- 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 Cosby National 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 which were published in September 2013.
- 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 is very important.
- 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);
- 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 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, which accompanies this document on our website.
4. The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are the class teachers / principal.
5. 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:
Raising the awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour
At the centre of our whole school response to bullying is the creation of a positive school climate which focuses on respect for the individual. We in Cosby N.S. believe that it is important that pupils are encouraged to report incidences of bullying.
Raising awareness – students:
- If you are being bullied – tell an adult
- If you know that someone else is being bullied – tell an adult.
Raising awareness – parents:
- Look for unusual behaviour in your children.
- Always take an active role in your child’s education
- If your child feels that he / she is being bullied, listen to his / her story and try to get the full story ( remember there are two sides to every story)
- If you feel that your child may be a victim of bullying behaviour, inform the class teacher immediately.
- It is important to advise your child not to fight back
- Reassure your child that it is not his / her fault that he / she is being bullied
- Ensure that your child is aware of the school’s anti-bullying policy.
Raising awareness – in school:
- Code of Behaviour – pupils are involved in compiling rules and revising Code annually.
- Drama activities / Role play
- Books in classroom libraries on topics related to bullying
- Religious Education programme
- Co-operative games in PE
- The SPHE curriculum, including the Walk Tall, RSE, and Stay Safe programmes, is used throughout the school to support the anti-bullying policy.
- The best way to address cyber-bullying is to prevent it happening in the first place. Prevention and awareness raising measures focus on educating pupils on appropriate online behaviour, how to stay safe while on-line and also on developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber-bullying, through use of the ‘Bullying in a Cyber World’ programme and through annual school visits from the community Garda, who gives a talk on Cyber Safety.
- Cyber-Bullying requires access to technology. Pupils are supervised at all times when working with technology in the school. Pupils do not have access to their mobile phones during the school day.
- Positive self-esteem is fostered among the pupils by celebrating individual differences, by acknowledging good behaviour and by providing opportunities for success.
- Pupils are helped to develop empathy by discussing feelings and by trying to put themselves in the place of others.
- Teachers respond sensitively to pupils who disclose incidents of bullying.
- The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed regularly with the pupils.
- Staff are particularly vigilant in monitoring pupils who are considered at risk of bullying/ being bullied, with particular regard to pupils with SEN.
- All disclosed incidents of bullying are investigated.
- Members of the BOM are familiar with the school’s policy on bullying and promote it among staff, parents and pupils through the roles of the Board Members in the school, by reviewing the policy with input from all stakeholders in the School Community, by example and by promoting and improving communication and supporting the Principal in ensuring the Policy is adhered to.
- Parents contribute to and support the school’s policy on bullying by encouraging positive behaviour both at home and at school, by being vigilant for signs and symptoms that their child is being bullied or is bullying others, by communicating concerns to the school.
- The Ethos of the school encourages positive attitudes to inclusivity and equality. This permeates all aspects of the school day and throughout the teaching of the curriculum.
- Information relating to bullying will be made available on the school website. Parents are encouraged to visit the Stay Safe website, the Webwise website and the Get with It-Internet Safety Guide. Links are provided from the school website.
- Staff will attend relevant meetings / workshops at the local Education Centre as they arise
Indications of Bullying /Behaviour- Signs and Symptoms:
The following signs / symptoms may suggest that a pupil is being bullied:
- Anxiety about travelling to and from school
- Unwillingness to go to school, refusal to attend, mitching
- Deterioration in educational performance, loss of concentration and loss of enthusiasm and interest in school
- Pattern of physical illnesses ( e.g. headaches, stomach aches)
- Unexplained changes either in mood or behaviour; it may be particularly noticeable before returning to school after weekends or more especially after longer school holidays
- Visible signs of anxiety or distress – stammering, withdrawing, nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, crying, not eating, vomiting, bedwetting
- Spontaneous out-of-character comments about either pupils or teachers
- Possessions missing or damaged
- Increased requests for money or stealing money
- Unexplained bruising or cuts or damaged clothing
- Reluctance and / or refusal to say what is troubling him / her.
Parents are encouraged to:
- Become familiar with the school’s Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying Policy, encourage their children to be respectful of others and to follow all rules and guidelines laid down in these policies.
- Discuss any SPHE (Stay Safe) homework sheets with their children to reinforce classroom teaching.
Cyber-bullying Prevention Strategies at home:
Parents are encouraged to:
- Discover the internet with their child/ren.
- Encourage him/her to be respectful of others online.
- Outline rules of internet use to him/her at home.
- Monitor his/her use of the internet.
- Instruct him/her in how to react to unwanted emails
- Talk about the risks associated with meeting online ‘friends’.
- Teach him/her about ‘Source Criticism’ on the internet (not all information online is correct)
- Report any online material he/she (parent) may consider illegal to the appropriate authorities.
- Remember that positive aspects of the internet out-weigh the negative aspects.
6. 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:
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).
Reporting Bulluying Behaviour
- Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) may bring a bullying incident to any teacher in the school.
- Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher.
- All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. 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.
- Non-teaching staff such as the secretary, special needs assistants (SNAs), caretaker, cleaner, must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
Investigating and Dealing with Incidents
- 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.
- 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 should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.
- Incidents are generally best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved.
- 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 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.
- 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 they may face from the other members of the group after 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 behaviour has occurred, the parents 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 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.
- Where the relevant teacher 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 try to get him/her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.
- It must 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 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 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; and
Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents 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. This can have a therapeutic effect.
Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parents must 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.
Procedures for recording bullying behaviour
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:
Informal- pre-determination that bullying has occurred
- All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them. Each teacher and SNA will keep a dedicated incident book in the locked filing cabinet/cupboard in their own classroom. All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher and the Principal.
- 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.
- The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.
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.
- All records retained by the relevant teacher will be stored in the locked cabinet in her classroom for the duration of the school year and transferred to a dedicated file in the secure office filing cabinet at the end of the school year.
Formal Stage 2-Appendix 3 (From DES Procedures)
The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 1 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
- Where the school has decided as part of its anti-bullying policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.
The recording template at Appendix 1 will be completed in full and retained by the teacher in question and a copy provided to the Principal. It should also be noted that the timeline for recording bullying behaviour in the recording template at Appendix 1 does not in any way preclude the relevant teacher from consulting the Principal at an earlier stage in relation to a case.
Where a staff member / DLP feels that there may be Child protection concerns arising from alleged bullying behaviour amongst pupils, these concerns will be dealt with as per the Child Protection guidelines.
7. The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:
Staged approach – class support, school support (as per Continuum-Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties– NEPS)
Any pupil who has been involved in bullying behaviour will be supported in the first instance by the class teacher.
A programme of support for pupils who have been bullied will be based on our prevention strategies. Such pupils may need counselling and/or opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop their friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever this is needed.
A programme of support for those pupils involved in bullying behaviour will be part of our school’s intervention process. Pupils involved in bullying behavior need assistance on an ongoing basis. For those with low self-esteem, opportunities will be developed to increase feelings of self-worth. Pupils who engage in bullying behaviour may need counselling to help them learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others.
Further interventions where appropriate will be put in place on a case by case basis.
Bullying as part of a continuum of behaviour
Bullying behaviour can be part of a continuum of behaviour rather than a stand-alone issue and in some cases behaviour may escalate beyond that which can be described as bullying to serious physical or sexual assault or harassment. The school may refer cases to relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate. In cases where the school has serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a pupil, the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) will be sought and advice may also be sought from the HSE Children and Family Social Services with a view to drawing up an appropriate response, such as a management plan.
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.
- Class teacher supervision
- Alerting other teacher if you have to leave the classroom
- Playground supervision
- Supervision on tours, sports outings, educational outings etc
- Supervision before lessons begin (assembly time) and after school as children are collected.
- Observations of class teacher, other teachers eg Support teacher, Visiting teachers or other members of staff
- Parents’ information
- Alert other members of teaching staff and observe if behaviour is recurring.
9. 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.
10. This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on 19th March 2019.
11. This policy has been made available to school personnel, is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and 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, is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.
Signed: Thomas Cosby Signed: Daphne Harding
(Chairperson of Board of Management) (Principal)
Date: 19/03/19 Date: 19/03/19
Date of next review: September 2019
This policy was previously revised in October 2014 and ratified by the Board of Management on 2nd December 2014.
The Board carried out an annual review of Anti-Bullying Policy 3rd December 2019 (see scanned review)