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Drogheda Grammar School

Anti – Bullying Policy

Preamble

In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the National Educational Welfare Board, the Board of Management of Drogheda Grammar 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.

The ethos of school which states that “Every individual is of value and has something to contribute” and the school’s Code of Behaviour form the foundation on which this policy is based.

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;
  • 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;
  • 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);
  • On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy

This policy applies to the whole school community – students, teachers, management, Board of Management, parents/guardians, administrative personnel, residents and all ancillary staff.

Involving and encouraging all members of the school community in developing, formulating and reviewing this policy on bullying promotes partnership, ownership and implementation of the policy.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that bullying exists – what makes the difference is how it is dealt with. While we recognise that this is a problem the school cannot solve alone, we aim to minimise all forms of bullying and thereby minimise the impact of bullying behaviour.

Our School Philosophy

Drogheda Grammar School sees itself as an inclusive community that is
welcoming of all.  This is based on mutual respect.  We foster an atmosphere of learning that is holistic in approach and nurtures each individual student’s personal growth and development. We are committed to fostering a sense of identity and self-worth in each of our students.  We are committed to developing well-rounded individuals, with skills, attitudes, sensibilities and personal initiative that will allow each to grow into a mature, confident adult.

The school sets out to create a happy, caring and secure environment in which the individual student is able to develop his or her full potential. An awareness of the needs of others in our community is recognised and respected.  Within a supportive atmosphere every student is expected to behave responsibly and through enjoyment, enthusiasm and self-discipline become a better person. The role of parents in education is respected and their involvement is encouraged.

We recognise the need for mutual respect, trust and support, and every possible encouragement is given to develop good patterns of behaviour.

Bullying behaviour is wrong and will not be tolerated.  When students report bullying they will be listened to, supported, and validated, and the school will do its best to ensure that bullying stops.

Definition and Types of Bullying

Definition

Bullying is the repeated, deliberate aggression by one person or group of persons against another person or group of persons, which undermines the individual’s right to personal dignity. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological, racial, sexual, or relational in nature and is repeated over time.

In the context of this policy, bullying is defined as 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 this non-exhaustive definition:

i. deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying, e.g. attempting to break up friendships;
ii. cyber-bullying;
iii. identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community, bullying based on religious beliefs or lack thereof and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.

In addition, 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 may be regarded as bullying behaviour.

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 this definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

Types of Bullying

The following are some of the types of bullying behaviour that can occur amongst pupils:

Physical aggression:

This behaviour includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking and tripping people, or any form of physical force aimed at hurting or frightening another person. It may also take the form of severe physical assault.

 Threats of physical abuse.

 Aggressive or obscene language.

 Offensive joke, whether spoken or by email, text messaging or by any other means.

 Victimisation, including personal remarks.

 An attack by rumour, gossip, innuendo or ridicule on any individual’s reputation.

 Attempting to force one’s religious beliefs on another.

Intimidation:

Some bullying behaviour takes the form of intimidation.  It may be based on the use of very aggressive body language with the voice being used as a weapon.  Particularly upsetting can be a facial expression which conveys aggression and/or dislike.

 Isolation/exclusion and other relational bullying:
This occurs where a certain person is deliberately isolated, excluded or ignored by some or all of the class group.  This practice is usually initiated by the person engaged in bullying behaviour and can be difficult to detect.  It may be accompanied by writing insulting remarks about the person in public places, by passing around notes about or drawings of the person or by whispering insults about them loud enough to be heard.  Relational bullying occurs when a person’s attempts to socialise and form relationships with peers are repeatedly rejected or undermined.  One of the most common forms includes control: “Do this or I won’t be your friend anymore” (implied or stated); a group ganging up against one person (girl or boy); non-verbal gesturing; malicious gossip; spreading rumours about a person or giving them the “silent treatment.”

Cyber-bullying:

This type of bullying is increasingly common and is continuously evolving.  It is bullying carried out through the use of information and communication technologies such as text, social network sites, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), apps, gaming sites, chat-rooms and other online technologies.  Inappropriate or hurtful messaging is the most common form of online bullying.  As cyber-bullying uses technology to perpetrate bullying behaviour and does not require face-to-face contact, cyber-bullying can occur at any time (day or night). Many forms of bullying can be facilitated through cyber-bullying.  For example, a target may be sent homophobic text messages or pictures may be posted with negative comments about a person’s sexuality, appearance etc.

Name-calling:

Persistent name-calling which hurts, insults or humiliates another person (or persons) should be regarded as a form of bullying behaviour.  Often name-calling of this type refers to physical appearance, e.g. size or clothes worn.  Accent or distinctive voice characteristics may attract negative attention.  Academic ability can also provoke name calling.  This tends to occur at two extremes.  There are those who are singled out for attention because they are perceived to be weak academically.  At the other extreme there are those who, because they are perceived as high achievers, are also targeted.

Damage to Property:

Personal property can be the focus of attention for bullying behaviour.  This may result in damage to clothing, mobile phone or other device, school books and other learning material or interference with a pupil’s locker or bicycle.  Items may also be hidden or stolen.

Extortion:

Demands for money may be made, often accompanied by threats
(sometimes carried out in the event of the targeted pupil not
delivering on the demand). A pupil may also be forced into theft of
property for delivery to another who is engaged in bullying
behaviour.

This list is not exhaustive.

Negative behaviour that does not meet the above definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

Rights and Responsibilities

Students and staff have a right to learn and work in an atmosphere free from intimidation and harassment.

Every individual is entitled to respect and to be free from any type of bullying. Parents have a right to know that their children feel safe from bullying in school. All staff, students and parents have a responsibility to ensure that the anti-bullying ethos of the school is upheld.

Everyone has a responsibility to report bullying so that it can be dealt with under the agreed policy and procedures. Reporting incidents of bullying is responsible behaviour.

Reporting Bullying
Students may approach any teacher they feel comfortable with in order to report an instance or suspected instance of bullying. All staff are responsible for our school’s anti-bullying policy and ensuring reported incidences are dealt with appropriately.
However, it is important to ensure there is a clear method of investigation and reporting.

The teacher to whom an incident of bullying is reported should inform the relevant Year Head(s).  The Year Head(s) will investigate the matter and report their findings to the Deputy Principal, who is responsible for student welfare and discipline and who will sign off on all reports.

In exceptional circumstances where the relevant Year Head is unacceptable to a student an alternative member of staff may be appointed by the Principal.

In the absence of the Deputy Principal, the Acting Deputy Principal will assume the responsibilities of the Deputy Principal.

Class teachers also have a vital role to play in any effective anti-bullying strategy and will be kept informed of the progress of an investigation as appropriate.

Procedures to Deal with Bullying

Procedures for telling

It is essential that students tell if they are being bullied in school or if they know of another student who is being bullied. Students are assured that all incidents of bullying will be dealt with confidentially. Only those who need to know will be informed and every effort will be made to ensure the safety of a student reporting bullying.

Students who are concerned about bullying or who are being bullied themselves may approach any teacher they feel comfortable telling.  They may approach the teacher directly at an appropriate time, hand up a note, telephone, or get a friend/parent to tell on their behalf.  Individual teachers must take appropriate measures regarding reports of bullying behaviour in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy.

The staff member to whom bullying has been reported should bring the matter to the attention of the relevant Year Head(s).

Students may tell (either about themselves or about another student) by placing a note in the School Comment Box outside the staffroom.

A confidential questionnaire to “allow students to tell” will be distributed during Anti-Bullying week in October, in the week before the spring mid-term break and either before or after the Easter holiday, depending on when Easter falls, by the Anti-Bullying Coordinator.

Non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), bus escorts, caretakers and cleaners must be encouraged to report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them.

Any student who feels they are being bullied by a teacher should report this directly to the Principal (or get her/his parents to do so).

Procedures for investigating

School authorities must ensure that the school has clear procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying and that these are set out in the school’s anti-bullying policy. The school’s procedures must be consistent with the following:

i. The primary aim for the relevant YearHead(s), 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);

ii. In investigating and dealing with bullying, the relevant Year Head(s) and the Deputy Principal will exercise their professional judgement to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved;

iii. All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with.  In this 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.

iv. Investigation into an allegation of bullying must commence on the day the school becomes aware of the incident or incidents.

v. 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;

vi. It is very important that all involved (including each set of pupils and parents) understand the above approach from the outset;

vii. Teachers and Year Heads should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach when dealing with incidents of alleged bullying behaviour reported by pupils, staff or parents.

viii. Incidents should be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;

ix. 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.

x. When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant Year Head(s) should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. The history of the person accused of the bullying behaviour must also be taken into consideration. This should be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with conflict in a non-aggressive manner;

xi. If a group is involved, each member should be interviewed individually.

xii. Each member of a group should be supported through the possible pressures that they may face from the other members of the group after being interviewed;

xiii.  It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s).

All investigations carried out by Year Heads will be done as confidentially as possible, bearing in mind the Child Protection Policies.

The student or students who disclose a bullying incident will be interviewed first and then the target of the bullying behaviour and any witnesses will be interviewed.  Finally, those implicated will be interviewed.

Students will be interviewed individually, but may have a member of staff of their choice present on their behalf (as an observer only) for the welfare and safety of all.  A second teacher may also be present as an observer. All interviews will be conducted with sensitivity and due regard for the rights of all students involved.

The Year Heads and the Deputy Principal will use their professional judgement in determining if bullying has occurred.  When it has occurred they will keep appropriate written records which will assist in the efforts to resolve the issues and restore as far as is practicable the relationships of the people involved.

Action to be taken

i. In cases where it has been determined 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 (with reference to the school anti-bullying policy). The school should give parents an opportunity to discuss ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school;

ii. Where it has been determined that a pupil has 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;

iii. It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parents) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his or her parents and the school.  The student who has been bullied will be informed that the matter has been dealt with and told to report any further instances of bullying behaviour.

iv. All instances of bullying must be recorded by the relevant Year Head(s) in the recording template.

If a student is found to have engaged in bullying behaviour, a graded sanction system will be used, in accordance with the Code of Behaviour.  The sanctions to be imposed will be decided by the relevant Year Head(s) and the Deputy Principal.  Appeals should be directed to the Principal.

Sanctions

• Verbal Warning
• Written warning
• Detention or community service
• Apology
• Suspension
• Escorted to and from school by a parent (especially where the bullying/harassment occurs en route to and from school)
• Expulsion

This list is not exhaustive and need not occur in the order listed above.

Follow-up

Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties 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, but may not always be appropriate.

In cases where the relevant Year Head(s) and/or the Deputy Principal considers that the bullying behaviour has not ceased within five school days after it has been determined that the bullying behaviour has occurred, this shall be recorded in the template at Appendix 1 and copied to the Principal.

In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the relevant Year Head(s) and the Deputy Principal must, as part of their 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 parents or the Principal or Deputy Principal.

Appeals

Where a parent is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with this policy, the parents may be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.  Appeals are normally directed to the Principal.

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.

Serious instances of bullying behaviour may, in accordance with the
Children First and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, be referred to the HSE Children and Family Services and/or the Gardaí as appropriate.

Education and Prevention Strategies

This policy will be available on the school website. A copy of the summary will be given to all parents/guardians and discussed with parents on the induction day. All new staff, students and parents will be informed about the policy and procedures.

An anti-bullying curriculum will be taught to all first year students early in the school year.

There will be on-going teacher training in the management of bullying behaviour.

Preventative measures begin with whole school agreement on the policies and procedures to be followed when bullying is reported.

Every student, on entering Drogheda Grammar School, must sign a Code of Behaviour contract, which includes the following undertakings agreed to by all students and their parents/guardians:

• to help build an atmosphere which is caring and friendly;

• to behave appropriately inside and outside the classroom towards all other students and all members of staff;

• to treat others as I would wish to be treated myself;

• not to bully, intimidate, or in any way victimise anyone else;

• not to engage in behaviour , particularly while in uniform or via electronic media, that would bring the school into disrepute.

Each student must sign the Anti-Bullying Pledge, Appendix 4, annually, during Anti-Bullying Week.

An anti-bullying awareness/friendship week will be held annually before the first mid-term break.

The school confirms that appropriate supervision and monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour.

The school affirms its commitment to the use of the SPHE and RSE curricula to provide opportunities to explore bullying and to enhance students’ ability to recognise and respond to bullying.

The school has a proactive approach to the prevention of bullying, incorporating strategies into its 1st Year induction programme and by the use of continuous programmes into 2nd year.

Support

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

o All teachers of students affected by or involved in bullying incidents will be briefed by the relevant Year Head(s) as appropriate, and may be asked to keep a watchful eye on the student.  Any sanctions imposed will be included in the briefing.

o The relevant Year Head(s) will maintain contact with all students affected by bullying and their parents, until satisfied that the situation has been satisfactorily resolved.

 

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 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 is available to school personnel, published on the school website and is otherwise readily available to the parents and pupils, on request, and provided to the Parent Teacher Association.  A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department of Education and Skills and the Trustees if requested.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year using Appendix 4 and the “Notification regarding the Board of Management’s annual review of the anti-bullying policy” as outlined in “Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools” (Department of Education and Skills, September 2013).

This policy was adopted by the Board of Management in November 2014 and has been approved by the Student Council and PTA.