Code of Behaviour
Bishop Murphy Memorial School
This Code of Behaviour has been devised by the school principal in consultation with a all staff members, the members of the Board of Management, the Parents Association and the entire parent body.
- The Board of Management of Bishop Murphy Memorial School decided to review the Behaviour Policy to ensure that it is in compliance with legal requirements and good practice as set out in Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools, NEWB, 2008.
- It is a requirement under the Education Welfare Act, 2000, Section 23 (1) which refers to the obligation on schools to prepare a code of behaviour in respect of the students registered at the school. It details in Section 23(2), that the code of behaviour shall specify:
- The standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school;
- The measures that shall be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards;
- The procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school concerned;
- The grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student; and
- The procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school.
Relationship to Characteristic Ethos of our school
Bishop Murphy Memorial School seeks to enable each child to develop his potential in a caring environment where the talents of each child are nurtured and valued. Our code of behaviour reflects the vision of the child at the centre of the learning process and we hope to ensure that each child is provided with experiences that are relevant and age appropriate to his needs in a disruptive free environment. The school climate and atmosphere are created by the actions and behaviour of everyone in the school. The behaviour of adults in a child’s life, including parents and teachers, is a significant influence on how a child acts. The code will be most effective where there is a high level of openness and co-operation between staff, parents and pupils. A clear understanding among all the partners of the standards of behaviour required and the procedures to be adopted where there are breaches of the code also helps ensure a harmonious environment where all can work effectively.
In devising this code, consideration has been given to the particular needs and circumstances of our school. The aim is to create an ordered and orderly environment in which pupils can, through developing self-discipline, feel secure and make progress in all aspects of their development. This code of behaviour describes the school’s expectations about how each member of the school community will help to make the school a good place for teaching and learning. Every effort will be made by all members of staff to adopt a positive approach to the question of behaviour in the school and the over-riding aims will be;
- To ensure an educational environment that is guided by our vision statement; ‘Ár ndícheall i gCónaí – “Always our best/Striving for excellence”
- To promote positive behaviour and self-discipline recognising the differences between children and the need to accommodate these differences;
- To create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and consideration of others;
- To enhance the learning environment and allow the school to function in an orderly way where children can make progress in all aspects of their development;
- To ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the school community;
- To assist the parents and children in understanding the systems and procedures that form part of the Code and to seek their co-operation in the application of these procedures;
- To ensure that the system of rules, rewards and sanctions are implemented in a fair and consistent manner throughout the school.
1.1 Whole school approach in promoting positive behaviour
It is vital that there is a positive school ethos based on the relationships between teachers and the ways in which pupils and teachers treat each other. It is of utmost importance that this positive ethos permeates all the activities of the school and helps in forming a strong sense of social cohesion within the school.
School Rules and Expectations
Routine and structure play a vital part in ensuring an effective implementation of our code so that pupils and teachers can work in an ordered setting. Accordingly it is necessary that pupils observe the following rules. The standards and rules contained in the Code of Behaviour would usually apply in any situation where the pupil, although outside the school, is still the responsibility of the school. Examples include school tours, games and extra- curricular activities and attendance at events organised by the school.
- Pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the school and not to do anything within or without that would reflect adversely on the school’s good name.
- Pupils should give good example to their peers but especially to the younger pupils in the school.
- Teachers may send pupils to the Principal because of misbehaviour. However this course of action should be avoided if possible lest the effect of this sanction be minimised by over-frequent visits and/or for petty reasons.
- Pupils are expected to show courtesy and respect to everyone in the school community and when they represent the school at a particular event or on a school outing. Bullying, aggressive behaviour, rough play or bad language will not be tolerated.
- Full school uniform is expected to be worn at all times except for P.E. when a tracksuit is to be worn, (uniform on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays– tracksuit on Mondays & Fridays). A high standard of personal hygiene is expected from all pupils, and parents are encouraged to promote this high standard. Pupils are expected to have tidy haircuts, with hair of uniform length. Hair dye or designs are not permitted. Hair of ‘blade 1’ length is not permitted.
- It is essential that the children be on time for school every day.
- Gates open at 8:45am. Official school start time is 9 am
- Classes end each day at: 2:40 pm.
- It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child arrives at school no later than at 9.00 a.m. and collected at the appropriate time as above. The school cannot accept responsibility for children before or after the times quoted above.
- It is important that children are not dropped to school too early and so remain unsupervised outside the school gate.
- A written communication from parents will be required for:
- Any absence from school which should be dated, signed and give a reason for the absence- please use absent notes at the back of school journal to inform your child’s class teacher of any absence
- A parent wishing that their child leaves school early – the parent must collect the child from the classroom;
- A child coming to school without completed homework, (homework to be checked and journals to be signed by a parent/guardian each night);
- If a child is not wearing the school uniform;
- Non-participation in certain school activities, (for valid reasons – e.g. medical etc.).
- Pupils are expected to pay attention in class, to follow the instructions of the teacher and to complete satisfactorily, with neatness and accuracy, all assignments which they are given both at school and for homework.
- Pupils are expected to walk quietly when moving about the school. In the interest of pupil safety, rough play is forbidden in the school yard. Pupils are expected to be quiet and orderly when in their assembled lines.
- On days that pupils cannot use the playground during lunchtime, it is essential that they remain seated for the duration of the lunch break.
- Pupils who wish to leave the playground during lunchtime must obtain prior permission from the supervising teacher.
- Footballs will be retrieved once daily if they go ’out of bounds’. The pupils will play alternative games, pre-organised/arranged by the classroom teacher in circumstances where a class is without a football.
- Pupils are forbidden to bring Tipp-Ex bottles or similar products to school.
- Considering that Bishop Murphy Memorial School is a Health Promoting School, all children should bring a wholesome, nutritious lunch. Chewing gum, lollipops, fizzy drinks, glass bottles or cans are not allowed. Foods containing nuts/nut traces and shell fish are not allowed as a number of children have severe allergies.
- Children must respect school property and other people’s belongings, they should have a sense of pride in their school and in their environment and should not litter the area, considering that we are a Green School and promote Green School values.
- Pupils are not allowed to bring any valuables, expensive games or jewellery to school.
- If a parent suspects that their child is feeling ill, it may be advisable to keep them at home, (at parents’ discretion). The school must be notified if the child has/or develops a health problem and appropriate medical information given to the relevant teacher.
- Mobile Phones and electronic devices owned by the pupil/family are banned from the school
SUMMARY OF CLASSROOM RULES (NON EXHAUSTIVE)
- Obey your teacher and supervising staff
- Pay attention during lesson time and respond immediately to teacher instructions
- Have all school materials organised properly
- Speak politely during class and remain seated when requested to do so
SUMMARY OF PLAYTIME RULES (NON EXHAUSTIVE)
- Pupils should be encourage to show respect for the rights of others when entering and leaving the school –
do not congregate at doors or gates
do not cycle inside the school grounds
do not congregate on footpaths outside the school
do not impede the movement of others outside the school gates
- A pupil should not leave the yard for any reason without the supervising teacher’s permission.
- Follow directions of the person in charge.
- A pupil should not return to his classroom without permission.
- Interfering with and/or disruption of games will not be tolerated. Traditional play areas should be observed.
- Rough play, fighting, gangs and piggy-backs should not be allowed.
- Standing on railings ledges, walls, seats etc. should not be permitted.
- Playing on steps is forbidden.
- Footballs kicked outside the play area should be retrieved only with the supervising teacher’s permission.
- Play in the permitted areas
- Play in a gentle and friendly manner
- 2nd bell- FREEZE-Walk to line – On the sound of the 2nd bell the children should freeze for 30 seconds. The teacher on yard will call the class group to walk to their line and remain in the line quietly
- Move safely and with caution.
- Classes should return to their classrooms only when told to do so. There should be no passing out or running on the way to the classroom.
In our school, we treat all children with respect and dignity. There is a strong sense of community and cooperation among staff, pupils and parents and all are agreed that their focus is primarily on the promotion and recognition of positive behaviour …’It is important that the policy is accepted by all staff.’(Circular 20/90).
Bishop Murphy Memorial School aims to promote this sense of unity among staff, pupils and parents. This is apparent in the warm and supportive environment created throughout the school.
The school awards the line of the month in the yard. The class which display the best behaviour in the yard during each assembly receives
There is also Student of the Month award. Each month the staff choose a student from each class. This is based on behaviour in all aspects of the school day; both in the classroom as well as in the yard at break time. It is based on positive attitude towards all school activities as well as improvement and progress of an individual throughout the month. The photograph of these students is displayed both inside and outside the school thus parents are aware of these initiatives.
Further to these measures there is a ceremony at the end of each year recognising the achievements of individuals in a variety of areas. There is a Student of the Year award, Most Improved Student award and Best behaved Student. These are very positive measures that are highly regarded by the students and are a further source of motivation in coherence with the measures adopted by each individual classroom to reward pupil’s efforts.
These initiatives are highlighted to parents in the newsletter/website which publishes all awards. All staff have agreed that these rewards are an effective system in promoting positive behaviour throughout the school.
All staff are fully aware of the code of behaviour. A policy of the code of behaviour is distributed to all new members of staff at the beginning of the school year to ensure consistency throughout the school.
The code of behaviour caters for children who may present behavioural difficulties arising from their special education needs by ensuring that all awards are based on pupils making every effort in all school activities. It was specifically stated to pupils that awards were not based on academic results and achievements. These awards are designed to facilitate children of all academic levels including children with special education needs. The special education teachers (S.E.T.) provide additional support to children with special education needs in the preparation and publication of their work in the newsletter. This allows children with specific learning difficulties to excel in this field with confidence.
Mainstream class teachers work alongside the special education team to employ certain strategies that are suitable to the learning difficulties of students. For example a child may have a chart documenting his behaviour on a daily basis. The pupils and teacher will work independently of the class to help improve the difficulty the child is encountering ie. Behaviour problem etc, this is all outlined in the child’s I.E.P.
1.4 The school’s SPHE curriculum is used to support the code of behaviour. It aims to help our children develop communication skills, appropriate ways of interacting and behaving and conflict resolution skills. It also aims to foster self-esteem and to help children accommodate difference and develop citizenship.
The S.P.H.E. programme encourages positive behaviour in that the school uses various activities and systems where children are encouraged to make responsible decisions. Discussions surrounding behaviour in the yard, communicating with other children in the school and the implementation of the school rules ensure that all children have a vast knowledge of the acceptable behaviour in the school. Monitoring of the children at break and lunch time by the staff on the yard duty in an integral part of the school system. All staff must ensure that they are working towards the same goals to ensure that the school ethos is maintained. Communication among staff is vital. As well as the class teacher monitoring the response of the pupils.
All school staff are working towards a common target. Each staff member communicates and discuss issues which may arise during SPHE session and throughout the school day. Teachers will continuously support each other by informing each other of any instances in the yard both positive and negative. More experienced teachers are on hand to support and facilitate newly appointed teachers in promoting positive behaviour.
Parents of children in the school are informed of the curriculum through the lessons and homework that the children are given by the teacher. This allows parents to get an insight into the areas being covered in S.P.H.E. and thus they can support the area that is being covered by the teacher.
Activities which are used to develop these skills in children include, circle time, discussion, paired work, and group activities. In addition to these strategies, this school uses a system called ‘Cross Age Peer Tutoring’ which involves children from senior classes acting as mentors for the junior classes. This allows children to get to know each other and develop a positive caring relationship between them.
1.5 Board of Management
‘The Board of Management has a role to play in the maintenance of desirable standards of behaviour in a school. It should be supportive of the Principal Teacher in the application of a fair code of behaviour and discipline within the school’ (Circular 20/90).
The Board of Management is consulted by ensuring they are give a draft copy of the policy in which they can review and make suggestions for amendments.
They support the policy by regularly consulting the principal on all aspects of behaviour.
They support the staff by ensuring that teachers have all the necessary resources for development e.g. Guest Speakers and Planning days devoted to this policy.
‘Evidence seems to indicate that schools which succeed in achieving and maintaining high standards of behaviour and discipline tend to be those with the best relationships with parents’.
‘Schools need the support of parents in order to meet legitimate expectations with regard to good behaviour and discipline’. (Circular 20/90).
Co-operation between staff and parents is encouraged through regular contact and teachers have distributed a questionnaire to parents. This allows the parents to make a valuable contribution in the formation of the policy. A draft copy will also be sent to the Parents’ Association before the copy is finalised.
A copy of the code of behaviour is communicated to the parents on the night of enrolment of their child.
Parents support the school in the promotion of positive behaviour by attending meetings in the school if required; responding to notes sent home by the teacher which may be positive or negative, ensuring the appropriate response to negative behaviour is supporting that of the teacher. Parents are aware of and cooperate with the schools system of rewards and sanctions. They also ensure that children attend school on time and help them with homework and ensure that it is completed.
Pupils are involved in drafting the code of behaviour by participating in the formation of class rules at the start of the year. Also through discussion during SPHE and other curricular areas. The children’s behaviour is continuously monitored and discussed, and the principal regularly visits each classroom for an informal discussion on behaviour. Therefore ensuring ongoing implementation of the code of behaviour.
Children are given the opportunity to monitor and review the code of behaviour through discussion of new ways to motivate pupils and ways to reward pupil’s progress.
2.1. Positive strategies for managing behaviour
‘The most effective methodology that teachers develop in attempting to manage challenging behaviour is to prevent it occurring in the first place’. (Managing Challenging Behaviour, Guidelines for teachers INTO 2004:5).
The following positive strategies are used to effectively manage behaviour in the classroom.
- Ground rules/behavioural expectations in each class that are consistent with the ethos expressed in the code of behaviour and which set a positive atmosphere for learning.
- Pupil input in devising the class rules.
- Teachers ensure that pupils understand and are frequently reminded of how they are expected to behave.
- A clear system of acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour and sanctions for misbehaviour.
- Classroom management techniques that ensure a variety of activities and methodologies to sustain pupil interest and motivation.
The following positive strategies are implemented to promote good behaviour, to prevent behavioural difficulties and to deal with incidences of unacceptable behaviour.
- A concise set of playground rules with emphasise positive behaviour and make it clear what activities are permitted. These are displayed in all communal areas of the school and devised with input from the pupils.
- Golden Book to be used by teachers to record random acts of kindness, positive behaviour of all pupils.
- All breaks are under the supervision of teacher on-duty and all SNAs in the playground or in classrooms on wet days.
- Each class is allocated a specific play area which is clearly outlined and all areas are visible to the supervising staff.
- Activities are organised in ways to minimise misbehaviour.
- SNAs are present at all times during breaks to provide assistance to on-duty teacher. They keep a close eye on the children to whom they’ve been assigned.
- On wet days interactive boards are used along with board games, jigsaws, library material etc.
- On lining up each class is brought to their classroom by the class teacher.
- SNAs on duty near toilet block determine trips to the toilet and monitor same.
- The school does not provide supervision for children remaining indoors at breaks due to illness etc. These children will go to the yard where they can be supervised.
- Procedures are in place to manage incidents of misbehaviour e.g. the colour card system, reporting to classroom teacher, time-out, withdrawal of privileges etc.
- Football Basket: Three boys from 6th class will bring out and take in the football basket to and from the yard. SNAs will only retrieve balls out of bounds during class hours and this is only permitted once a day. In the event that a class is without their football during break a bank of playground games will be provided to the children to vote on.
- A pilot system in term 2, 2018/19 for a Lunchtime-Pals system between 2nd class and 6th class; 10 minutes each day at the end of big break. One 2nd class pupil to supervise a group of four 2nd class pupils.
- Line-up: A star for best overall line-up each day. At the end of the month, the class with the most stars gets a pizza-day or other appropriate award that is not homework related.
2.4 Other areas in the school
The following positive strategies are implemented to prevent behavioural problems in corridors, halls, cloakrooms, toilets etc.
- Class teacher teaches the rules/expectations.
- Principal visits classrooms regularly to reinforce these.
- Positive behaviour is verbally commended and is further communicated to the class teacher.
- Each class teacher has his/her own system of rewards to further promote positive behaviour.
- To have noise-managers to monitor noise going up and down the stairs
3.1 Rewards and Sanctions
3.2 Rewards and acknowledgement of good behaviour
Ways in which good behaviour is publicly recognised and acknowledged in the school.
Student of the month award – trophy and one night off homework.
Student of the year awards- best behaved, most improved and overall student of the year – trophy.
Best class line-up at break time
Special occasions when pupils achievements are acknowledged.
Monthly assembly to announce student and class line-up of the month
End of year award ceremony.
Specific rewards at certain class levels.
- Star system for group behaviour
- Individual system: children have the opportunity to get a raffle ticket for the draw on Friday.
- Golden time on Friday – 30 minutes max.
- Student of the week
- Sending home a good note
- Green Card
- Gaeilgoir na Seachtaine
- Win a ticket for a raffle at the end of term
- 5 red marks – bar at end of week
- Best singer/effort tidying up after PE etc (get a pop).
3.3 Procedure for communicating ‘good news’ to parent/guardians, other classes. Principal…
Notice boards located at school gates and outside of office area containing photos of students of the month, as well as all other achievements by our pupils e.g. sport, music, charity work etc. Notes and groups texts can also be sued to communicate “good news” to parent/guardians.
3.4 Strategies for dealing with unacceptable behaviour
Misdemeanours are categorised into the following:
Minor or white card offences including:
- Homework persistently not completed
- Not following teacher-instruction after prompts
- Rough physical contact with others
- Throwing items around classroom
- Persistent provocative behaviour – pushing, shoving, nudging etc.
- Name-calling of others
- Throwing items around the classroom
- Persistently not wearing correct uniform wearing jewellery.
- Using bad language
- Unacceptable behaviour in the yard.
*On receipt of fifth card, a meeting will occur with the class teacher and parent (and possibly principal)
**Teachers need to keep a record of the number of cards being issued to pupils
Serious or yellow card offences including:
- Persistently engaging in activities which have been identified by members of staff as dangerous/inappropriate (e.g. Headlocks)
- Throwing items around the classroom threatening the safety of others
- Persistent name calling
- Disruptive behaviour e.g. back answering etc.
- Defacing school property e.g. writing on desks etc
- More than one white card issued in one day
- Five white cards accumulated in one term
Gross or red card offences including:
- Striking a child or adult to with sufficient force to cause harm
- Abusive language towards staff
- Serious assault on another child
- Leaving school grounds without permission
- Damaging school property e.g. deliberately breaking a window.
- Bullying (refer to anti-bullying policy).
- Use of mobile phone during school hours without permission
- Two Yellow Cards = red card
3.5 Strategies used in response to incidents of unacceptable behaviour.
- Reasoning with the pupil
- Reprimand (including advice on how to improve)
- Temporary separation from peers, friends or others
- Loss of privileges
- Prescribing additional work
- Referral to Principal Teacher
- Communication with parent/guardians
Minor misdemeanour = (White Card)
Serious misdemeanour = (Yellow card)
Gross misdemeanour = (Red Card)
Initially misbehaviour should be dealt with by class teacher/supervising teacher by way of warning, advice and reprimand. All reprimands in the form of white, yellow and red cards are communicated to the principal and parent/guardians. However, if it is more serious or persistent i.e. a red card offence, the Board of Management may be involved
3.6 Involving parent/guardian in management of problem behaviour
‘Parent/guardians should be kept fully informed from the outset of instances of serious misbehaviour on the part of their children. It is better to involve parent/guardians at an early stage than as a last resort.’ (Circular 20/90).
3.7 School’s approach to involving parent/guardians when a pupil’s behaviour is a source of concern
- Issues of concern involving a particular pupil are communicated via card initially and phone call if necessary.
- Contact can be made with parent/guardians by a teacher or the principal.
- For gross or red card offences parent/guardians and child are invited to meet with the class teacher and principal. It is communicated to the parent/guardians that the purpose of the meeting is for the benefit of the child.
- The child may be present for part or all of the meeting at the discretion of the principal, class teacher or parent/guardian(s).
- All parent/guardians are encouraged to contact the school with their concerns, by phone, in person or in written form.
3.8 Managing aggressive or violent misbehaviour
The following strategies are used for dealing with serious emotional and behavioural problems:
- Children who are emotionally disturbed are immediately referred for psychological assessment.
- Through the Special Educational Needs Organiser, appropriate support is sought from services available e.g. Health Service Executive, NEPS.
- This will include S.E.N personnel who may facilitate a teacher in sharing practice and support in the management of a challenging behaviour.
- Some teachers act as mentors for particular children or in assisting teachers in the creation of individual behaviour plans for specific children.
- Professional development available to staff e.g. SESS, Colleges of Education, and Prof Excel courses, Education Centres Etc.
- In the event of seriously violent or threatening behaviour causing a risk to the safety of the pupil himself or the safety or other pupils or staff, temporary exclusion while consultation with SENO and/or EWO takes place about appropriate resourcing alternative placement
For the purpose of this code, suspension is defined as:
“Requiring the student to absent himself from the school for a specified limited period of school days”
During the period of a suspension the student retains their place in the school.
4.2 Authority to suspend
The Board of Management of Bishop Murphy Memorial School has the authority to suspend a student. The Board of Management delegates the authority to suspend to the principal teacher. In exceptional circumstances, the Principal may consider an immediate suspension to be necessary where the continued presence of the student in the school at the time would represent a serious threat to the safety/welfare of students or staff of the school, or any other person. Informal or Exclusion of a student for part of the school day may be used as a sanction at the discretion of the principal.
4.3 The grounds for suspension
Suspensions should be a proportionate response to the behaviour that is causing concern
Suspensions will be a proportionate response to the behaviour that is causing concern. Other interventions will have been tried before suspension, and school staff will have reviewed the reasons why these have not worked. The decision to suspend a student requires serious grounds such as that:
- the student’s behaviour has had a seriously detrimental effect on the education of other students
- the student’s continued presence in the school at this time constitutes a threat to safety
- the student is responsible for serious damage to property.
- A single incident of serious misconduct may be grounds for suspension.
4.4 Forms of suspension
Immediate suspension: In exceptional circumstances, the Principal may consider an immediate suspension to be necessary where the continued presence of the student in the school at the time would represent a serious threat to the safety of students or staff of the school, or any other person. Fair procedures will still be applied.
Rolling suspension: A student will not be suspended again shortly after they return to school unless:
- they engage in serious misbehaviour that warrants suspension
*Fair procedures are observed in full and the standard applied to judging the behaviour is the same as the standard applied to the behaviour of any other student.
Informal or Exclusion of a student for part of the school day may be used as a sanction at the discretion of the principal in consultation with the teaching staff.
Open-ended suspension Students will not be suspended for an indefinite period. Any such suspension would be regarded as a de-facto expulsion and would be treated as such under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
4.5 Procedures in respect of suspension
Where a preliminary assessment of the facts confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant suspension, the school will observe the following procedures:
- inform student and their parents about the complaint
- give parents and student an opportunity to respond.
Inform the student and parents
Let the student and their parents know about the complaint, how it will be investigated and that it could result in suspension. Parents may be informed by phone or in writing, depending on the seriousness of the matter. Informing parents in writing has the benefit of ensuring that there is a formal and permanent record of having let parents know. It also ensures that parents are clear about what their son is alleged to have done. It serves the important function of underlining to parents the seriousness with which the school views the alleged misbehaviour.
Give an opportunity to respond
Parents and student will be given an opportunity to respond before a decision is made and before any sanction is imposed. A meeting with the student and their parents provides an opportunity for them to give their side of the story and to ask questions about the evidence of serious misbehaviour, especially where there is a dispute about the facts. It may also be an opportunity for parents to make their case for lessening the sanction, and for the school to explore with parents how best to address the student’s behaviour. If a student and their parents fail to attend a meeting, the Principal will write to them advising of the gravity of the matter, the importance of attending a re-scheduled meeting and, failing that, the duty of the school authorities to make a decision to respond to the negative behaviour. The school will record the invitations made to parents and their response.
4.6 Procedures in relation to immediate suspension
Where an immediate suspension is considered by the Principal to be warranted for reasons for the safety of the student, other students, staff or others, a preliminary investigation will be conducted to establish the case for the imposition of the suspension. All of the conditions for suspension apply to immediate suspension. No suspension, including an immediate suspension, will be open-ended. In the case of an immediate suspension parents will be notified, and arrangements made with them for the student to be collected. The school will have regard to its duty of care for the student. In no circumstances will a student be sent home from school without first notifying the parents.
4.7 The period of suspension
A student will not be suspended for more than three days, except in exceptional circumstances where the Principal considers that a period of suspension longer than three days is needed in order to achieve a particular objective. If a suspension longer than three days is being proposed by the Principal, the matter will be referred to the Board of Management for consideration and approval, giving the circumstances and the expected outcomes. The Board of Management authorises the Principal with the approval of the Chairperson of the Board, to impose a suspension of up to five days in circumstances where a meeting of the Board cannot be convened in a timely fashion, subject to the guidance concerning such suspensions. The Board of Management will normally place a ceiling of ten days on any one period of suspension imposed by it.
The Board will formally review any proposal to suspend a student, where the suspension would bring the number of days for which the student has been suspended in the current school year to twenty days or more. Any such suspension is subject to appeal under section 29 of the Education Act.
These provisions enable school authorities to give the student a reasonable time to reflect on their behaviour while avoiding undue loss of teaching time and loss of contact with the positive influences of school. They recognise the serious nature of the sanction of suspension and ensure that this seriousness is reflected in school procedures. The provisions mean that the Board of Management takes ultimate responsibility for sanctions of significant length.
The Board of Management will offer an opportunity to appeal a Principal’s decision to suspend a student. In the case of decisions to suspend made by the Board of Management an appeals process may be provided by the patron.
Section 29 Appeal
Where the total number of days for which the student has been suspended in the current school year reaches twenty days, the parents, or a student aged over eighteen years, may appeal the suspension under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, as amended by the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions )Act 2007.
At the time when parents are being formally notified of such suspensions, they and the student will be told about their right to appeal to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 and will be given information about how to appeal.
4.9 Implementing the suspension
4.10 Written Notification
The Principal will notify the parents and the student in writing of the decision to suspend.
The letter will confirm:
- the period of the suspension and the dates on which the suspension will begin and end
- the reasons for the suspension
- any study programme to be followed
- the arrangements for returning to school, including any commitments to be entered into by the student and the parents (for example, parents might be asked to reaffirm their commitment to the code of behaviour)
- the provision for an appeal to the Board of Management
- the right to appeal to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science (Education Act 1998 Section 29)
4.11 Engaging with student and parents
Where a decision to suspend has been made, it can maximise the impact and value of suspension if the Principal or another staff member delegated by the Principal meets with the parents to emphasise their responsibility in helping the student to behave when the student returns to school and to offer help and guidance’s in this regard.
Where parents do not agree to meet with the Principal, written notification will serve as notice to impose a suspension.
4.12 Grounds for removing a suspension
A suspension may be removed if the Board of Management decides to remove the suspension for any reason or if the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science directs that it be removed following an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
4.13 After suspension ends
A period of suspension will end on the date given in the letter of notification to the parents about the suspension.
4.14 Re-integrating the student
When any sanction, including suspension, is completed, a student will be given the opportunity and support for a fresh start. Although a record is kept of the behaviour and any sanction imposed, once the sanction has been completed the school will expect the same behaviour of this student as of all other students.
4.15 Records and reports
Records of investigation and decision-making
Formal written records will be kept of:
- the investigation (including notes of all interviews held)
- the decision-making process
- the decision and rationale for the decision
- the duration of suspension and any conditions attached to the suspension.
4.16 Review of use of suspension
The Board of Management will review the use of suspension in the school at regular intervals to ensure that its use is consistent with school policies, that patterns of use are examined to identify factors that may be influencing behaviour in the school and to ensure that use of suspension is appropriate and effective.
A student is expelled from a school when a Board of Management makes a decision to permanently exclude him from the school, having complied with the provisions of section 24 of the Education Welfare Act 2000.
5.2 Authority to expel
The Board of Management of Bishop Murphy Memorial School has the authority to expel a student. As a matter of best practice, that authority should be reserved to the Board of Management and should not be delegated.
Expulsion should be a proportionate response to the student’s behaviour
5.3 The grounds for expulsion
Expulsion should be a proportionate response to the student’s behaviour. Expulsion of a student is a very serious step, and one that should only be taken by the Board of Management in extreme cases of unacceptable behaviour. The school should have taken significant steps to address the misbehaviour and to avoid expulsion of a student including, as appropriate:
- meeting with parents and the student to try to find ways of helping the student to change their behaviour.
- making sure that the student understands the possible consequences of their behaviour if it should persist
- ensuring that all other possible options have been tried
- seeking the assistance of support agencies (e.g. National Educational Psychological Service, Health Service Executive Community Services, and The National Behavioural Support Service. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, National Council for Special Education).
A proposal to expel a student requires serious grounds such as that:
- the student’s behaviour is a persistent cause of significant disruption to the learning of other or to the teaching process
- the student’s continued presence in the school constitutes a real and significant threat to safety.
- the student is responsible for serious damage to property
The grounds for expulsion may be similar to the grounds for suspension. In addition to factors such as the degree of seriousness and the persistence of the behaviour, a key difference is that, where expulsion is considered, school authorities have tried a serious of other interventions, and believe they have exhausted all possibilities for changing the student’s behaviour.
5.4 Expulsion for a first offence
There may be exceptional circumstances where the Board of Management forms the opinion that a student should be expelled for a first offence. The kinds of behaviour that might result in a proposal to expel on the basis of a single breach of the code of behaviour could include:
- a serious threat of violence against another student or member of staff
- actual violence or physical assault
- supplying illegal drugs to other students in the school
- sexual assault
5.5 Determining the appropriateness of expelling a student
Given the seriousness of expulsion as a sanction the Board of Management should undertake a very detailed review of a range of factors in deciding whether to expel a student.
5.6 Factors to consider before proposing to expel a student
The nature and seriousness of the behaviour
- What is the precise description of the behaviour?
- How persistent has the unacceptable behaviour been and over what period of time?
- Has the problem behaviour escalated, in spite of the interventions tried?
5.7 The context of the behaviour
What are the circumstances of the incidents of serious misbehaviour (e.g. in class, in a particular teacher’s class, in the yard, in a group)?
What factors may have triggered or provoked incidents of serious misbehaviour (e.g. bullying, cultural or family factors)?
Are there any factors that may be associated with the behaviour (e.g. particular home circumstances, special educational needs)?
5.8 The impact of the behaviour
How are other students and staff affected by the student’s behaviour?
What is the impact of the behaviour on the teaching and learning of the class?
5.9 The interventions tried to date
What interventions have been tried? Over what period?
How have the interventions been recorded and monitored?
What has been the result of these interventions?
Have the parents been involved in finding a solution to the problem behaviour?
Has the intervention of NEPS or other psychological assessment or counselling been sought, where appropriate?
Is the student or parent involved with any support service and has the agency or support service been asked for help in solving this problem?
Has any other agency been asked for assistance (e.g. Child Guidance Clinic, Child and Adolescent Mental Health services)?
Is the Board satisfied that no other intervention can be tried or is likely to help the student to change their behaviour?
5.10 Whether expulsion is a proportionate response
Is the student’s behaviour sufficiently serious to warrant expulsion?
Is the standard being applied to judging the behaviour the same as the standard applied to the behaviour of any other student?
5.11 The possible impact of expulsion
To what extent may expulsion exacerbate any social or educational vulnerability of the student?
Will the student be able to take part in, and benefit from, education with their peers?
In the case of a student who is in care, what might be the implications of expulsion for the care arrangements?
5.12 Inappropriate use of expulsion
Expulsion should not be proposed for:
- poor academic performance
- poor attendance or lateness
- minor breaches of the code of behaviour
5.13 Procedures in respect of expulsion
Schools are required by law to follow fair procedures as well as procedures prescribed under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, when proposing to expel a student. Where a preliminary assessment of the facts confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant expulsion, the procedural steps will include:
- A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal.
- A recommendation to the Board of Management by the Principal.
- Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principals recommendation; and the holding of a hearing.
- Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing.
- Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer.
- Confirmation of the decision to expel.
These procedures assume that the Board of Management is the decision-making body in relation to expulsions.
It is a matter for the Board of Management of Bishop Murphy Memorial School to decide which of the tasks involved in these procedural steps requires separate meetings and which tasks can be accomplished together in a single meeting, consistent with giving parents due notice of meetings and a fair and reasonable time to prepare for a Board hearing.
Step 1: A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal
In investigating an allegation, in line with fair procedures, the Principal should:
- Inform the student and their parents about the details of the alleged misbehaviour, how it will be investigated and that it could result in expulsion
- give parents and the students every opportunity to respond to the complaint of serious misbehaviour before a decision is made and before a sanction is imposed.
Parents should be informed in writing of the alleged misbehaviour and the proposed investigation in order to have a permanent record of having let them know. This also ensures that parents are very clear about what their son or daughter is alleged to have done. It serves the important function of underlining to parents the seriousness with which the school views the alleged misbehaviour. Parents and the student must have every opportunity to respond to the complaint of serious misbehaviour before a decision is made about the veracity of the allegation and before a sanction is imposed. Where expulsion may result from an investigation, a meeting with the student and their parents is essential. It provides the opportunity for them to give their side of the story and to ask questions about the evidence of serious misbehaviour, especially where there is a dispute about the facts. It may also be an opportunity for parents to make their case for lessening the sanction, and for the school to explore with parents how best to address the student’s behaviour. If a student and their parents fail to attend a meeting, the Principal should write advising of the gravity of the matter, the importance of attending a re-scheduled meeting and, failing that, the duty of the school authorities to make a decision to respond to the inappropriate behaviour. The school should record the invitation issued to parents and their response.
Step 2: A recommendation to the Board of Management by the Principal
Where the Principal forms a view, based on the investigation of the alleged misbehaviour, that expulsion may be warranted, the Principal makes a recommendation to the Board of Management to consider expulsion. The Principal should:
- inform the parents and that student that the Board of Management is being asked to consider expulsion
- ensure that parents have records of : the allegations against the student; the investigation; and written notice of the grounds on which the Board of Management is being asked to consider expulsion
- provide the Board of Management with the same comprehensive records as are give to the parents
- notify the parents of the date of the hearing by the Board of Management and invite them to that hearing
- advise the parents that they can make a written and oral submission to the Board of Management
- ensure that parents have enough notice to allow them to prepare for the hearing.
Step 3: Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of a hearing
It is the responsibility of the Board to review the initial investigation and satisfy itself that the investigation was properly conducted in line with fair procedures. The Board should undertake its own review of all documentation and the circumstances of the case. It should ensure that no party who has had any involvement with the circumstances of the case is part of the Board’s deliberation (for example, a member of the Board who may have made an allegation about the student) Where a Board of Management decides to consider expelling a student, it must hold a hearing, The Board meeting for the purpose of the hearing should be properly conducted in accordance with Board procedures. At the hearing, the Principal and the parents, or a student aged eighteen years or over, put their case to the Board in each other’s presence. Each party should be allowed to question the evidence of the other party directly. The meeting may also be an opportunity for parents to make their case for lessening the sanction. In the conduct of the hearing, the Board must take care to ensure that they are, and are seen to be, impartial as between the Principal and the student. Parents may wish to be accompanied at hearings and the Board should facilitate this, in line with good practice and Board procedures. After both sides have been heard, the Board should ensure that the Principal and parents are not present for the Board’s deliberations.
Step 4: Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing
Having heard from all parties, it is the responsibility of the Board to decide whether or not the allegation is substantiated and, if so, whether or not expulsion is the appropriate sanction. Where the Board of Management having considered all the facts of the case, is of the opinion that the students should be expelled, the Board must notify the Educational Welfare Office in writing of its opinion, and the reasons for this opinion. (Education (Welfare Act 2000, s24 (1)). The Board of Management should refer to National Educational Welfare Board reporting procedures for proposed expulsions. The student cannot be expelled before the passage of twenty school days from the date on which the EWO receives this written notification (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24 (1)). An appeal against an expulsion under section 29 of the Education Act 1998 will in accordance with section 24(1) or that twenty days did not lapse from the time of notification to the EWO to the implementation of the expulsion (education(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007, s4A).
The Board should inform the parents in writing about its conclusions and the next steps in the process. Where expulsion is proposed, the parents should be told that the Board of Management will not inform the Education Welfare Officer.
Step 5: Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer
Within twenty days of receipt of a notification from a Board of Management of its opinion that a student should be expelled, the Educational Welfare Officer must:
Make all reasonable efforts to hold individual consultations with the Principal, the parents and the student, and anyone else who may be of assistance to convene a meeting of those parties who agree to attend (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, section 24). The purpose of the consultations and the meeting is to ensure that arrangements are made for the student to continue in education. These consultations may result in any agreement about an alternative intervention that would avoid expulsion. However, where the possibility of continuing in the school is not an option, at least in the short term, the consultation should focus on alternative educational possibilities. In the interests of the educational welfare of the student, those concerned should come together with the Educational Welfare Officer to plan for the student’s future education. Pending these consultations about the student’s continued education, a Board of Management may take steps to ensure that good order is maintained and that the safety of students is secured (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24 (5)). A Board may consider it appropriate to suspend a student during this time. Suspension should only be considered where there is likelihood that the continued presence of the student during this time will seriously disrupt the learning of others, or represent a threat to the safety of other students or staff.
Step 6: Confirmation of the decision to expel
Where the twenty-day period following notification to the Educational Welfare Officer has elapsed and where the Board of Management should formally confirm the decision to expel, Parents will be notified immediately that the expulsion will now proceed. Parents and the student will be told about the right to appeal and supplied with the standard form on which to lodge an appeal. A formal record should be made of the decision to expel the student.
A parent may appeal a decision to expel to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science (Education Act 1998 section 29). An appeal may also be brought by the National Educational Welfare Board on behalf of a student.
6.1 Keeping Records
In line with the school’s policy on record keeping, and data protection legislation, records shall be kept in relation to pupils’ behaviour. These records will be written in a factual and impartial manner through a card system which was introduced from September 2009 and will continue following this review in December 2018. Teachers’ discretion will be applied at all times when issuing these cards. There will be a consistent understanding of what constitutes excellent – poor behaviour among the staff, pupils and parents through the use of this scheme and the teaching of the Code of Behaviour.
Incidents will be recorded on Aladdin, the school’s admin system for the school and each teacher will keep individual records through the card scheme.
All card records will be submitted to the office for safe keeping indefinitely. The card scheme will begin afresh each year.
A record of each child’s behaviour will be conveyed to parents through their end of year school report. A duplicate copy will be kept in school.
The principal will manage the updating, storing and access to these records.
6.2 Procedures for notification of pupil absences from school
The Education Welfare Act, 2000, Section 23 (2) (e) states that the code of behaviour must specify “the procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school”. Section 18 stipulates that parents must notify the school of a student’s absence and the reason for this absence.
Strategies that are used in the school to encourage attendance:
Creating a stimulating and attractive school environment
System for acknowledging/rewarding good or improved attendance
Adapting curriculum content and methodologies to maximise relevance to pupils
Adapting the class and school timetable to make it more attractive to attend and to be on time.
Making parents aware of the terms of the Education Welfare Act and its implications. Parents/guardians are required to send in a note informing teachers in writing of their child’s absence from school and the reason for this absence. These notes must be signed and dated. The Education Welfare Officer is informed of a child’s absences when this exceeds twenty days. The parents also receive this notice.
6.5 Reference to other policies
Other school policies that impinge on the Code of Behaviour:
- SPHE Plan
- Record keeping
- Home/School Links
- Health & Safety
- Special Educational needs
- Attendance Strategy
Some practical indicators of the success of the policy:
Observation of positive behaviour in classrooms, playground and school environment. Practices and procedures listed in this policy are consistently implemented by school staff.
Positive feedback from teachers, parents and pupils
Roles and Responsibility
Who are the people who have responsibility for the implementation of this policy?
The Principal, Teachers, SNA’s and all Staff of Bishop Murphy Memorial School including the Board of Management.
Who will coordinate and monitor the implementation of this policy?
The Board of Management and the Principal.
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management in September 2009 , updated in 2012 and 2016 and was reviewed and updated on 13th December 2018.
The Code of Behaviour will be made available in hard copy to parents upon enrolment of their son. A hardcopy will be made available upon request and will be placed on the school website.
Signed: Rev Brian Boyle Date: 13/12/2018
Chairperson, Board of Management