Bullying Policy

The following policy document was drawn up using the guidelines issued by the Department of Education and Skills. It forms an appendix to the school’s Child Protection documentation.

Definition

Bullying consists of repeated inappropriate behaviour whether by word, by physical action or otherwise, directly or indirectly applied, by one or more persons against another person or persons which undermines the individual person’s right to personal dignity.

Note: This is not to be confused with good-natured banter that goes on as part of the normal social interchange between pupils or normal professional classroom management by teachers.

Types of behaviour deemed to be inappropriate

  • Humiliation; including name-calling, reference to academic ability etc.
  • Intimidation; including aggressive use of body language.
  • Verbal abuse, anonymous or otherwise.
  • Physical abuse or threatened abuse.
  • Aggressive or obscene language.
  • Offensive jokes; whether spoken or by email, facebook, text messaging etc.
  • Victimisation; including very personal remarks.
  • Exclusion and isolation.
  • Intrusion through interfering with personal possessions or locker.
  • Repeated unreasonable assignment to duties that are obviously unfavourable.
  • Repeated unreasonable deadlines or tasks.
  • Threats, including demands for money.
  • An attack by rumour, gossip, innuendo or ridicule on any individual’s reputation.

Statement on Bullying

Every person in the school is entitled to respect and to be free of any type of bullying.

The school will work proactively, as far as it can, to ensure that bullying does not take place.

Reporting incidents of bullying is responsible behaviour and not telling tales.

A record will be kept of any genuine incidents of bullying.

The matter will be dealt with seriously.

Appropriate action will be taken to ensure that it does not continue.

Anti-Bullying Policy – Pupils

It is School policy to provide education on bullying in the following manner:

Every pupil is issued with the school’s “All about Bullying” leaflet. All form teachers go through this with their forms at the start of each term and reiterate it if need arises.( Attached in appendix)

The school has an excellent pastoral care system in place, using form teachers, teachers, matrons, gap students. Reports of all incidents (wherever they may have been reported) will be filtered through the Headmaster, who is the primary person for pastoral care of all pupils.

Procedures for Noting and Reporting Incidents of Bullying

Pupils should discuss any incident of bullying with a teacher or another trusted adult within the school system; this is responsible behaviour rather than “telling tales”.

Parents/guardians should contact the Headmaster regarding incidents of bullying behaviour which they might suspect or that have come to their attention through their children or other parents.

Incidents of bullying behaviour, no matter how trivial, which are drawn to the attention of a teacher, will be dealt with in the following manner

Appropriate personnel will interview all of the pupils involved in a bullying incident.

The alleged victim and alleged perpetrators of the incident will be spoken to and encouraged to solve the problem.

All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils involved.

Records will be kept of all incidents and of the procedures that were followed.

Form teachers will be kept informed of all incidents and have access to relevant written records.

The Headmaster will monitor progress of pupils involved in a bullying incident by liaising with the form teacher(s) and pupils involved (separately) at follow-up meetings.

Where the incident is deemed to be minor, a verbal warning will be given to the bully to stop the inappropriate behaviour, pointing out how he/she is in breach of the normal standards of behaviour at Headfort and trying to get him/her to see the situation from the victim’s point of view. If deemed appropriate, parents may be contacted. The incident will no longer be considered if there is no recurrence within that academic term.

If the behaviour persists, the parents/guardians of the victims and bullies will be informed. Thus, they will be given the opportunity of discussing the matter and are in a position to help and support their children before a crisis occurs. Appropriate sanctions will be imposed. The incident will no longer be considered if there is no recurrence within that academic year.

If there is a serious incident, perhaps repeated verbal assault or coercion, Headmaster and parents will be involved and appropriate sanctions applied.

Where the incident is deemed to be more serious (e.g. gross misbehaviour or physical assault), the Headmaster should be informed immediately and he will inform the Board if necessary.
Offenders and victims of bullying may be referred to counselling with parental agreement.

Sanctions may include:

  • A contract of good behaviour
  • Withdrawal of privileges
  • Other sanctions as may be deemed appropriate
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

In the case of a complaint regarding a staff member, this should be referred immediately to the Headmaster.

Where cases, relating to either pupil or teacher, remain unresolved at school level, the matter should be referred to the Board.

In order to appeal a decision, a parent/pupil may request a review by writing to the Headmaster.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Board is responsible for ensuring that the policy is implemented.

Success Criteria

Without being complacent the School hopes to have few incidents of bullying and that, when there are victims, they are satisfied with its treatment of the incident.

Monitoring

Staff should be alert to and discuss at staff meetings any bullying incidents.

Review and evaluation

The documentation should be reviewed annually and amended if necessary in the light of experience.

Appendix 1 Advice for teachers investigating and dealing with bullying

Teachers are best advised to take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents/guardians. Such incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying involved, in an attempt to get both sides of the story. 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, 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 gang is involved, each member should be interviewed individually and then the gang should be met as a group. Each member should be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone is clear about what everyone else has said.

If it is concluded 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 accepted standards of behaviour expected at Headfort and try to get him/her to see the situation from the victim’s point of view.

Each member of the gang should be helped to handle the possible pressures that often face them from the other members after interview by the teacher.

Teachers who are investigating cases of bullying behaviour should keep a written record of their discussions with those involved. It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident.

In cases where it has been determined that bullying behaviour has occurred, consult with the Headmaster who may decide to meet with the parents or guardians of the parties involved. If so, he will explain the actions being taken and the reasons for them, referring them to the school policy. He would also discuss ways in which parents/guardians can reinforce or support the actions taken by the school.

The Headmaster may then arrange follow-up meetings with the parties involved separately, with a view to possibly bringing then together at a later date if the victim is ready and agreeable. (This can have a therapeutic effect.)