St Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment
- 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 St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment 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 school follows ‘Working Together’ (2000) procedures and policy that addresses the prevention and addressing of bullying that may arise between staff members.
- 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
- promotes 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; 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
- On-going 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:
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 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 information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
- The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows: Class teachers, under the direction of the Principal.
However, all staff, including any supervising teacher or non-teaching staff such as special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, secretary, caretaker, cleaner, must be encouraged to report any incidents of suspected bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant class teacher. Where school Incident Forms begin to reflect a pattern of repeated unwanted negative behaviour from one child towards another/ others, the class teacher should begin to record incidents of bullying on Bullying Behaviour Report Forms (see Section 6 and Appendix 2 below.) and begin to implement the school’s policy on dealing with bullying behaviour.
- The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber- bullying and identity-based bullying, including in particular homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows, informed by Section 6.5 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools:
- SPHE, including Relationships and Sexuality Education lessons, is part of the curriculum every year for all classes.
- The Walk Tall and Stay Safe programmes (PDST.ie) are taught in all classes, on alternative years, where appropriate. Friends for Life programme is another useful SPHE school resource for helping children manage emotions and build resilience
- Implementation of the relevant tips from PDST Anti Bullying Practical tips for building a positive school culture and climate (Appendix 1)
- Use of Webwise to teach safe Internet use (see some resources listed below)
- Reference to our Positive Behaviour Code, Positive Behaviour Policy and our Challenging Behaviour Policy.
- Internet Acceptable Use Policy
Other Resources that may be useful for teachers:
- “Incredible 5 Point Scale”: Buron, Curtis.
- “A 5 Could Make me Lose Control” Sorting Activity: Buron, Curtis.
- “A Volcano in my Tummy”: Whitehouse Élaine & Pudney Warwick.
- “I am special”: Vermeulen, Peter
- “The Red Beast”: Al-Ghani K.I.
- SALT Programme
- ie (in addition to the above-mentioned SPHE/ RSE programmes)
– Different Families, Same Love
– All Together Now
– Respect Guidelines
-Webwise Primary Teachers Handbook
-My Selfie and the Wider World
-Inclusive Digital Safety
- The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-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, informed by Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
When the teacher is investigating alleged bullying
- A calm unemotional problem-solving approach is essential.
- Incidents are best investigated outside of the classroom situation, discreetly and calmly.
- Teachers should speak separately to the pupils involved and to others who may have knowledge of the incident.
- Ask what, where, when and who questions to ascertain the facts, i.e. neutral questions.
- Teachers should maintain a written record of discussions with pupils using the Bullying Behaviour Report Form (see Appendix 2)
In any case where it has been determined by the “relevant teacher” that bullying behaviour has occurred, and having consulted with the principal,
- the parents/guardians of the parties involved should be contacted, either by the class teacher or the Principal, at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken (by reference to the school policy); and
- the class 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 class teacher must record the bullying behaviour on a Bullying Behaviour Report Form whenever such an incident should occur (Appendix 2). A copy must be provided to the Principal.
DEALING WITH CASES OF BULLYING BEHAVIOUR
Measures will be used as appropriate and in consultation will all parties concerned. Reference may be made to the school’s Positive Behaviour Policy and Code (based on Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools), when determining the most appropriate sanction.
Possible options include:
- Verbal warning by the teacher followed by, where necessary, verbal warning by the Principal to cease bullying
- Loss of yard time
- Being placed on a conduct sheet
- Exclusion from certain areas of school premises or activities eg “Golden Time”.
- Loss of privileges
- Minor fixed-term suspension*
- Major fixed-term suspension*
- Permanent exclusion*
* The decision to pursue the above will be in line with the chapters 11 and 12 of the NEWB publication, Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools. A copy of this publication is held in the Principal’s office.
The factors determining the sanctions to be applied include:
- Age, development, and maturity levels of the parties involved
- Degree of harm
- Surrounding circumstances e.g. provocation.
- Nature and severity of the behaviour(s)
- Incidences of past or continuing pattern(s) of behaviour
- Relationship between the parties involved
- Context in which the incident(s) occurred.
- The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:
Alongside the ongoing building of self-esteem and resilience through the teaching of the SPHE lessons and programmes, the class teacher will consider the nature and level of support required by the instigator and victim involved in/ affected by bullying behaviour. As reflected in our Positive Behaviour Policy and Code, the school is committed to a Restorative Practice approach in responding to unacceptable behaviour and in seeking to repair harm.
Remedial Support Measures
Remedial support is positive action which is taken to help the pupil who has instigated bullying to refrain from such behaviour in the future.
Restorative Practice: The first step will usually be to hold a ‘Restorative Practice’ meeting with the instigator in the bullying incident/s. The class teacher and Principal or Deputy Principal should decide who would attend (i.e. teacher, Principal/ DP, Parent). The SET A Restorative Questions in Appendix 3 can be used to encourage the instigator to reflect on the unacceptable bullying behaviour. If appropriate, this can be followed by a second meeting which the victim would attend. Both SETS of Restorative questions can be used -SET A for instigator and SET B for the victim. It can be helpful for both the victim and the instigator (following reflection and if remorseful for the unacceptable behaviour) to hear from each other in a carefully moderated meeting.
Remedial support measures are only required for pupils who engage in habitual bullying. In these cases, constructive collaboration with parents will be essential. Some who engage in repetitive bullying may have low self-esteem and will need opportunities to increase feelings of self-worth. Others will need help to see that there are better ways to solve a problem or meet a goal than using aggression. Resources in Section 5 can be used to help children manage anger. Pupils may be supported by asking them to write their own behaviour code or agreement which they will agree to follow in order to reduce the incidence of bullying. It is suggested that this code include strategies to avoid becoming involved in bullying or acts of aggression e.g. if I am annoyed I will walk away and go and talk to a member of staff. This individual behaviour code should be written in conjunction with the family if at all possible.
Some who engage in bullying may need counselling or behavioural assessment and a PBS (positive behaviour support) plan to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
In some cases, restitution and restoration will be appropriate, e.g. replacement of damaged equipment.
Supporting the Victim
Pupils who have been bullied will be supported by:
- Offering an immediate opportunity to discuss the experience with the class teacher or member of staff of their choice and discussing what happened
- Reassuring the pupil
- Offering continuous support
- Building self-esteem and confidence through ongoing SPHE lessons and programmes and specific initiatives/ activities to boost the child’s self-esteem and develop friendship, social skills and resilience.
- Engaging with parents/guardians about the incident(s) and providing awareness of supports available such as:
-NEPS Resources and Publications (www.gov.ie)
-Jigsaw Support Services (www.jigsaw.ie)
- Restorative Practice meeting, if deemed appropriate (with class teacher, Principal/ Deputy Principal, instigator, others as agreed) to allow opportunity to say how the bullying has impacted him/ her and to give opportunity to the instigator to realise the impact of his/ her behaviour and to seek to make amends.
Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour should be encouraged to discuss this with their class teacher.
- 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
- 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.
- This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on 9th May 2022
- This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website (or and is available on request from the school office. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.
- 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 and published on the school website or be made available on request from the school office. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the Patron and the Department.
Hard copy, signed by Chairperson of Board and Principal is available on request from the school office, along with Appendices.
Last review and approval by Board: 09.05.22
Month and Year of next review: May 2023
Appendix 1: Practical Tips for Building a Positive School Culture and Climate
Appendix 2: Bullying Behaviour Report Form
Appendix 3: Restorative Practice Support Measures for Instigator and Victim
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 4: Checklist for Annual Review of the Anti-Bullying policy and its Implementation
Appendix 5: Notification regarding Board of Management’s Annual Review of the Anti-Bullying Policy