Anti-Bullying Policy

1.          Each member of our school community has the right to be treated equally.

2.          Every student has the right to enjoy her learning and leisure and to feel safe in school.

          3.     Our school does not tolerate bullying. We will support each other by reporting all incidents of bullying.

 

Anti-bullying Policy

 

Introduction

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 Ardscoil Mhuire 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.

 

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 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);

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 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 behaviours

The list of examples below is non exhaustive.

 

General  behaviours which apply to all

 

·            Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.

·            Physical aggression

·            Damage to property

·            Name calling

·            Slagging

·            The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person

·            Offensive graffiti

·            Extortion

·            Intimidation

·            Insulting or offensive gestures

·            The “look”

·            Invasion of personal space

·            A combination of any of the types listed.

 

 

Cyber

 

·            Denigration: Spreading rumors, lies or gossip to hurt a person’s reputation

·            Harassment: Continually sending vicious, mean or disturbing messages to an individual

·            Impersonation: Posting offensive or aggressive messages under another person’s name

·            Flaming: Using inflammatory or vulgar words to provoke an online fight

·            Trickery: Fooling someone into sharing personal information which you then post online

·            Outing: Posting or sharing confidential or compromising information or images

·            Exclusion: Purposefully excluding someone from an online group

·            Cyber stalking: Ongoing harassment and denigration that causes a person considerable fear for his/her safety

·            Silent telephone/mobile phone call

·            Abusive telephone/mobile phone calls

·            Abusive text messages

·            Abusive email

·            Abusive communication on social networks e.g. Facebook/Ask.fm/ Twitter/You Tube or on games consoles

·            Abusive website comments/Blogs/Pictures

·            Abusive posts on any form of communication technology

 

 

 

Identity Based Behaviours

Including any of the nine discriminatory grounds mentioned in Equality Legislation (gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community).

 

Homophobic and Transgender

 

·            Spreading rumours about a person’s sexual orientation

·            Taunting a person of a different sexual orientation

·            Name calling e.g. Gay, queer, lesbian...used in a derogatory manner

·            Physical intimidation or attacks

·            Threats

 

Race, nationality, ethnic background and membership of the Traveller  community

 

·            Discrimination, prejudice, comments or insults about colour, nationality, culture, social class, religious beliefs, ethnic or traveller background

·            Exclusion on the basis of any of the above

 

 

 

Relational

 

This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying. Behaviours include:

·            Malicious gossip

·            Isolation & exclusion

·            Ignoring

·            Excluding from the group

·            Taking someone’s friends away

·            “Bitching”

·            Spreading rumours

·            Breaking confidence

·            Talking loud enough so that the victim can hear

·            The “look”

Sexual

·            Unwelcome or inappropriate  sexual comments or touching

·            Harassment

 

Special Educational Needs,

Disability

·         Name calling

·         Taunting others because of their disability or learning needs

·         Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to recognise and defend themselves against bullying

·         Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to understand social situations and social cues.

·         Mimicking a person’s disability

·         Setting others up for ridicule

 

 

 

 

Relevant Teachers

 

The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:

Class Tutor/Teacher

Year Head

Guidance Counsellor

Deputy Principal

Principal

 

 Any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.

School-wide approach

·         A school-wide approach to the fostering of respect for all members of the school community.

·         The promotion of the value of diversity to address issues of prejudice and stereotyping, and highlighting the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.

·         The fostering and enhancing of the self-esteem of all our pupils through both curricular and extracurricular activities. Pupils will be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth through formal and informal interactions.

·         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.

·         Professional development with specific focus on the training of the relevant teacher(s)

·         School wide awareness raising and training on all aspects of bullying, to include pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s) and the wider school community.

·         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.

·         Involvement of the student council and Leaving Cert prefects in contributing to a safe school environment e.g.  Buddy system, mentoring, and other student support activities that can help to support pupils and encourage a culture of peer respect and support.

·         Development and promotion of an Anti-Bullying Charter for the school-to be included in student journals and displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.

·         The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all parent(s)/guardian(s) s are given a copy as part of the Code of Behaviour of the school.

·         The implementation of regular  whole school awareness measures e.g. a dedicated notice board in the school and classrooms on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; annual Friendship Week and parent(s)/guardian(s) seminars; annual or term or monthly student surveys as appropriate; regular school or year group assemblies by principal, deputy principal, year heads etc.

·         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.:

o       Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class.

o       Hand note up with homework.

o       Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school.

o       Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.

o       Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.

·         Parent(s)/guardian(s) are urged to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied.

·         The school’s Acceptable Use Policy endeavours to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored.

 

Implementation of curricula

·         The full implementation of the SPHE and CSPE curricula and the RSE programmes.

·          Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.

·         School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g. Cool School Lessons, #UP2US.

·         Delivery of the Garda SPHE Programmes at post- primary level. These lessons, delivered by Community Gardai, cover issues around personal safety and cyber-bullying

·         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.

 

Links to other policies

List school policies, practices and activities that are particularly relevant to bullying, e.g. Code of Behaviour, Child Protections policy, Supervision of pupils, Acceptable Use policy, Attendance, Sporting activities

Further education and prevention strategies

  • Awareness raising days/workshops
  • Student council hold a ‘Kindness week’
  • Acknowledge National days/weeks
  • Visual displays around school
  • Buddy system
  • Prefect & class tutor system
  • Anti-bullying procedures and policy regularly outlined to staff and students at tutor time
  • Whole staff professional development on bullying, on prevention and on intervention.
  • Anti bullying awareness is an important element in certain areas of the curriculum e.g. Religious Education, CSPE and SPHE.
  • Outside speakers
  • Information night for Parents/Guardians
  • Hold an Anti-bullying week where all subject teachers are encouraged to foster an attitude of respect for all, promote the value of diversity and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.
  • Intercultural Day: Celebrating diversity in our school.
  • Anti-bullying charter displayed in school and also in the school journal
  • Liaising with the Parents/Guardians association

 

Cyber Bullying:

  • Outside speakers
  • Information night for Parents/Guardians
  • Acknowledge Internet safety days/weeks
  • Visual displays around school
  • Tutor time
  • Student council are encouraged to take responsibility in helping the school to prevent and address cyber bullying.

 

Identity Based Bullying

  • Visual displays around school
  • SPHE/RSE
  • Awareness days

 

Students with Special Educational Needs

·         SEN coordinator visits the primary schools in June, meets the teacher and gets a profile on each student with special educational needs

·         Transition year students engage in paired reading with students in the Fetac class

·         Induction day for all incoming Fetac students

·         Fetac students are represented on both the student council and the green schools committee

 

Procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour

 

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);

 

Every effort will be made to ensure that all involved (including each set of pupils and Parents/Guardians) understand the above approach from the outset;

 

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 bullying behaviour:

·         In investigating and dealing with bullying, the teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved;

·         All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with 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, 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;

·         Parents/Guardians 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 when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or Parents/Guardians;

·         Incidents are generally best 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 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 will 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 will be interviewed individually.

·          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/Guardians of the parties involved will 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 will give Parents/Guardians an opportunity of discussing 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 will be made clear to her how she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to get 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 Parents/Guardians) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, her Parents/Guardians and the school;

·          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:

1.      Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased;

2.      Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as is practicable;

3.      Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable; and

4.      Any feedback received from the parties involved, their Parents/Guardians or the school Principal or Deputy Principal;

 

·          Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved will 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;

 

·          Where a Parent/Guardian is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the Parents/Guardians must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures;

 

·         In the event that a Parent/Guardian has exhausted the school's complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the Parents/Guardians of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children

 

Records will be kept in a locked filing cabinet and information is subject to Data Protection legislation and Freedom of Information Act

 

 

Established intervention strategies

 

The following intervention strategies may be employed as appropriate and the guidelines provided by Ken Rigby at the following web address will be consulted where appropriate

www.bullyingawarenessweek.org/pdf/BullyingPreventionStrategiesinSchools Ken Rigby.pdf

 

 

 

·         The traditional disciplinary approach

·         Strengthening the victim

·         Mediation

·         Restorative Practice

·         The Support Group Method

·         The Method of Shared Concern

·         Teacher interviews with all pupils

·         Negotiating agreements between pupils and following these up by monitoring progress. This can be on an informal basis or implemented through a more structured mediation process

·         Working with parent(s)/guardian(s)s to support school interventions

·         No Blame Approach

·         Circle Time

·         Implementing sociogram questionnaires

·         Peer mediation where suitable training has been given

Procedures for recording bullying behaviour

 

(i) While 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 these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same;

(ii) If it is established by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, the relevant teacher must write an incident report form (Appendix 1) which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.

(iii) In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template at Appendix 3

The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:

a) 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

b) in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.

 

 

In each of the circumstances at (a) and (b) above, the recording template at Appendix 3 must be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable. It should also be noted that the timeline for recording bullying behaviour in the recording template at Appendix 3 does not in any way preclude the relevant teacher from consulting the Principal or Deputy Principal at an earlier stage in relation to a case.

 

 

 

 

 

The procedures include oversight arrangements which require that, at least once in every school term, the Principal will provide a report to the Board of Management setting out:

·         the overall number of bullying cases reported (by means of the bullying recording template in Appendix 3) to the Principal or Deputy Principal since the previous report to the Board and

·         confirmation that all of these cases have been, or are being, dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy and these procedures.

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying as part of a continuum of behaviour

It is also important to note that bullying behaviour can be part of a continuum of behaviour rather than a stand-alone issue and in some cases behaviour may escalate beyond that which can be described as bullying to serious physical or sexual assault or harassment. To ensure that any such cases are dealt with appropriately, the school’s anti-bullying policy must provide for appropriate linkages with the overall code of behaviour and provide for referral to be made to relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate. In cases where a school has serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a pupil, the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) should be sought.

 

Referral of serious cases to the HSE

In relation to bullying in schools, Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011 (Children First) and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools provide that in situations where “the incident is serious and where the behaviour is regarded as potentially abusive, the school must consult the HSE Children and Family Social Services with a view to drawing up an appropriate response, such as a management plan”.

 

Serious instances of bullying behaviour should, 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 Services and/or Gardaí as appropriate.

 

The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools also provide that where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, the Designated Liaison Person must seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.

 

Programme of support

Pending resources the school offers the following programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying:

 

1. After the initial investigation, Parents/Guardians of both the student who is being bullied and the student who is engaged in the bullying behaviour will be contacted.

 

2. Where it is deemed necessary counselling will be offered for the student who has been bullied and/or opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop their friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience.

 

3. Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may need counselling to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.

 

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

 

5. Cases of bullying will be monitored by the staff members involved and the supporting student body e.g. Prefects, Buddies and Student Council members.

 

6. Pupils who observe incidents where there is a re-occurrence of bullying must report these incidents immediately

 

7. The school will recommend referral to be made to the relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate.

 

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.

 (Note that the School’s Broadband Programme has blocked all social networking sites on the basis that they waste time and take up too much of the bandwidth which is being provided for educational purposes only).

 

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/Guardians’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.

 

Review

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/Guardians’ Association. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.

 

 

This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on ________________ [date].

 

Signed:            ____________________________________

            (Chairperson of Board of Management)

 

Date                ____________________________________

 

Signed:            _____________________________________

                        (Principal)

 

Date:               _____________________________________

 

Date of next review: ______________________________