Communication Policy

This policy was first developed by the staff of St. Patrick’s National School, the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association in the school year 2014 - 2015.


Its purpose is to provide information and guidelines to parents and staff on parent/staff meetings and parent/staff communication in St. Patrick’s School. The family and home are central to the social and intellectual development of the child and the nurturing of good, moral values. The school and the family strive to be mutually supportive and respectful of each other so that the child’s education can be effective. All the stakeholders aim to work for the benefit of the child and their learning.


We value open, positive communication with our parents. You, as parents are the primary educators of your children and are valuable members of our whole school community.


Your daughter’s happiness and wellbeing are a priority for all staff members in St. Patrick’s GNS, Hollypark.


For all staff members in our school the priority is teaching and learning for each and every pupil. Class teacher contact time with her pupils is paramount. Every minute of teaching time lost has a direct impact on the learning of all our pupils.


Teaching time begins at 8.40am each day. However, in the case of an emergency please do not hesitate to contact Suzanne in the office directly.


The staff team is very aware that September is an important transitional time for our pupils. Each year a formal hand over between outgoing and incoming class teachers takes place on our whole school planning day.


We schedule our formal Parent Teacher meetings for November so that any concerns or issues regarding your daughter’s progress can be addressed in the first term. Our class teachers also distribute tips for improving your child’s learning at this meeting. In St. Patrick’s GNS, Hollypark early intervention is our policy.



Communication systems that are used in the school:




  • Teacher-children communication in the classroom, the yard and around the school

  • Child to child communication on a formal (as part of planned classwork) or informal basis (e.g. at play, during reception time in the morning etc.)

  • Principal’s formal and informal communication with members of staff on an individual basis or in groups and regular contact with absent members of staff

  • Teacher-teacher meetings. Teachers carry out informal meetings on a daily basis, before school, during school and after school

  • Regular staff meetings – including circulation of Agenda and Minutes, Points from the Principal

  • Sub-committee meetings and feedback

  • Use of intercom

  • Notes, information bulletins/newsletters, yearbook, notices, messages, texts, memos, phone, email and Aladdin

  • Announcements/discussion in Staff Room at break times

  • Staffroom and other noticeboards

  • Staffroom Calendar/Diary on which the different classes’ planned events are recorded

  • Forms, surveys and notebook/diary circulated for staff responses/contributions

  • School related events

  • Assemblies & class talks

  • Classroom visits from the Principal, other teachers and the school secretary

  • Teachers co-planning, shared teaching, easy access to school plan and policies, relieving teachers in the same class grouping to provide opportunities for meetings and discussions.

  • Events organised by the Social Committee




The following measures endeavour to keep the lines of communication open between school and home.


  • Welcoming atmosphere

  • Principal’s Regular Newsletters on website

  • Text-a-Parent

  • Homework journal and notes/letters to parents on specific issues

  • Communications between the Parents’ Association and parents is supported and valued by the school

  • School Parent-Teacher meetings

  • Parents/guardians who wish to have an additional meeting with a teacher or the Principal are asked to make an appointment

  • Phone calls to parents where necessary, having ascertained that the parent is free to take the call at the particular time

  • Religious ceremonies – invitation to and participation in

  • School concerts, social evenings, information evenings, sports day etc

  • End of year reports as per NCCA template. While it is important to give an accurate picture of the child’s progress to parents, all comments should be kept as positive as possible

  • Regular updating of the information on the child’s application form, including the list of emergency telephone numbers submitted

  • An information pack for parents of new pupils

  • Regular updates on Twitter

  • All letters composed by staff members to be sent home only following consultation with the Principal

  • Communication with Parents’ Association – regular meetings between Principal and Chairperson

  • The Board of Management holds regular meetings (minimum 5 per year) and the Principal gives a written report at each of these meetings

  • The Board of Management attends the Parents Association AGM

  • Parental Consent Form – annually


Parents are encouraged to:

  • Develop close links with the school

  • Participate in meetings in a positive and respectful manner, affirming the professional role of the staff of the school

  • Support the school in developing the full potential of their children

  • Share the responsibility of seeing that the school remains true to its ethos, values and distinctive character

  • Become actively involved in the Parents’ Association

Structures in place to facilitate open communication and consultation with parents

  • Meeting for parents of new Junior Infants – mid May

  • Parent/teacher meetings (one-to-one) and Support Team Meetings take place in November (Parents/Guardians sign-off on necessary plans)

  • Parents/Guardians receive school report of each pupil at the end of each school year

  • Meetings with parents/guardians whose children have special needs

  • Consultation throughout the year by appointment

  • Written communication when necessary

  • Regular website information keeps parents up-to-date with school events, holidays and school concerns – news on website

  • The homework diary 1st – 6th class is used to relay messages which are signed between parents and teachers. Parents are requested to sign the diary each night to confirm that homework has been completed

  • Parents are invited to events throughout the year e.g. Sports Day, school masses and school concerts


Parent/Teacher Meetings


Formal Parent/Teacher meetings will be held once a year for all classes. Where possible, they will be held in the first term, towards the end of November. They will be initiated by the school staff and details regarding time, etc. will be worked out by the class teacher, in consultation with parents. Meetings may take place in classrooms or support rooms. Children are not permitted to attend the formal Parent Teacher meeting. Ten minutes is allocated for each of these meetings.


The purpose of the Parent/Teacher meeting is:


  • To establish and maintain good communication between the school and parents

  • To let parents know how their children are progressing in school

  • To help children realise that home and school are working together

  • To share with the parent the problems and difficulties the child may have in school

  • To review with the parent the child’s experience of schooling

  • To learn more about the child from the parent’s perspective

  • To identify ways in which parents can support their children

  • To collaborate on decisions about the child’s education


In situations where one parent is not living in the family home, requests can be made by both parents to meet their child’s teacher(s) individually for parent/teacher meetings.


All communication sent from the school will be sent to the child’s home address as given on the enrolment form, unless otherwise requested by parents.


Informal Parent/Staff Meetings


It is vital that the school is immediately informed if family events/situations arise by you in writing that cause anxiety to your child and therefore may adversely affect her education.


In all matters pertaining to the wellbeing and education of pupils, only the parents/legal guardians named on the enrolment form will be consulted by staff.


The school encourages communication between parents and staff. However meetings with the class teacher at the class door to discuss a child’s concern/progress are not facilitated on a number of grounds:


  • A teacher cannot adequately supervise his/her class while at the same time speaking to a parent

  • It is difficult to be discreet when so many children are standing close by

  • It can impact on the self-esteem of a child when her parent is talking to the teacher/SNA at a classroom door.

  • Occasions occur where a parent needs to speak to a staff member urgently. Sometimes these meetings need to take place without prior notice. In this event please contact the school secretary.


If parents wish to drop in lunch boxes, sports gear etc. this can be done through the secretary’s office as it is important to keep class disruptions to a minimum.

Parents are strongly discouraged from taking pupils out of school during term time in order to facilitate family holidays.

Procedures for Resolving Issues of Concern


Parents are reminded that the staff of St Patrick’s GNS, Hollypark are always prepared to listen and it is in the best interests of pupils to resolve difficulties at an early stage.


A parent/guardian who has an issue of concern, should at all times bring the issue to the attention of the class teacher. All meetings can be arranged through the school secretary or through a note in the Homework Journal. It is helpful to indicate the nature of your concern when arranging the meeting.


If your concern is in relation to special education needs or provision, the class teacher is the first point of contact. If deemed necessary the support teacher will also attend the initial meeting. If the issue remains unresolved the SENCO (Ms Marnell, Deputy Principal), may attend the follow up appointment to attempt to resolve it.


If the issue remains unresolved it may be necessary to bring it to the attention of the Principal. All meetings with the Principal can be organised through the school secretary. On occasion the Principal may request the presence of another staff member at the meeting.


If the matter remains unresolved, the parent/guardian has further recourse available to them through the Parental Complaints Procedures.


Behaviour of all Stakeholders in the School


Positive and respectful communication is of high importance to our school. This not only extends to the children but to all of the stakeholders e.g. the staff, parents and the wider community.  Anyone entering our building should feel safe to do so. While the behaviour of children in our school is of vital importance, adults in the school community also have a responsibility to ensure their own behaviour models the types of behaviour expected of children.  


It is important that all stakeholders are responsible for their own behaviours in the school.  Examples include:


  • All stakeholders are expected to speak to each other with respect.  Shouting or other aggressive tones are not acceptable.  If a stakeholder displays anger or aggression to another member of the school community, they may be asked to remove themselves from the building.  In certain cases, the Gardaí must be called

  • All stakeholders will treat our children with the utmost respect while on the premises

  • Staff should not be asked to speak about another parent’s child. The staff of the school will respect your child’s right to privacy so it is asked that parents respect other children’s rights to privacy

  • When stakeholders meet, it is important to respect that the time of meetings should be kept to a reasonable amount of time.  Times of meetings should be agreed beforehand and these should be respected.


We value your cooperation and sincerely appreciate your on-going support and interest in your child’s learning.




This policy will be subject to regular review and update.



SCHOOL NAME:  St Patrick’s GNS, Hollypark Roll Number: 19259W




The Board of Governors together with the Principal set the direction and tone of the school in all that they do and are committed to working with parents in the best interests of their children’s education. The purpose of the Complaints Procedure is to address complaints raised by parents/guardians.


1.1 The procedure covers all matters relating to the actions of staff employed in the school and the application of school procedures, where they affect individual pupils. However, schools need to be clear about the difference between a concern and a complaint. Taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest possible stage will reduce the numbers that develop into formal complaints.


1.2 Where it becomes evident at an early stage that a matter should be dealt with according to other established procedures or appeals mechanisms, this Complaints Procedure will be set aside in favour of the agreed procedure such as Child Protection, Special Education, Admissions, Suspensions and Expulsions, Grievance, Discipline, Bullying and Harassment or Unsatisfactory Teaching Procedure.


1.3 The school will not deal with anonymous complaints (except for those concerning child protection matters) and therefore these procedures do not provide for a resolution of anonymous complaints.


  • AIMS


2.1          In operating this Complaints Procedure we aim to:

  • encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;

  • allow swift handling of a complaint within established time-limits for action and keeping people informed of progress;

  • keep people informed of progress;

  • ensure a full and fair investigation;

  • have due regard for the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved;

  • respect confidentiality;

  • address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary;

  • provide information to the school’s Senior Management Team and Board of Governors so that services can be improved.


2.2 The procedures are designed to be:

  • easily accessible and publicised. A copy of the procedures will be placed on the school’s website or available on request from the school;

  • simple to understand and use;

  • impartial; and

  • non-adversarial;



  1. 1       Your rights as a person making a complaint In dealing with your complaint we will ensure that you receive:

  • fair treatment;

  • courtesy;

  • a timely response;

  • accurate advice;

  • respect for your privacy – complaints will be treated as confidentially as possible allowing for the possibility that we may have to consult with other appropriate parties about your complaint;

  • and reasons for our decisions.


Where the complaint is justified we will acknowledge this and address the complaint you have raised. If, after investigation, it is judged there are no grounds for your complaint, you will be advised accordingly.

3.2 Your responsibilities as a person making a complaint

In making your complaint we would expect that you:

  • raise issues in a timely manner;

  • treat our staff with respect and courtesy;

  • provide accurate and concise information in relation to the issues you raise; and

  • use these procedures fully and engage in them at the appropriate levels.


3.3  Rights of parties involved during the investigation

The process is non-adversarial and does not provide a role for any other statutory or non-statutory body.


The complainant may be accompanied by another person where it is accepted, by the Principal and Board of Governors, that this will assist the investigation and resolution of the complaint.


Staff may seek the advice and support from their professional body or trade union and may also be accompanied by another person where it is accepted, by the Principal and Board of Governors, that this will assist the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

A member of staff who is directly referred to in a complaint will be provided with a written copy of the complaint and details of any information brought by the parent/carer before being required to respond to the matters raised.

Legal Representation


Legal representation or representation by person(s) acting in a professional capacity is not permitted within this procedure

This procedure does not take away from the statutory rights of any of the participants.

3.4          Where the complainant is a Governor

Where the complainant is a member of the Board of Governors, they will play no part in the management or appeal of the complaint as set out in this procedure.




At the informal stage your complaint should be raised and dealt with by the teacher concerned. If you proceed to the formal part of the process, the Principal will assume responsibility for the process, unless s/he is the subject of the complaint, in which case the Chair of the Board of Governors will assume responsibility. Should it be necessary, the Board of Governors will be responsible for establishing a Complaints Sub-Committee to investigate and resolve the matter.




5.1          Informal Stage

Step 1 - Speaking with the Teacher concerned

In the first instance a complaint should normally be raised verbally with the teacher concerned (whether that be a classroom teacher, Deputy Principal or Principal), so that s/he may have an opportunity to address the issue(s). Please observe the school’s existing protocols for arranging and conducting such meetings and follow the school’s policy with respect to access to members of teaching staff.

This approach would not prevent you from choosing to enter the formal process at a later stage, if you believe that to be an appropriate course of action.

If the complaint does not relate to a teacher in the school, it should be referred to the Principal.

Step 2 - Contact the Principal if your complaint is against a member of staff other than the Principal

If your complaint remains unresolved following Step 1 you should arrange a meeting with the Principal to discuss the issue(s). In advance of this meeting you should inform the Principal in writing, of the nature of your complaint so that s/he may be in a position to resolve the problem without further delay.

In some circumstances the Principal may not be able to deal effectively with your complaint immediately and s/he may require some time to investigate and prepare a response. If further time is required you will be informed of the timescale and the likely date by which a response will be issued.

Step 2 - Contact the Chair of the Board of Governors if your complaint is against the Principal

If your complaint remains unresolved following Step 1 you should write to the Chair of the Board of Governors. Step 4 of the procedure will then commence.

5.2          Formal Stage

Step 3 – Writing to the Principal if your complaint is against a member of staff other than the Principal

Sometimes it will not be possible for you to have your complaint resolved through the informal processes proposed at Steps 1 and 2, or indeed it might be more appropriate to initiate the procedures at Step 3. You should write to the Principal, and state the grounds for your complaint as concisely as possible addressing specifically the issue(s) that are of concern to you.

You will receive a written acknowledgement of your letter within 10 working days.

This will confirm that your letter has been received, and either:

  • provide a response to the issue(s) you raised; or

  • state that your complaint is being investigated and indicate when you can expect a response to be issued (normally a maximum of 20 working days from the date on which your letter was received). The investigation may require you to meet the Principal and due notification will be given of such meetings. The Principal may also talk to the parties relevant to the complaint.


5.3          Step 4 - Writing to Chairperson of the Board of Governors

If you believe that your complaint has not been dealt with in a satisfactory manner following the completion of steps 1 – 3, or if your complaint concerns the Principal, you should write to the Chair of Board of Governors, including, if applicable, copies of the original correspondence relating to Step 3. The Chairperson will be responsible for referring your complaint to a Complaints Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, which will investigate and respond to your complaint. The Complaints Sub-Committee will have a minimum of 3 voting members.

Your written complaint should be as concise as possible and address specifically the issue or issues that are of concern to you. You will receive a written acknowledgement of your letter within 10 working days. This will confirm that your letter has been received, and:

  • provide a response to the issue(s) you raised;

  • state that your complaint is being fully investigated and indicate when you can expect a response to be issued (normally a maximum of 25 working days from the date on which your written complaint was received).


The investigation may require you to meet the Complaints Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors and due notification will be given of such meetings. The Complaints Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors may also talk to the parties relevant to the complaint.

5.4          Step 5 - Appeals Process – Appeals Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Governors Sub Committee you may write to the Chairperson of the Board of Governors within 10 working days of receiving written feedback from the Complaints Sub-Committee, appealing their decision. Your written request should be as concise as possible and set out specifically the grounds for your appeal.

The Chairperson will be responsible for establishing an Appeals Sub- Committee comprising of at least three members of the Board of Governors who were not involved in the original investigation. You will be invited to a meeting of the Appeals Sub-Committee where your appeal will be heard.

You will receive a written acknowledgement of your letter within 10 working days. This will confirm that your letter has been received and provide you with the date and time of the meeting with the Appeals Sub-Committee at which you will have an opportunity to explain the grounds for your appeal. This meeting will normally take place within 30 working days of your appeal request having been received.

Within 10 working days of this meeting, you should expect a final written response. This will indicate the Governors’ findings, their recommendations and the reasons supporting their decisions.

The decision of the Appeals Sub-Committee is final. At the end of the process the Chairperson will inform you, in writing, that the Complaints Procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is considered closed.



The Principal and Chairperson of the Board of Governors shall maintain a record of all correspondence, conversations and meetings concerning your complaint. These records shall be held confidentially in the school and shall be kept apart from pupil records. All such records will be destroyed three years after the date of the last correspondence on the issue.



Where a Board of Governors consider the actions of a parent/group of parents to constitute frivolous or vexatious behaviour, they will seek advice from the relevant Employing Authority in order to protect staff from further such actions.