Anti-Bullying

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

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
    • Promoted 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;
      • 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 bullying is defined as follows:

Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted, by and 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.

Additional types of bullying include intimidation, isolation/ exclusion or other relational bullying, name calling, damage to property and extortion.

4. The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows: The class teacher or school principal

5. The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows:

      • Effective practice including prevention and awareness raising measures across all aspects of bullying and involving strategies to engage pupils in addressing problems when they arise. In particular, such strategies need to build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils.
      • As self-esteem is a major factor in determining behaviour, the school will, through both curricular and extra-curricular programmes, provide pupils with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth.
      • Initiatives and programmes focused on developing pupils’ awareness and understanding of bullying, including its causes and effects, will deal explicitly with the issue of identity-based bullying. For example, teaching of the Social, Personal, Health Education (SPHE) is one way in which a school can address homophobic issues (age appropriate- should situation arise).
      • Prevention and awareness raising measures must also deal explicitly with cyber-bullying. The best way to address cyber-bullying is to prevent it happening in the first place. Prevention and any awareness raising measures will focus on educating pupils on appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also on developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber-bullying. The school-wide approach and the role of parents are of importance in this regard. The prevention and awareness raising measures will also take into account the scope for cyber-bullying to occur as a result of access to technology from within the school.
      • The school’s approach to tackling and preventing bullying will take particular account of the needs of pupils with disabilities or with SEN, will join up with other relevant school policies and supports and will ensure that all the services that provide for such pupils work together. Approaches aimed at decreasing the likelihood of bullying for pupils with SEN include improving inclusion, focusing on developing social skills, paying attention to key moments such as transitioning from primary to post-primary and cultivating a good school culture which has respect for all and helping one another as central.
      • The school’s prevention and awareness raising measures will be appropriate to the type of bullying and take into account the age and gender of the pupils involved. We will work to raise the awareness of bullying so that all members of the school community understand what bullying is and how the school deals with bullying behaviour.
      • Teachers will influence attitudes to bullying behaviour in a positive manner through a range of curricular initiatives. 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 programme is a personal safety skills programme which seeks to enhance children’s self-protection skills including their ability to recognise and cope with bullying.
      • There will be space within the teaching of all subjects to foster an attitude of respect for all: to promote the value of diversity; to address prejudice and stereotyping and to highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour. In English, there is a wide range of story/ poetry available which could be used to stimulate discussion. The work could be extended into many other areas such as Art, Drama, Religious Education and Physical Education. Co-operation and group enterprise will be promoted through team sports and school committees including the student council, green team and active team, as well as through practical subjects. Sporting activities in particular can provide excellent opportunities for channelling and learning how to control aggression.

6. The school’s procedures for investigation, following-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:

      • A consistent and clear approach to dealing with bullying when it occurs is essential to effective practice.
      • A pupil or parent may bring a bullying concern to any teacher in the school. Individual teachers must take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy.
      • In these procedures, the member of teaching staff who has responsibility for investigating and dealing with bullying is referred to as the “relevant teacher”; normally the class teacher.
      • Given the complexity of bullying behaviour it is generally acknowledged that that no one intervention works in all situations as research also continues to evolve in this area. Therefore, the effectiveness of particular approaches continues to be reviewed.
      • Interventions may include a programme of work with pupils whereby specific lessons may need to be revised with pupils/classes if an incident of bullying occurs. Learning strategies should allow for the enhancement of each pupil’s self-worth through teaching programmes such as Stay Safe Programme / RSE Programme / Walk Tall Programme and through the use of circle time and discussion books.
      • On the recommendation of the Action Plan on Bullying, the school will use the new national anti-bullying website, which is to be set up, as a useful and on-going resource.

Procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying

The school authorities will ensure that the school has clear procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying. The school’s procedures will be consistent with the following:

(i) 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);

(ii) 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;

(iii) 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;

(iv) Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), caretakers/ cleaners must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher;

(v) Parents 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;

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

(vii) Teachers will take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents;

(viii) Incidents are generally best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;

(ix) All interviews will 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.

(x) When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher will seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This will be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner;

(xi) If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved will be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member will be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s statements;

(xii) Each member of a group will be supported through the possible pressures that they may face them from the other members of the group after interview by the teacher;

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

(xiv) In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents 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 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;

(xv) Where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it will 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;

(xvi) It will 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 or her parents and the school;

(xvii) 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;

(xviii) 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 (Appendix 3, Circular 0045/2013);

(xix) 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; and
      • Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the school Principal;

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

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

Procedures for recording bullying behaviour:

The Board of Management will ensure that the school has clear procedures for the formal noting and reporting of bullying behaviour. All records will be maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour will adhere to the following:

(i) While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will 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 will 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.

(iii) The relevant teacher will use the recording template (Appendix 3, Circular 0045/2013) 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 cases where the school has decided as part of its anti-bullying policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal as applicable.

In each of the circumstances at (a) and (b) above, the recording template at Appendix 3 will be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the 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 at an earlier stage in relation to a case.

Bullying as part of a continuum of behaviour

The school acknowledges 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, this policy provides for appropriate linkages with the overall code of behaviour and for referral to be made to relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate. Should the school have serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a pupil; the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) will 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”.

Therefore, serious instances of bullying behaviour 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 Services and/or Gardaí as appropriate.

7. The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:

      • The school recognises that pupils who have been bullied may need counselling and/or opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop their friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever this is needed.
      • A programme of support for those pupils involved in bullying behaviour will also be part of the school’s intervention process. Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an on-going basis. For those with low self-esteem, opportunities will be developed to increase feelings of self-worth. In this regard, the school recognises that 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.
      • Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour should 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.

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, ie. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.

10. This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on _________________________.

11. This policy has been made available to school personnel, it will be published on the school website and will be provided to the Parents’ Association. 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 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.

Signed: (Chairperson of Board of Management) (Principal)
Date: 
Date of next review: 

Our Motto: Working Together / Ag obair le chéile