Policy can be downloaded from here.
Statement of Ethos
We in Fingal Community College believe in a whole school approach to managing bullying.
This Anti-bullying Policy has been developed following consultation with students, staff and parents.
Fingal Community College is a caring and proud learning community committed to the pursuit of excellence. Students, teachers and parents are encouraged and supported to be the best that they can be in a school environment that respects diversity and fosters justice and equality for all.
The core values of our philosophy are based on the concepts of Fairness, Courage, Courtesy. Our motto is “Achieving with Care”. In this context we believe that every member of the college community can make an excellent contribution when they interact in a positive environment free from threats, harassment and intimidation.
This policy addresses bullying behaviour and harassment. The policy will apply during school time, and during all extra-curricular activities and while students are involved in any school business, outing or trip.
The purpose of this policy is to protect the rights of every member of the College community and to allow them to be productive members of the school community in an environment that is safe and free from intimidation and fear. The College will work proactively with all the partners in our community to ensure that, in as far as is feasible, bullying does not take place. We believe that an important facet in this proactive work is that there be an awareness in the school community about the reality of bullying and the detrimental effects it can have.
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 Fingal Community 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 also complies with other relevant legislation which includes:
- Education (Welfare) Act, 2000
- Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2004
- Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post-Primary Schools
- The DES Guidelines on countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post Primary Schools, 1993
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989
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;
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
- 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.
Definition of Bullying
In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools (2013) 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,
- 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. It should also be noted that deliberately accusing a person of bullying in the wrong will be regarded as an extremely serious offence.
Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Appendix 1.
The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:
- Principal: Mrs. McGrath
- Deputy Principal: Ms. Donnellan
- Year Heads
- Guidance Counsellors
- Any member of staff with whom the student feels comfortable.
Additional information on the roles and responsibilities of all the parties involved can be found in Appendix 2.
Education and Prevention Strategies
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:
a) Publishing and Publicising the Anti-Bullying Policy.
The Anti-Bullying Policy must be signed by a parent or guardian when their child commences in the school. The Policy will be published in the college journal, displayed on the college website and distributed to all new members of staff.
b) Pupils learn from what they see around them and in our school we endeavour always to model respectful behaviour to all members of the school community at all times.
c) The issue of bullying, including cyber, identity, homophobic and transphobic is dealt with in PDE, SPHE, RSE, CSPE and RE.
d) The school operates an Acceptable Use of Internet and Communications Technology Agreement.
e) The school operates a Student Council and each class elects a student representative. All students are aware that they can inform School Management about issues concerning bullying through their Student Council representatives.
f) Supervision takes place before school, during morning break, at lunch-time and after school. All teaching and non-teaching staff are aware of the importance of noting any unacceptable behaviour. “Hot spots” and “hot times” in school have been identified and supervision of these areas and times has been prioritised in order to prevent and deal with bullying.
g) As self-esteem is a major factor in determining behaviour, the school, through both curricular and extra-curricular programmes, provides pupils with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth. The extra-curricular programmes include sports, Maths club, Reading group, Science and Scifest group, Coding, Green Schools group, School Bank, Spanish Club, Rainbows, Video Club, Breakfast Club,
h) The school runs an Awards system which enhances student self-esteem.
i) LGBT posters are on the notice boards and a workshop for LGBT awareness is run.
j) Pupils with disabilities and SEN are included in all school activities and the school continues to cultivate a school culture which has respect for all and where helping one another is central.
k) A number of subjects provide opportunities for discussion of inappropriate use of authority eg. the literature chosen at both Junior and Senior Cycle in English classes is used to stimulate discussion (eg. To Kill a Mockingbird, Summer of my German Soldier, How Many Miles to Babylon, Sive). Students are taught formal debating which teaches respect for and acceptance of difference. In Geography and History references to colonisation, exploitation and dictatorships are used to illustrate the negative aspects of power. Sporting activities are used as opportunities for channelling and learning how to control aggression and for teaching sportsmanship. Reading comprehension exercises in Gaeilge, French, German and Spanish deal with the issue of bullying. The Bodyright and Bodywhys programmes are used and in Development Education Human Rights awareness is explored. In Art respect for others’ space and belongings is taught. In Business and LCVP bullying is dealt with in terms of Health and Safety in the workplace and the legal perspective is investigated and examined.
l) We highlight and explicitly teach school rules in the classroom and through notices on the corridors and in classrooms. When doing group-work or pair-work we teach rules of behaviour and acceptance that while everyone is different opinions are all of equal value. We teach the ‘one voice rule’ as a way of being respectful to all.
Investigation, Follow-up and Recording
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 Appendix 3 for further detail on how to report incidents of bullying)
When the relevant teacher receives a report, including anonymous reports, she / he will investigate the report. This investigation will take place outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved. Investigations may include some or all of the following:
- Speak to student(s) concerned separately and try to resolve the issue.
- If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first and then the group as a whole is met where each member will be asked for his/her account.
- Seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why.
- Student may be asked to write their own account of what happened.
- Speak with any bystanders or others involved.
- Some situations can be resolved through facilitation of mediation by the relevant teacher. This may involve bringing the parties together to talk through the difficulty and agree on strategies for the future.
- Parents/Guardians 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. Parents may be called in to sign or witness the signature of a written agreement with regard to future behaviour.
Follow-up and recording:
Where the relevant teacher has determined that bullying behaviour has occurred the parents of the parties involved will be contacted and the actions being taken by the school will be explained. The actions taken may include some or all of the following:
- Challenge and describe the behaviour as being unacceptable.
- Have a serious talk with student(s) re: effects of their behaviour.
- Give the student(s) a verbal warning where the student(s) involved are spoken to and procedures and sanctions explained.
- Seek verbal agreement re future behaviour.
- Outline a fair outcome if appropriate: e.g. an apology,return of property etc.
- Detention/Suspension/other agreed sanction from school’s Code of Behaviour.
- Monitoring of future behaviour.
- Referral to Child Psychologist/Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer.
- Contact with other Support Agencies e.g. Anger Management
- The incident may be referred to the Board of Management at the discretion of the Principal.
- The Deputy Principal/Principal meets the parent or guardian and conditions set regarding student’s future behaviour.
- Counselling offered.
- The future of the student in the school may be considered.
- The relevant teacher investigating the matter completes the Report Sheet (see Appendix 4). A copy of this is kept in the student’s file. Where the ‘relevant teacher’ is not the Principal / Deputy Principal a copy of the Report Sheet is submitted to the Principal / Deputy Principal
- A record of proceedings is kept in student’s file.
- Copy of same provided to Year Head where the Year Head is not the ‘relevant teacher’.
Programme of Support
The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows:
I. Students who have been bullied may need counselling and / or opportunities to have their self-esteem raised. A Referral Form is available to all teachers where they can refer a student for Counselling. This Form is then given to the School Counsellors. The learning strategies applied within the school allow for the enhancement of the pupil’s self-worth and self-esteem. The extra-curricular activities available in the school also serve to enhance self-worth.
II. Pupils who observe bullying behaviour are encouraged to discuss this with teachers. The PDE, SPHE, RE and CSPE courses on offer to students also emphasise this.
III. As per Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011 and Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools in situations where “the incident is serious and where the behaviour is regarded as potentially abusive, the school must consult the HSE Children and Family Social Services with a view to drawing up an appropriate response, such as a management plan”.
IV. Where school personnel have concerns about a child but are not sure whether to report the matter to the HSE the Designated Liaison Person may seek advice from the HSE Children and Family Social Services.
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.
Additional information on the rationale behind this policy and links to other policies can be found in Appendix 5.