Anti-Bullying Policy

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 Springdale National School 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 recognises the 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 (see Appendix 1) 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; involves collaboration among and between staff and pupils and promotes respectful relationships across the school community; encourages the work of the student council in this area.
– 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 ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti bullying policy.

In accordance with the Anti Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools, bullying is defined as follows:

“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
– 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 do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.

Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school code of behaviour.

Additional information on different types of bullying appears in Appendix 2 of this document.

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

– The class teacher(s) initially
– The special education teacher (where appropriate)
– The Principal thereafter if necessary

The following education and prevention strategies, at the appropriate and relevant level for each class, will be used by the school:

– Prevention and awareness raising measures across all aspects of bullying, involving strategies to engage pupils in addressing problems when they arise. In particular, such strategies need to build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils.
– Provide pupils with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self worth
– Prevention and awareness raising measures, focusing on cyber bullying, by educating pupils on appropriate online behaviour and on how to stay safe while online.
– Teachers influence attitudes to bullying behaviour in a positive manner.
– There are a number of curriculum components and programmes which are particularly relevant to the prevention of bullying and the promotion of respect for diversity and inclusiveness. The SPHE curriculum makes specific provision for exploring bullying as well as the inter related areas of belonging and integrating, communication, conflict, friendship, personal safety and relationships. The Stay Safe, Walk Tall and RSE programmes at primary level are personal skills programmes which seek to enhance children’s self protection skills, including their ability to recognise and cope with bullying. Various other social, health and media education programmes can further help to address the problems of bullying behaviour.
– The Weaving Well Being programmes is covered in Second and Fifth Classes respectively. The message of these programmes is supported and understood through the whole school community.
– Parents Making Children Aware (PMCA) provide a six-week health education programme which covers smoking, alcohol, drugs, assertiveness and choices.
– The work could be extended into many other areas such as Art, Drama, Religious Education and Physical Education. Co Operation and group enterprise can be promoted through team sports, school clubs and societies as well as through practical subjects.
– Sporting activities in particular can provide excellent opportunities for channelling and learning how to control aggression. Coaching in sports such as GAA, rugby, hockey and cricket is offered to classes from outside agencies and teachers also encourage team sports through the PE curriculum.

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. With this is mind, the school’s procedures for investigation, follow up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by this school in dealing with bullying behaviour are as follows:

– In investigating and dealing with bullying, the teacher(s) will exercise his/her/their professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred, what type it is if it has and how best the situation might be resolved
– All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying, must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher(s). 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, SNAs, bus escorts, after school activity co ordinators, caretakers, cleaners etc must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher
– Parents and pupils are required to co operate with any investigation and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring, as far as 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
– Initial investigations of bullying will be done in class where possible, but some incidents may be 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(s) should seek answers to questions of “What? Who? Where? When? And Why?” This should be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing with 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 group after interview by the teacher
– Where the relevant teacher(s) has/have 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 may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident
– In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher(s) 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. 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
– It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parents) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his/her parents and the school
– Follow up meetings with the relevant parties involved may 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
– An additional follow up meeting with the parents of the children involved may take place after an appropriate time to ensure that the matter has been resolved satisfactorily
– 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

Noting and reporting of bullying behaviour is to be documented using the Template for Recording Bullying Behaviour (Appendix 3). All records must be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour will adhere to the following:

– While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher(s), the relevant teacher(s) will use his/her/their professional judgement in relation to the records to be kept of these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same
– If it is established by the relevant teacher(s) that bullying has occurred, the relevant teacher(s) must keep appropriate written records which will assist in his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved
– The relevant teacher(s) must use the recording template (Appendix 3) to record the bullying behaviour

– All incidents of bullying that have been referred to Tusla * will be reported to the Board of Management, in redacted format, as part of the Child Protection Oversight Report (See Appendix 4) in accordance with the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, Chapter 5, Section 5.5.1
* Incidents of bullying will be referred to Tusla when there is reasonable grounds for concern because the impact on the victim reaches a level which indicates emotional or physical neglect (see Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017, Chapter 2, Section 2.2)

The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying involves a whole school approach. Given the complexity of bullying behaviour, no one intervention/support programme works in all situations. Therefore, various approaches and intervention strategies may be used, including suggesting to parents that referrals to outside agencies may be appropriate in order to get further support for the pupils and their families if needed.

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.

This policy is available to all school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parent Teacher 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 was reviewed in June 2019 and re-ratified on Tuesday 18th June, 2019.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the Patron and to the Department of Education and Skills.

Date of next review: May 2020