Communication Policy

 

Ratified on: 24th October 2018

Signed: Margaret Keane, Chairperson

 

At the time of drawing up this policy, all details and the enclosed information are correct. It is possible that between now and the review date, changes may have to be made to the provisions, policies and procedures of the school. This may be due to external changes required by the Department of Education and Skills, the school patron or other agencies. Mandatory policies will be available on the school website and up to date information will be posted regularly.

Introductory Statement

 

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:

 

In-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

 

Home-School

 

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.

Review

This policy will be subject to regular review and update

 

THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

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

The INTO and Primary School Management reached agreement in 1993 on a procedure for dealing with complaints by parents against teachers. The purpose of this procedure is to facilitate the resolution of difficulties where they may arise in an agreed and fair manner. The agreement lays out in five stages the process to be followed in progressing a complaint and the specific timescale to be followed at each stage. Please note this is a non-statutory procedure.

Only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents/guardians of pupils may be investigated formally by the board of management, except where those complaints are deemed by the board to be:

  • on matters of professional competence and which are to be referred to the Department of Education and Skills;

  • frivolous or vexatious complaints and complaints which do not impinge on the work of a teacher in a school; or

  • complaints in which either party has recourse to law or to another existing procedure.

Unwritten complaints, not in the above categories, may be processed informally as set out in Stage 1 of this procedure.

Stage 1

  1. A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should, unless there are local arrangements to the contrary, approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.

  2. Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher s/he should approach the principal with a view to resolving it.

  3. If the complaint is still unresolved the parent/guardian should raise the matter with the chairperson of the board of management with a view to resolving it.

Stage 2

  1. If the complaint is still unresolved and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further s/he should lodge the complaint in writing with the chairperson of the board of management.

  2. The chairperson should bring the precise nature of the written complaint to the notice of the teacher and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within five days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 3

  1. If the complaint is not resolved informally, the chairperson should, subject to the general authorisation of the board and except in those cases where the chairperson deems the particular authorisation of the board to be required:

    1. supply the teacher with a copy of the written complaint; and

    2. arrange a meeting with the teacher and, where applicable, the principal teacher with a view to resolving the complaint. Such a meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 4

  1. If the complaint is still not resolved the chairperson should make a formal report to the board within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3(b).

  2. If the board considers that the complaint is not substantiated the teacher and the complainant should be so informed within three days of the board meeting.

  3. If the board considers that the complaint is substantiated or that it warrants further investigation it proceeds as follows:

    1. the teacher should be informed that the investigation is proceeding to the next stage;

    2. the teacher should be supplied with a copy of any written evidence in support of the complaint;

    3. the teacher should be requested to supply a written statement to the board in response to the complaint;

    4. the teacher should be afforded an opportunity to make a presentation of case to the board. The teacher would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting;

    5. the board may arrange a meeting with the complainant if it considers such to be required. The complainant would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting; and

    6. the meeting of the board of management referred to in (d) and (e) will take place within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3(b).

Stage 5

  1. When the board has completed its investigation, the chairperson should convey the decision of the board in writing to the teacher and the complainant within five days of the meeting of the board.

  2. The decision of the board shall be final.

  3. The Complaints Procedure shall be reviewed after three years.

  4. Primary School Management or INTO may withdraw from this agreement having given the other party three months’ notice of intention to do so.

In this agreement ‘days’ means school days.

 

RECORD KEEPING

 

The Principal and Chairperson of the Board of Management 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.

MALICIOUS OR VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS

 

Where a Board of Management 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.

Note: The vast majority of complaints are resolved locally and informally. However, in certain circumstances, for example, where a complaint is considered to be serious in nature, or where the teacher is required to submit a written response to his/her board of management, the teacher should contact his/her INTO District Representative or INTO Head Office for advice and assistance. In advising a teacher, the INTO will be anxious to ensure that there is due process and fair procedures applied, which generally include:

  • that the teacher is fully appraised of all matters being considered by the board of management, including being provided with copies of all relevant documentation;

  • the right to respond and adequate time to prepare a response;

  • entitlement to be represented by the INTO, if necessary.

Where a teacher contacts the INTO in relation to a complaint(s) made against him/her, the officials involved will generally meet with the teacher and require him/her to provide detailed written information and documentation on the matter. The officials will assess the case and decide if additional specific legal advice or a legal consultation is required. Specific legal advice is obtained for members in accordance with the Rules of the INTO and the conditions prescribed by the CEC.