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 Educational Welfare Board (NEWB), the Board of Management of Scoil Bhríde JNS 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

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 committed to the following key principles of best practice in preventing and tackling bullying behaviour:

  • 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;
  • Effective leadership;
  • A school-wide approach;
  • A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact;
  • Implementation of education and prevention strategies including awareness raising measures that builds empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and addressing the issues of cyber bullying and identity based bullying.
  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;
  • Support for staff in implementing anti-bullying policies;
  • Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour; and
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

Definition of 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 conduct, 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.

Investigating Bullying Behaviour

The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows:

  • Principal
  • Deputy Principal
  • Class Teacher
  • Any other teacher e.g. Special Education Teacher or yard teacher where appropriate.

Education and Prevention Strategies

  • School staff will foster an atmosphere of friendship, respect and tolerance of all members of the school community.
  • Children’s self-esteem will be developed through celebrating achievements, acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour and providing opportunities for success throughout the curriculum and school.
  • Teachers will help pupils to develop empathy by discussing their feelings with them.
  • Relationships with pupils will be based on respect and trust so that pupils will have confidence in the school staff.
  • The school’s Anti Bullying Policy will be discussed with the pupils in an appropriate manner and behaviour management strategies will be used which focus on problem solving to enable pupils to take an active role in finding a solution to problems. The code of behaviour and anti-bulling policies are also available on our website.
  • The curriculum of the school will be used to educate all pupils against bullying behaviour. The following programmes are used: Stay Safe (All levels) and Weaving Wellbeing and Tough Topics Bullying (2nd Classes)
  • The full implementation of the SPHE, RSE and Stay Safe Programmes and continuous CPD for all staff in delivering these programmes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The implementation of regular whole school awareness measuresg. the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; annual Friendship Week and regular school assemblies by principal.
  • 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.
    • Feelings or Worry box?
    • Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.
    • Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.
  • Clear protocols to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied.
  • Implementation of the school’s Acceptable Use Policy in the school to include the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored.
  • Links to other policies – Hereunder is a list of school policies and practices that are particular relevant to bullying: Code of Behaviour, Child Safeguarding and Risk Assessment, SEN Policy, Health and Safety Policy.

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:

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 will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher or if appropriate the classroom teacher of the children involved.
  • 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.

Investigating and dealing with allegations of bullying behaviour:

  • The Relevant Teacher investigates the allegation of bullying behaviour with a view to establishing the facts and bringing any such behaviour to an end.  In investigating and dealing with allegations of 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 the 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;
  • 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;
  • When an investigation is completed and/or a bullying situation is resolved the ‘Relevant Teacher’ will complete a report, to include the findings of the investigation, the strategy adopted and the outcome of the intervention, as well as any other relevant information. This information recorded is filed and stored by the Principal.
  • All documentation regarding bullying incidents and their resolution is retained securely by the relevant teacher during investigation and is handed over to the Principal thereafter.

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. Incident reports will be kept in all classrooms and in the office. All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher.
  • While all 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 should develop a protocol for the storage of all records retained by the relevant teacher.

Formal Stage 2- (From DES Procedures)

The relevant teacher must use the approved recording template 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 resolved 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 the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.

When the recording template is used, it must be retained by the relevant teacher in question and a copy maintained by the principal. Teachers records are retained in a secure space in the classroom and all templates given to the Principal will be stored in the filing cabinet in the office.

School’s Programme of Support for working with pupils affected by bullying:

  • 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, social skills and resilience. E.g. Stay Safe (All levels); Weaving Wellbeing (2nd Class); Friendship Week, SPHE Lessons, NEPS programmes.
  • Help and support will be sought for a bully, informing his/her parents or guardians and continuing to work with him/her in order to modify his/her behaviour.
  • If pupils require counselling or further supports the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organise same, i.e. NEPS, HSE.

 Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils

The Board of Management confirms that the appropriate supervision and monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate every intervention where possible.

Serious Cases of Bullying

Serious incidences of bullying behaviour will, in accordance with the Children First Guidelines and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, be referred to the HSE Children and Family Services and /or Gardaí as appropriate.

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.

Policy ratified by the Board of Management in September 2023