Anti-Bullying Policy 2023

For a positive culture in our school

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In December 2022 Minister for Education Norma Foley TD launched “Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying”. This landmark new Action Plan is dedicated to the prevention and addressing of bullying in schools.

“Cineáltas” builds on the achievements and ambition of the previous Action Plan on Bullying published in 2013, taking into account the work undertaken in recent years to ensure that our schools are safe and happy places for all our children and young people.

Some of the key actions form the new plan include:

  • Development of a national database to enable the publication of an annual national report on bullying in schools
  • Ensuring that student teachers and all school staff have the knowledge and skills to effectively prevent and address bullying
  • Development of a recognition process, such as a Cineáltas flag, for schools who engage in measures to prevent and address bullying
  • Piloting a programme of counselling supports for primary schools
  • Developing guidance for the establishment of a Student Support Team model in larger primary schools
  • Establishing a dedicated unit in the Department of Education to promote the voice of children and young people and to ensure that they have meaningful input into the development of Department policy
  • The progression of the Charter Bill and the development of Charter Guidelines that will strengthen the voice and participation of children and young people and their parents in the development and implementation of school policies

“Cineáltas” is an overarching framework document and all actions proposed fall under the four pillars of the Wellbeing framework – 1 Culture and Environment, 2 Curriculum (Teaching and Learning), 3 Policy, and 4 Relationships and Partnerships.

Note that “Cineáltas” translates as “KINDNESS” and the “Cineáltas” document will require further development before schools will be required to take any actions in this regard.

1.

Meanwhile, 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 Naomh Buithe 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.

THIS POLICY MUST BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SCHOOLS OVERALL CODE OF BEHAVIOUR, AND EXISTING ANTI BULLYING MEASURES AND PROCEDURES.

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) 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;

At Scoil Naomh Buithe we consider the following to be key elements of a Positive School Culture:

  • We acknowledge the right of each member of the school community to enjoy school in a secure environment.
  • We acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual, and their worth as a human being.
  • We promote positive habits of self-respect, self-discipline and responsibility among all its members.
  • We actively prohibit vulgar, offensive, sectarian or other aggressive behaviour by any of its members.
  • We have a clear commitment to promoting equity in general and gender equity in particular in all aspects of its functioning.
  • We have the capacity to change in response to our pupils needs.
  • We identify aspects of its curriculum through which positive and sustainable influences can be exerted towards forming pupils’ attitudes and values.
  • We take particular care of ‘at risk’ pupils and use our systems to identify needs and facilitate early intervention where necessary – thus responding to the needs, fears & anxieties of individual members in a sensitive manner.
  • Scoil Naomh Buithe recognises the need to work in partnership with parents and keep them informed on procedures to improve relationships within the school community.
  • We recognise the right of parents to share in the task of equipping pupils with a range of life skills.
  • We recognise the role of other community agencies in preventing and dealing with bullying.
  • We promote habits of mutual respect, courtesy and an awareness of the interdependence of people in groups and communities.
  • We promote qualities of social responsibility, tolerance and understanding among our members both in school and outside of school.
  • Staff members share a collegiate responsibility, under the direction of the principal, to act in preventing bullying/aggressive behaviour by ANY MEMBER of the school community.

(b) Effective leadership

  • The BOM has overall responsibility to ensure that this policy is effective, sustainable and measured. The BOM must ensure that accountability is of the highest standard and frequently appraise the outcomes of the strategies and measures contained within the policy.
  • Members of the In-School-Management Team (Anne Phillips, Peter Woods, Elaine Lee, Christine Carolan and Suzy Curley) have a clear role to act in a leadership capacity within the school community, stimulating a whole school approach to preventing and tackling bullying – and modelling best practice.
  • The principal of Scoil Naomh Buithe, as key leader, strongly influences attitudes and sets standards in relation to dealing with bullying.
  • Teachers must act as good role models and not misuse authority, but be fair, clear and consistent in their disciplinary measures.

(c) A school-wide approach

  • A whole community approach to the problem of bullying is required and our Scoil Naomh Buithe community comprises of management, teachers, non-teaching staff, pupils, parents/guardians.
  • Beyond the school community, bullying behaviour may extend to outside of school. Where this negatively impacts on a school parents and pupils have a responsibility to support the school in helping to address the issue. This applies particularly (but not exclusively) to cyber bullying.
  • The assistance of Gardaí, Tusla and Community Workers may be required in some cases.
  • Collective vigilance is needed throughout the whole school/community sector to identify and deal with issues around bullying in a fair and equitable manner.

(d) A shared understanding of what bullying is, and its impact

  • Scoil Naomh Buithe endeavours to put in place appropriate systems to ensure that ALL relevant members of the school community (parents, pupils, staff and the wider community) have a shared understanding of what constitutes bullying behaviour as defined in this policy (Section 2&3 of Anti Bullying Procedures for Primary & Post Primary Schools)

(e) Implementation of education and prevention strategies section 5 of this policy**.(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;

(f) Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils

  • Staff members have a distinct responsibility to ensure that supervision of pupils in class is effective and consistent.
  • Supervision in playground areas must be managed and conducted effectively, with particular attention given to ‘hot spots’ or ‘hot times’ e.g. arrival & dismissal.
  • Ancillary staff are well placed to inform, if any behaviour which may constitute bullying is noticed.

(g) Supports for staff

  • Regular discussion and review of policy and procedures is essential to support staff on a continuous basis.
  • All staff must have a uniform interpretation of what is expected in relation to bullying, how to identify possible bullying behaviours, how to manage disclosures and how to deal effectively with incidents of bullying within the classroom context.
  • Staff must be aware that supporting one another is a key aspect of prevention, and new/inexperienced members of staff must be given every opportunity to discuss concerns and observe best practice.
  • CPD in relation to Anti Bullying Strategies will be supported, and encouraged for all members of staff.

(h) Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour** (including use of established intervention strategies); and

(i) 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, 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 (through online games, direct messages, group chats, voice messages, snaps/Snapchat, Youtube, Tik Tok) and
  • Identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying (prejudice being directed at someone because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual), 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.

Note the new “Cineáltas” definition of bullying behaviour:

BULLYING IS TARGETED BEHAVIOUR, ONLINE OR OFFLINE, THAT CAUSES HARM. THE HARM CAUSED CAN BE PHYSICAL, SOCIAL AND/OR EMOTIONAL IN NATURE. BULLYING BEHAVIOUR IS REPEATED OVER TIME AND INVOLVES AN IMBALANCE OF POWER IN RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE OR GROUPS OF PEOPLE IN SOCIETY.

The core definition above sets out clear criteria to help school communities to prevent, correctly identify and address bullying among children and young people. Alleged incidents of bullying are however often complex and must be considered on a case by case basis. There are many different methods of bullying behaviour including physical, verbal and relational forms, and it can take place online and offline.

A. Targeted behaviour

Bullying is deliberate, unwanted behaviour that causes harm to others, and where the child

or young person displaying bullying behaviour knows that their behaviour is or will be

perceived as harmful by the child or young person experiencing the behaviour. Bullying is

not accidental or reckless behaviour. The harm can be physical, social and/or emotional and can have a serious and long­term negative impact on the child or young person experiencing the bullying behaviour.

B. Repeated behaviour

Bullying takes the form of a systematic pattern of behaviour which is repeated over time. Single offline incidents of intentional negative behaviour are not considered bullying, but posting a single harmful message/image/video online which is highly likely to be reposted or shared with others can however be seen as bullying behaviour.

C. Imbalance of power

In incidents of bullying, the child or young person experiencing the bullying behaviour finds

it hard to defend themselves as a result of the abuse of a real or perceived imbalance of

power.

Bullying Behaviours which Scoil Naomh Buithe has identified as relevant to our context:

General and continuous behaviours which apply to all types of bullyingHarassment 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.
CyberDenigration: Spreading rumours, lies or gossip to hurt a person’s reputation Harassment: Continually sending vicious, mean or disturbing messages to an individual 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 Cyber bullying is increasingly common and is continuously evolving. It is bullying carried out through the use of information and communication technologies such as text, social network sites, e-mail, digital messaging (DM), apps, gaming sites (eg. Clash of Clans, Fortnite, Call of Duty), chat-rooms and other online technologies. Being the target of inappropriate or hurtful messages is the most common form of online bullying. As cyber-bullying uses technology to perpetrate bullying behaviour and does not require face to face contact, cyber-bullying can occur at any time (day or night). Many forms of bullying can be facilitated through cyber-bullying.
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 TransgenderSpreading 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 communityDiscrimination, 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
RelationalThis 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” Use or terminology such as ‘nerd’ in a derogatory way
SexualUnwelcome or inappropriate sexual comments or touching Harassment
Special Educational Needs, DisabilityName 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

4.

The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying in accordance with the Anti -Bullying Procedures for Primary & Post Primary Schools – section 6:7.6, 6:7.7 - are as follows:

  • Principal
  • Deputy Principal
  • All class teachers
  • All special education teachers

In these procedures, the member of teaching staff who has responsibility for investigating and dealing with bullying is referred to as the “relevant teacher”. At primary level, the relevant teacher will normally be the class teacher. However, all teachers will be vigilant, respond sensitively and caringly to pupils who disclose incidence of bullying and ensure investigation of all disclosed incidents of bullying.

5.

The following education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying, homophobic and transphobic bullying) will be used by Scoil Naomh Buithe. (Ref:Section 6.5 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools)

6. Education and Prevention strategies

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 highlight 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.
  • School wide awareness raising and training on all aspects of bullying, to include pupils, parents/guardians 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 in contributing to a safe school environment e.g. Buddy system, mentoring, Lunchtime Buddies 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 code for the school-to be displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.
  • The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all parents/guardians are given a copy as part of the Code of Behaviour of the school on enrolment.
  • The implementation of regular (e.g. per year) whole school awareness measures e.g. a dedicated notice board in the school and classrooms on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; annual Anti bullying Week and parents/guardians seminars organised by P/A.; annual student surveys during Anti Bullying Week; regular school assemblies by principal or deputy principal.
  • Ensuring that pupils know who to tell and how to tell.
  • Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class. 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.
    • Hand note up with homework.
    • Make a phone call to the school
    • Worry box
    • Get a parent/guardian or friend to tell on your behalf.
    • Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.
  • Identifying clear protocols to encourage parents/guardians to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied. The protocol should be developed in consultation with parents.
  • The development of an Acceptable Use Policy in the school to include the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored, as is the pupils’ use of mobile phones.
  • The listing of supports currently being used in the school and the identification of other supports available to the school.

Implementation of curricula

  • The full implementation of the SPHE curriculum including the RSE and Stay Safe Programmes.
  • Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.
  • School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes.
  • Delivery of the Garda SPHE Programmes at 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

Hereunder is a list of school policies, practices and activities that are particularly relevant to 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, parents/guardians) 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, including anonymous reports of bullying, will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher.
  • Teaching and non-teaching staff such as the secretary, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretaker and cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
  • In investigating and dealing with 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 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 may face them from the other members of the group after the 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 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 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 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.

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 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. Consideration needs to be given to where the records will be made e.g. incident book. All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher
  • While all reports, including anonymous 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 has developed a protocol for the storage of all records retained by the relevant teacher.

Formal Stage 2- Appendix 3 (from DES procedures)

All confirmed instances of bullying behaviour must be recorded, as above, and reported immediately to the principal.

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 the recording template attached (DES Appendix 3). This recording template 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 teachers’ classroom. All report templates given to the principal will be retained in a locked filing cabinet in the principal’s office.

Established intervention strategies

  • 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/guardian to support school interventions
  • No Blame approach
  • Circle Time
  • Restorative interviews
  • Restorative conferencing
  • Implementing questionnaires

The Procedures mention the following intervention strategies and reference Ken Rigby; www.bullyingawarenessweek.org/pdf/BullyingPreventionStrategiesinSchoolsKenRigby.pdf

Scoil Naomh Buithe is committed to exploring these interventions further:

  • The traditional successful disciplinary approach
  • Strengthening the victim
  • Mediation
  • Restorative Practice
  • The Support Group method
  • The method of Shared Concern

7.

The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows (Ref 6:8:16 of Procedures):

  • 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 and social skills and build resilience e.g.
    • SPHE Lessons
    • Stay Safe Programme
    • Walk Tall
    • NEPS programmes on www.neps.ie
    • Anti Bullying Week
    • Buddy system
    • Social Skills group
    • Group work such as circle time
  • If pupils require counselling, or further supports, the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organise same. NEPS will also be contacted for advice.
  • Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher.

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.

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.

10. This policy was ratified and adopted by the Board of Management at a meeting held on Thursday 30th March 2023.

11. The policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request and provided to the Parents’ Council who were active partners in its compilation. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the Patron if requested.

12. 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, be readily accessible to parents and pupils on request and provided to the Parents’ Council. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the Patron and the Department.

Signed: Patrick Logue
(Chairperson of Board of Management)

Signed: Anne Phillips
(Principal)

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