Anti-Bullying Policy

In accordance with the requirement of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of Meanscoil Muire gan Smal has adopted the following anti-bullying policy within the framework 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 promotes:

  • 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 builds empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and explicitly addresses 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): and
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

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 incident 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 the 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.

The relevant teacher(s) for investigation and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows:

  • The Principal/Deputy Principal/Year Head and or another teacher or any combination of the above.

The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber­bullying and identity-based bullying in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows:

  • Promotion of a positive school environment as outlined in the School’s Code of Behaviour.
  • Presentation on the dangers and risks associated with cyberbullying is given to all students by the local community GardaL
  • Two notice boards will be erected at each end of the school with information on cyberbullying and helpline numbers.
  • The SPHE & RSE curriculum.
  • Promotion of participation in extra-curricular activities and sport to build self- worth and self -esteem.
  • The Cara Programme where a pt year student is matched with a 5th year student.
  • Friendship Week.
  • Modelling positive inclusive behaviour within the school.
  • Proactive Class Teachers and Year Heads who take an active role in the care of their students.
  • The Guidance Counsellor.
  • The “Open Door” policy of the Principal and Deputy Principal.
  • Music playing on the intercom as students go to class in the morning, followed by the morning prayer.

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 behaviours are as follows:

  • Any student or their parent/guardian can report an allegation of bullying to any member of staff.
  • The Incident Report Form (appendix 1) will be completed by the member of staff to whom the report was made and then given to the Principal or Deputy Principal.
  • If the allegation is reported to a non-teaching member of staff then they will report this to the Principal or Deputy Principal who will then proceed with the school’s procedure.
  • The incident is logged in the school’s Incident Report Book.
  • The teacher may be able to resolve the matter with the students involved and therefore no further action is required.
  • If the allegation requires further investigation this is will be carried out by the Principal/Deputy Principal/Year Head and or another teacher or any combination of the above using the Interview Form (appendix 2) and/or Class Surveys (appendix 3)
  • When and if an incident of bullying is established, the parents/guardians of both parties will be notified immediately by the Principal or Deputy Principal.
  • If an incident of bullying is established, the perpetrator will be asked to sign a Promise Form and give an under taking that this behaviour will not happen again.
  • Both parties are referred to the Guidance Counsellor.
  • If this student is found to be involved in any further incidents of bullying, then the School’s Code of Behaviour will be invoked.

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

  • Referral to the school’s Guidance Counsellor for counselling.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the student’s behaviour by the Year Head/Deputy Principal.

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.

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 by 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 May 6th 2021

This policy is available to school personnel, published on the school website 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 (appendix 5). 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.