This policy applies to the whole school community – students, teachers, management personnel, Board of Management, administrative staff, caretakers and all ancillary staff. This policy will apply
- For the duration of the school day
- Going to and from school
- On school trips
- While engaged in extra-curricular activities
Where a bullying incident impacts on a student’s life in school
RELATIONSHIP TO OUR SCHOOL MISSION STATEMENT
The Mission Statement of Gort Community School endeavours to provide a caring place where students feel secure and can achieve to the best of his/her ability. We strive to develop not only the academic potential of all students but also their moral and physical well-being. Our school also seeks to imbue a sense of respect for one another, the school environment and the whole community.
This policy is part of a general pastoral approach being adopted by the school to ensure a healthy, caring and supportive learning environment. The Anti-Bullying Policy is one among a number of policies that serve to assist us in fulfilling our aims. It also serves to protect the safety, health and welfare of our students and staff.
The school has a right to protect and promote our ethos and our reputation by requiring certain standards of behaviour and prohibiting certain practices. In addition all procedures and sanctions outlined in this policy will be in line with the caring ethos of the school, Department of Education and NEWB guidelines.
As we endeavour in Gort Community School to be ‘a happy and caring place’ which ‘seeks to imbue a sense of respect for one another’, it must be a priority for us to have an anti-bullying policy.
- The Department of Education & Skills requires schools to have a written policy on bullying.
- Under Section 23 of the Education Welfare Act 2000, the management authority of a school is obliged to draw up a Code of Behaviour for students. The Guidelines specify that an anti-bullying policy “should be an integral part of a written Code of Behaviour and Discipline in all primary and post-primary schools”. The Guidelines go on to point out that “International research clearly indicates the crucial importance of the existence of a School Policy, which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour within the framework of an overall school Code of Behaviour and Discipline” and that “such a code, properly devised and implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.”
- We have obligations under the Equal Status Acts in relation to harassment and sexual harassment. The prevention of harassment should be an integral part of our Code of Behaviour and an anti-bullying code.
- Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post –Primary Schools addresses the issue of bullying. It stresses the importance of having a policy in place to deal with bullying.
- The Trustees of our school have a statutory obligation to ensure that a policy is in place that reflects the principles and values of the school.
- This policy has been amended following a review of the 1993 guidelines and the implementation of the Action Plan on Bullying – Report of the Anti-Bullying Working Group to the Minister for Education and Skills which was published in January 2013.
- To create a school ethos which encourages children to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour.
- To raise awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour with school management, teachers, pupils, parents/guardians.
- To ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring measures through which all areas of school activity are kept under observation.
- To develop procedures for noting and reporting incidents of bullying behaviour.
- To develop procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour.
- To develop a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour.
- To work with and through the various local agencies in countering all forms of bullying and anti-social behaviour.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of school policy on anti-bullying behaviour.
The content of our policy is divided into five sections:
- A definition of Bullying including a description of the types of behaviour included under this policy
- Actions to prevent bullying behaviour
- Steps we take to deal with bullying incidents
- Supports for pupils affected by bullying behaviour
- On-Going evaluation of the policy
A – Definition
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 will be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with our code of good 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 our school’s code of behaviour.
Types of bullying
The following are some of the types of bullying behaviour that can occur amongst pupils:
- Physical aggression: This behaviour includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking and tripping people. It may also take the form of severe physical assault. While pupils often engage in ‘mess fights’, they can sometimes be used as a disguise for physical harassment or inflicting pain.
- Intimidation: Some bullying behaviour takes the form of intimidation: it may be based on the use of very aggressive body language with the voice being used as a weapon. Particularly upsetting can be a facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike.
- Isolation/exclusion and other relational bullying: This occurs where a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or all of the class group. This practice is usually initiated by the person engaged in bullying behaviour and can be difficult to detect. It may be accompanied by writing insulting remarks about the pupil in public places, by passing around notes about or drawings of the pupil or by whispering insults about them loud enough to be heard. Relational bullying occurs when a person’s attempts to socialise and form relationships with peers are repeatedly rejected or undermined. One of the most common forms includes control: “Do this or I won’t be your friend anymore”(implied or stated); a group ganging up against one person (girl or boy); non-verbal gesturing; malicious gossip; spreading rumours about a person or giving them the “silent treatment”.
- Cyber-bullying: This type of bullying is increasingly common and is continuously evolving. It is bullying carried out through the use of information and communication technologies such as text, social network sites, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), apps, gaming sites, chat-rooms and other online technologies. Being the target of inappropriate or hurtful messages is the most common form of online bullying. As cyber-bullying uses technology to perpetrate bullying behaviour and does not require face to face contact, cyber-bullying can occur at any time (day or night). Many forms of bullying can be facilitated through cyber-bullying. For example, a target may be sent homophobic text messages or pictures may be posted with negative comments about a person’s sexuality, appearance etc.
- Name calling: Persistent name-calling directed at the same individual(s) which hurts, insults or humiliates should be regarded as a form of bullying behaviour. Often name-calling of this type refers to physical appearance, e.g., size or clothes worn. Accent or distinctive voice characteristics may attract negative attention. Academic ability can also provoke name calling. This tends to operate at two extremes. There are those who are singled out for attention because they are perceived to be weak academically. At the other extreme there are those who, because they are perceived as high achievers, are also targeted.
- Damage to property: Personal property can be the focus of attention for bullying behaviour. This may result in damage to clothing, mobile phone or other devices, school books and other learning material or interference with a pupil’s locker or bicycle. The contents of school bags and pencil cases may be scattered on the floor. Items of personal property may be defaced, broken, stolen or hidden.
- Extortion: Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats (sometimes carried out in the event of the targeted pupil not delivering on the demand). A pupil may also be forced into theft of property for delivery to another who is engaged in bullying behaviour.
Teacher Behaviour: –
Teachers are expected to behave in a professional manner in all their interactions with students.
A teacher may, unwittingly or otherwise, engage in, instigate or reinforce bullying behaviour in a number of ways: –
- Using sarcasm or other insulting or demeaning form of language when addressing pupils
- Making negative comments about a pupil’s appearance or background
- Humiliating directly or indirectly, a pupil who is particularly academically weak or outstanding, or vulnerable in other ways
- Using any gesture or expression of a threatening or intimidatory nature, or any form of degrading physical contact or exercise.
B – Actions to Prevent Bullying Behaviour
Gort Community School recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on pupils. Gort Community School is fully committed to the following key principles of best practice in preventing bullying.
Gort Community School promotes 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
Gort Community School has effective leadership which supports a school culture and climate that celebrates difference. The Principal and other leaders in Gort Community School, including all teachers strive to engender an ethos under which bullying is unacceptable. They will also ensure that steps are taken to challenge and respond to bullying. The Principal and teachers will act as good role models and will not misuse their authority. They will be fair, firm, clear and consistent in their disciplinary measures.
Our school-wide approach to bullying involves all members of the school community, school management, staff, parents and pupils. Other members of the community, who come into contact with pupils on a daily basis, will be encouraged to play a role in assisting Gort Community School to counter bullying behaviour by reporting such behaviour to parents or to the school.
Gort Community School will ensure that all relevant members of the school community understand what constitutes bullying behaviour as set forth in this policy and its impact. The policy will be published on our school website www.gortcs.com, provided to the Parents’ Association and a summary will be published in the students’ Dialann Obair Bhaile.
Gort Community School implements 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.
The following action is taken:
- The School has an Anti-Bullying Code displayed on the inside of each classroom door. The Charter reads as follows:
“Every pupil has the right to be happy in school during their class and leisure time.
- Our school community does not accept any unkind actions or remarks by pupils to pupils even if these actions or remarks are not intended to hurt.
- Pupils should support each other by not being afraid to report instances of bullying to their class tutor or to any staff member.
- Be certain that all such reports whether by word of mouth or in writing will be treated in the strictest confidence.
- Students must be able to go to and from school and attend school in safety.
- Students must not be subjected to physical or verbal abuse, intimidation, ridicule or sexual harassment. Students must not be deliberately isolated.
- Information on bullying and its effects are dealt with through programmes such as C.S.P.E., S.P.H.E., Religious Education etc. In this context the programmes explicitly deals with the issue of identity-based bullying, in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying.
- The issue of bullying is addressed on a regular basis at all year group assemblies and at meetings with class captains and vice-captains.
- The Student Council address the issue on an on-going basis especially with first year students.
- Anti-bullying posters, including LGBT posters, are displayed throughout the school.
- The school has an excellent pastoral care system in place. The members of this team include the deputy principal, chaplain, career guidance counsellor, special needs coordinator and a class teacher.
- Students are encouraged to discuss any incident of bullying with the class tutor or another trusted adult within the school. This is considered to be responsible behaviour.
- The school has a dedicated e-mailing system, firstname.lastname@example.org, for reporting bullying. This system is managed by the members of the school’s pastoral care committee.
- Parents are encouraged to contact the class tutor or Year Head regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they may suspect or which may have come to their attention.
- Bullying is addressed in the school Code of Good Behaviour Section 13.
An effective system of supervision and monitoring of pupils is in place in Gort Community School, both to prevent and deal with bullying behaviour.
Bullying is addressed on a regular basis at staff meetings. Teachers are advised on what to look out for and on the procedures for dealing with a suspicion or report of bullying. Supports provided enable staff to recognise bullying, implement strategies to for preventing bullying and intervene effectively when appropriate. A copy of our anti-bulling policy is available to all staff members.
C – Tackling Bullying Behaviour
Gort Community School has a system in place for the recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour. The members of the teaching staff who have responsibility for investigating and dealing with bullying are referred to as ‘relevant teachers’.
In Gort Community School the relevant teachers are the Year Heads.
Incidents of bullying behaviour, no matter how trivial, which are drawn to the attention of a staff member, will be dealt with in the following way:
- 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).
- 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.
- All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. It is made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly.
- Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus drivers, caretakers, cleaners are encouraged to 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.
- It is very important that all involved (including each set of pupils and parents) understand the above approach from the outset.
- Teachers take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.
- Incidents are generally investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved.
- All interviews are 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 analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher seeks answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This is 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 is interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved are met as a group. At the group meeting, each member is 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 is supported through the possible pressures that they may face from the other members of the group after being interviewed by the teacher.
- Those involved may be asked to write down their account of the incident(s).
- In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the parties involved are contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken. The school will give parents an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports for their pupils.
- 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.
- 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 will be made to try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 will be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template at Appendix 1. The relevant teacher will retain the completed template and provide a copy to the Principal/Deputy Principal. The Board of Management of Gort Community School 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.
- In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant teacher will, 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
- Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the school Principal or Deputy Principal.
- 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.
- In the event that a parent has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
- In cases where a school has serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a pupil, the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) may be sought.
- 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. The Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools also provide that where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, the Designated Liaison Person must seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.
D – Supports for pupils affected by bullying
Where appropriate Gort Community School will refer pupils affected by bullying for counselling, either within the school or with an external agency. This will be done in consultation with the parents/guardians. Opportunities may also be provided for the pupil(s) to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop friendships and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever this is needed.
Gort Community School also recognises that pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an ongoing basis. For those with low self-esteem, opportunities will be provided to increase feelings of self-worth. These pupils may need counselling to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others. Counselling will be provided in the school or with an external agency, in consultation with the parents/guardians.
Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour will be encouraged to discuss them with teacher.
E – Ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy
The effectiveness of Gort Community School’s anti-bullying policy will be subject to continuous review in the light of incidents of bullying behaviour encountered. The school will undertake a periodic examination of the prevention and intervention strategies in place, as follows:
- Data in relation to bullying behaviour in Gort Community School, gathered from the reporting forms (Appendix 1) will be regularly (at least once in every school year) collated and analysed with a view to monitoring levels of bullying behaviour and identifying any particular issues that require attention or any significant trends in behaviour. A record of this analysis will be retained and be made available to the Board of Management. Appropriate responses to any issues identified will be drawn up and implemented.
- The implementation and effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy may be included as an agenda item for staff meetings so as to ensure that concerns about the policy or the welfare of individual pupils can be shared and effectively addressed.
- At least once in every school term, the Principal will provide a report to the Board of Management setting out:
(i) the overall number of bullying cases reported (by means of the bullying recording template Appendix 1) since the previous report to the Board
(ii) confirmation that all cases referred to at (i) above have been or are being, dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy and the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary schools.
- The minutes of the Board of Management meeting will record the above but in doing so will not include any identifying details of the pupils involved.
- The Board of Management will undertake an annual review of the school’s anti- bullying policy and its implementation by the school. A standardised will be used in undertaking the review (Appendix 2). The school will put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement identified by the review.
- A Written notification that the review has been completed will be made available to school personnel, and published on the school website, www.gortcs.com, and will be provided to the Parents’ Association. The standardised notification (Appendix 3) will be used for this purpose.
– 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 of Gort Community School 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 ………………………………….
This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website www.gortc.com and provided to the Parents’ Association. 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, published on the school website www.gortcs.com 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: ………………………………………. Signed: ……………………………………
(Chairperson of Board of Management) (Principal)
Date: ………………………….. Date: ……………………………..
Date of next review: ………………………………….
Appendix 1 – Template for recording bullying behaviour
1. Name of pupil being bullied and class group
Name ………………………………………. ……… Class ………………………
2. Name(s) and class(es) of pupil(s) engaged in bullying behaviour
3, Source of bullying concern/report (tick relevant box(es)*
4. Location of incidents
(tick relevant box(es)*
5. Name of person(s) who reported the bullying concern
6. Type of Bullying Behaviour (tick relevant box(es))*
Damage to Property
7. Where behaviour is regarded as identity-based bullying, indicate the relevant category:
Membership of Traveller
8. Brief description of the bullying behaviour and its impact
9. Details of actions taken
Signed:…………………………………..(Relevant Teacher) Date: ………………………
Date submitted to the Principal/Deputy Principal ………………………………..
- Note: The categories listed in 3,4,& 6 are suggestions and may be amended.
Appendix 2 – Checklist for annual review of the anti-bullying policy and its implementation
The Board of Management (the Board) must undertake an annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation. The following checklist must be used for this purpose. The checklist is an aid to conducting this review and is not intended as an exhaustive list. In order to complete the checklist, an examination and review involving both quantitative and qualitative analysis, as appropriate across the various elements of the implementation of the school’s anti-bullying policy will be required.
Has the Board formally adopted an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools?
Has the Board published the policy on the school website and provided a copy to the Parents’ Association?
Has the Board ensured that the policy has been made available to school staff (including new staff)?
Is the Board satisfied that the school staff are sufficiently familiar with the policy and procedures to enable them to effectively and consistently apply the policy and procedures in their day-to-day work?
Has the Board ensured that the pocily has been adequately communicated to all pupils?
Has the policy documented the prevention and education strategies that the school applies?
Have all the prevention and education strategies been implemented?
Has the effectiveness of the prevention and education strategies that have been implemented been examined?
Is the Board satisfied that all the teachers are recording and dealing with incidents in accordance with the policy?
Has the Board received and minuted the periodic summary reports of the Principal?
Has the Board discussed how well the school is handling all reports of bullying including those addressed at an early stage and not therefore included in the Principal’s periodic report to the Board?
Has the Board received any complaints from parents regarding the school’s handling of bullying incidents?
Have any children withdrawn their child from the school citing dissatisfaction with the school’s handling of a bullying situation?
Have any Ombudsman for Children investigations into the school’s handling of a bullying case been initiated or completed?
Has the data available from cases reported to the Principal(by the bullying recording template) been analysed to identify any issues, trends or patterns in bullying behaviour?
Has the Board identified any aspects of the school’s policy and/or its implementation that require further improvement?
Has the Board put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement?
Chairperson, Board of Management
Signed: …………………………………………….. Date:……………………………
Notification regarding the Board of Management’s annual review of the anti-bullying policy
The Board of Management of Gort Community School wishes to inform you that:
o The Board of Management’s annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation was completed at the Board meeting of ……………………………… [date].
o This review was conducted in accordance with the checklist set out in Appendix 4 of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
Signed: …………………………………………. Date: ………………………………
Chairperson, Board of Management
Signed: …………………………………………. Date: ………………………………