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 Selskar College 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.
This policy aims to assist our goals at Selskar College which are to create a respectful, safe and caring environment where the wellbeing of all members of the school community is promoted and in which the dignity of each individual is valued. This policy is based on our school mission statement: “Teaching & Learning with care and respect, where every person matters”. The procedures outlined in this policy emphasise that the primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and restore insofar as possible the relationships of the parties involved (rather than to apportion blame).
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 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; and
- On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.
4.Definition of Bullying
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools bullying is defined as follows:
“Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, written 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 this non-exhaustive 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. Similarly, 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. Such cases will be dealt with in accordance with the college code of behaviour. Referral to outside agencies such as NEPS, the HSE, An Garda Síochána or other relevant agencies may be made.
Examples of bullying behaviours are listed in Appendix 1.
5.Reporting concerns of bullying behaviour
The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows:
- A student, parent or any member of the non-teaching staff may bring a bullying concern to any teacher in the school (or directly to the Year Head) who will then report the matter to the Year Head. The report to the Year Head should be written and outline the concerns and/or observed behaviours clearly.
- The Year Head has responsiblity for investigating and dealing with suspected bullying behaviour involving students in the relevant year group. In some instances other Year Heads, the Deputy Principal or Principal may be involved in the investigating phase, particularly where a large group are involved or when time is limited. In certain circumstances (e.g. school trips), the relevant teacher could be any member of teaching staff. The matter must be referred to the Year Head as soon as possible.
- Parents/Guardians suspecting incidents of bullying behaviour should contact the Year Head.
6.Education and prevention strategies
It is our intention to deal with bullying in a pro-active manner involving a whole school approach.
Accordingly, the school will:
- Liaise with primary schools as necessary to track any behavioural history relating to bullying. A review will be carried out during the first term each year. This will give students the opportunity to express any individual concerns/ reports of bullying in a written questionnaire.
- Provide all necessary information about bullying to parents of enrolling students. All parent(s)/guardian(s)s are given a copy along with a copy of the Code of Behaviour on enrolment.
- Ensure that the ‘Le Chéile’ induction programme for 1st Years includes information about bullying.
- Ensure that the teaching staff is kept fully informed of policies and programmes and confirmed cases of bullying as necessary, and that all teachers are vigilant in this particular area.
- Maintain and further develop an awareness of bullying and its consequences among the student body through SPHE, CSPE, RSE, the Meitheal Programme, posters, the Care Team, Parents’ Council and the Students’ Council.
- Safe Internet Use will be promoted, educating students about safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, coordinated by ICT and SPHE teachers. Social networking sites will continue to be blocked on school computers. This Anti-Bullying Policy operates in conjunction with the school’s Internet Acceptable Usage Policy.
- The college will endeavour to promote awareness and appreciation of diversity and inclusiveness with particular emphasisi on special needs, sexual orientation nad racial issues.
- Excerpts from the Anti- bullying Policy and other support materials will be visible throughout the school, in corridors and classrooms. The policy will be published on the school’s website www.wexfordvocational.com. Excerpts from the policy along with other information relevant information will be included in the students’ journal.
- Through the process of School Self-Evaluation we will periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the Anti-Bullying Policy.
- The teaching of all subjects will foster an attitude of respect for all; promote value for diversity; address prejudice and stereotyping and to highlight that bullying behaviour is unacceptable. Teachers of all subjects will aim to build empathy, respect and resilience in students and will act as positive role models.
- We will, through our curricular and extra-curricular programmes aim to develop in students a positive sense of self- worth and enhance their self- esteem.
- The issue of bullying will be addressed at assemblies.
- With reference to the Framework for Junior Cycle, we will place great importance on continuing to provide all students with SPHE.
- We aim to facilitate a culture whereby students, teachers and parents alike, are aware of their responsibilities where bullying is concerned. There are tips for parents with regard to bullying in Appendix 5. There is advice for students in Appendix 5 of this policy.
- Those in leadership positions will always seek to use a positive approach when dealing with people e.g. teachers will reward positive or desired behaviours by giving praise.
- 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.
- Professional development with specific focus on the training of the relevant teacher(s)
- 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.
- Involvement of the student council in contributing to a safe school environment to encourage a culture of peer respect and support.
- Trained senior cycle students would continue to mentor 1st year students as part of the Meitheal Programme.
- Development and promotion of an Anti-Bullying code for the school-to be included in student journals and displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.
- The implementation of whole school awareness measures on the promotion of friendship and bullying prevention; student surveys; regular school or year group assemblies by principal, deputy principal, year heads etc.
- Encourage a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. 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. They should be aware that there is no such thing as an ‘innocent’ bystander.
- 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.
- Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.
- Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place
- The full implementation of the SPHE and CSPE curricula and the RSE Programmes.
- Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.
- School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from programmes, e.g. #UP2US, On My Own Two Feet, Stand Up Programme, The Trust pack
- Delivery of the Garda SPHE Programmes. These lessons, delivered by Community Gardai, 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.
7.Procedure for dealing with reports of bullying behaviour
Selskar College condemns all forms of bullying and commits itself to dealing quickly, pro-actively and fairly with all instances of bullying. The BOM strongly asserts the right of every member of the school community to work in a safe and non-threatening environment. Bullies rely and thrive upon our silence. To combat the problem, it is important that all bullying behaviour be reported. 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:
7.1.Initial Investigation of concerns of bullying behaviour
- Any reported incident will firstly be investigated to establish whether or not bullying is actually taking place;
- 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;
- The school authorities will speak to both parties on a no-blame basis to establish what has happened and encourage them to solve the problem. As part of this process the student(s) involved will be made aware of how hurtful his/her behaviour is and that it must stop.
- All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher. It will be made clear to all students that reporting incidents of bullying is not ‘telling’ – they are behaving responsibly;
- All staff are required to report any concerns regarding bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them to the Year Head;
- Parents and students are required to cooperate 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;
- The Year Head will take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour;
- Incidents will be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;
- All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all students concerned. Students who are not directly involved may also be interviewed.
- When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour the Year Head will seeks answers to questions of what where, when, who and why.
- If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved may be met as a group.
- Those involved may be asked to write down their account of the incident;
- The Year Head will keep written records of the investigation
7.2.Procedures for dealing with confirmed cases:
- In cases where it is determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parents of the students involved should be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and to explain the actions being taken;
- Where a student is found to have engaged in bullying behaviour, it will be made clear to them how s/he is in breach of the anti-bullying policy and the effect on the other person(s)
- If disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the student being disciplined, his/her parents/guardians and the school. This will be made clear to all involved (each set of students and parent(s)/guardian(s)).
- In cases where the Year Head considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after s/he has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, s/he must file a ‘Record of bullying behaviour’ (Appendix 3).
In determining whether the bullying behaviour has been
adequately and appropriately addressed, the Year Head 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 practicable
- Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as practicable; and
- Any feedback received from the students involved, their parents or the Principal or Deputy Principal
- The College will advise on appropriate supports for those concerned.
- Should a problem persist, the Year Head will refer the matter to the Principal/Deputy Principal. Following further investigation and due process, the Principal may impose a term of suspension on any guilty party. Any further instances of bullying by the same guilty party may be referred by the Principal to the Board of Management.
- 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 complaint procedures;
- In the event that a parent has exhausted the school’s complaint procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parents of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.
7.3.Recording of bullying behaviour
The school has clear procedures for the formal noting and reporting of bullying behaviour. All records are maintained in accordance with relevant data protection legislation. 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:
Investigation of alleged bullying behaviour
- All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them. All incidents must be reported to the Year Head who will then be the relevant teacher for the investigation. The relevant teacher should use Record of Investigation: alleged bullying behaviour (Appendix 2)
- The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.
- If it is established by the Year Head that bullying has occurred, s/he 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.
- These forms will then be filed in a designated, confidential folder in the Year Head office and kept for at least seven years. All records will be kept in accordance withthe Data Protection Act 1988 and the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003
Record of unresolved or very serious bullying behaviour
- The Year Head 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
- in cases of a serious physical assault, or threat of assault or where it is considered that there is a significant risk to Health and Safety of any member of the college community the bullying behaviour needs to be immediately referred to the Principal.
In each of the circumstances at (a) and (b) above, the recording template must be completed in full 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 3 does not in any way preclude the relevant teacher from consulting the Principal or Deputy Principal at an earlier stage in relation to a case.
These records will be filed and securely stored in a location accessible to the Principal and Deputy Principal. Records will be retained for a minimum period of 7 years from the date of the record.
7.4.Referral of serious cases to the HSE
- Serious instances of bullying behaviour (“where the behaviour is regarded as potentially abusive”) 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 through the college Designated Liaision Person.
- Repeated instances of bullying by the same guilty student will be referred by the Principal to the BOM for final decision
- Where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE, the Designated Liaison Person will seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.
8.Programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying
The school’s programme of support for working with students affected by bullying is as follows:
- Students who have been involved in bullying incidences will be advised by the Year Head/Deputy Principal/ Principal of the availability of the Guidance Counsellor.
- The target of bullying may receive counselling and/ or opportunities to participate in activities designed to raise her self-esteem, to develop friendship and social skills and thereby build resilience whenever this is needed.
- The student involved in bullying behaviour may be referred to the Guidance Counsellor. This will be an opportunity to learn other ways of meeting his/her own needs without violating the rights of others.
- Students who observe bullying behaviour are always encouraged to discuss it with a teacher. The assistance of the Guidance Counsellor may also be called upon by the student/ parent/ teacher if required.
- If pupils require counselling of further supports the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organise 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.
9.Other relevant policies
The procedures to be followed in some cases are covered in the following ways:
- Any student to staff member: Please refer to the College Code of Behaviour.
- Any staff member to student: Refer to the Child Protection Policy.
- Staff member to staff member: Please refer to the Dignity in the Workplace Policy, Teaching Council Code of Professional conduct, Harrassment/Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy, Bullying Prevention Policy, Complaint Procedure for ETB staff.
- Parent to any staff member/any staff member to parent: It is expected that all interactions between these parties are conducted with mutual respect and courtesy. If these standards are not adhered to, either party is invited to bring the matter to the attention of the Principal. Please see Policy for Communicating with Parent(s)/Guardian(s).
10.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 behaviourand to facilitate early intervention where possible.
11.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 students or staff or the harassment of students 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.
12.Communication of this policy to relevant stakeholders
This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. It will also be inserted into the students’ school journal. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and the patron if requested.
13.Periodic summary reports to the Board of Management
At every meeting of the Board of Management, the Principal will provide a report setting out:
- the overall number of confirmed bullying cases reported by means of the bullying template in Appendix 3.
- confirmation that all cases referred to at (i) above have been or are being dealt with in accordance with this policy.
- This will be recorded in the minutes of each meeting but no identifying details of students involved will be revealed.
14.Regular review by Boards of Management
This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. (see Appendix 4: Checklist for annual review of the anti-bullying policy and its implementation)
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, if requested, to the patron and the Department of Education and Skills. The school will put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement identified by the review.
15.Date of ratification by Board of Management
This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on April 10th 2014 and most recently reviewed on September 11th 2018.
Date of next review Autumn 2019