1961-2011     Fifty years ‘with wisdom and courage’

Anti-Bullying Policy

Regina Mundi College Anti-Bullying Policy

MISSION STATEMENT

Regina Mundi College is a Voluntary Secondary School, founded by Miss Daisy Corrigan in 1961. It is under the supervision of a Board of Directors. The ethos of the school is Christian, based on the philosophy, official teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church, while respecting other traditions, values and beliefs.

Our aims as educators are:

  • To cherish excellence in each member of the school community
  • To develop in each student a strong sense of social responsibility
  • To promote and encourage the potential of each student
  • To accommodate and nurture the ability of all our students
  • To prepare them for further education, the world of work and to become committed members of society

We aim to achieve these goals through the dynamic partnership that exists between students, parents, staff and management.

The following points provide a comprehensive description of our 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 Directors of Regina Mundi 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.

(2) The Board of Directors recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils, teachers and the wider school community 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, for example, homophobic and transphobic bullying, racial, sectarian and ethnic bullying, physical appearance, family background, special and exceptional educational needs, gender-identity and hobbies and interests bullying.  This list is not exhaustive.

  • 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.

(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, written, psychological or physical conducted, by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.   It also includes any kind of aggressive behaviour / threats and interfering with another’s property.

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.

The school will investigate all alleged incidents of bullying that occur during the time the school is acting in loco parentis.

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.

(4) The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follow

(i)                Year Head, initially, with the option to include the Deputy Principal and Principal, in consultation with the Guidance Counsellor, as deemed appropriate.  Any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.

(ii)              Where an adult member of the school community makes an allegation of bullying, other policies take effect, e.g., Dignity at Work Charter, etc..

To ensure that any such cases are dealt with appropriately, the school’s anti-bullying policy provides for appropriate linkages with the overall Code of Behaviour and provides for referral to be made to relevant external agencies and authorities where appropriate.  In the event that the school should have serious concerns in relation to managing the behaviour of a student, the advice of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) would be sought.

(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 are used by the school are as follows :

(i)                Modelling respectful behaviour to all members of the school community at all times.  This is done at Assembly, in SPHE classes and in all our daily interactions.

(ii)              Promoting the value of diversity to address issues of prejudice and stereotyping and, highlighting the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.

(iii)            The Meitheal programme – mentoring and encouraging a culture of peer respect and support.

(iv)            Explicitly teaching pupils what respectful language and respectful behaviour looks like, acts like, sounds like in class in and around the school.

(v)              Displaying key respect messages in classrooms, in the Well Area and around the school.  Involving students in the development of these messages.  Each school year  the Student Council promotes among the student population the holistic values of Care, Love, Respect, Kindness, Thoughtfulness, Protection, Generosity, Nurture, Encouragement, Praise.  A safe and secure environment is provided for all.

(vi)            Acknowledging the desired respectful behaviour by providing positive attention and positive reinforcement .

(vii)          Consistently tackling the use of discriminatory and derogatory language in the school.

(viii)        Encouraging and acknowledging respectful behaviour and respectful language at all times.

(ix)             Having a system of encouragement to promote positive behaviour – this is the norm in Regina Mundi College, where the characteristic spirit of the school promotes and reinforces positive behaviour.

(x)               Teaching students about the appropriate use of social media – this is done at Assembly and at SPHE and pastoral care classes  – visiting speakers are also invited to present on these issues.

(xi)             Positively encouraging students to comply with all school rules (including rules on mobile phone and internet usage) in school and at all school events.

(xii)           Actively involving  parents and the Parents’ Council in awareness campaigns concerning social media.

(xiii)         Actively promoting the right of every member of the school community to be safe and secure in school.

(xiv)         Highlighting and explicitly teaching school rules in student-friendly language in the classroom, in common areas and at all school events – this is done at Assembly, in all classes and via the Student Journal.

(xv)           Staff watching out for signs of bullying behaviour and following with appropriate procedures.

(xvi)         Ensuring that there is adequate supervision.

(xvii)       Staff engaging with students to help them to identify places and times when bullying can occur.  To minimise potential for occurrences of bullying, students eat lunch in their own classrooms and socialise in the Well Area, when lunch is eaten.

(xviii)     The implementation of regular whole school awareness measures, e.g. at Assembly, a dedicated notice board in the school and notices in classrooms on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; annual Friendship Week, inserts in students’ journals and Parent(s)/Guardian(s) seminars.

(xix)         Encouraging a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders.  In that way students will gain confidence in “telling”.  This confidence factor is of vital importance.  It should be made clear to all students that when they report incidents of bullying, they are not considered to be telling tales, but are behaving responsibly.

(xx)           Ensuring that students know who to tell and how to tell, e.g.:

● Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, e.g., after class.

● Hand note up with homework.

● Get a parent/guardian or friend to tell on one’s behalf.

● ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or

know that bullying is taking place.

(xxi)         Identifying clear protocols to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied.  The protocol should be developed in consultation with parents.

(xxii)       Developing an Acceptable Use Policy in the school to include the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored, as is the students’ use of mobile phones.

(xxiii)     The listing of supports currently being used in the school and the identification of other supports available to the school, e.g. GLEN www.glen.ie, BeLongTo www.belongto.org

(xxiv)     A copy of the Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying Policy is included in the Student Journal.

Implementation of curricula

▪  The full implementation of the SPHE and CSPE curricula and the RSE Programme.

▪  Continuous Professional Development  for staff in delivering these programmes.

▪  School-wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g. Cool School

Lessons, The Walk tall Programme, On My Own Two Feet.         .

▪  A variety of lessons will be delivered on topics including Relational Aggression, Cyber

Bullying, Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying, Diversity and Interculturalism.

Delivery of the Garda SPHE programme – these lessons are delivered by the Community

Gardaí and cover issues relating to personal safety and cyber-bullying.

▪  The school will also 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.

▪  Other policies, practices and activities that are particularly relevant to bullying include the

Code of Behaviour, Child Protection Policy, Substance Use Policy, Internet Use Policy,

Attendance, Punctuality, Sporting Activities, Field Trips, School Tours etc.

(6)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 is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved (rather than to apportion blame).

Investigations will be treated discreetly at all times.  The Confidentiality Policy will apply, as appropriate.

Regina Mundi College has clear procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying.  Every effort is made to ensure that all involved (including pupils, parents/guardians) understand this approach from the outset.

Reporting bullying behaviour

(i)                Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) may bring a bullying incident to any teacher in the school.

(ii)              All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying are investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher.  In that way students gain confidence in “telling”.  This confidence factor is of vital importance.  It is made clear to all students that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly.

(iii)            Non-teaching staff such as secretary, special needs assistant (SNA), sports coaches, caretaker, gardener, cleaner,  bus drivers are encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.

Investigating  and dealing with incidents

(i)                In investigating and dealing with bullying, the (relevant) teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved.

(ii)              Parents/guardians  and students 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.,

(iii)            Teachers should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by students, staff or parents.

(iv)            Incidents are generally best investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved.

(v)              All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all students concerned. Students who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way.

(vi)            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.

(vii)          If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed individually at first.  Thereafter, all those involved should be met as a group and each member of the group should be asked for her account of what happened.  It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their accounts of the incident(s).

(viii)        Each member of the group should be supported through the possible pressures that may face her from other members of the group after the interview by the teacher.

(ix)             In cases where it has been determined by the relevant teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parent(s)/guardian(s) 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 parent(s)/guardian(s) an opportunity to discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports provided to the pupils.  The school’s Code of Behaviour will take effect, should sanctions and disciplinary procedures be deemed necessary.

(x)               Where the relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to her how she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied.

(xi)             It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parent(s)/guardian(s)) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, her parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school.

Follow-up and recording

(i)                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;

–          Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parent(s)/guardian(s) or the school Principal or Deputy Principal.

(ii)              Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved should be arranged separately and discreetly with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the pupil has been bullied is ready and agreeable.

(iii)            Where a parent(s)/guardian(s) is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parent(s)/guardian(s) must be referred, as appropriate, to the School’s Complaints Procedures – a formal complaint may be made to the Board of Directors via the Manager.

(iv)            In the event that a parent(s)/guardian(s) has exhausted the school’s complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parent(s) /guardian(s) of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.

Recording of 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

(i)                All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them.  All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher.

(ii)              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.

(iii)            The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.

Informal – determination that bullying has occurred

(i)                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.

(ii)              The school, in consultation with the relevant teacher/s has developed the following protocol for the storage of all records retained by the relevant teacher.  The Report will be stored by the Year Head in a specially designated filing cabinet in the Year Heads’ Office a copy of the Report will also be given to the principal.  Once the student has left the school, the report will be attached to her record card and stored in the Archives Office.

Formal – recording the bullying behaviour

The relevant teacher must use the recording template to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:

(a)In cases where he/she considers that bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has  determined that bullying behaviour occurred; and

(b)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.

In certain circumstances, it may be deemed appropriate to report an incident directly and immediately to The Principal.

Established intervention strategies

–          Teacher interviews with all pupils

–          Negotiating agreements between pupils and following these up by monitoring progress.  This can be on an informal basis or implemented through a more structured mediation process.

–          Implementing disciplinary procedures, in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

–          Working with parent(s)/guardian(s) to support school interventions.

–          No Blame Approach.

–          Circle Time.

–          Restorative Interviews.

–          Restorative Conferencing.

–          Implementing Sociogram Questionnaires

–          Mediation.

–          Peer mediation where suitable training has been given.

–          The Method of Shared Concern.

(7) Supports for students affected by bullying

(i)                All in-school supports and opportunities will be provided for the pupils affected by bullying, to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop friendships and social skills and build resilience e.g.

–          Pastoral Care System

–          Class Teacher/Year Head system

–          SPHE Programme

–          Counselling (Guidance Counsellor)

(ii)              If pupils require further supports, the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies e bullying behaviour.

(iii)            A programme of support for those pupils involved in bullying behaviour, in line with the strategies outlined above, also forms part of the school’s intervention process.  Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an on-going basis.  For those with low self-esteem, opportunities are developed to increase feelings of self-worth.  In line with the school’s ethos, it is important that the learning strategies applied within the school allow for the enhancement of the pupil’s 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.

(iv)            Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and those who observe incidents of bullying behaviour are encouraged to discuss them with teachers

(8)  Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils

The Board of Directors 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 Board of Directors 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.

This policy was adopted by the Board of Directors on 14th May 2014.

This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Council. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills, if requested.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Directors 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 Parents’ Council. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the Department of Education and Skills.