New Court School Anti-Bullying Policy
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 New Court School 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 published September 2013.
New Court Statement:
We acknowledge that each child has the right to be in a safe, caring school environment, free from threatening language or intimidating behaviour. We aspire to create an atmosphere of respect, understanding and encouragement between all who teach, work and learn in our school.
The Board of Management of New Court School 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. Students with special educational needs and disabilities can be more at risk of student’s bullying and have greater vulnerability due to a lack of social skills and communication. Students with special educational needs can be more trusting and naïve and can get into difficult situations.
Key Principles of Best Practice:
We aim to:
- Provide a positive school culture which is welcoming of difference 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.
- Provide effective leadership which creates and supports an ethos under which bullying is unacceptable.
- Adopt a school wide approach to dealing with bullying behaviour.
- Develop a shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact.
- Implement educational and prevention strategies (including awareness raising measures) which aim to build respect, empathy, and resilience in pupils.
- Explicitly address the issues of cyberbullying including homophobic and transphobic bullying, as appropriate within a Special School setting.
- Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils in accordance with our Supervision Policy.
- Supports for staff to enable them to recognise bullying behaviour, implement effective prevention /intervention strategies.
- A Safety Team is available to meet if necessary to support the Coordinator and Principal with serious incidents.
- To implement a consistent system of recording, investigating and follow up of incidents of bullying behaviour including use of established intervention strategies.
- Continuously review the effectiveness of the Anti-Bullying policy as part of the school self-evaluation process
Definition and Types of Bullying
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, bullying isdefined 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,
- 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 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. (Pages 10-11)
Relevant School Personnel
All staff have a duty of care towards their pupils. One teacher acts as a relevant teacher (from here on referred to as Coordinator). Class Teachers, the Principal, the Deputy Principal and SNAs – all have equal responsibility to support and implement New Court’s Anti-Bullying policy and procedures.
Education and Prevention Strategies
The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyberbullying, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by New Court School are as follows:
- A school-wide approach to the fostering respect for all members of the school community.
- The fostering and enhancing of the self-esteem, and building of empathy, respect and resilience in pupils.
- Close supervision and monitoring of classrooms, corridors and school grounds.
- Supervision will also apply to monitoring student use of communication technology in the school as per our Acceptable Use Policy.
- Involvement of the Student Council in supporting staff and pupils to develop a safe school environment.
- Visual reminders of the anti-bullying code displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.
- Reporting of bullying incidents, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders, encouraged and supported.
- Annual Friendship week, pupil of the week certificates, discipline for learning rewards, certificates of achievement, JCSP postcards to parents, Principal’s award, whole class rewards and assemblies to focus on whole school awareness.
- Implementation of SPHE, CSPE, RSE curricula and Stay Safe Programmes and to foster an attitude of respect for all across the curriculum subjects.
- Visits by community Garda to cover issues of personal safety and cyberbullying.
- Helping students to develop empathy by discussing feelings and trying to see situations from other’s perspective – e.g. circle time, SPHE, etc.
- Positive relationships in the school based on mutual respect and trust so the students have confidence in the school staff.
School 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 practicable; the relationships of the parties involved (rather than apportion blame). New Court School has clear procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying.
- Staff will take a calm, unbiased, problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour reported by either, pupils, staff or parents/guardians. A calm approach sets an example in dealing effectively with the conflict in a non-aggressive manner.
- All staff, including Teachers, Special Needs Assistants and other ancillary staff must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them or mentioned to them to the Class Teacher.
- All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying will be investigated and dealt with by the Class Teacher with support from the Coordinator. This develops confidence in ‘telling’. It will be made clear to pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not telling tales, rather are behaving responsibly.
- In investigating and dealing with bullying, the Coordinator will exercise her/his professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved.
- If bullying is reoccurring and additional support is needed the Coordinator can call on the Safety Team – two other named staff members. Also members of the Board of Management are available to consult and advise as appropriate.
- Where possible, incidents should be investigated outside the classroom, at a time when the student is calm, to ensure the privacy of all involved.
- Pupils, Parents/Guardians 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 endeavour to engage in interviews with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved may be required to provide any relevant information.
- If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, if appropriate all those involved could be met as a group. Staff should be aware of the possible pressures group members may face from other members of the group before and after being interviewed and appropriate support should be given to each member.
- When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the Class Teacher and the Coordinator should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why.
- In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, the parents/guardians of the pupils involved will be contacted to inform them of the matter and action being taken will be explained. Where necessary, parents will be invited to a meeting in school to discuss the supports being provided and ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school.
- Where the Class Teacher and the Coordinator has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, 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 help him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
- It will be made clear to all involved (each set of parents/guardians) that where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil, his/her parents and the school.
Follow Up and Recording:
- Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved will be arranged separately with a view to restore relationships and reinforce acceptable behaviours.
- Should a case arise where initial restorative practices are unsuccessful and the bullying behaviour continues the school based sanctions as set out in Appendix 2 will be implemented.
- Given the nature of our student’s specific special needs, we cannot adopt a zero tolerance or one size fits all approach. Each situation will be monitored and an approach agreed that is seen to be relevant and fair for the individuals involved.
- All staff will keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them. All serious incidents will be reported to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will keep a written record of the reports and follow up (Appendix 3 form).
- Teachers will ensure an accurate, factual written account of serious incidents (Appendix 3).
- Other behaviour incidents will be recorded either in the general Incident Book or in the Teacher’s/SNA’s own notes.
Programme of Support for Working with Pupils Affected by Bullying:
A school based programme of supports for pupils who have been affected by bullying includes the use of the following:
- The relevant and age appropriate sections of the SPHE curriculum.
- The relevant sections of the Stay Safe programme
- Use of Circle Time
- A range of activities, implemented monthly by all staff, to promote self-esteem and develop assertiveness – scheduled by Coordinator.
- JCSP Anti Bullying Statement taught in all JCSP classes.
- A Safety Team, appointed by the Principal will monitor all recorded incidents.
- Developing a ‘Buddy System’ with another pupil with whom they feel confident.
- Reassuring the victim that the incident will be dealt with and ensuring follow through occurs.
- Staff being available to support and listen when needed.
Supports for the students who are involved in bullying behaviour include:
- Recognising that pupils who bully have problems themselves and often need help in order to change behaviours.
- Targeting specific behaviours as part of IEP Targets and behaviour plans.
- Linking with relevant services for supports as needed.
- Awareness that a student may bully because they are being bullied, have been bullied are re-acting to a traumatic event, want to get their own way, don’t feel respected and valued or that they are not coping with school or home events.
- Given the nature of their special needs, some students can misunderstand or misinterpret events and poor communication skills can escalate situations for them. An understanding, calm approach can help to clarify a difficult situation.
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. Refer to Supervision policy.
Prevention of Harassment
The Board of Management confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all 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 in June 2014.
This policy has been made available to school personnel. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department for Education and the patron if requested.
This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once a year. Written notification that the review has been completed will be available. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available if requested, to the Patron and the Department.