Code of Behaviour


Code of Behaviour

Introductory Statement 

The formulation of this policy began following an audit of current policy in May 2010. The policy review involved research, consultation with staff, pupils, parents and Board of Management. A school committee of six was established to lead and coordinate the process led by our school principal. Circulation, amendments, communication and ratification of new policy will take place in 2011. Policy was reviewed by teaching staff during 2016/17 school year.


Our School Code of Behaviour is under review because:

·         It is an area identified by the school community

·         The existing policy is due for review/amendment

·         To ensure an orderly climate for teaching and learning in our school

·         It is a requirement under the Education Welfare Act, 2000, Section 23 (1) that refers to the obligation on schools to prepare a code of behaviour in respect of the students registered at the school. It details in Section 23(2), that the code of behaviour shall specify:

1.    The standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school;

2.    The measures that shall be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards;

3.    The procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school.

4.    The grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student.

5.    The procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school

6.    To ensure existing policy is in compliance with legal requirements and good practice as set out in Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools, National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) 2008

 Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school

Our school is a catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. Our ethos is to nurture each pupil to develop his/her potential in a caring environment where the talents of each pupil are valued. This can only be achieved when there is a high level of respect and co-operation between staff, pupils and parents.

 The Code of Behaviour is therefore designed to support the way in which all members of our school community can live and work in a supportive way. It aims to promote an environment where everyone feels happy, safe and secure and our school can function in an orderly way.


Our policy aims to ensure that everyone feels valued and respected and that each person is treated fairly and consistently. We are a caring community whose values are built on mutual trust and respect for all. Rules are kept to a minimum, the policy is designed to promote good behaviour not a system to enforce rules or deter anti-social behaviour.

Our aims are as follows:

·         To ensure an educational environment that is guided by our mission statement       

·         To allow the school to function in an orderly way that promotes teaching and learning where children can make progress in all aspects of their development

·         To create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and consideration for others

·         To promote positive behaviour and self-discipline, recognising the differences between children and the need to accommodate these differences

·         To ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the school community

·         To assist parents and pupils in understanding the systems and procedures that form part of the code of behaviour and to seek their co-operation in the application of these procedures

·         To ensure that the system of rules, rewards, and sanctions are implemented in a fair and consistent manner throughout the school

Content of policy

The policy is addressed under the following headings.

  1. Guidelines for behaviour in the school
  2. Whole school approach to promoting positive behaviour

·         Staff

·         Board of Management

·         Parents

·         Pupils

  1. Strategies for managing behaviour-Rewards

·         Rewarding positive behaviour

·         General School Rules

·         Classroom Rules

·         Playground Rules

·         Recognised systems for acknowledging good behaviour in classroom

·         Recognised systems for acknowledging good behaviour in playground

·         Classroom management and timetables

  1. Strategies for managing behaviour-Sanctions

·         Strategies for responding to unacceptable behaviour

·         Systems for sanctioning misbehaviour in classroom

·         Systems for sanctioning misbehaviour in playground

·         Involving parents in management of problem behaviour

·         Managing aggressive or violent behaviour

  1. Suspension / Expulsion

·         Suspension

·         Expulsion

·         Appeals

  1. Keeping records

·         Class

·         Playground

·         School records

  1. Procedure for notification of a pupil’s absence from school
  2. Reference to other policies


  1. Guidelines for behaviour in the school

The Education Welfare Act, Section 23, states that the code of behaviour shall specify “the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school”.

Our school has core principles that underpins our code of behaviour

·         Each pupil is expected to be well behaved and to show consideration for other children and adults

·         Each pupil is expected to show respect for the property of the school, other children’s and their own belongings

·         Each pupil is expected to attend school on a daily basis and to be punctual

·         Each pupil is expected to do his/her best both in school and for homework.

·         Everyone’s actions matters, the behaviour of adults including parents and teachers has a significant influence on how a child acts.

·         Everyone gives priority to the promotion of good behaviour in the hope of setting high expectations and affirming good behaviour

·         All staff will ensure pupils experience the value of being responsible, participating members of the school community.

·         Promotes equality for all members of our school community.

·         Ensure a consistent approach to behaviour on the part of school personnel.

·         Our policy is based on a commitment to the welfare of each pupil.


Section 23 (4) of the Act further states that, prior to registering a pupil, the principal teacher shall provide the parents of the child with a copy of the school’s code of behaviour and that the principal ‘may, as a condition of so registering such child, require his or her parents to confirm in writing that the code of behaviour so provided is acceptable to them and that they shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with such code by the child’. 

Therefore, before a place can be offered to a child in St. Mary’s National School, parents/guardians must sign a consent form to confirm that the code is acceptable to them and that they will make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with such code by their child/children

  1. Whole school approach in promoting positive behaviour

A positive school ethos is based on the quality of relationships between colleagues and the ways in which both pupils and teachers treat each other. This positive ethos permeates all the activities of the school and helps in forming a strong sense of social cohesion and teamwork within the school.


Standards should

·         Provide clarity

·         Set goals

·         Be a practical tool for teaching and learning.


Standards should reflect positive values

·         Respect for self and others

·         Kindness and willingness to help others

·         Courtesy and manners

·         Fairness and forgiveness

·         Readiness to use respectful ways of resolving difficulties and conflict.


Our school expects pupils to commit to

·         Attend school daily and punctually

·         Do his/her best in class

·         Take responsibility for his/her work

·         Keep the rules

·         Respect staff

·         Respect other pupils and their learning

·         Participate in school activities



Teachers and staff members play important roles in the work of reviewing and updating the code. They bring to this work their professional expertise in understanding the links between behaviour and learning, their experience of what works to help pupils to behave and their knowledge of our school and our school community. Staff also know when to involve outside agencies/professionals with regard to the management of challenging behaviour.

Staff should have the opportunity through regular curricular and organisational review to confirm that all policies support our code of positive behaviour and deepen their understanding of the factors that affect behaviour and help pupils to change behaviours through in-service and training.


The following are times when there is opportunity for review.

·         Staff Meetings

·         In-service

·         Sub-committees

·         Croke Park Hour Framework

·         Informal class groupings e.g. 2nd Class Teachers


Code of Behaviour is maintained and improved from year to year by including code of behaviour on the agenda of the first staff meeting of each term. Teachers are responsible for raising issues of concern with parents/guardians when necessary.


New staff/parents can be made aware of the code as follows

·         Consultation when re-viewing the code

·         Infant information pack

·         Newsletter

·         School Website

·         Parents Association

·         New Staff Pack

·         Mentoring


Our Code of behaviour caters for pupils who may have behavioural problems arising from their special education needs. There is in-built flexibility in the code which will allow for responses appropriate to each child. Early Parental/Guardian involvement and cooperation is essential.

The school’s SPHE curriculum is used to support the code of behaviour. It aims to help our children develop communication skills, appropriate ways of interacting and behaving, and conflict resolution skills. It also aims to foster self-esteem and to help children accommodate differences and develop citizenship.


·         This curriculum is managed and monitored by a post-holder

·         Teachers informed and supported by colleagues, post-holder and Principal.

·         Parents of new pupils are informed of the curriculum by class teachers as required.

·         There is a range of activities scheduled to develop pupil’s skills. These are set out in SPHE Whole School Plan

·         Special ed. teachers organise spraoi groups which provide age appropriate communication and social skills.


Board of Management

The Board of Management has overall responsibility and plays a role in exploring the kinds of relationships and behaviours that will reflect our school’s ethos and responsibility.

The Board should make sure that all members of the school community have the opportunity to be involved in work on the code of behaviour. The Board of Management should formally ratify the code upon completion.

The Board of Management involvement is in two areas.

·         Occasions when the code is being revamped.

·         Dealing with incidents of serious misbehaviour.


The Code of Behaviour will be more likely to work well where parents have meaningful ways of contributing to the development or review of the code. Their involvement will draw on their expectations, insights and experience. It will help to underline their responsibilities for their children’s behaviour.

·         Cooperation between staff and parents is encouraged through the Parent’s Association, school meetings, school website and newsletter.

·         Code of behaviour can be viewed on our school website

·         Positive school rules, ‘Rainbow Rules’ can be displayed in main entrance foyer.

·         Parents/Guardians support the school as follows:

1.    They are aware of and cooperate with the school system of rewards and sanctions

2.    They ensure their child/children are on time for school

3.    They attend meetings when requested

4.    They help their children with homework and ensure it is completed

5.    They ensure they have the necessary books and materials for school.

6.    They inform teachers if there is an issue that could affect their child/children in school



Students are more likely to support a Code of Behaviour when they have helped to develop it. Relationships of trust between teachers and pupils can grow stronger through the process

Pupils are involved in drafting the Code of Behaviour in the following way:

a)    Drafting rules for classrooms

b)    Taking part in organising assemblies

c)    Buddy system between junior infant and 6th class pupils.




  1. Strategies for managing behaviour - Rewards


Rewarding positive behaviour

 Good behaviour can be publicly recognised and acknowledged as follows

·         During assemblies

·         Posters in the main foyer

·         Principal on intercom

·         Principal visits classrooms

·         Sending pupils to other classes

Special occasions when pupils achievements are recognised with parents/guardians

·         School concerts

·         School games/matches

·         School religious ceremonies

·         Special days, e.g. Renewal of Green Flag

Communicating ‘Good News’ to parents/guardians via

·         Twitter

·         Homework Journal

·         Note

General School Rules

General school and out of class positive behaviour rules

·         Walk quietly in the corridors.

·         Stay on our own side of the corridor, by the wall.

·         Stand back and allow all adults to pass.

·         Orderly class lines in corridors

·         Knock mannerly on a teacher’s door or the office door

·         Respect all adults and other pupils in our school.

·         Respect all school property.



Classroom Rules

·         Pupils with teacher’s guidance, devise class rules at the start of the year.

·         Class rules to be stated positively

·         Children can sign a ‘Golden Rules’ contract; younger pupils can “sign” a contract with a handprint.

·         Red Rules displayed in all classrooms

·         Rainbow Rules in all classrooms.

Playground Rules

Rules are set out on red card and displayed in classrooms. Pupils need to be reminded of these regularly. None of the following are allowed in school playground

·         Rough play

·         Mess fighting

·         Piggy backs

·         Chains and trains

·         Striking or kicking

·         Cheekiness

·         Throwing objects

·         Hanging around ‘Time-out’ area

·         Going out of Bounds

·         No grass on wet days

·         No pine cone/stone/apple soccer

·         No hurleys or footballs in playground

The following rules are key;

·         Pupils stay in assigned areas

·         Orderly class lines in school yard at end of break-times

·         At the end of break on the first whistle all pupils freeze, on the second whistle all pupils walk slowly to their class line.

Recognised systems of acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour in classrooms                                                                  

·         A ‘Star Pupils’ can be selected

·         A ‘Pupil of the Day’ can be selected

·         Certificates can be awarded for positive behaviour and achievement

·         A ‘Well Done’ template note can be sent home to parents/guardians.

·         Classes can be acknowledge by Principal at Assembly or on a particular occasion

·         Infant/Junior teachers can make use of visual positive behaviour charts.

·         In all classes a 15/20 minute ‘Golden Time’ can be awarded to the entire class once a week, for positive behaviour/effort. ‘Golden Time’ can include playing board games, extra P.E., extra computer time, extra art, Go Noodle, Class Dojo points system etc.

·         In senior classes, generally 5th and 6th, a ‘Homework Voucher’ system can be used. Pupils earn tokens for positive behaviour and achievement. When pupils collect a certain number e.g. 20 tokens, they can trade their tokens for a homework voucher entitling them to one night off maths/written homework.


Recognised systems of acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour in playground

·         Use of Astroturf pitch for 6th class pupil on a rota system for boys and girls every lunchtime

·         Pitch area is for all 5th class pupils who wish to play soccer during fine weather, 4th class pupils side grass.

·         Promoting the buddy system regularly and acknowledge 6th class pupils role.

·         Principal promotes yard-line competition

Classroom Management Techniques and Timetabling

·         All class teachers should make use of a daily timetable and consistent routines.

·         Resources should be organised so that the day runs according to plan

·         Pupils who complete work quickly should have access to extension activities and supplementary work.

·         Liaise with special education teaching  staff






4.Strategies for managing behaviour – Sanctions

Strategies for responding to unacceptable behaviour



Teacher speaks to the pupil about their inappropriate behaviour and outlines to him/her why the behaviour is not acceptable.



Teacher explains rules/sanctions and advises on how to improve



Teacher can decide on specific sanction e.g. move name to cloud in junior/infant classes, reduce ‘Golden Time’, ‘Homework Voucher/Vouchers, time -out, addition written homework exercise.



Teacher can assign extra homework or any of the sanctions listed in no.3. A note in homework journal must be signed by parent/guardian. If matter is of a sensitive nature a private note is preferable.



If there is no improvement in behaviour teacher can call a parent/teacher meeting to discuss the issue and agree an Action Plan.  Principal must be informed of this meeting. Further sanctions such as removal of privileges and special event e.g. tours and events can be discussed with parent/guardians at this stage.





Teacher reports concerns to Principal who can talk to pupil and record details of misbehaviour.

Principal can pursue other options with parents/guardian namely suspension and expulsion.

All teachers have the discretion to skip steps if misbehaviour is serious or grossly inappropriate.


Suggested Systems of sanctioning misbehaviour and inappropriate behaviour in classrooms

·         In infant/junior classes visual positive behaviour charts e.g. moving a pupil back on a star/progress chart.

·         In all classes if a pupil breaks a rule they can lose out on some ‘Golden Time’ and complete a workbook exercise instead.

·         In senior classes teachers can issue demerits resulting in extra homework or they can remove homework vouchers from pupils for misbehaviour.

·         The regular steps for dealing with misbehaviour as listed above can be used.

·         Time-out in Junior Yard

·         Time-out in class or other class at same level

·         No Golden Time

·         No astro pitch

·         Extra Homework

·         Send to Principal’s Office (log book to record in Principal’s office)

·         Notify parents/guardians via homework journal

 Suggested systems of sanctioning misbehaviour and inappropriate behaviour in playground

·         Teacher on supervision sends pupil to TIME-OUT area for remainder of break.

·         Teacher on supervision speaks with class teacher at the end of break if matter is serious, otherwise pupil return to class line. Serious matters must be recorded by class teacher in Yard Book, located in Principal’s office.

Class teacher can discipline pupil as set out above or speak with Principal if necessary

Involving parents in management of behaviour 

Parents are responsible for the following

·         Sending their children to school ready to learn

·         Ensuring that their children attend school daily and arrive on time

·         Being aware of their children’s work and progress

·         Contacting teachers if there is an issue that could affect their child/children.

·         Responding to communications from our school

·         Attending important school meetings and events

·         Complying with official school policies

·         Working in partnership with the school on matters relating to their children’s school lives

·         Check schoolbag and homework daily

·         Sign homework journal nightly

·         Write an explanation in homework journal when pupil is absent

·         Write a concern/query in homework journal for pupils class teacher

The following is the schools approach to involving parents when a pupil’s behaviour is a source of concern. In a contentious meeting a teacher should not meet a parent on their own.

Principal or Deputy Principal should be informed of meeting

·         The most appropriate time to approach parents is when a pattern of inappropriate behaviour is established (repeated disturbance/interruption to the learning and teaching of the class and the pupil in question). The class teacher feels that the class rules/sanctions are no longer sufficient for the child.

·         They are contacted first through brief conversation at school gate or by phone (infant classes), the homework diary and then by phone by the class teacher.

·         Parents are invited by the class teacher to attend a meeting in the pastoral care room to discuss a resolution to the issues.

·         The pupil can be brought in at the end of the meeting once the outcomes have been decided. The teacher and parents will explain these outcomes to the pupil.

·         The teacher can involve the Principal or a senior member of staff if the matter is of a more serious nature.

·         Parents are encouraged to contact the school with concern as follows

1.    Send in a note in homework journal

2.    Phone the school to make an appointment, stating briefly to school secretary the reason.

Managing aggressive or violent misbehaviour 

The following strategies can be used for dealing with serious emotional and behavioural problems:

  1. Individual behaviour charts and plans can be put in place with assistance from the Deputy Principal or Principal
  2. Special Education Teaching Personnel can facilitate teachers in sharing practices and support in the management of challenging behaviour
  3. Establishment of a Teacher Support Group as per NEPS model.
  4. Through the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), Health Service Executive (HSE), National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), Special Education Support Service (SESS), Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).
  5. Teachers are facilitated to attend professional development courses organise by SESS and other agencies 
  6. Pupils can be referred to National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) 


In the event of seriously violent or threatening behaviour causing a risk to the safety of the pupil himself/herself or the safety of other pupils or staff the following steps are taken.

·         The Principal is involved immediately and pupil is removed from the classroom

·         Parents/Guardians are contacted by Principal and asked to call to the school

·         Pupils can be temporarily removed from the school following consultation between parents and Principal

·         Further temporary exclusion can be considered while consultation with SENO and/or Education Welfare Officer (EWO) takes place about appropriate resourcing, alternative placement.


5. Suspension / Expulsion Procedures


The Education Welfare Act, 2000, stipulates that a code of behaviour shall specify... ‘the procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school concerned” and “the grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student.”(Sections 23(2) c, d)  


The Board of Management has ultimate responsibility for suspension of pupils. The authority to suspend a pupil is formally delegated by B.O.M. to Principal and Chairperson to exclude a pupil from school for a maximum initial period of three days. The Board will follow ‘Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools’, NEWB, 2008 chapter 10 and 11 to ensure that the correct procedures are followed.




The principal shall inform the education welfare officer, by notice in writing, when a student is suspended from a recognised school for a period of not less than 6 days. (Sections 21(4) a )

Circular 20/90 states that ‘Parents should be informed of their right to come to the school and be invited to do so in order to discuss the misbehaviour with the Principal Teacher and/or the class teacher.   This should always be done when the suspension of a pupil is being contemplated’.

The decision to suspend a pupil requires serious grounds such as

·         The pupil’s behaviour has had a seriously detrimental effect on the education of other pupils

·         The pupil continued presence in the school at this time constitutes a threat to safety

·         The pupil is responsible for serious damage to property.

·         A single incident of serious/gross misconduct may be grounds for immediate suspension

Suspension should be a proportionate response to the behaviour causing concern. Listed below are factors to consider before suspending a pupil.

·         The nature and severity of behaviour.

·         The control of behaviour

·         The impact of the behaviour

·         The interventions tried to date

·         The impact of suspension.

The school will follow the correct procedures for suspension under the following headings.

·         Authority to suspend

·         The grounds for suspension

·         Determining the appropriateness of suspending a student

·         Forms of suspension

·         Procedures in respect of suspension

·         The period of suspension

·         Appeals

·         Implementing the suspension

·         Grounds for removing a suspension

·         After the suspension ends

·         Records and reports



 Under the Education Welfare Act, 2000, ‘A student shall not be expelled from a school before the passing of twenty school days following the receipt of a notification under this section by an educational welfare officer’ (Section 24(4)) It is the right of a Board of Management to take ‘…such other reasonable measures as it considers appropriate to ensure that good order and discipline are maintained in the school concerned and that the safety of students is secured.’ (Section 24(5))

The Board of Management will follow ‘Developing a Code of Behaviour; Guidelines for Schools’, NEWB, 2008 Chapter 12.

The school will follow the correct procedures for expulsion under the following headings

·         Authority to expel

·         The ground for expulsion

·         Determining the appropriateness of expelling a student

·         Procedures in respect of expulsion

·         Appeals


Under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998, parents (or pupils who have reached the age of 18) are entitled to appeal to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science against some decisions of the Board of Management, including (1) permanent exclusion from a school and (2) suspension for a period which would bring the cumulative period of suspension to 20 school days or longer in any one school year. 

 Accordingly, we advise parents of our pupils of this right of appeal and associated timeframe if it has been decided to suspend or permanently exclude a pupil. Appeals must generally be made within 42 calendar days from the date the decision of the school was notified to the parent or student. (See Circular 22/02) 


6.  Keeping records

 In line with the school’s policy on record keeping, and data protection legislation the following is the format for Code of Behaviour record keeping. 


·         Class teacher keeps a record of behaviour. Positive behaviour is recorded on one side and negative behaviour on the reverse. (sample shown below)

·         Behaviour of pupils who are a concern is monitored in this way. Roll number is used to identify the pupil.

·         All records are confidential and they must be kept securely in classroom.

·         Serious misbehaviour in classroom is reported to the Principal.

·         A comment on a pupil’s behaviour can be included on Progress Card every June.

·         Annual school report includes a reference to behaviour.


·         Teachers supervising in playground at break-times do not record. They can report to class teacher if there is an issue. The class teacher may involve the Principal.




Record of Behaviour (sample)


Date and Teacher signature

Positive behaviour in playground/classroom

Inappropriate behaviour in playground/classroom




7. Procedures for notification of pupil absences from school

 The Education Welfare Act, 2000, Section 23 (2)(e) states that the code of behaviour must specify, “the procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school.” Section18  stipulates that parents must notify the school of a student’s absence and the reason for this absence.

Pupils are encouraged to attend school 183 days a year. Our school strives to

·         Creating a stimulating and attractive school environment

·         System for acknowledging/rewarding good or improved attendance

·         Adapting curriculum content and methodologies to maximise relevance to pupils

·         Adapting the class and school timetables to make it more attractive to attend and to be on time

·         Making parents aware of the terms of the Education Welfare Act and its implications.

Parents/Guardians write a note in pupil’s homework journal informing teachers in writing of their child’s absence from school once the child returns. Parent/guardian must state the reason for this absence. There is no need to ring the office regarding pupil absences.

Our school uses the standard forms to report on pupil absences in excess of 20 days to the National Education Welfare Board quarterly.



8. Reference to other Policies

St. Mary’s National School policies that have a bearing on the code of behaviour are as follows

·         SPHE plan

·         Anti-Bullying

·         Enrolment

·         Record Keeping

·         Home / School links

·         Health & Safety

·         Equality

·         Special Educational Needs



Ratified by Board of Management on 6th March 2017