“The presence of one supportive adult in a young person’s life is critically important to their well-being, sense of connectedness, self-confidence and ability to cope with difficulties”
(Department of Education and Skills, 2015)
- Mission Statement: Gusserane National School aims to enhance pupils’ self-esteem and their development of personal responsibility in our school. It is made clear in our school that bullying is a form of anti-social behaviour and it is always wrong. We aim to respect the rights of children within our school by promoting and acknowledging the diversity of children’s experiences, abilities, identities and cultures.
- 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 Gusserane NS 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‘s Teaching Council’s Professional code of conduct for Teacher’s.
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 bulling behaviour:
- A positive school culture and climate which-
- Is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity;
- Encourages pupils to disclosed 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 -
- Building empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and
- Explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and Tran phobic 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 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 behavior.
Examples of Bullying Behaviours
General Behaviour’s which apply to all types of bullying
- Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.
- Physical aggression
- Damage to property
- Name calling
- The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person
- Offensive graffiti
- Insulting or offensive gestures
- The “look”
- Invasion of personal space
- A combination of any of the types listed.
- Denigration: Spreading rumours, lies or gossip to hurt a person’s reputation
- Harassment: Continually sending vicious, mean or disturbing messages to an individual
- Impersonation: Posting offensive or aggressive messages under another person’s name
- Flaming: Using inflammatory or vulgar words to provoke an online fight
- Trickery: Fooling someone into sharing personal information which you then post online
- Outing: Posting or sharing confidential or compromising information or images
- Exclusion: Purposefully excluding someone from an online group
- Cyber stalking: Ongoing harassment and denigration that causes a person considerable fear for his/her safety: silent telephone/mobile phone call, abusive telephone/mobile phone call, 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
Identity Based Behaviours
Including any of the nine discriminatory grounds mentioned in Equality Legislation
(gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.)
Homophobic and Transgender
- Spreading rumours about a person’s sexual orientation
- Taunting a person of a different sexual orientation
- Name calling e.g. gay, queer, lesbian….used in a derogatory manner
- Physical intimidation or attacks
Race, nationality, ethnic background and membership of the Traveller community
- Discrimination, prejudice, comments or insults about colour, nationality, culture, social class, religious beliefs, ethnic or Traveller background
- Exclusion on the basis of any of the above
This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying.
- Malicious gossip
- Isolation and exclusion
- Excluding from the group
- Taking someone’s friends away
- Spreading rumours
- Breaking confidence
- Talking loud enough so that the victim can hear
- The “look”
- Use of terminology such as “nerd” in a derogatory way
- Unwelcome or inappropriate sexual comments or touching
- Roles and Responsibilities
The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows: (see section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary School):
- The Class Teacher (Ms Roche, Mr McGrath, Mr Heuston)
- The Deputy Principal/Principal (Ms Roche, Mr Heuston)
- Any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it. (Ms O’Connor)
- Anti-Bullying preventive strategy
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:
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 behavior.
- 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, parent(s)/guardian(s) 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 students’ use of communication technology with the school.
- Use of Buddy system, mentoring, lunchtime pals and other student support activities that can help to support pupils and encourage a culture of peer respect and support.
- The school’s Anti-Bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all parent(s)/guardian(s) are given access to copies through the school office on request and the website as part of the code of behavior of the school.
- The implementation of regular (per term) whole school awareness measures. There will be a dedicated notice board in the school on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention. There will be an annual Friendship week in the first term and an annual Anti-Bullying poster and slogan competition in the last term. There will be at least yearly parent/guardian seminars, termly student surveys and termly school assemblies by principal and deputy principal.
- 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.
- Ensuring that pupils know who to tell and how to tell e.g.:
- Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class.
- Hand note up with homework.
- Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school.
- Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.
- Administer a confidential questionnaire once a term to all pupils.
- Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.
- Identifying clear protocols to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied. The protocol has been developed in consultation with parents.
- Awareness of the Acceptable Use Policy in the school which included 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 e.g. Anti-Bulling Campaign, Zippy’s Friends and Shield My School ISPCC.
Implementation of Curricula
- The full implementation of the SPHE and CSPE curricula and the RSE and Stay Safe progammes, “Bullying and Conflict Resolution” and S.A.L.T.
- Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.
- School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g. Anti-Bullying Campaign, Zippy’s Friends, Stay Safe programme and the Walk Talk programme. Delivery of the Garda SPHE programmes. These lessons delivered by Community Gardaí, 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.
- Whole staff training in Shield My School Programme and an annual review of our priorities.
The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behavior and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behavior are as follows:
Procedures for investigating and Dealing with 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 are consistent with the following approach.
Every effort will be made to ensure that all involved (including pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s) understand this approach from the outset.
Reporting Bullying Behaviour
- Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) or school staff may bring 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 secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), caretakers, cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behavior witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher;
Investigating and dealing with incidents: Style of approach
- In investigating and dealing with bullying, the (relevant) teacher will exercise his/her professional judgment to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved considering procedures from the Anti-Bullying Campaign and the school’s Code of Behaviour;
- 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 to ensure the privacy of all involved using the relevant Anti-Bullying Campaign template with our school name and logo on; (see Appendix A)
- 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 analyzing incidents of bullying behavior, 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 behavior 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 behavior, it should be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the school’s Anti-Bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied;
- The pupil engaged in bullying behavior is offered the relevant “Pupil Behaviour Promise” in the presence of the teacher to be signed by parent(s)/guardian(s) (see Appendix A);
- 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;
- It is important to note that the Anti-Bullying campaign format is considered to be too formal for the younger children in the school. As recommended by the programme a one-to-one chat with the designated teacher with a follow up recording of the incident is sufficient. Also a verbal rather than a written promise is sufficient.
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 behavior has ceased;
- Whether any issues between the parties have been restored 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) 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 behavior
It is imperative that all recording of bullying incidents must be done in an objective and factual manner. The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour are as follows:
- All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them by using the relevant template from the Anti-Bullying Campaign and the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy.
- 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 following the procedures outlined in the Anti-Bullying Campaign.
- The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.
- In situations where a concern of alleged bullying is reported by an adult who is not a staff member, the relevant teacher asks them to fill out the Incident Report Form.
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 using the Anti-Bullying Campaign templates.
- Class teachers need to maintain an Anti-Bullying file safely in their classrooms. Reports from class teachers will be kept by the Principal in the filing cabinet in the Principal’s Office.
- The confidential Anti-Bullying file is to be passed on to the next teacher each academic year.
Formal Stage 2
The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:
- 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
- Where the following behaviours have occurred: - a child is considered by a teacher to be a danger to themselves or other children/adults.
These cases must be recorded and reported immediately to the principal. They are in line with the school’s code of behaviour.
When the recording template is used, it must be retained by the relevant teacher in question and a copy maintained by the principal.
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(s)/guardian(s) to support school interventions
- No blame approach
- Circle time
- Restorative interviews, where appropriate
The schools programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:
- 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.
- Pastoral care system
- Buddy/Peer mentoring system
- Group work such as circle time
- If pupils require counselling or further supports the school will endeavor to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organize same. This may be for the pupil affected by bullying or involved in the bullying behaviour.
- Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher.
Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils
The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervision and monitoring of policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible.
- Appropriate monitoring and supervision practices are in place in the school
- Bullying danger spots have been identified such as toilets and yard in consultation with pupils and parents/guardians through student and parent/guardian questionnaires.
- There are support/care structures (SPHE, Learning Support Teachers)
- All internet sessions are supervised by a teacher under the Acceptable Use Policy.
Links to other policies
Code of Behaviour (Student and Staff), Children First Child Protection Policy, Supervision of Pupils, Acceptable Use Policy, Attendance Policy, Communications Policy and Complaints Policy.
A review of the current plan was carried out in September 2016 and this plan will be implemented in September 2016. The review was carried out by the Principal and Staff and approved by the Board of Management of Gusserane National School in 2016.
This policy and its implementations will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested to the Patron and the Department.