HELLO AND WELCOME to

Scoil Mhuire,

Ballyhooly


HELLO AND WELCOME to

Scoil Mhuire,

Ballyhooly


Code of Behaviour 
 
The purpose of this policy:

 

To promote positive behaviour and to allow the school to function in an orderly and harmonious way. To enhance the learning environment where children can make progress in all aspects of their development.

   

How does it relate to the characteristic spirit/ethos of the school?  

 

Nurture each child to develop his/her potential in a caring environment where the talents of each child are valued and to develop as a social being through living and cooperating with others and so contribute to the good of society.  This can only be achieved when there is a high level of respect and co-operation between staff, parents and pupils.

 

Introductory Statement  

 

This policy was reviewed and updated by the staff of Scoil Mhuire in the school year 2009 – 2010.  It was a collaborative exercise between teachers, parents, Board of Management and pupils as appropriate.  The revised document was drawn up on 12thMay 2010 at a whole school planning day.  It was then sent to the Board of Management and Parents Association for their comment / feedback.  The policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 23th June 2010.

 

Rationale

This policy was drawn up for the following reasons:

1.  To ensure an orderly, safe and secure climate for the school community

 

2.  It is a requirement under DES Circular 20/90 on School Discipline

 

3.  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:

 

a. The standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the

school;

b. The measures that shall be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those

standards;

c. The procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from

the school concerned;

e. The grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student; and

d. The procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school.

 

Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school

Our school strives to provide a well-structured, caring, happy and secure environment for the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils. Scoil Mhuire will endeavour to enhance the self-esteem of everyone in the school community, to instil in the pupils respect for people and property and to encourage in them the idea of being responsible.

Aims

 

1. To create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and consideration for others

 

2. To ensure an educational environment that is guided by our vision statement        

 

3. To allow the school to function in an orderly way where children can make progress in all

    aspects of their development

 

4. To promote positive behaviour and self-discipline, recognising the differences between    

    children and the need to accommodate these differences

 

5. To ensure the safety and well being of all members of the school community

 

6. To assist parents and pupils in understanding the systems and procedures that form part of  

    the code of behaviour and to seek their co-operation in the application of these procedures

 

7. To ensure that the system of rules, rewards, and sanctions are implemented in a fair and  

    consistent manner throughout the school

 

Content of policy

The policy is addressed under the following headings:

1. Guidelines for behaviour in the school

 

2. Whole school approach to promoting positive behaviour

 Staff

Board of Management

Parents

Pupils

 

3. Positive strategies for managing behaviour

 Classroom

Playground

Other areas in the school

 

4. Rewards and sanctions

 Rewards and acknowledgement of good behaviour

Strategies for dealing with unacceptable behaviour

Involving parents in management of problem behaviour

Managing aggressive or violent behaviour

 

5.  Suspension / Expulsion

 Suspension

Expulsion

Appeals

 

6. Keeping records

 Class

Playground

School records

 

7. Procedure for notification of a pupil’s absence from school

 

8. Reference to other policies

 

1.  Guidelines for behaviour in the school

 

The Education Welfare Act, Section 23, states that the code of behaviour shall specify “the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school”.

 

1.  Each pupil is expected to be well behaved and to show consideration for other children and adults.

2. Each pupil is expected to show respect for the property of the school, other children’s and their own belongings.

3.  Each pupil is expected to attend school on a regular basis and to be punctual

4.  Each pupil is expected to do his/her best both in school and for homework.

 

These are the rules that will be included in the school home work diary.

 

1. Remember the Golden Rules :

a. Be kind and gentle

b. Be brave and tell the truth

c. Be mannerly

 d. Respect people and property

e. Do your best

 

2. Homework and schoolwork must be done to the best of each child’s ability.

3. Full school uniform is to be worn at all times.

4. Children are expected to be punctual, to be prepared and to be prompt.

5. Obey the bells on school yard and walk quietly while indoors.

6. Every absence, late arrival and early departure must be accounted for by forwarding a note to the teacher and use the sign in and sign out book.

7. Pupils are expected to bring a sensible, nutritional lunch to school.

8. Pupils are expected to be clean and tidy at all times, to wash regularly and to change their closes regularly.

 

At the enrolment stage, the principal teacher shall provide the parents of the child with a copy of the school’s code of behaviour (in the infant pack / website) and that the principal will require that the parents/guardians will sign the code of discipline agreeing that it is acceptable and that they shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with such code by the child.  

 

2.  Whole school approach in promoting positive behaviour

 

 ‘A positive school ethos is based on the quality of relationships between teachers and the ways in which pupils and teachers treat each other.   This positive ethos permeates all the activities of the school and helps in forming a strong sense of social cohesion within the school’ (Circular 20/90).

 

2.1 Staff

 

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).

We strive to foster a positive relationship between the parents and the staff of the school. Parents are actively involved in the school in a variety of ways e.g. assisting teachers in classroom projects, infant induction meeting, parents are involved in training children in various sporting activities, organising guest speakers and drawing up policy documents, service on Board of Management, service on Parents Association (organisation of extra curricular activities – Christmas Craft Day)   

- The staff are consulted at the planning stage of each policy document and new staff members are given a copy of the code of behaviour.

- Pupils are involved in the drawing up of various rules in the yard and their own classrooms. Individual teachers operate reward systems within the classroom to promote positive behaviour. Structured play is organised in some classes.

- For pupils with special education needs the following strategies are in place:

- Reward strategies, which are constantly reviewed and up-dated

- Constant communication with parents

- Structured play involving Special Needs Assistant

           - All of this is documented in the children’s IEP’s.

- 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 differences and develop citizenship.

  (see S.P.H.E. policy)

 

2.2 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 given a draft copy of the policy in which they can review and make suggestions for amendments.

The B.O.M. supports decisions of the staff based on the policies they have ratified.

The B.O.M. supports the staff, parents and pupils. They acknowledge the rights of everyone in the school community to ensure the well being of everybody.

 

2.3 Parents

 

‘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).

The staff will ensure they communicate to parents issues relating to concerns with child’s behaviour and well-being. When such issues have been identified, regular communication will be maintained with parents highlighting the level of progress.

A copy of the code of behaviour is communicated to parents on the night of enrolment of their child and will be available on our school website.

Parents

 

- are aware of and cooperate with the school’s system of rewards and sanctions

- respond 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

- ensure children are at school in time

- attend meetings at the school if requested

- help children with homework and ensure that it is completed

- ensure children have the necessary books and materials for school

- any infectious illness should be notified to the school immediately

- parents wishing to meet the class teacher should make an appointment

 

2.4 Pupils

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.

 

3. 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).  

 

3.1 Classroom

 

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 as 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.

 

3.2 Playground

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 which emphasise positive behaviour and make it

clear what activities are permitted. These are the general rules for the playground.

 

The following are forbidden :

- Excluding others

- Bad language

- Nasty remarks

- No rough play

 - Pushing, shoving, kicking and biting

 - Piggy backs or lifting

 - Wrestling or pretend fighting

 - Spitting

 - Pinching

- Playing on steps

- Climbing or swinging on the railings

- Playing on grass on wet days

- Going indoors without permission

- Climbing trees

- Out of bounds areas

 

- All breaks are under the supervision of teacher(s) on-duty and all SNAs in the

playground or in classrooms on wet days.

- If there is a need to supervise more closely the behaviour of certain age groups, certain areas of the playground, certain individual pupils will be organised through structured play.

- Children are taught play-ground games

- Zones are created within the playground, providing sections for specific age groups

- Activities are organised in ways to minimise misbehaviour.

- SNAs are present at all times during breaks to provide assistance to on-duty teacher(s).

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.

- Children need permission from the supervising teacher to go to the bathroom.

- On lining up each class is brought to their classroom by the class teacher.

- The school does not provide supervision for children to remain indoors at breaks due to illness etc. These children will go to the yard where they can be supervised.

In exceptional cases a child may sit outside the office door awaiting collection.  

3.3  Other areas in the school

 

Children are generally sent to the toilet one at a time during the course of the day. They require teacher’s permission to go to the bathroom.  Class teachers, with the help of a special needs assistant where available, will escort and monitor children moving to and from pre-fabs.

 

The staff makes every effort to encourage positive behaviour at all times.  

- 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.

4.  Rewards and Sanctions

4.1 Rewards and acknowledgement of good behaviour

Ways in which good behaviour is publicly recognised and acknowledged in the school.

 

Best class line-up at break time - one night off homework for entire class.

Specific rewards at certain class levels.

Individual class reward schemes within each class.

 

Procedure for communicating ‘good news’ to parent/guardians, other classes, principal…

 

Termly newsletter and website.

 

Teacher may also informally mention to parents when a child is doing particularly well. Other teachers will also informally recognise children’s achievements.

 

Children who demonstrate good behaviour are given responsibilities at teachers discretion.

 

Suggestions

 

 -Stickers

-Golden time

-Table competition

-Pupil of the week

-cube collection

-points collection

-targets for children with special needs

 -raffle tickets

-merit systems

-friendship certs

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000, Section 23, states that a school must outline ‘the measures that may be taken if a student fails to observe the standards of behaviour that the school has outlined’.

The degree of misdemeanours i.e. minor, serious or gross, will be judged by the teachers and/or Principal based on a common sense approach with regard to the gravity/frequency of such misdemeanours.’

Misdemeanours are categorised into the following:

Minor offences including:

- Homework not done or incomplete

- Using bad language

- Not wearing correct uniform, wearing jewellery.

- Distracting other pupils

- Unruliness in halls or toilets

- Rowdiness or horseplay

- Ignoring teachers instructions

- Shrugging shoulders or turning away while being corrected

- Unacceptable behaviour in the yard (at the discretion of the teacher).     

- Interrupting others

- Speaking out of turn

- Being unkind to any member of the school community  

- Repeated incidents of minor misbehaviours will then be considered serious offences

 

Serious offences including:

 

- Persistent name calling

- Fighting

- Theft

- Disruptive behaviour e.g. back answering etc.

- Throwing items around the classroom.

- Defacing school property e.g. writing on desks etc.

- Preventing others from learning

- Being unwilling or unable to abide by accepted conventions

- Refusing to co-operate with instructions and advice

- Repeated incidents of serious misbehaviours will then be considered gross offences

 

 

 

Gross offences including:

 

- Abusive language towards any members of the school community.

- Acting aggressively or with violence towards members of the school community

- Leaving school grounds without permission.

- Damaging school property e.g. wilful destruction of property

- Bullying  (refer to anti-bullying policy).

- Use of  mobile phone during school hours without permission.

 

4.2   Strategies and Sanctions for Dealing with Misbehaviour

 

-  make it clear that it is the behaviour which is being criticised and not the person;

-  sanctions should be logical, and leave the child’s dignity intact;

-  sanctions should be proportionate to the misdemeanour committed;

-  early escalation to severe sanctions should be avoided;

-  avoid whole class/whole group sanctions;

-  encourage children to contribute to the solving of behaviour problems;

-  apply rules consistently but take of account of individual circumstances;

-  do not use participation in a curricular area such as Physical Education as a sanction;

-  teachers should keep a record of continuous inappropriate behaviour and all instances

of serious unacceptable behaviour;

-  design a behaviour management plan if necessary - LS/RT can help here

-  inform parents as soon as difficulties develop with regard to behaviour.

 

Sanctions will be at the teacher/principal's discretion and will be appropriate to the severity of the misdemeanour. Examples of sanctions:

 

- reasoning with the pupil

- reprimand (including advice on how to improve)

- temporary separation from peers, friends or others

-   time out from yard play (children will still have run-around time)

-   walking with the teacher on yard duty

- Loss of privileges

- Prescribing additional work

- Completing school work during breaktime (supervised by class teacher) and at home

- Child sent to another classroom if being disruptive during class

- Referral to Principal Teacher

- Communication with parent/guardians

- Suspension  

 

Initially misbehaviour should be dealt with by class teacher/supervising teacher by way of warning, advice and reprimand. If it is a more serious or persistent incident it should be logged in the Behaviour / Misdemeanour folder which is kept in the office and parents / guardians are notified.  Depending on the gravity of the situation the Principal may be involved.  If all other options have been explored, the B.O.M. will be contacted.

4.3  Involving parent/guardians 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).

The following is the school’s approach to involving parents when a pupil’s behaviour is a source of concern:

 

- the class teacher will make initial contact with parents when there is a concern regarding a pupil’s behaviour

- parents are invited to a meeting with the class teacher, where the class teacher discusses the situation and outlines the plans to deal with the behaviour of the pupil concerned.

- if deemed necessary by the class teacher, the pupil may be present at the meeting.

 

Parents are asked to contact the class teacher if they have concerns regarding their child. Parents are expected to inform the child's teacher of any serious misbehaviour (listed above) in relation to their child. Early intervention is imperative to prevent escalation of misbehaviour.  This is also communicated to the parents through the infant booklet in June.

4.4   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 teachers in sharing practice and support in the management of challenging behaviour.  Some teachers may 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, ProfExcel courses, Education Centres etc.

 

In the event of seriously violent or threatening behaviour causing a risk to the safety of the pupil himself/herself or the safety of other pupils or staff, temporary exclusion while consultation with SENO and/or EWO takes place about appropriate resourcing, alternative placement.

 

5. Suspension / Expulsion procedures

 

The Education Welfare Act, 2000, stipulates that a code of behaviour shall specify... ‘the procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school concerned” and “the grounds for removing a suspension imposed in relation to a student.”(Sections 23(2) c, d)   

 

For the purpose of this code, suspension is defined as:

“requiring the student to absent himself/herself 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.

 

The principal shall inform the education welfare officer, by notice in writing, when a student is suspended from a recognised school for a period of not less than 6 days. (Sections 21(4) a )

Circular 20/90 states that ‘Parents should be informed of their right to come to the school and be invited to do so in order to discuss the misbehaviour with the Principal Teacher and/or the class teacher.   This should always be done when the suspension of a pupil is being contemplated’.

The following is the school’s procedure in relation to suspension and expulsion.

 

- Incidents of gross misbehaviour may warrant suspension.

 

The Board of Management will be consulted when the Principal feels suspension may be warranted (exclude a pupil from the school for a maximum initial period of three school days (Rule 130, Section 5, Rules for National Schools))

 

The following  procedures ensure fairness when excluding a pupil:

 

-  all interventions dealing with the behaviour have been tried

-  there has been previous communication with parents regarding misbehaviour, all of which will be documented by those involved.

-   parents are invited to the school to discuss the intention to exclude

 

5.1  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 the 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 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.

 

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 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.

 

Procedures in relation to immediate suspension

 

Where an immediate suspension is considered by the Principal to be warranted for reasons of 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. The formal investigation will immediately follow 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 parents.

 

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 may wish to authorise 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, especially where such suspensions might reach twenty days in one school year and therefore might lead to an appeal.

 

Appeals

 

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 a suspension, 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.

 

Implementing the suspension

 

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).

 

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 theEducation Act 1998.

 

After the suspension ends

 

A period of suspension will end on the date given in the letter of notification to the parents about the suspension.

 

Re-integrating the student

 

Clean slate

 

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.

 

5.2 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:

 

1.  A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal.

2.  A recommendation to the Board of Management by the Principal.

3.  Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of a hearing.

4.  Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing.

5.  Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer.

6.  Confirmation of the decision to expel.

 

These procedures assume that the Board of Management is the decision-making body in relation to expulsions.

 

Expulsion

 

A student is expelled from a school when a Board of Management makes a decision to permanently exclude him or her from the school, having complied with the provisions of section 24 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. As part of the code of behaviour, the Board of Management should ensure that the school has a policy on, and procedures for, expulsion which are in line with these Guidelines and with any additional requirements set down by the Patron.

 

Authority to expel

 

The Board of Management of a recognised 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.

 

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, 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 others 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 series of other interventions, and believe they have exhausted all possibilities for changing the student’s behaviour.

 

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 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.

 

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.

 

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?

 

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)?

 

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?

 

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 this 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?

 

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?

 

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?

 

Inappropriate use of expulsion

 

Expulsion should not be proposed for:

 

- poor academic performance

- poor attendance or lateness

- minor breaches of the code of behaviour.

 

However, any behaviour that is persistently disruptive to learning or dangerous can be a serious matter.

 

Behaviour must be examined in context to understand both the behaviour itself and the response or sanction that is most appropriate.

 

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:

 

1.  A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal.

2.  A recommendation to the Board of Management by the Principal.

3.  Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of a hearing.

4.  Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing.

5.  Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer.

6.  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 Scoil Mhuire 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 student 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 the 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 given to 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 deliberations (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 the 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 student should be expelled, the Board must notify the Educational Welfare Officer 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 automatically succeed if it is shown that the Educational Welfare Officer was not notified in accordance with section 24(1) or that twenty days did not elapse from the time of notification to the Educational Welfare Officer 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 now inform the Educational 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

- 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 an 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 remains of the view that the student should be expelled, the Board of Management should formally confirm the decision to expel (this task might be delegated to the Chairperson and the Principal). Parents should be notified immediately that the expulsion will now proceed. Parents and the student should 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.

 

5.3 Appeals

 

A parent, or a student aged over eighteen years, 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. If the student is attending a school established or maintained by a VEC, the appeal must be made in the first instance to the VEC. Where an appeal to the VEC has been concluded, parents, or a student aged over eighteen years, may go on to appeal to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science.

 

6.  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.

 

A behaviour folder has been introduced. Teachers’ discretion will be applied at all times when logging incidents. 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.

 

6.1  Class level

 

- Each teacher is expected to maintain records on individual pupils. These records facilitate the recording of positives as well as negatives.

 

-  At the discretion of the class teacher, incidents of serious misbehaviour must be   

reported to the principal (Circular 20/90)

- End of year reports include a reference to behaviour. There is a reasonably consistent understanding of what constitutes excellent - poor behaviour among the staff. Parents have been kept up to date during the year regarding behaviour issues.

 

6.2 Playground

 

- Supervising staff keep a record of misbehaviour. This is done by means of a Behaviour / Misdemeanour Book which is kept in the office. The class teacher is notified of incidents of misbehaviour at the end of each lunch period. The class teacher will then decide when/if to inform Principal and parents of the incident.

 

- Regular staff discussion regarding consistency in the application and interpretation of the rules.

 

- Regular ongoing evaluation of procedures takes place and these are modified if necessary.

 

6.3 School records

 

Incidents will be recorded in a Behaviour / Misdemeanour Book for the school if they occur in the playground or are considered of a serious nature. Each teacher will also keep individual records. Class teachers manage the updating, storing and access to individual pupil files and the Principal takes responsibility for the Incident Book. The following formal records are kept at school level: factual reports of particular incidents, communication between school and home, with outside agencies, Board of Management.

 

 

7. 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.

Refer to the school policy on attendance and the following is a list of strategies that are used to encourage school attendance :

 

- Creating a stimulating and attractive school environment

 

- Attendance is acknowledged in the end of year reports

 

- Adapting curriculum content and methodologies to maximise relevance to pupils

 

- Making parents aware of the terms of the Education Welfare Act and its                    implications.

Parents/guardians send in a note informing teachers in writing of their child’s absence from school and the reason for this absence. These notes are signed and dated and kept for one succeeding school year.

 

When a child has been absent for twenty days or more the Education Welfare Officer will be notified (Section 21)

 

8. Reference to other Policies

The following school policies also have a bearing on the code of behaviour

 

1. SPHE plan

2. Anti-bullying

3.  Enrolment

4. Health & Safety

5.  Special Educational Needs

    6. Supervision

   7. Homework

 

Success Criteria

Indicators of the success of the policy will be

1. Observation of positive behaviour in class rooms, playground and school                    environment

2. Practices and procedures listed in this policy being consistently implemented by teachers

3. Positive feedback from teachers, parents and pupils

Roles and Responsibility

People who have particular responsibilities for aspects of the policy:

- The B.O.M. will support the policy and become involved if necessary as outlined above

 

- The school community have responsibility for the implementation of this policy.

- School staff will coordinate and monitor the implementation of this policy.

- Principal, teachers and SNAs will ensure school rules are adhered to and communicate when necessary to parents and other staff members.

 

- Pupils will be aware of the school rules and take responsibility for their behaviour.

- Parents will agree to this policy on enrolment and will support the school in implementing the policy to maintain a positive climate for all.

 

Implementation Date

This policy will apply from 1st September 2010

Timetable for Review

The new policy will be reviewed and, if necessary, amended in May / June 2011.

 

Ratification & Communication

The BOM officially ratified the policy on June 23rd 2010.

 

 

This is a work in progress document and will be reviewed as necessary.

 

 

Ballyhooly | Co. Cork | 025 39428 | ballyhoolyns@gmail.com

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