instance through the Anti-Bullying policy of the school but the Code of Behaviour and the Anti-Bullying policy may be use concurrently depending on the circumstances of particular cases.

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of St. Patricks NS on Tuesday 4th April 2017.