Hedgestown National School

Anti-Bullying Policy

Anti-Bullying Policy


1.      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 Hedgestown 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.


2.      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-

o       is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity;

o       encourages pupils to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a non-threatening environment; and

o       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 (including awareness raising measures) that-

o       build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and

o       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); and

·         On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

  1. 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.

  1. All Teachers in our school have the shared responsibility for investigating and responding to bullying.                                                                                                                 
  2. Strategies which we will use in our school to promote an awareness of all types of bullying (in accordance with our ethos):

Social Personal and Health Education curriculum

Religion lessons

An example of respect set by the interaction between all members of our school community.

An annual anti – bullying awareness week

6. Our 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:

Creation of a culture of "telling". 

·                       Teachers should repeatedly reinforce the message that if anyone is the victim of bullying behaviour, they should not retaliate in any way, but they should tell an adult. Victims should be reassured that if they tell, something will be done about the bullying in a safe manner and all reported incidents will be dealt with.

·                       Class lessons to be provided to enable pupils "how to tell" ( telling protocol)

·                       Bystanders can be the key to resolving bullying and if anyone witnesses bullying behaviour, they should always tell a teacher. This is not telling tales but a means of protecting victims.

Raising the awareness of bullying as a form of unacceptable behaviour by -

·                       Displaying school's anti-bullying statement (to be decided) in the school environment and going over aspects of bullying at regular times throughout the year. (What is bullying? What is not bullying? What to do if you feel you are being bullied? What to do if you see somebody else being bullied?)

·                       Engaging in formal teaching within the class setting through SPHE and RE programmes.

·                       Creating an annual awareness week for school community about bullying. (The date for this week to be decided). This will involve discussion, anti - bullying games, poster/slogan competitions, bullying surveys for older classes.

Other strategies

·                       Formal programmes of work are a vital element in raising children's self-esteem and equipping children to cope with bullying behaviour e.g. Walk Tall, RSE, Alive-O, Webwise, Stay safe,etc.

·                       Positive reinforcement by teachers in classroom setting ( Star of the week, Golden time, spot prizes, stars, stickers etc.)

·                       Modelling of respectful behaviour and language by teachers and staff.

·                       Promotion of extra-curricular activities which encourage co-operation among pupils.

·                       Rewarding incidents of good and improved behaviour and showing acts of kindness at class level and whole-school through Student of the Week.

·                       Encouraging students to look out for each other and to be responsible for their own behaviour.

·                       All teachers are required to be vigilant on yard duty- record all incidences- monitor repeat offenders

·                       Immediate affirmation of children who report incidents of bullying which they have witnessed.

·                       Each class to have a set of class rules which compliment the school's Code of Behaviour.

·                       Each class to make a booklet re: bullying

·                       Renew the signs around the school.

·                       Ensure supervision at all times when pupils can access the internet.

·                       Sanctions for unauthorised use of the internet/electronic devices will be imposed as per the Code of Behaviour and AUP .

6. The school's procedure for investigation, follow up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying are as follows: 

Incidents of Bullying will be dealt with on a staged basis.

Stage 1 

All reports of bullying must be dealt with initially by the class teacher.

·                       When a pupil tells a teacher s/he is being bullied, it is important to gather all of the facts from both sides (What, where, when, who, why?). This will involve an interview with the alleged bully/bullies.

·                       In investigating and dealing with bullying, the teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best to resolve the situation.

·                       The aim for the class 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.

·                       Non teaching staff will be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them to the relevant teacher.

·                       The Teacher should take calm, unemotional, problem-solving approach.

·                       All sides are listened to separately and notes are taken.

·                       The notes are brief, factual and should be void of emotional, or judgemental language.

·                       Instances are investigated outside the classroom to avoid public humiliations.

·                       All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regards to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way.

·                       It is explained to the alleged bully how hurtful their behaviour is and attempts are made to encourage them to empathise with the alleged victim.

Stage 2

If this child breaks promise and re-offends then the Deputy Principal or Principal with the class teacher will interview the child/children again. It is explained to them that this is their second time offending. Again attempts will be made to resolve the situation.

·                       Parents and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigations and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring, as far is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved as quickly as possible.

·                       All parties involved will be expected to maintain confidentiality, so that the victim would not be further tormented.

Stage 3

If a child breaks their promise twice then the matter is referred to the Principal. The Principal meets with the child and the parent and further action may be taken.

Recording of incidents: All incidents will be logged by class teacher and incidents which have not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days will be recorded by the class teacher on the recording template as in Appendix 3 (Anti bullying Procedures for Primary and Post -Primary Schools). This template will be completed in full and a copy given to the Deputy Principal and Principal. At least once every school term the Principal will provide a report to the BOM setting out the overall number of bullying cases reported by means of this template and confirmation that all cases are being dealt with in accordance with procedure.

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

o Victims are reassured from the outset that they are not to blame.
o Strategies for restoring self-esteem are explored between teacher and parents/guardians.
o Where deemed necessary, the child in consultation with parents may be referred for counselling.
o Staged approach- class support, school support( as per Continuum -Behavioural, Emotional and Social difficulties- NEPS).
o The parents of the pupils concerned will be advised to contact the local Gardai if appropriate.

o Where deemed necessary, the child in consultation with parents may be referred for counselling. They may need to learn other ways of meeting their needs without violating the rights of others. Empathy awareness needs to be developed.
o Bullies may be chosen for social skills development groups.
o Clinical referral and assessment may be necessary.
o Staged approach - class support, school support (as per Continuum-Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties- NEPS)

·                       Incidents of bullying can extend beyond the school and the journey to and from school is one which can provide particular opportunities for bullying to occur. All staff are expected to report any incidences of bullying or any undesirable behaviour to the school.

·                       In certain cases too it may be necessary to invite assistance from formal agencies such as Gardai,(J.L.O) Health Board, Local Youth Groups etc.

·                       The school will constantly remind parents of the dangers of "cyber- bullying" as can happen with the use of social networking sites and mobile phones. We also direct their attention to the school's internet Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

The school cannot be responsible for disagreements between pupils that happen outside the school grounds but will make all reasonable efforts to cooperate with parents in assisting them to resolve the issues bearing in mind that bullying can have serious effects on our pupil’s performance at school.

8. Supervision and Monitoring of pupils:

The BOM 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.

9. Prevention of Harassment:

The BOM confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all such steps that are reasonably practical 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 Travelling community.

10. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the policy:

The evaluation of the policy will happen on both an informal (through teacher observation) and formal basis (use of surveys and questionnaires).

Success Criteria:

·                       Positive feedback from teachers, parents and pupils

·                       Well-being and happiness of the whole school community in the light of incidents of bullying behaviour encountered and fewer problems in the yard.

·                       Increase in numbers of children reporting

11. This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on 8/3/17

12. This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parent's Association. A copy of the policy will be made available to the Department and patron if requested.

13. This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the BOM 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 and provided to the Parent's association. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and to the Department.