Castlecuffe N.S.

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Anti-Bullying Policy

Information for Parents

Anti-Bullying Policy

1. 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 Castlecuffe N.S. 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- 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 (See Appendix B attached);
  • 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.

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 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. In Castlecuffe N.S. the use of mobile phones by pupils is prohibited during all school activities and the use of the internet is only allowed while the teacher is in the classroom and for the specific purpose set out by the teacher. Please refer to our ICT and Mobile Phone Acceptable Use Policy for further information.
Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.
This definition includes a wide range of behaviour, whether verbal or written, whether physical or social, whether targeting person or property, whether carried out directly or indirectly or through any electronic or other medium, which could harm a pupil or undermine her/his self-esteem or self-confidence.
Appendix A gives a list of specific examples of bullying behaviour. This list is not exhaustive.
Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the
Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

4. The ‘Relevant Teacher’ for investigating and dealing with bullying in this school is the class teacher. (‘At primary level, the relevant teacher will normally be the class teacher.’ Procedures 6.8.3) In the event of the absence of the class teacher, the resource teacher or principal will be the relevant teacher until such time as the usual class teacher is present and any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.
5. The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying and identity based bullying) used by the school are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Whole staff professional development on bullying to ensure that all staff develops an awareness of what bullying is, how it impacts on pupils’ lives and the need to respond to it – prevention and intervention.
  • 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 and school grounds and non-teaching and ancillary staff will be encouraged to be vigilant and report issues to relevant teachers.
  • The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all new parents/guardians are given a copy as part of the Code of Behaviour of the school.
  • The anti-bullying module of the school’s SPHE programme, including Stay Safe and Walk Tall, as it applies during each school year.
  • The school will encourage a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. It will be made clear to 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; Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school; Put note in niggle box outside staff-room; Get a parent or friend to tell on your behalf ; Write it in termly survey
  • The implementation of regular whole school awareness measures. Please see Appendix C for details.

- Pupils are helped to examine the issue of bullying in a calm rational way, outside of the tense context of particular bullying incidents. In the process they are made more aware of the nature of bullying and the various forms that it can take.
- Pupils are made aware that the consequences of bullying behaviour are always bad for those who are targeted, even if this is not always obvious at the time.
- Pupils are encouraged to recognise, reject and report bullying behaviour, either spontaneously or through questionnaires that are regularly used in the school.

6. The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying, as set out in the Sept 2013 Anti- Bullying Procedures Section 6.8.9, 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 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: for pupils from third class to sixth class:

  • The ‘Relevant Teacher’ investigates all instances of reported or suspected bullying behaviour, (including anonymous reports of bullying and bullying which has taken place outside school but is having an impact in school), with a view to establishing the facts and bringing any such behaviour to an end. The teacher will complete sections 1 to 9 of the form at Appendix D at this stage. The investigation may also involve the use of the traffic light system currently in the school.
  • Teaching and non-teaching staff must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
  • 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.
  • Teachers will take a calm, unemotional, problem-solving approach and the Relevant Teacher, in consultation with the principal, may request the presence of a second teacher during any stage of the investigation.
  • The School, through the ‘Relevant Teacher’ reserves the right to ask any pupil to write an account of what happened, as part of an investigation. If the child is too young, the teacher may act as scribe. This will be a standard procedure and does not necessarily imply that a pupil is guilty of misbehaviour. Pupils who are not directly involved can provide very useful information in this way.
  • Where possible, incidents will be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved.
  • Where 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 (Procedures 6.8.9 (xi))
  • 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.
  • Pupils who are alleged to have been involved in bullying behaviour are interviewed by the ‘Relevant Teacher’ to establish the nature and extent of the behaviour and any reasons for it. In the event that they have been involved in bullying behaviour they are asked to sign a binding promise that they will treat all pupils fairly, equally and respectfully including the targeted pupil(s). The format of the written promise will be age-appropriate.
  • The 'Relevant Teacher’ does not apportion blame but rather treats bullying behaviour as a ‘mistake’ that can and must be remedied. S/he emphasises that the intention is not to punish perpetrators but to talk to them, to explain how harmful and hurtful bullying is, and to seek a promise that it will stop. If that promise is forthcoming and is honoured there will be no penalty and that will be the end of the matter. Pupils who report bullying therefore are not getting others ‘in trouble’ so much as enabling them to get out of trouble into which they may ultimately get if the bullying continued.
  • If a pupil has signed such a promise (Appendix E) but then chooses to break that promise and continue the bullying behaviour, this can then no longer be considered a ‘mistake.’ In this event parent(s)/guardian(s) will be contacted by the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and informed of the nature and extent of the bullying behaviour with a view to agreeing a strategy whereby a promise to end the bullying behaviour would be honoured; The parent would then be requested to countersign the form as a witness of their daughter/son’s promise (Appendix F). Breach of this additional promise by further bullying behaviour is regarded as a very grave matter and a serious sanction may be imposed by the school authorities (See sanctions below).
  • Sanctions:

Where a pupil has been found to be engaged in bullying behaviour, has formally promised to stop and has broken that promise, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

- Parent(s)/guardian(s) may be invited to a meeting with the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and the Principal, and the pupil may be suspended from school.
- The case may be referred to the Board of Management and the pupil may be expelled from the school.

  • When an investigation is completed and/or a bullying situation is resolved the 'Relevant Teacher' will complete a Bullying Investigation Form (Appendix D), to include the findings of the investigation, the strategy adopted and the outcome of the intervention, as well as any other relevant information. 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 the Relevant Teacher must complete, in full, the DES Recording Template at Appendix G. He/She must retain the form and provide a copy to the principal. A copy of all ‘Bullying Investigation Reports’ should be given to the principal with the teacher’s Cuntas Miosúil (Monthly Progress Report).
  • All documentation regarding bullying incidents and their resolution is retained securely in the school, in accordance with Data protection legislation. Documents being held by the relevant teacher(s) will be kept in the teacher’s locked cabinet in a class incident file for passing on to the next relevant teacher at year-end and documents passed on to the principal will be kept in a locked cabinet by the principal. One copy of each document only will be retained indefinitely when the ‘bullied’ pupil leaves the school. Only the relevant teacher at the time and the Principal has access to these documents. (See section 4.4 of Data Protection Act)

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

  • Bullied pupils:

- Ending the bullying behaviour,
- Maintaining/developing a school culture which fosters respect for bullied pupils and all pupils and fosters greater empathy towards and support for bullied pupils.
- Indicating clearly that the bullying is not the fault of the targeted pupil through the awareness-raising programme,
- Indicating clearly that the bullying is not the fault of the targeted pupil through the speedy identification of those responsible and speedy resolution of bullying situations,
- After resolution, enabling bullied pupils to complete a victim-impact statement,
- Facilitating adequate counselling facilities available to pupils who need it in a timely manner e.g. NEPS,
- Helping bullied pupils raise their self-esteem by encouraging them to become involved in activities that help develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school).

  • Bullying pupils:

- Making it clear that bullying pupils who reform are not blamed or punished and get a ‘clean sheet,’
- Making it clear that bullying pupils who reform are doing the right and honourable thing and giving them praise for this,
- Facilitating the provision of adequate counselling facilities to help those who need it to learn other ways of meeting their needs besides violating the rights of others,
- Helping those who need to raise their self-esteem by encouraging them to become involved in activities that develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school),
- Using learning strategies throughout the school and the curriculum to help enhance pupils’ feelings of self-worth,
- In dealing with negative behaviour in general, encouraging teachers and parents to focus on, challenge and correct the behaviour while supporting the child,
- In dealing with bullying behaviour seeking resolution and offering a fresh start with a ‘clean sheet’ and no blame in return for keeping a promise to reform.

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. The Board of Management confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all such steps as 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 adopted by the Board of Management of Castlecuffe N.S. on 30/4/14 and was drawn up with the help of all parties involved in the school:- pupils, staff, parents and Board of Management

11. This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy is included in our school booklet and is also readily available to parents and pupils on request. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and to 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 to the Department of Education and Skills and to the patron if requested.

Date of next review: April 2015
A copy of the appendices to this policy are available from the school on request.

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