Positive Behaviour Policy
(Pilot Phase – September 2018)
At St. Joseph’s, we aim to reflect our Catholic and Rosminian ethos and the values of the Primary School Curriculum through fostering positive relationships and setting standards of behaviour based on respect, consideration, responsibility, honesty and forgiveness. We seek to accommodate the individuality of each child while also upholding the right of each child to education in a relatively disruption-free environment and the entitlement of staff to perform their responsibilities without impairment. In the revision of our Positive Behaviour Policy and Code, input has been sought from staff, parents, representative pupils and the Board of Management. Our hope is that this revised Code will give clear guidance to children, staff and parents so we can work together for the best positive behaviour outcomes.
Our Code includes some considerations specific to our being a school for children with visual impairment. It also acknowledges that the understanding of rules and consequences will vary, according to a child’s age and ability. It aims, along with our Challenging Behaviour Policy, to reflect our commitment to provide positive support for any of our pupils who have particular behaviour difficulties. This support can include individual behaviour plans and the active teaching of relevant positive behaviour skills.
The Code of Behaviour should be read in conjunction with the following policies:
Recognising and Rewarding Good Behaviour
Where possible, younger children will be taught the six Golden Rules and older children will agree rules with their class teachers based on the ‘FRESH’ Values (fair, respectful, engaging, safe, honest). These rules will be a frequent reference point towards positive behaviour. Taking a ‘Catch them when they’re good’ approach, good behaviour will be affirmed and rewarded in age and ability-appropriate ways. (See Appendix B).
Restorative Practice focuses on developing ‘FRESH’ (fair, respectful, engaging, safe, honest) relationships between all members of the school community. A FRESH poster will be on display in each classroom and in the Staff Room.
Restorative Practice gives opportunities for pupils, and adults, to take responsibility for their behaviour and its effect on the learning environment. When unacceptable behaviour occurs, the opportunity is created for those involved to reflect in a fair impartial manner on the situation, acknowledging the harm done and those affected by it, the aim being to help heal broken relationships and prevent this behaviour happening again.
For some of our children, using a familiar set of ‘Restorative Questions’ is useful. (See Appendix A.) For other children, using familiar phrases, Lámh or Canaan Barrie signs, firm tone of voice, token system or object of reference will be more appropriate in helping to develop an awareness of the impact of unacceptable behaviour on others and meaningful ways of ‘saying sorry’ and putting things right. (See Challenging Behaviour Policy)
If suspension occurs, the school will use restorative practice involving all parties affected to help repair the harm done.
Role and Responsibilities of Adults
All staff at St. Joseph’s have an important responsibility to model high standards of behaviour, both in their dealings with the children and with each other. Their good example has an important influence on the children. Staff are expected to:
- create a positive, caring atmosphere, with realistic expectations for each child and adult
- model and promote courtesy, respect, honesty, kindness, forgiveness and fair treatment to all – children and adults alike.
- know, model and teach/ remind children of the Golden Rules, the FRESH values and all related rules, including area-specific rules, use of mobile phones, etc.
- affirm positive behaviour and appreciate the contribution of all
- cooperate in keeping good order in school so effective teaching and learning can take place
- promote respect for property and care for the school and wider environment
- practise and promote the early resolution of relational difficulties, and of situations resulting from unacceptable behaviour, in a constructive restorative manner
- adhere to the agreed approach to discipline
Best behaviour outcomes are seen when school and parents work together. Parents are expected to support the school’s Positive Behaviour Policy and Code in the following ways:
- Positive Message: speak positively with their child about the importance of keeping school rules and observing the school’s FRESH values. (See Code of Behaviour section below.)
- Respectful Communication: model the FRESH values in respectful communication with school staff, e.g. by responding to teacher’s notes in home-school diary; when addressing any concern with the teacher, interactions with bus escorts, etc.
- Good Attendance: promote the importance of good attendance (except when sick, in post-surgery recovery or at necessary appointments), informing both school and bus about absences; avoid holidays outside of school term-time. (See ‘Code of Behaviour’ section below & Pupil Attendance Policy for more detail.)
- Care/ Provision of Belongings: help child learn to care for his/ her belongings, including glasses or low vision aid, special pencils/ pens, books, etc.
- Homework: take an active interest in child’s homework, where appropriate (e.g. hearing reading or spellings, checking work, etc.); ‘sign and time’ home each evening; give reason for work not completed; and contact the teacher if homework is causing worry for child. (See ‘Homework’ section below for more detail.)
- Cooperative Approach: if child is working on improving a particular behaviour at school, cooperate with staff by using the agreed approach at home too, where possible.
- Restorative Approach: cooperate with school if their child has engaged in unacceptable behaviour, taking a restorative approach to help the child (when able) to reflect on the behaviour, acknowledge harm done and talk about how things can be made right.
- Pride in Uniform: instill a sense of pride in the school and in wearing uniform (exceptions for children with sensory issues)
Code of Behaviour
In order to feel secure and develop skills for cooperation, children need limits set for them. Therefore there must be rules.
- I will be gentle. I will not hurt anyone.
- I will be kind. I will not hurt people’s feelings.
- I will listen. I will not interrupt.
- I will respect property. I will not waste or damage things.
- I will work hard. I will do my best.
- I will be honest. I will not hide the truth.
Teachers will aim to teach the Golden Rules to our younger children, talking about the reasons for the rules, as understanding allows. For children with a learning disability, one rule may be worked on at a time, using reward systems or positive behaviour supports. This approach will be helpful for children with particular behavioural difficulties too.
Class Rules based on FRESH Values
For the older children, in relevant classes, the teacher will build on the positive behaviours outlined in the ‘Golden Rules’. At the start of each year, the FRESH values will be discussed and the class will draw up a list of relevant class rules, based on these values. Rules will be kept to a minimum and will be for the safety, well-being and good order of the class and the school community. (See examples of rules in Appendix A)
Teachers and SNAs will affirm ‘FRESH’ attitudes and behaviour and teachers will devise suitable reward systems to motivate and to celebrate positive behaviour.
Area-Specific Rules based on FRESH Values
The area-specific rules in Appendix A will be discussed/ agreed/ adopted to the degree appropriate to abilities & needs in each classroom.
Attendance and the Education Welfare Act
Daily attendance is required for all pupils except in the case of illness or an appointment that cannot be scheduled outside of school hours. Holidays outside of school term-time are strongly discouraged.
Good attendance will be encouraged in the school through the presentation of 95% attendance certificates or another appropriate reward at the end of each term. When, following intervention, a child’s attendance improves, the class teacher and Principal will acknowledge this positively.
Under the Education Welfare Act 2000, a parent/ guardian must provide an explanation when a child is absent. This should be done by phone or email to the school office.
When a child has to leave before 3pm for an appointment or will be arriving late after an appointment, the school must also be notified in advance either by a brief note in the home-school notebook or an email or phone call to the school office. On arrival to collect their child, parents/guardians must call to the school or Principal’s office. When leaving with their child, they should sign out in the book provided.
Absences of 20 days or more must be referred by the school to the Education Welfare Board at TUSLA. The Education Welfare Officer is available to support parents with attendance issues.
For more detail, please refer to the Pupil Attendance Policy.
Home-school Notebook and Homework
The home-school notebook is an important communication tool between parents and the school. The school expects parents to read and sign the journal each night.
For some pupils, homework will be recorded in the notebook. The time taken to complete homework will vary from child to child, but should never take more than 45 minutes. Teachers are aware that most children at St. Joseph’s have a longer-than-average school day when transport to and from school is factored in. If, for some reason, homework (or part of it) cannot be completed, parents are asked to note this in the home-school notebook.
Written work must be done neatly and carefully. Graffiti on textbooks and copy books is not permitted.
Mobile Phones and Personal Electronic Devices
Use of mobile phones and personal electronic devices during school hours is strictly forbidden. Phones must be switched off and kept in school bags at all times. Any infringement of this rule will involve the confiscation of the device until the end of the school day. If a photo has been taken, it will be deleted before the device is returned. If a pupil is found to have taken a photo in school time, and then shared it, it will be treated very seriously by the school.
Where infringement of rules regarding phones/ other personal devices is repeated, parents/ guardians will be contacted.
The school takes absolutely no responsibility for the safekeeping of phones or other personal devices brought into school and will not be liable for any loss or damage to same.
All pupils must wear the school uniform as detailed on the school website and in the Information for Parents Booklet. Where a child has sensory or medical issues that make them uncomfortable wearing particular uniform items, modifications can be agreed with the Principal.
Unacceptable Behaviour and Interventions
Although the emphasis at St. Joseph’s will be on the promotion of positive behaviour, there will be times when misbehaviour occurs and needs to be addressed. All staff have a shared responsibility to familiarise themselves with the Positive Behaviour Code, the Child Protection Policy and the Anti-Bullying Policy. No child or adult should be treated in an unacceptable way. Where a child is upset by another child and feels unable to resolve the situation, she/ he is encouraged, if able, to seek an adult’s help instead of reacting in an unacceptable way. Adults should avoid scolding the misbehaving child and should respond as calmly as possible, reporting any notable misbehaviour, observed or experienced, to the class/ supervising teacher. It is then the teacher’s responsibility to decide on appropriate interventions.
Interventions should be restorative rather than punitive. They should be used in a respectful way as part of a plan to help a pupil, where able, to understand the consequences of his/ her behaviour and to take responsibility for changing that behaviour. Where upset or harm has been caused by this behaviour to another pupil, or to a member of staff, the restorative questions should be used, apology given and amends made.
- be timely
- help a child reflect, take responsibility and, where relevant, make amends
- diffuse and not escalate the situation
- preserve the dignity of all parties
- be applied in a fair and consistent way
If a child understands the rules and behaves in a way that is not ‘FRESH’, he/ she will be encouraged to respond in good grace and to take a restorative approach, acknowledging the unacceptable behaviour and trying to put things right. Parents will be contacted about behaviours of concern.
Where a cognitive disability or a behaviour disorder means that a child either cannot understand rules or finds it difficult at times to comply with rules, the teacher will consult with parents and, where relevant, with therapists/ colleagues/ an external professional to agree on strategies to help the child reduce unacceptable or challenging behaviour. For more information, see Challenging Behaviour Policy.
Levels of Misbehaviour and Behaviour Modification Response:
There are three levels of unacceptable behaviour: Minor, Serious and Gross.
- not paying attention or following instructions
- chatting and distracting others in class
- smirking or being cheeky when reprimanded
- taking phone or other device out of bag during the school day
- running in prohibited areas
- rough play
- mild bad language
- failure to complete homework, without explanation from parent / guardian
- choosing not to wear uniform
(NOTE: Where the teacher feels that a pupil has a genuine difficulty in complying with a particular school rule, a positive behaviour plan should be devised/ reward system set up, e.g. star chart/ tokens, to help the pupil improve in this area. See Appendix B for more information. Cooperation between home and school on such positive interventions are key.)
The class teacher will talk with the child, using the restorative questions. Where a child is unwilling to cooperate or is unable to immediately engage with the restorative questions, the progression will generally be as follows:
- Reflection Time, e.g. thinking chair or personal reflection time with restorative question sheet.
This should be followed by another attempt to engage in the restorative questions and/or by setting up or continuing with use of an appropriate positive reward system.
Second Offence within Week:
- Minor Sanction, g. loss of privilege (lose a token; shorten Golden Time; miss a favourite activity/ yard; sent to another class for a set period of time/ rest of school day)
This should be followed by another attempt to engage in the restorative questions and/ or by continuing with use of an appropriate positive reward system.
Depending on the misbehaviour involved, the teacher may also write a note in the child’s home-school notebook at this stage or phone a parent/ guardian.
Third Offence within Week:
- Yellow Card: A Yellow Card should be issued and sent home to be signed by a parent/ guardian. This may be followed up by a phone call from the teacher. The restorative and/ or positive reward approach should be continued by all adults involved. Parents should talk with their child about the rule-breaking, bearing in mind that, if the misbehaviour continues and the child receives two yellow cards within a month, then the third card becomes a red card. Signed yellow cards should be returned by a parent/ guardian to the school. The teacher will keep these on file.
- all minor misbehaviours when on a continuous basis
- rough play causing injury
- acts of aggression, including threats or physical harm to another person
- behaviour that is hurtful, including bullying*, harassment, discrimination & victimisation
- uncontrolled tantrums
- bad or inappropriate language directed at a child or adult
- refusal to do school work or homework
- damage to property
- bringing dangerous items to school
- leaving classroom, school activities or the school grounds without permission
- * Bullying is repeated aggression – physical, verbal or emotional- conducted by an individual or group against another or others. For more detail, please refer to our Anti-Bullying Policy.
- For pupils who, due to a learning disability or a behavioural disorder, repeat minor misbehaviours or commit a serious misbehaviour, the protocol outlined in the Challenging Behaviour Policy should be applied.)
Where restorative interventions fail and a child capable of understanding the impact of his/ her behaviour seems to be blatantly repeating a minor misbehaviour more than 3 times, or where a serious behaviour occurs, an appropriate sanction will be warranted.
The teacher will consult with the Principal and the stages outlined below will be followed.
- Stage 1- Red Card and Conduct Sheet, where appropriate
If a child is to be given a Red Card they must be sent or accompanied to the Principal’s office. The red card must be sent home to be signed by parents and returned to the school to be put on file. The Principal should phone the parents and ask them to take the issuing of the red card seriously- to discuss the misbehaviour or rule breaking with their child and to encourage them to engage with the restorative process.
If the child is unwilling or unable at that point to engage with the restorative process, they will be put on a suitable version of the Conduct Sheet (see Appendix C), as agreed between the teacher and the Principal. Conduct sheets are completed at school each day for one week. They are sent home for signing by the parent each evening. Positive efforts towards good behaviour are noted and affirmed at school and home, with the hope that the child will soon agree to engage with the restorative process. Once ready to engage, every effort will be made to repair and rebuild relationships at school, using the restorative process. It is important that children are given a dignified re-entry; allowed to move on without grudges being held and given the opportunity to start each day afresh.
- Stage 2 –Second Red Card and Contract
If a pupil refuses to make an effort while on a Conduct Sheet and continues to behave in an unacceptable way, he/ she will be issued with a second red card and the conduct sheet will be continued. If two red cards are issued in any four school weeks, the class teacher and pupil go to the Principal’s office and draw up a contract of behaviour. The child will be asked to sign the contract in the presence of the class teacher and the Principal. A copy of the contract will be posted to parents and returned and signed.
- Stage 3 – Third Red Card and Case Conference
If a pupil receives more than three red cards in any four school weeks, the child’s parents will be asked to meet the class teacher and Principal. The child will be asked to give a written undertaking that he/she will behave in school. This will be witnessed and signed by Parent/Parents or guardian.
- Stage 4 – Fourth Red Card and Internal Suspension
Internal Suspension is when a pupil is removed from their own base class and is placed in another suitable class for up to three school days. This will be activated when stages 1-3 are exhausted and a fourth red card is issued in any 4 weeks.
- repeated serious misbehaviour
- assault on a pupil, staff member or other adult at school
- serious bullying
- wilful serious damage to property
- serious theft
- bringing dangerous item to school, e.g. sharp knife, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes
Gross misbehaviour can only be applied in cases where it is accepted that the child has an understanding that his/her actions are malicious and likely to cause damage. For certain pupils with additional disabilities, including behaviour difficulties, this may not be the case. In such circumstances the protocol outlined in the Challenging Behaviour Policy should be applied.
- Stage 5 – Suspension
If Stage 4 has been exhausted and /or a pupil has engaged knowingly in gross malicious behaviour, then the Chairperson/Principal can sanction immediate suspension pending discussion with parents. See Appendix D for more information
- Stage 6 – Expulsion
This procedure may be considered in an extreme case, in accordance with Section 23 of the Education Welfare Act 2000. See Appendix E for more information.
The essence of our code of behaviour is valuing people and encouraging them to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and to develop self-discipline.
This Policy is in a Pilot Phase, to be reviewed by the Board of Management in November 2018.
Appendix A: Restorative Practice
Some general rules reflecting the FRESH Values
Class teachers can draw from these rules or create similar ones based on the FRESH values, for discussion and agreement, according to class age-group and ability:
- I will treat others in a fair way, just as I would like others to treat me
- I will listen. I will not interrupt.
- I will try my best to put things right fairly when I have done harm.
- I will be forgiving when someone is sorry and tries to put right harm they did against me.
- I will behave in a way that shows respect for myself and for others
- I will follow instructions from my teacher immediately and will show respect for all adults working with me
- I will show respect for school property and for the property of others
- I will attend school daily unless I am not well enough to do so
- I will do my best in all activities at school and in my homework
- I will wear the school uniform each day
- I will follow the school Healthy Eating Policy
- I will wear glasses or use low vision aids, where prescribed
- I will always walk on the left side of the corridor for my safety and the safety of others
- I will keep my belongings in safe places so they are not trip hazards
- I will move around with care for my own safety and for the safety of others
- I will be honest and will tell the truth, even when this is difficult
Area-Specific Rules reflecting FRESH Values
(to be discussed/ agreed/ adopted to the degree appropriate to abilities & needs in each class)
- I will move along the left side of the corridor. This will keep everyone safe.
- I will move calmly in the corridors. I will not run.
- I will use my cane or mobility skills. I will not forget.
- I will move quietly. I will not disturb other classes.
- I will carry things safely. I will ask for help if I need it.
- I will wait patiently at the yard door for the teacher. I will not open the door.
- I will stay in the yard at break time. I will not leave unless the teacher gives permission and an SNA is with me.
- I will not play near the gates to the yard. It would not be safe.
- I will play safely. I will not be rough.
- I will play fairly. I will take turns and let others play.
- I will speak politely. I will not use bad language.
- I will remember to walk on the soft play surface. I will not run.
- I will use the slide safely. I will never slide down head-first
- I will take care of school things. I will not deliberately throw play things on the roof or outside the fence.
- I will remember to bring play things back inside. I will not leave them in the yard.
- I will keep outside the wheelchair swing area. Only the swing user and adults helpers go inside.
- I will remember to ask an adult for help if the ball goes on the road. I will not go and get it myself.
- I will keep the yard tidy. I will put my rubbish in the bin.
- I will line up immediately when the bell rings. I will go in to class quietly.
‘Out and About’ Rules
- I will follow directions immediately from the adult responsible for me when I am out and about.
- I will show respect for those I am with, and for those I meet, when out and about.
- I will show respect for property when out and about. I will not cause damage.
- I will listen carefully to any rules about places I go when out and about. I will keep these rules for my own safety and for the safety of others.
- I will move safely and in an orderly manner when I am out and about with my class, or with an adult who is working with me.
Restorative Questions to respond to unacceptable behaviour
- What happened?
- What were you thinking about at the time?
- What have your thoughts been since?
- Who has been affected by what you did?
- In what way have they been affected?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Restorative Questions to help those harmed by other actions
- What did you think when you realised what had happened?
- What have your thoughts been since?
- How has this affected others?
- What has been the hardest thing for you?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Appendix B: Reward Systems
Reward systems meaningful to the class/ to a particular child will be used to encourage positive behaviour and achievement, e.g:
- Praise – a quiet word or gesture to show approval; praise in front of the class
- Stickers/ stamps/ comments on written work
- Work displayed on ‘Wow Work’ board
- Visit to another member of staff for commendation
- Commendation to parent in home-school notebook or on postcard to home
- Time spent on favourite reward activity
- Star Charts / Tokens
- Star of the Week Certificate
- Homework Pass
- Extra Class PE/ Games time/ other suitable treat
- Extra Golden Time
- Given a special responsibility
Appendix C: Recording Misbehaviour
Class Teacher Records
Where persistent minor misbehaviour is concerned, the class teacher will keep a record of:
- child’s responses to restorative approaches
- date of parent communications, if issued
- sanctions if given
This record will be kept discreetly either in handwritten form or, electronically, in the child’s folder on Aladdin.
These will be filed discreetly by the Class Teacher
These will be filed discreetly by the Principal.
Serious incidences that involve a child causing harm to another child or adult should be recorded on a school Incident Form. Copies are available from the school office.
Conduct sheets are used to monitor the behaviour of a child whose behaviour is causing concern due to either persistent minor misbehaviour or an incident of serious misbehaviour. They can be helpful in identifying patterns of behaviour. Positive and negative behaviour can be recorded in order to encourage the former and dissuade the latter.
Each day, the child will present the sheet to the class teacher, specialist teacher or teacher on yard duty at set times throughout the day for comment and signature. Each evening the parent/ guardian will read the comments, affirming the positive comments and encouraging the child to keep working on the behaviour and to continue engaging with the restorative process at school. The parent/ guardian will sign the conduct sheet and the child will bring it to school each day. At the end of the week, the child will bring the conduct sheet to the Principal for review. The class teacher or parent may request for this review to take place sooner, if it is evident that the child is not making any effort to improve the specified behaviour or if another episode of serious behaviour occurs.
Conduct sheets will be filed discreetly by the Principal.
Name of Pupil: …………………………………………………… Date of Issue: ………………………..
Reason for Issue (tick):
- Pupil has been spoken to on a number of occasions regarding a minor misbehaviour ………………………………… and has not responded positively.
- Pupil has been involved in a single incident of serious misbehaviour………..
- Pupil genral behaviour is out of character and causing concern.
Start of Day-Break
Break – Lunch
Start of Day-Break
Break – Lunch
Start of Day-Break
Break – Lunch
Start of Day-Break
Break – Lunch
Start of Day-Break
Break – Lunch
Appendix D: Suspension
The Principal requests a meeting with the parents. If considered warranted, the Principal reserves the right to suspend the pupil for 3 days initially. This power of suspension is delegated to the Principal by the school’s Board of Management.
In certain circumstances the Principal with the approval of their Chairperson of the BoM may suspend a pupil for 5 school days
A meeting of the BoM may authorise further suspension up to a maximum of 10 days. Suspension will be in accordance with Section 23 of the Education Welfare Act 2000.
Parents of a pupil who has been suspended for 20 school days or more are entitled under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal such a suspension.
Appendix E: Expulsion
Grounds for Expulsion
- Behaviour is persistent cause of significant disruption to the learning of others or to the teaching process
- Continued presence of pupil constitutes a real and significant threat to safety
- Pupil responsible for serious damage to property.
The Board of Management (BoM) may sanction automatic expulsion for certain prescribed behaviours:
- Sexual Assault
- Possession of illegal drugs
- Supplying illegal drugs to other pupils in the school
- Actual violence or physical assault
- Serious threat of violence against another pupil or member of staff.
Procedures in Respect of Expulsion for Behaviours other than those leading to ‘Automatic Expulsion’
- Detailed investigation by school principal
- Recommendation by Principal to BoM
- BoM considers Principal’s recommendation and holds hearing
- BoM decides if expulsion is appropriate. If BoM recommends expulsion, the BoM will propose a date which will allow a 20-day cooling off period
- Education Welfare Officer is informed of proposal to expel pupil and effective date of that proposal
- Parents of the pupil are informed of rights to invoke a Section 29 appeal under the Education Act 1998
- Education Welfare Officer arranges consultations
- Confirmation of decision.