Anti-Bullying Policy

(Approved by Board of Management 2007)

Introductory Statement.
The Riversdale Community College anti-bullying policy sets out, in writing, the framework within which the whole school community manages issues relating to bullying and the school’s strategy to prevent bullying behaviour.
This policy was formulated by a task group through School Development Planning Initiatives and in consultation with the Cool Schools Programme.  Therefore we  consulted and involved all the educational partners (parents, teachers. students, Board of Management and outside agencies)in all aspects of this document.

 The policy addresses bullying behaviour, harassment and sexual harassment.

 Who  this policy applies to in Riversdale Community College.
This policy addresses issues related to bullying of students. It also includes procedures relating to school staff and parents. A separate policy drawn up by Riversdale Community College in 2007  applies to teaching and other school staff,  insofar as measures under the policy relate to them. This policy can be found in Appendix ? of this document.

NOTE: A false accusation of bullying against a member of the school community is a serious misbehaviour.

 Our anti bullying policy applies during the following  time periods and activites:-

·    School time (including break times)
·    Going to and from school
·    School tours/trips
·     Extra-curricular activities

How this policy applies to the values, ethos and mission statement of Riversdale Community College.

Riversdale Community Collegeseeks to enable each student to develop his/her full potential by:-

  •  Providing a safe and secure environment for learning.
  •  By promoting respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in society.
  • By promoting habits of mutual respect, courtesy and an awareness of the inter-dependence of people in groups and communities.
  • By taking particular care of at risk students and using our monitoring system to provide early intervention when/if necessary to respond to the needs, fears and anxieties of individual students in a sensitive manner.

The goals of our anti bullying policy are as follows:-
In precise terms, this policy sets out to achieve the following:-

1.   To create a school ethos which encourages students to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour.

2.   To raise awareness of bullying as an unacceptable form of behaviour with school management, teachers, students, parents/guardians.

3.   To create a school ethos that acknowledges, accommodates and respects a diversity of students across the nine grounds covered by the equality legislation.

4.   To ensure that the school’s Social, Personal and Health Education programme raises awareness of the factors associated with bullying behaviour and develops appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours.  It is vital that the anti bullying policy is fully implemented by all parties.

5.   To take practical actions to prevent incidents of bullying behaviour e.g. to ensure comprehensive supervision and monitoring measures through which all areas of school activity are kept under observation.

6.   To develop procedures for reporting and recording incidents of bullying behaviour.

7.   To develop procedures for investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying behaviour.

8.   To develop a programme of support for those affected by bullying behaviour and those involved in bullying behaviour.

9.    To work with, and through, the various local agencies in tackling
all forms of bullying and anti-social behaviour.

The practicalities of the policy.
The following pages set out the procedures, preventative measures and steps to address bullying issues as part of a whole school approach.
Section A.  defines bullying and identifies the types of behaviour involved. 

Section B.   
Identifies actions to prevent bullying behaviour.

Section C.   
Identifies the steps to be taken in dealing with bullying incidents.

Section (A) 
Definition of Bullying: 
Bullying is repeated aggression conducted by an individual or a group against others – such aggressive behaviour may be verbal, psychological or physical.
For the purposes of this, the term bullying also encompasses harassment and sexual harassment, defined as follows:  

  • Harassment: any form of unwanted conduct in relation to any of the nine grounds named in the equality legislation that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for the victim.
  • Sexual harassment: any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for the victim.

The nine grounds are gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the traveller community.

Types of behaviour involved 
As a school community we are very aware that the means by which individuals and groups bully can change particularly in the light of modern technological advances. The following list while currently comprehensive can be expanded and added to as situations evolve:

·   Physical aggression
·   Damage to property
·   Extortion
·   Intimidation
·   Gestures
·   Silent telephone/mobile phone calls
·   Abusive telephone/mobile phone calls
·   Abusive text messages
·   Abusive email/website messages
·   The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person
·   Isolation & exclusion
·   Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.
·   Name calling
·   Slagging
·   A combination of any of the types listed.

 

Section B
 Actions to prevent bullying behaviour  
It is our policy in Riversdale Community College that we stress the need to prevent and not just control bullying. It is not sufficient to discipline the student involved and to give support to the victim.
A primary source of raising awareness of bullying is through the Riversdale Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme. In Riversdale, SPHE is timetabled as part of the junior cycle core curriculum. SPHE provides students with opportunities to develop the skills and competencies to care for themselves and others and to make informed decisions about their health, personal lives and social development. The issue of bullying is dealt with in each of the three years of the SPHE junior cycle programme.
The SPHE Senior Cycle curriculum which is also timetabled also deals with issues related to bullying, including dealing with abusive behaviour and understanding the effects of homophobic bullying.

Action B 1: Publishing and Publicising an Anti-Bullying Code 
Our school’s  Anti-Bullying Policy is  included as part of our Mission Statement, the School Plan, The Guidance Plan, the SPHE programme, the Religious Education Programme, transfer programme, HSCL booklets, other Riversdale literature  and the Code of Behaviour.
How Riversdale Community College promotes an ethos that bullying will not be tolerated.

  • By displaying anti bullying posters in classrooms and the assembly area.
  • By promoting our policy  in the school through an annual anti bullying week where poster competitions, presentations, drama, workshops etc will highlight the issue.  During this week issues related to bullying will be promoted through cross curricular teaching approaches.  The school’s pastoral care team will take a leadership role in co-ordinating this event annually.    It will take place during the first term prior to the mid term break in October.  The week will be evaluated annually.
  • As a school community we value, welcome and encourage parental involvement in the school. Anti bulling awareness will thus be promoted through the Riversdale Home School Community Liaison scheme and drawing attention to it at parent/teacher meetings, open days, through the Local Committee and parents’ nights.
  • We recognise that students have a central role to play in building a school community which does not tolerate bullying. The Riversdale  Student Council is a vital link in this process.
  • Our school’s position on bullying is highlighted by appropriate publication in the School Plan, Guidance Plan, SHPE Programme, student journals, and a report annually in the Year Book.

 

B 2: Supervision and Monitoring

Supervision and monitoring measures through which school activities are kept under observation: 
·    All teaching staff will be mindful of bullying behaviour on the corridors and in the general environs of the school.  Some years ago the decision was made that teachers would be classroom based. Classroom based teachers should facilitate the supervision of students on the corridor area near their room during class change over periods.  Teachers involved in supervision and substitution duties must be alert to potential bullying during their supervision/substitution periods.  Every teacher has a responsibility to challenge bullying behaviour and it is the responsibility of every student to cooperate with every staff member in the school in this regard.
·    Through the student council a survey of students is currently being undertaken to identify potential bullying danger spots within the school.
·    In career training is vital to the effective implementation this policy, therefore teaching staff have already received  and will continue to receive training through the Cool Schools Programme and through our internal and external staff development activities.

·    Non-teaching staff will be involved in our policy by being vigilant and reporting incidents of bullying to middle management (assistant principals) or senior management.(deputy principal/principal)

·    Addressing technological bullying through appropriate computer usage in school.
o Only authorised classes are allowed to use computers in the computer rooms.  Computer classes must be supervised by a teacher at all times.  Internet usage must be regularly monitored by teachers.

  • Students are to use only approved class accounts for email purposes and to use these only under supervision by, or permission from, a teacher.
  • It is the responsibility of each teacher who is taking a computer class to ensure that the students only access material appropriate to the class being taught.

 

 B 3: Involving Parents/Guardians and the Wider Community

 

  • Riversdale Community College recognises parents as the primary educators of their children.  Parents/guardians therefore have an important role and responsibility  in promoting a consistent message against bullying.  Parents must emphasise that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.   Parents must also encourage their children to tell an adult should they become aware of bullying.

Riversdale Community College can assist parents and community in their role by:-

  • Making parents aware of our bullying policy.
  • Encouraging parental involvement in the anti bullying week,
  •  Raising awareness around bullying through the Home School Community Liaison scheme particularly in making literature available through the Transfer Packs and the Local Committee.  Guidelines on appropriate use of mobiles phones is available through HSCL.
  • Parents should also be aware that through our Riversdale Code of Behaviour it is the schools policy that the use of mobile phones in school is strictly forbidden.

(Note that Irish mobile operators, under the auspices of the Irish Cellular Industry Association, have devised an easy reference booklet entitled A Parent’s Guide to Mobile Phones, available from HSCL This booklet includes valuable advice on handling situations in which a young person is being bullied via mobile phone – see NCTE websitehttp://www.ncte.ie/InternetSafety/Advice/  

  • As a community college we recognise and value the important role of the community in education. Through the Local Committee local schools, J.L.O., community Gardai, Youth Workers and other community personnel  who come into regular contact with the our students will have an opportunity to support our Anti bullying policy.  This support can be done in a practical way by Riversdale staff and student representatives regularly updating the Local Committee on our policy and events such as the anti bullying week.

NOTE:- The Local Committee meets regularly in addressing educational issues in the Corduff/Mulhuddart/Ladyswell area.  Its membership comprises of  local school principals, HSCL’s, students, parents, local voluntary and community agencies, EWO, etc.

Section C
 The steps to be taken in dealing with bullying incidents in Riversdale Community College.


C 1: Procedures for reporting incidents 

Approaching a staff member:
·    Students are encouraged to report incidents of bullying to any adult they feel comfortable with in the school.  This could be a subject teacher, tutor, yearhead, guidance counsellor, chaplain, HSCL, SNA, s, school management etc.

  • We encourage  students to seek advice should they need to. The staff member should respect the student’s wishes in so far as this may be done without endangering him/her.
  • All reports of bullying, no matter how trivial, should be recorded, investigated and dealt with by teachers. In that way students will gain confidence in telling. This confidence factor is of vital importance.
  • Recording of reports of bullying.  A record book for the purpose of recording reports of bullying is kept in the main office and it is imperative that all matters relating to an incident of bullying should be entered in this book.

Action C 2: The procedures to deal with reported incidents

Note:- The procedures for dealing with incidents of bullying are adopted from the Cool School Programme Handbook.  See Appendix 1 for the steps.  Below is an overview of the procedures. For precise guidelines see Appendix 1

Minor/initial incidents of bulling.
·      After the report has been made, the tutor/yearhead must be informed and then agree who will investigate the incident.  If the disclosure is made to an individual teacher that teacher may investigate using the procedures set out in Appendix 1 but the tutor/yearhead must none the less be kept informed and the matter recorded in the Incident Report Form.
·      Procedures for managing bullying are based on a conceptual model of restorative justice.  See Appendix 2.

Subsequent/more serious incidents of bullying.
·      Should a subsequent incident of bullying occur, parents should then be informed.
·      Reported incident will be  investigated by the relevant yearhead and members of the Care Team may be involved at that stage.
·      It is important that  confidentiality be maintained.
(The Guidelinesadvise that “Such incidents are best investigated outside the classroom situation to avoid the public humiliation of the victim or the pupil engaged in bullying, in an attempt to get both sides of the story.)
·      How is the person reporting the incident protected from victimisation?

Where the matter is not resolved and the behaviour persists.

  • Principal/Deputy principal become involved.
  • The Care Team become involved and counselling is offered.
  • Anger Management programme may be offered.
  • Referral to an outside agency may be deemed necessary at this stage. (such as Co. Dublin VEC. Psychological Support Service, JLO, WEB.

When all the above procedures have been followed and the school has delivered an integrated approach towards finding a resolution the following steps will be taken
·      At the discretion of the principal the incident(s) will be referred to the  Board of Management.

  • At that stage the future in the school of the student(s) who is/are displaying persistent bullying behaviours may be considered.

·      Parents have the right to appeal the decision of the Board of Management.

 C 3: Follow-up steps to be taken 
·      If a bullying matter is not quickly and satisfactorily resolved  action must be taken  to support the victim.  A meeting with the school guidance counsellor with the victim and parents/guardian must take place.  At this meeting the parent should be advised on how they can support their child. (See Bulllying in Secondary Schools, what parents need to know. Chapter 2.)  HSCL may also be offered as a continued support to parents.

  • Referral to an outside agency for support may be made.

·      Records are to be kept for a period of six years and then placed in the archive.

  • Any person writing an incident report, investigating an incident of bully or using the records to analyse patterns of behaviour may have access  to the information.

Unacceptable Behaviours other than pupil to pupil bullying.
During the course of a staff Development Day (3/10/05) a number of unacceptable “bullying” behaviours were identified.  These were:-

  • Pupil to Pupil. (Addressed in the procedures above)
  • Pupil to Teacher
  • Teacher to Pupil
  • Teacher to Teacher (Addressed in separate document See Appendix 3)
  • Teacher to Parent
  • Parent to Teacher

Unacceptable Behaviours identified by staff:- Pupil to Teacher

Procedures.

  • teacher to meet with the student and explain the inappropriate nature of the behaviour.
  • If the behaviour persists, tutor/yearhead becomes involved.
  • Failing a resolution, parents to be invited in.
  • If the situation is ongoing, counselling and per referral to the deputy principal and ultimately to Principal/board of management.

Note: At all stages a record should be kept of the investigation by the teacher involved in the first instance and subsequently by the appropriate yearhead.  If the inappropriate behaviour continues towards the teacher, all records should be passed over to the principal.

Unacceptable Behaviours identified by staff:- Teacher to Pupil
Procedures.
The teacher should be made aware that his/her behaviour is inappropriate.  If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the matter may have to be addressed by the principal.

Unacceptable Behaviours identified by staff:- Teacher to Parent.
Procedures.
The teacher should be made aware that his/her behaviour is inappropriate.  If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the matter may have to be addressed by the principal.

Unacceptable Behaviours identified by staff:- Parent to Teacher

Procedures.
The parent should be made aware that his/her behaviour is inappropriate.  If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the matter may have to be addressed by the principal.

Teacher to Teacher Behaviours

As part of County Dublin Vocational Education Committee, Riversdale Community College is  committed to ensuring a workplace environment that is characterised by mutual respect, tolerance and affirmation.
Harassment and bullying is behaviour that is destructive to a positive working atmosphere and will not be tolerated. All staff  in Riversdale Community College have the right to work in an environment free from any form of harassment, bullying or intimidatory behaviour. Procedures in this regard are dealt with under a separate policy:  Code of Practice for Dealing with Complaints of bullying and Harassment in the workplace.  See Apprndix 3.

 

Links to related school policies in Riversdale Community College
Within the framework of the overall School Plan a number of school policies are already in place, some are being reviewed and others being developed.    Existing policies have been examined by reference to the Anti-Bullying Policy to ensure there is no conflict of interest. The following school policies support our anti bullying procedures:-
·      Code of Behaviour
·      Child Protection
·      Internet Safety: Acceptable Use Policy
·      Health and Safety

Implementation Arrangements, Roles and Responsibilities.

Under the direction of the principal, the school planning steering committee and the anti bullying committee have responsibility for co-ordinating the development and review  of the policy.
For each of the actions to be taken to implement the policy and imbed the policy as part of the school procedures, a number of people have responsibility depending on the seriousness of the problem.  On a sliding scale of student misbehaviour those with responsibility are student/parent, class teachers, tutors, relevant yearhead, guidance counsellors, home school community liaison teacher, chaplain, outside agencies, deputy principal, principal, board of management.

Ratification and Communication
When the finalised draft policy has been ratified by the Board of Management, it becomes the school’s agreed Anti-Bullying Policy. We expect this process to be completed by October 2007.
At that stage the policy will be made available to parents  within the school community. The HSCL teacher will take responsibility for this.
The entire staff must be familiar with the policy and ready to put it into practice in accordance with the specified implementation arrangements.  It is important that all concerned are made aware of any changes implied in curriculum delivery, school rules, sanctions and code of behaviour.  This will be done through staff meetings.
Parents/guardians should be informed of the Anti-Bullying Policy from the time of enrolment of the student.  Parents/guardians and, where appropriate, students over 18 years, could be asked to sign a statement to the effect that they have read the policy and agree to be bound by it.   This will be done as part of the Transfer Programme during enrolment.

Monitoring and implementation of the policy
The implementation of the policy should be monitored by the anti bullying committee, school plan steering committee, principal, board of management.

  • All staff have responsibility to ensure that the actions/measures set down under the policy are being implemented.  To ensure effective implementation  teachers may seek clarification on procedures from the anti bullying committee.  Ultimately senior management must  ensure that the procedures are implemented effectively.
  •  
  • Reviewing and evaluating the policy

The policy should be reviewed and evaluated each  year early in the first term. Not withstanding yearly reviews it may be necessary to review the policy  in the light of experience of incidents of bullying behaviour encountered. Ongoing review and evaluation should take cognisance of changing information or guidelines (e.g. from the Department of Education and Science or the NEWB), legislation and feedback from parents/guardians, students, teachers and others. The policy should be revised as necessary in the light of such review and evaluation and within the framework of school planning.
Practical indicators which will be used to gauge the impact and effectiveness of the policy.
·      Are students, staff and parents/guardians are aware of the policy e.g. through prominent display of the Anti-Bullying Code in the school
·      What practical action has been taken to prevent bullying
·      What initiatives have been taken to promote equality and affirm diversity
·      Are procedures for recording, investigating and dealing with incidents of bullying being implemented
·      What positive feedback is received from students, parents/guardians and staff  in relation to the anti-bullying policy and its implementation

A. Fennessy School Planning Co-ordinator Sept 07