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.
- All staff have been trained in the FUSE, anti-bullying programme, which will be used in 4th Class each year.
- Senior classes use the Lust for Life Programme.
- At various times, content from different wellbeing programmes is covered with smaller groups in the SEN setting, e.g., the Zippy’s Friends programme, the Mind Me, Mind You programme, the Weaving Well Being programme and the Fun Friends. 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 (currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions).
- 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 October 2021 and re-ratified on Tuesday 12th October, 2021.
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: October 2022
Practical tips for building a positive school culture and climate
The following are some practical tips for immediate actions that can be taken to build a positive school culture and climate and to help to prevent and tackle bullying behaviour:
• Model respectful behaviour to all members of the school community at all times
• Explicitly teach pupils what respectful language and respectful behaviour looks like, acts like, sounds like and feels like in class and around the school
• Display key respect messages in classrooms, in assembly areas and around the school. Involve pupils in the development of these messages
• Catch them being good – notice and acknowledge desired respectful behaviour by providing positive attention
• Consistently tackle the use of discriminatory and derogatory language in the school – including homophobic and racist language and language that is belittling of pupils with a disability or SEN
• Give constructive feedback to pupils when respectful behaviour and respectful language are absent
• Have a system of encouragement and rewards to promote desired behaviour and compliance with school rules and routines
• Explicitly teach pupils about the appropriate use of social media
• Positively encourage pupils to comply with school rules on mobile phone and internet use
• Follow up and follow through with pupils who ignore the rules
• Actively involve parents and/or the Parent Teacher Association in awareness raising campaigns around social media
• Actively promote the right of every member of the school community to be safe and secure in school
• Highlight and explicitly teach school rules in pupil friendly language in the classroom and in common areas
• All staff actively watch out for signs of bullying behaviour
• Ensure that there is adequate playground/yard/outdoor supervision
• Staff can get pupils to help them to identify bullying “hot spots” and “hot times” for bullying
Hot spots tend to be in the playground/outdoor areas/corridors and other areas of unstructured supervision
Hot times tend to be at times when there is less structured supervision such as when pupils are on way in/out school, moving classrooms or in the yard
• Support the establishment and work of student councils
Types of Bullying
General behaviours which apply to all types of bullying
• 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
• The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person
• Offensive graffiti
• Insulting or offensive gestures
• The “look”
• Invasion of personal space
• A combination of any of the types listed.
• 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/Whatsapp/Instagram (or similar) 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 Bullying
• 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
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
This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying. Behaviours include:
• Malicious gossip
• Isolation & exclusion
• Excluding from the group
• Taking someone’s friends away
• Spreading rumours
• Breaking confidence
• Talking loud enough so that the victim can hear
• The “look”
• Use or terminology such as ‘nerd’ in a derogatory way
• Unwelcome or inappropriate sexual comments or touching
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