Policy against bullying

Anti-bullying policy Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn
Aibreán 2014

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 Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn 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.

School Ethos:

Under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the child, schools have a duty to protect the children in their charge from physical and mental violence.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn acknowledges the right of each member of the school community to enjoy school in a safe environment.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn promotes positive habits of self-respect, self-discipline and responsibility among all its members.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn disapproves of vulgar, offensive, sectarian, racist, sexist or other aggressive behaviour by any of its members.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn has a clear commitment to promoting equity in general and gender equity in particular in all aspects of its functioning.

  • The Board of Management of Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn 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 (including awareness raising measures) that build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils and which address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including 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
  • 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.
  • Extortion
  • Intimidation
  • Name calling
  • Slagging
  • Bullying of school personnel
  • Damage to property

Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messages, do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour.

In Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn children’s mobile phones are not permitted to be switched on during school time. Social network sites such as Facebook are never to be used by children as the age limit of 13 years excludes them.
In the context of this policy however, where a child gains access to a social network site, the placing of a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on such a 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.
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 can be found on our school website.

The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows: (see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools):
The class teacher and relevant teachers involved will deal with an issue of bullying in Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn.
The principal is kept aware of all incidents of bullying at all times.

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 (see Section 6.5 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools):

Educational and Preventative Measures

The Gaelscoil strives to exert positive and lasting influences towards forming pupil’s attitudes and values through incorporating some off or all of the following programmes…..the Core Curriculum (Croí na scoile), Circle Time, the Walk Tall Programme, SPHE, the Stay Safe programme, Zippy’s friends, Fun friends and friends for life along with relevant websites (Appendix 1 Useful links). Any relevant programmes or lesson plans to deal with identity based bullying may be downloaded from the Educate Together or An Foras Patrúnachta websites.In as far as is possible Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn will focus on Educating pupils on how to stay safe on line. This shall be done by educating pupils on the dangers of online activities and by encouraging the use of responsible behaviour while on line.
Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn takes particular care of “at risk” pupils and uses its monitoring system to provide early intervention when / if necessary and responds to the needs, fears or anxieties of individual members in a sensitive manner. These monitoring systems include the ongoing development of a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and for those involved in bullying behaviour. Regular inter staff case conferences on specific cases and discussions at staff meetings as necessary along with discussions with parents will take place.

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:
(see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools):

  • Procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying:
  • 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).
  • 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. 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 secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretakers, cleaners must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the relevant teacher.
  • 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 may face them 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.
  • 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, that this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his or her parents and the school;
  • 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;
  • 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:
  1. Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased;
  2. Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as is practicable.
  3. Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable.
  4. Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parents or the school Principal or Deputy Principal.
  • · 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.

In cases where the relevant teacher considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, it must be recorded by the relevant teacher in the recording template at Appendix 3 (See

Section 6.8.10)

Procedures for recording bullying behaviour:
(i) While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher will use his/her professional judgement in relation to the records to be kept of these reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same.
(ii) 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.
(iii) The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 of the Department of Education’s circular 0045/2013 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
  • 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 school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows (see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools).
A programme of support for pupils who have been bullied is in place. 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. These supports are part of the school’s intervention programme as previously referred to earlier in this document.

A programme of support for pupils involved in bullying behaviour is also part of the school’s intervention process. Pupils involved in bullying behaviour need assistance on an ongoing basis. For those with low self-esteem, opportunities have, and are being, 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.

Pupils who observe incidents of bullying behaviour should be encouraged to discuss them them with teacher.Programme for work with victims, bullies and their peers:
As a pupil involved in bullying

What Can You Do If You Are Being Bullied?

Remember that your silence is the bully’s greatest weapon!

  • Tell yourself that you do not deserve to be bullied, and that it is WRONG!
  • Be proud of who you are. It is good to be individual.
  • Try not to show that you are upset. It is hard but a bully thrives on someone’s fear.
  • Stay with a group of friends/people. There is safety in numbers.
  • Be assertive – shout “No!” Walk confidently away. Go straight to a teacher or member of staff.
  • Fighting back may make things worse. If you decide to fight back, talk to a teacher or parent/guardian first.
  • Generally it is best to tell an adult you trust straight away. You will get immediate support. Teachers will take you seriously and will deal with bullies in a way which will end the bullying and will not make things worse for you.

If You Know Someone Is Being Bullied:

  • TAKE ACTION! Watching and doing nothing looks as if you are on the side of the bully. It makes the victim feel more unhappy and on their own.
  • If you feel you cannot get involved, tell an adult IMMEDIATELY.
  • Do not be, or pretend to be, friends with a bully.

As a Parent:

  • Look for unusual behaviour in your children. For example, they may suddenly not wish to attend school, feel ill regularly, or not complete work to their normal standard.
  • Always take an active role in your child’s education. Enquire how their day has gone, who they have spent their time with, how lunch time was spent etc.
  • If you feel your child may be a victim of bullying behaviour, inform the School IMMEDIATELY. Your complaint will be taken seriously and appropriate action will follow. (Please refer to the definition of bullying in this policy)
  • It is important that you advise your child not to fight back. It can make matters worse!
  • Tell your own son or daughter that there is nothing wrong with him or her. It is not his or her fault that they are being bullied.
  • Make sure your child is fully aware of the School policy concerning bullying, and that they will not be afraid to ask for help.

As A School:

  • In order to minimise opportunities for bullying, we provide increased supervision at problem times particularly in ‘hot spots’. (Areas where bullying has occurred)
  • We use any opportunity to discuss aspects of bullying, and the appropriate way to behave towards each other in our school. (See programmes used in our preventative measures)
  • We endeavour to deal quickly, firmly and fairly with any complaints, involving parents where necessary.
  • We encourage pupils to discuss how they get on with other people and to form positive attitudes towards other people. This includes a review of what friendship really is. (See programmes used in our preventative measures)
  • We encourage pupils to treat everyone with respect.

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 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 Management on ________________ [date].

This policy has been made 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. 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.
Signed: __________________________ Signed: ___________________________
(Chairperson of Board of Management) (Principal)

Date: ______________ Date: __________________
Date of next review: _______________
http://www.hse.ie (Responding to bullying, First Steps for teachers)
http://www.teachingtolerance.org (good lesson plans)
http://www.ispcc.ie/shield *
http://www.watchyourspace.ie (DREAMS video to show class)
http://www.thebullyproject.com (SEN)
http://www.bully4u.ie *
http://www.adl.org (anti-defamation leagues)
http://www.antibullyingcampaign.ie (lesson plans and videos Ireland)
http://www.kidshealth.org (bystanders)
http://www.scholastic.com (lesson plans on the role of the bystander)
http://www.open-circle.org (telltale v. telling on a bully)
http://www.pacer.org (bullying videos and toolkits, walk in their shoes)
http://www.michelleborba.com (teach kids to CALM down/ stress management)
http://www.modelmekids.com (faces and emotions age 2-8 confidence & bullying prevention age 9-17)
http://www.bullystoppers.com (101 good comebacks)

Books for children
The juice box bully,
The bully blockers
The hundred dresses,
Bully for you