Anti-Bullying Policy

Policy ratified: November 2019

Signed: Margaret Keane

               Chairperson BOM


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.


In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of St. Patrick’s Girls School has adopted the following Anti-Bullying policy within the framework of the school’s overall code of behaviour. This policy fully complies with the requirements of and the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary Post-Primary Schools which were published in September 2013.

The Board of Management recognises the very serious nature of bullying and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of pupils and is therefore fully committed to the following key principles of best practice in preventing and tackling bullying behaviour.

  • There is a commitment to a Culture of Respect throughout our school community

  • A positive school culture and climate which is welcoming of difference and diversity and is based on inclusivity

  • Encourages pupils to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behaviour in a nonthreatening environment

  • Involves collaboration among and between staff & pupils and promotes respectful relationships across the school community

  • Effective leadership

  • A school-wide approach

  • A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact

  • Implementation of education and prevention strategies (including awareness raising measures) that

  • build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils;

  • Explicitly address the issues of cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying.

  • Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils

  • Supports for staff

  • Consistent recording, investigation and follow up of bullying behaviour (including use of established intervention strategies)

  • Ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.


Our School Position on Bullying

The school community of St. Patrick’s GNS, Hollypark believes that each pupil has a right to an education free from fear and intimidation.

Our school regards bullying as a serious infringement of individuals rights and serious threat to the self-esteem and self-confidence of targeted pupil(s).  Therefore it does not tolerate bullying of any kind.

Every report of bullying is treated seriously and dealt with, having due regard for the well- being of the targeted pupil(s) and the perpetrator(s).


The immediate priority should a bullying incident occur, is ending the bullying, (thereby protecting the person(s) being targeted) and resolving the issues and restoring the relationships involved in so far as is practicable using “Reform, not Blame” approach as per Restorative Practice theory.

In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, bullying is defined as follows:


Bullying is unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological and physical conducted, by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.


The following types of bullying behaviour are included in the definition of bullying:

  • deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying

  • cyber-bullying and

  • identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying, bullying based on a person’s membership of the Traveller community and bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs


Isolated or once-off incidents of intentional negative behaviour, including a once-off offensive or hurtful text message or other private messaging, do not fall within the definition of bullying and should be dealt with, as appropriate, in accordance with the School’s Code of Behaviour.

However, in the context of this policy, placing a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and /or repeated by other people will be regarded as bullying behaviour.

This definition includes a wide range of behaviour whether verbal or written, whether physical or social, whether targeting person or property, whether carried out directly or indirectly or using any electronic or other medium, which could harm a pupil or undermine her self-esteem or self-confidence.

Negative behaviour that does not meet this definition of bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s Code of Behaviour.

All pupils are expected to contribute to the creation and maintenance of safe environment in the school.  On being aware of any bullying situation, in or outside the school, involving members of the school community they should notify a trusted responsible adult. Bullying behaviour is too serious not to report.


We are a Telling  School  (See our ABC’s of Bullying)

Pupil’s participation in school life in general is encouraged through existing school structures e.g. the student council, friendship week, a variety of SPHE and social skills programmes.  Awareness of bullying, and willingness to take action to prevent or stop it, is part of this participation.

The relevant teacher(s) for investigating and dealing with bullying is (are) as follows: (see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools)

  • Class teachers are responsible for investigating and dealing with bullying in their classes


Anti-Bullying Procedures


The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-bullying and identity-based bullying including in particular, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows (see Section  6.5 Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.


The anti-bullying module of the SPHE programme;

At least five awareness-raising exercises per school year for each class group (e.g. from the “Awareness-Raising” strand of the Anti-Bully Campaign, via its website,) pro-actively explaining the nature and variety, causes, consequences and unacceptability of bullying.

  • Pupils are helped to examine the issue of bullying in a calm rational way, outside of the tense context of particular bullying and the various forms that it can take.

  • Pupils are made aware that the consequences of bullying behaviour are always bad for those who are targeted, even if this is not always obvious at the time.

  • Pupils are encouraged to recognise, reject and report bullying behaviour, either spontaneously or through questionnaires that are regularly used in the school.

The Friends for Life Programme is used in Senior Classes

Through presentations or other exercise, the school staff and parents/guardians are made aware of the nature of bullying and the signs that might indicate that a pupil is being bullied.  They are encouraged to be vigilant in watching out for signs of bullying and to report any suspicion of bullying they may have to the class teacher.

An Anti-bullying/Friendship week is organised annually.


Action Plan on Bullying

The school’s procedures for investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour and the established intervention strategies used by the school for dealing with cases of bullying behaviour are as follows (see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.  (e.g. the six step approach available from the “Dealing with Incidents” section of the Anti-Bullying Campaign website) are as follows:

  • The class teacher investigates all instances of reported or suspected bullying behaviour, whether these take place within the school or outside it, with a view to establishing the facts and bring any such behaviour to an end.

  • The school, through the class teacher reserves the right to ask any pupil to write an account of what happened, as part of an investigation.  This will be a standard procedure and does not necessarily imply that a pupil is guilty of misbehaviour.

  •  Pupils who are alleged to have been involved in bullying behaviour are interviewed by the class teacher to establish the nature and extent of the behaviour and any reasons for it.  In the event that they have been involved in bullying behaviour they are asked to sign a binding promise that they will treat all pupils fairly, equally and respectfully including the targeted pupil(s).

  • The class teacher does not apportion blame but rather treats bullying behaviour as a “mistake” that can and must be remedied She emphasises that the intention is not to punish perpetrators but to talk to them, to explain how harmful and hurtful bullying is and to seek a promise that it will stop.  If that promise is forthcoming and is honoured there will be no penalty and that will be the end of the matter.  Pupils who report bullying therefore are not getting others “in trouble” so much as enabling them to get out of trouble into which they may ultimately get if the bullying continued.

  • When an investigation is completed and/or a bullying situation is resolved the class teacher will complete a report, to include the findings of the investigation, the strategy adopted and the outcome of the intervention, as well as any other relevant information.

  • If a pupil has signed such a promise but then chooses to break that promise and continue the bullying behaviour, this can then no longer be considered a “mistake”.  In this event parents(s)/guardians(s) will be informed and requested to countersign their daughters/son’s promise. Breach of this additional promise by further bullying behaviour is regarded as a very grave matter and a serious sanction may be imposed by the school authorities (See sanctions below).

  • All documentation regarding bullying incidents and their resolution is retained securely in the school.



Where a pupil has been found to be engaged in bullying behaviour, has formally promised to stop and has broken that promise, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

  1. She may be required to sign another promise, this time countersigned by a parent/guardian.  

  2. Parent(s)/guardian(s) may be contacted by the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and informed of the nature and extent of the bullying behaviour with a view to agreeing a strategy whereby a promise to end the bullying behaviour would be honoured;

  3. Parents(s)/guardians(s) may be invited to a meeting with the ‘Relevant Teacher’ and the Principal and the pupil may be suspended from school.

  4. The case may be referred to the Board of Management and the pupil may be expelled from the school.



Investigating and Reporting Procedures

The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows (see Section 6.8 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.


  • Bullied pupils:

    • Ending the bullying behaviour,

    • Changing the school culture to foster more respect for bullied pupils and all pupils,

    • Changing the school culture to foster greater empathy towards and support for bullied pupils,

    • Indicating clearly that the bullying is not the fault of the targeted pupil through the speedy identification of those responsible and speedy resolution of bullying situations,

    • After resolution, enabling bullied pupils to complete a victim-impact statement,

    • Making adequate counselling facilities available to pupils who need it in a timely manner,

    • Helping bullied pupils raise their self-esteem by encouraging them to become involved in activities that help develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school)

    • Implementing a “buddy system” in the school (if applicable)


  •  Bullying pupils:

    • Making it clear that bullying  pupils who reform are not blamed or punished and get a “clean sheet”,”

    • Making it clear that bullying pupils who reform are doing the right and honourable thing and giving them praise for this,

    • Making adequate counselling facilities available to help those who need it learn other ways of meeting their needs besides violating the rights of others,

    • Helping those who need to raise their self-esteem by  encouraging them to become involved in activities that develop friendships and social skills (e.g. participation in group work in class and in extra-curricular group or team activities during or after school)

    • Using learning strategies throughout the school and the curriculum to help enhance pupils’ feelings of self-worth,

    • In dealing with negative behaviour in general, encouraging teachers and parents to focus on, challenge and correct the behaviour while supporting the child,

    • In dealing with bullying behaviour seeking resolution and offering a fresh start with a “clean sheet” and no blame in return for keeping a promise to reform,


Supervision and Monitoring of Pupils   


The Board of Management confirms that appropriate supervision and monitoring policies and practices are in place to both prevent and deal with bullying behaviour and to facilitate early intervention where possible.

Prevention of Harassment

The Board of Management confirms that the school will, in accordance with its obligations under equality legislation, take all such steps that are reasonably practicable to prevent the sexual harassment of pupils or staff or the harassment of pupils or staff on any of the nine grounds specified i.e. gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller Community.


This policy has been made available to school personnel, published on the school website is readily accessible to parents and pupils on request and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the patron if requested.

This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year.  Written notification that the review has been completed will be made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A record of the review and its outcome will be made available, if requested, to the patron and the Department.