Anti-Bullying Policy

Introduction

In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the National Education Welfare Board, the Board of Management of St Mary’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 by The Department of Education and Skills in September 2013.

Rationale

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;  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, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.

e) Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils

f) Supports structures for staff when dealing with bullying

g) Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies); and annual review of the anti-bullying policy.

Definition

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.

Roles and Responsibilities

The relevant teachers responsible for investigating and dealing with bullying are Class Teacher, Deputy Principal and Principal

Implementation and Strategies

The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber- bullying and identity-based bullying including homophobic and transphobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs) that will be used by the school are as follows:

These strategies raise pupils’ awareness and understanding about the nature and unacceptability of bullying, enabling them to ‘Recognise, Reject and Report’ bullying when they see it. Even for the most vigilant school staff it can be difficult to detect bullying without the help of pupils. The following are ways to build a positive school culture and climate and to help prevent and tackle bullying behaviour:

  • Model respectful behaviour to all members of the school community at all times
  • Explicitly teach pupils what respectful language and respectful behaviour looks like, acts like, sounds like and feels like in class and around the school
  • Display key respect messages in classrooms, in assembly areas and around the school. Involve pupils in the development of these messages
  • Acknowledge desired respectful behaviour by providing positive attention
  • Consistently tackle the use of discriminatory and derogatory language in the school- this includes homophobic and racist language that is belittling of pupil with a disability or SEN
  • Give constructive feedback to pupils when respectful behaviour and respectful language are absent
  • Have a class based system of encouragement and reward to promote desired behaviour and compliance with the school rules and routines
  • Explicitly teach pupils about the appropriate use of social media
  • Positively encourage pupils to comply with the school rules on mobile phones and internet use.
  • Follow-up and follow through with pupils who ignore the rules
  • Actively involve parents and/or parents association in awareness raising campaigns around social media
  • Actively promote the right of every member of the school community to be safe and secure in school through a raising awareness programme.
  • Highlight and explicitly teach school rules in pupil friendly language in the classroom and in common areas
  • All staff can actively watch out for signs of bullying behaviour
  • Ensure there is adequate school yard supervision
  • Support the establishment and work of a student council and school charter (Appendix 1)

Procedure for Investigating

The primary aims for the relevant teacher in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore, as far as is practicable, the relationship of the parties involved. The procedures are set out in the following sections: Dealing with an Incident of Bullying and Recording

Dealing with an Incident of Bullying

This section details an approach to dealing effectively with alleged/suspected bullying situations. Central to this strand is the Reform Not Blame Approach which replaces the biggest obstacle to reporting i.e. punishment, with a more effective and acceptable alternative-keeping a solemn promise. This approach overcomes the ‘no-ratting’ culture, empowering pupils to report bullying without fear of a backlash as well as empowering teachers to deal with bullying situations to achieve the desired ’win-win’ situation.

Steps for relevant teachers (in this case class teacher) are as follows:

  1. If a class teacher receives an allegation or has suspicions of bullying behaviour he/she questions those allegedly involved in order to establish the facts. Class Teacher informs the parents/guardians of pupils he/she has spoken to, asking them to question the pupils themselves and report back to Class Teacher
  2. Class Teacher is supported at this stage by Principal.
  3. If it proves difficult to establish the facts Class Teacher will survey his/her pupils with a written questionnaire assisted by Principal
  4. Before carrying out the survey the Class Teacher explains the Reform Not Blame Approach to pupils as follows:
    1. A bullying problem  may exist in the school even if pupils involved do not realize it
    2. Everyone’s help is needed to try to resolve this problem quickly and without punishment
    3. Anyone bullying who promises to stop and keeps the promise will not be punished
    4. Keeping this promise can get a bullying pupil ‘out of trouble’
    5. We need to know who to talk to, seeking this promise, so ‘will you please tell me in this survey if you know……’
  5. The class teacher carries out the class survey
  6. The class teacher questions anyone identified repeatedly in the survey (as per No.1 above)
  7. Class Teacher is supported at this stage by Principal
  8. Any pupil for whom the bullying behaviour is verified agrees to give a solemn promise to victim, Class Teacher, Principal and parents/guardians

Only in the event that these steps fail does the Principal need to become involved by meeting parents/guardians of the alleged victim and bully and the school code of behaviour used.

Recording

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 the reports, the actions taken and any discussion 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 is practicable, the relationship of the parties involved.

The relevant teacher must use the official school template (Appendix 2) to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances.

  1. 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
  2. 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 Principal.

In the case of a and b above, the official school template must be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the Principal. It should also be noted that the timeline for recording bullying behaviour on the official school template does not in any way preclude the relevant teacher from consulting with the Principal at an earlier stage in relation to the case.

Programme of Support and Monitoring

Once an allegation of bullying had been dealt with relevant teacher and Principal will periodically observe pupil affected by bullying and enquire weekly if they have any concerns. Relevant teacher will liaise with parents/guardians as appropriate.

The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying includes the following:

  • Discussion in Class
  • Discussion at Assembly Time
  • Circle Time
  • Role Play
  • Stay Safe Programme
  • Walk Tall Programme
  • Webwise Programme
  • ‘Worry Box’

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 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 has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website, is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and the Patron if requested.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed annually by the Board of Management. 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 of Education and Skills

This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 16th June 2014