Anti Bullying Policy

1. In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of Scoil Bhríde, Straffan, 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.

2. 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 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-

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.

Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;
Supports for staff;
Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies); and
On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy

3. In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2013 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.

Examples of Bullying :

All Pupils and members of staff attending Scoil Bhríde are entitled to come to school where they feel safe, happy and uninhibited. Everyone is entitled to be included in the community. No one should suffer negative behaviour such as :

· Physical aggression

· Intimidation

· Isolation /exclusion

· Name-calling

· Verbal abuse

· Damage to property

· Intimidating verbal or non verbal threatening gestures

· Abusive telephone calls, texting, web messages, cyber bullying

Isolated instances of aggressive behaviour, which are dealt with under the Code of Behaviour would not be described as bullying. However, when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing, it is bullying.

Indications of Bullying

The following signs and symptoms may suggest that a pupil is being bullied:

· Anxiety about travelling to/from school

· Unwillingness to go to school

· Deterioration in educational performance

· Pattern of physical illnesses

· Unexplained changes in either mood / behaviour

· Visible signs of anxiety / distress : stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, bedwetting

· Spontaneous, out-of-character comments about other individuals

· Possessions missing or damaged

· Increased requests for money

· Unexplained bruising or damaged clothing

· Reluctance and / or refusal to say what is troubling him / her

4. Relevant Teacher

The relevant teacher is the class teacher. The Principal and/or Deputy Principal may assist with serious incidents.

Prevention of Bullying:

5. Strategies for Education and Prevention of Bullying
Straffan National School fosters a positive school ethos among pupils, staff and parents

There is a strong sense of community and cooperation between Board of Management, staff, pupils and parents, and each has a role in the prevention of bullying:

Through a programme of positive action, the school promotes an atmosphere of friendship, respect and tolerance.

The SPHE curriculum, including the Walk Tall and Stay Safe programmes, is used throughout the school to support the anti bullying policy.

Positive self-esteem is fostered among the pupils by celebrating individual differences/achievements, by acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour and by providing opportunities for success.

Pupils are helped to develop empathy by discussing feelings and by trying to put themselves in the place of others.

Teachers respond with sensitivity to pupils who disclose incidents of bullying.

The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed regularly with the pupils.

Staff are particularly vigilant in monitoring pupils who are considered at risk of bullying/ being bullied.

Members of the BOM are familiar with the school’s policy on bullying and actively promote it among staff, parents and pupils.

Parents support the school’s policy on bullying by encouraging positive behaviour both at home and at school, by being vigilant for signs and symptoms that their child is being bullied or is bullying others, by communicating concerns to the school.

Scoil Bhríde, Straffan maintains awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour through:

Use of both the formal and informal curriculum to emphasise that bullying is unacceptable… visual arts activities, posters, drama, role play, SPHE, cooperative games…

Use assemblies to remind pupils of the school’s anti-bullying policy
Special events such as a Friendship Week or a Friendship Bench

Devising a school friendship (positive behaviour) charter for display in classrooms and other prominent locations

6. Procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying

There will be consistent investigation, follow up and recording of bullying behaviour.

The primary aim for the relevant teacher 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)

All reports including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated, dealt with and recorded by the relevant teacher. 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.

Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, caretakers, cleaners encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the appropriate class teacher.

Parents and pupils are required to cooperate 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.

It is very important that all involved (including each set of pupils and parents) understand the above approach from the outset.

Teachers should take a calm, unemotional, problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.

Incidents of bullying behaviour will be investigated outside of the classroom as far as possible to ensure the privacy of all involved.

All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all 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.

Each member of a group should be supported through the possible pressures that they may face from the other members of the group after interview by the teacher.

It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident (s).

In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents 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 parents an opportunity to discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports for their 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 schools’ 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.

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. This can have a therapeutic effect.

In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher.

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 relationship between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable and,
Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the school Principal or Deputy Principal.

Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.

In the event that a parent has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.

Referral of serious cases to the HSE

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

7. Supports for pupils affected by Bullying

Pupils who have been bullied will be supported appropriately using the following:

SPHE activities to raise self- esteem, develop friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever it is needed.

In serious cases, counselling may be necessary.

Supports for pupils involved in Bullying Behaviour

Pupils involved in bullying behaviour will be supported through use of the education and prevention strategies listed in this policy, such as SPHE strategies to improve self-worth, friendship and social skills.

Counselling will also be considered if necessary.

Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour will be encouraged to discuss them with teachers.

8. 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.

Roles and Responsibility

Fiona Toolan, Principal, will coordinate and monitor the implementation of this policy.
Each class teacher will monitor behaviour in their own class.
Pupils respect each other.
Parents contact the school regarding any difficulties.

9. 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 and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. 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.

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Scoil Bhride, Straffan, Co. Kildare, W23 CD77
(01) 627 2255