St. Joseph’s National School
Code of Behaviour and Discipline
The Department of Education has requested all Boards of Management to draw up Codes of behaviour and discipline for their schools, in consultation with the Parents and teachers. What follows is the agreed code for our school. The code includes the provisions suggested by the department in its guidelines to Boards of Management. School rules are devised to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all members of the school’s community.
A Code of Behaviour and Discipline was originally drawn up for our school in1997 and reviewed on many occasions since then. A major review was conducted from November ‘08 to February ‘09 involving staff B.O.M. and parents taking into account the latest guidelines.
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 to ensure an orderly climate for learning in the school.
Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school:
Our Code of Behaviour and Discipline outlines the values to be promoted in our school in order to create a harmonious environment where co-operation between staff, parents and pupils takes place to enable pupil teaching to occur in such a way as to nurture the potential of every child to develop to their full potential.
Introduction to Rules
Aims and Objectives
- To ensure an educational environment that is guided by our vision statement
- To allow the school to function in an orderly way where children can make progress in all aspects of their development
- That all children should be able to develop socially and academically in a happy, safe, congenial and structured learning environment reflecting the ethos of our school and community.
- That good manners, self-discipline, personal responsibility, punctuality and respect for others and their environment will be promoted in all children attending St. Joseph’s N.S..
- To ensure the safety and well being of all members of the school community
- 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
- To ensure that the system of rules, rewards, and sanctions are implemented in a fair and consistent manner throughout the school
Our code reflects a greater emphasis on rewards than sanctions, however in order to maintain good order and discourage offenders sanctions will sometimes be necessary.
This code will apply in all locations where children participate in school related activities.
- Guidelines for General Behaviour
- a) Pupils should show respect and courtesy for each other, for the staff and visitors to the school.
b)Pupils should also take care and respect their own property, the property of others, school property and its environment.
c)Bullying of any kind shall not be tolerated and incidents of bullying should be reported to the class teacher or principal. (”Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others.”) A policy on bullying has been drawn up and is included with enrolment documents.
- d) Offensive language of any sort will not be allowed.
- e) No pupil may enter another classroom or their own classroom during break time without prior permission from a teacher
f)Lunch must be eaten in the classroom. Glass bottles and Chewing gum and are not allowed. Pupils are encouraged to eat healthy lunches and fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps, etc are not allowed.
- g) Tippex, aerosol cans or similar toxic material is not allowed to be used by any pupil.
- h) Rough play, running round corners, climbing on walls, bars etc, tripping or other reckless behaviour in the school playground will not be permitted.
i)Running, shouting, pushing etc in the school building is not allowed.
j)Loitering in the school toilets and cloakrooms,(school yard etc) or in the school grounds outside of school hours is not allowed.
k)Pupils should cover and label books and maintain property in good order.
l)Pupils may not leave school designated play area /schoolgrounds at breaktime without the permission of a teacher.
m)Pupils will be encouraged to play a variety of games at school breaktimes.
- n) Mobile phones are not allowed in school as pupils are allowed access to the school phone for important messages. (See Mobile Phone policy).
- o) Each pupil is expected to do his/her best both in school and for homework.
- p) Each pupil is expected to attend school on a regular basis and to be punctual.
- q) Possession/use of tobacco, alcohol or other harmful drugs is forbidden on the school premises and from anywhere school related activities take place. Procedures in relation to these are dealt with comprehensively in the school Substance Use Policy.
St. Joseph’s N.S. Mobile Phone Policy
|As a general rule pupils are not allowed to bring mobile phones to school or to school related activities. The only exception to this rule is on School Tour days when in the interest of health and safety pupils may have a mobile phone.)|
However we recognise that pupils may sometimes need access to a mobile to maintain contact with parents before or after school. Where a pupil brings a mobile phone to school for this reason, the pupil should explain the circumstances to their teacher and the phone must
- Be kept out of sight
- Switched off during the school day
- And may not be used, for any purpose, on school premises, grounds or during off-site school activities (such as schools sports activities) except with the permission of their teacher.
Pupils who ignore this policy or use a mobile on school premises without permission will be required to hand over their phone to a member of staff and parents will be asked to collect it from the school office.
The school will incorporate this policy in the school’s discipline policy and will treat breaches as they would treat any other breach of school discipline.
The school accepts no responsibility for replacing lost, stolen or damaged mobile phones. The safety and security of mobile phones is wholly a matter for pupils/parents.
Pupils using mobile phones to bully other pupils, send offensive images messages/calls or make unauthorized recordings on the school premises will face disciplinary actions as per the School Code of Discipline.
It should be noted that it is a criminal offence to use a mobile phone to menace, harass or offend another person. As with all such incidents, the school may consider involving the gardaí.
- Attendance & Punctuality.
Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 every child must attend school regularly up to sixteen years of age or complete at least three years education in a post primary school, whichever comes later. The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) was established to support school attendance and follow up on children who are not attending school regularly.
As a parent you must let the school know if your child is absent and the reason why. It is school policy that reasons must be given in writing. The school must notify the National Educational Welfare Board if a child is absent for 20 days or more or where the absence gives rise to concern. If your child is sick or absent for other good reasons, no action will be taken by the NEWB. However, if there is concern about your child’s attendance at school or about the reasons given, you may be visited by an Educational Welfare Officer who will discuss your child’s education with you. The officer will work with you and take full account of the circumstances of the child and the family before deciding what further action is necessary to ensure that the child receives his/her entitlement to an education
- Pupils are expected to be at school at 9.20 a.m. for classes to commence at 9.20 a.m. The school day ends at 3.00 p.m. but for Junior and Senior Infants it ends at 2.00 p.m. and the B.O.M. strongly recommend that Junior and Senior Infants are collected at this time. Teachers will not be responsible for pupils outside of school hours.
- An explanatory note from parents will be required when a pupil:
- has been absent.
- wishes to leave during school hours.
- needs to stay in at break.
- needs to be excused from any school activity.
- Is not wearing the school uniform.
- c) Pupils are not allowed to leave the school grounds between 9:20am and 3:00pm without written permission or personal attendance of parents/legal guardians.
- d) Prior arrangements must be made with his/her class teacher if the pupil needs to be collected by someone other than their parents or legal guardians in the interest of pupil safety.
- e) Each family will be notified as far in advance as possible of holidays and school closings.
- f) Emergency closures will be notified by text message where possible.
(3) Pupil’s Work
- i) Each pupil is expected to work diligently in school and to co-operate with his/her teacher at all times.
- ii) Homework reinforces work done in school and is therefore, an essential component of the learning process. Homework written and oral should be carried out conscientiously. (A homework policy is included for your information).
(iii) If homework is uncompleted or of an unsatisfactory standard, it must be completed or improved at a time designated by the class teacher.
- iv) The school operates a book rental scheme so that pupils are provided with all textbooks required. A book rental fee is collected in October each year to cover the cost of these books. All books should be kept in good condition and covered.
(4) Dress and Appearance
- In the interests of safety, children are expected to have suitable footwear at all times with runners for P.E. and games.
- Dangling earrings, nose rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. are not allowed.
- Neat dress essential. Wearing of make-up is prohibited and also hairstyles or general appearance deemed inappropriate by school staff.
- The school uniform is Navy Jumper with white polo shirt and navy trousers/knee-length An all navy tracksuit may also be worn in cold weather or days designated for P.E.
- All articles of clothing should be clearly labelled and the school staff/B.O.M. will not be responsible for personal articles lost or damaged.
(5) Whole school approach in promoting positive behaviour
A positive ethos permeates all the activities of St. Joseph’s N.S. and helps in forming a strong sense of social cohesion within the school.
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.
- All staff were consulted on the formulation of this code of behaviour. New and temporary staff will be given a copy upon taking up employment in our school.
- We will cater for children who may present with behavioural difficulties arising from their special education needs by seeking whatever supports exist e.g. National Educational Psychological Service, Special Needs assistants etc. and by drawing up specific strategies to cater for these children e.g. Individual Education Plans with behavioural targets.
- 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.
- The School SPHE plan identifies how this curriculum is managed and monitored.
- New teachers are informed of this plan and supported by the Principal and colleagues in its implementation.
Board of Management
- The Board of Management is consulted in reviewing, providing submissions to and in ratifying the code of behaviour.
Parents were involved in the formulation of this policy through consultation with the Parents committee, through Parents representatives on the B.O.M. and through seeking submissions from parents prior to the school formal parent/teacher meetings.
New parents are given a copy of our Code when they apply to enrol their child/children in our school and are asked to sign that they will involve themselves in supporting it.
Parents will help support it in the following ways:
- Parents ensure their children are at school in time.
- Parents attend meetings at the school if requested both formal and informal.
- Parents help their children with homework and ensure that it is completed.
- Parents ensure their children have the necessary books and materials for school.
- Parents are aware of and cooperate with the school’s system of rewards and sanctions.
- Parents communicate with the school on a regular basis via their child’s homework diary.
The school staff will encourage parental involvement in their children’s education in some of the following ways:
- Parental invitations to awards presentation in school, Science week display, Green School display etc.
- Invitation to School Mass, Coffee morning/afternoon, Medal Presentations, Plays, book fair
- Parental invitation to enrolment information.
- Opportunities for children to attend prior to enrolment and for parents to address any queries they might have on our school policies.
- Facilitating the development of the school garden in co-operation with parents committee members with assistance from pupils and staff .
- Individual parents meetings organised.
- Meetings organised from time to time to explain Paired reading programmes etc.
- Parents invited to parenting classes/courses organised locally.
- Parents help with supervision at swimming and school football games.
- School staff will co-operate with any initiatives organized by Parent’s committee e.g. Halloween art competition Carol singing etc.
- Pupils were involved in discussing school rules in the code of behaviour and helped to understand the need for these rules.
- Pupils assist in the ongoing implementation of the code of behaviour by drafting rules for the classroom, rules for playing games, guidelines for dealing with bullying etc..
- Senior pupils are encouraged to look out for and help to take care of Junior pupils in the school.
- Buddy system operates in the school between Senior and Junior room as part of reading programme.
- Opportunities will be given to pupils to monitor the effectiveness of our school rules and to suggest amendments.
Positive strategies for managing behaviour /Rewards
‘The most effective methodology that teachers develop in attempting to manage challenging behaviour is to prevent it occurring in the first place’.
The following positive strategies are used throughout the school to promote good behaviour and to prevent misbehaviour.
- There are clearly established “Ground rules” which set the behavioural expectations in each class that are consistent with the school ethos and which set a positive atmosphere for learning.
- Pupils are allowed input in devising the class rules.
- Teachers ensure that pupils understand and are frequently reminded of how they are expected to behave.
- There is a clear system of acknowledging and rewarding good behaviour and for applying sanctions for misbehaviour.
- Classroom management techniques are devised that ensure a variety of activities and methodologies to sustain pupil interest and motivation.
- A concise set of playground rules which emphasise positive behaviour and make it clear what activities are permitted will be drawn up. All staff are aware of these rules and will apply them consistently when they are on yard supervision. Pupils will be involved in discussion around the creation of these rules.
- Arrangements for supervision in the playground will be in accordance with the supervision policy.
- Games activities will be encouraged at break times in order to minimise misbehaviour.
- Efforts will be made to teach playground games to children adapted to suit different class levels.
- Suitable games/activities for wet days will be arranged i.e. board games, jigsaws, construction equipment, library books etc.
Rewards for good behaviour will be used throughout the school and will include the following
- Merit stamps
- Extra responsibility
- Exemption from homework ( occasionally and at class teacher’s discretion).
- Extra game time.
- Pupils free choice of activity as reward for work well done and completed early.
- Treats (occasionally and at class teacher’s discretion).
- Special award gifts and Certificates.
(6) Procedures in relation to breaches of Discipline
The degree of misdemeanours i.e. minor, serious or gross, will be judged by the teachers in consultation with the Principal based on a common sense approach with regard to the gravity/frequency of such misdemeanours.
(In the implementation of any sanctions, it should be noted that it is the behaviour that is rejected and not the child).
The overall responsibility for discipline within the school rests with the principal.
Each teacher has responsibility for the maintenance of discipline within his/her own classroom while sharing a common responsibility for good order within the school premises.
A child will be referred to the principal for serious or gross breaches of Discipline and for repeated incidents of minor misbehaviour.
The following strategies may be used to show disapproval of unacceptable behaviour.
Minor misbehaviour sanctions to be used by class teacher.
- Reasoning with child
- Reprimand (including advice on how to improve)
- Temporary separation from class
- Loss of privileges
- Detention during break or lunch time or after school hours
- Prescribing additional work
- Child may have to write a story or lines explaining about bad behaviour. Story to be signed by parent/guardian. Behaviour may be discussed with parents in an informal way.
For Serious or gross breaches of discipline including repeated minor breaches the following sanctions will apply as well as those already listed.
- Referral to principal
- Communication with parent/guardian (when there is no improvement after referral to the principal)
- Older children may not be allowed to go on a school tour if no effort is made to improve, after repeated corrections.
- Fines imposed for damage to school property/ books or property of others
Serious or gross incidents of misbehaviour will be recorded. Teachers will have the right to search for missing property using due discretion
Involving parents in management of problem behaviour
‘Parents will be kept fully informed from the outset of instances of serious misbehaviour on the part of their children as we feel it is better to involve parents at an early stage than as a last resort.
- Parents may be contacted initially on an informal/incidental basis by the class teacher to advise on minor ongoing breeches of discipline.
- Parents will be invited to the school by the class teacher in consultation with the Principal to discuss serious or gross breeches of discipline.
- Parents are encouraged to contact the school if they have concerns regarding their child’s behaviour.
The following is the agreed complaints procedure to be followed in the event of a problem occurring.
A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.
Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher she/he should approach the principal teacher with a view to resolving it.
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.
If the complaint is still unresolved and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further she/he should lodge the complaint in writing with the chairperson of the board of management.
Managing aggressive or violent misbehaviour
- Children who present as being emotionally disturbed will in consultation with parents be immediately referred for psychological assessment .
- The Principal in conjunction with the class teacher, SEN teacher and HSCL teacher will work together to develop specific strategies to cater for any children who are emotionally disturbed in consultation with parents and will update themselves on current best practice.
- Through the Special Educational Needs Organiser, appropriate support will be sought from services available e.g. Health Service Executive, NEPS, S.N.A. 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, the school may apply temporary exclusion while consultation with SENO and/or EWO takes place about appropriate resourcing, alternative placement…
1For the purpose of this policy, suspension is defined as:
requiring the pupil to absent himself/herself from the school for a specified, limited period of school days.
During the period of a suspension, the pupil retains their place in the school.
Authority to suspend
The Board of Management of St. Joseph’s National School delegates the authority to suspend a pupil to the Principal of the school. This suspension will be for a maximum of 3 days and will be discussed and reviewed at the first scheduled Board meeting following the suspension.
The grounds for suspension
Suspension in our school will be a proportionate response to the behaviour that is causing concern.
Many other interventions will have been tried before suspension, and school staff will have reviewed the reasons why these have not worked. The decision to suspend a pupil in our school requires serious grounds such as that:
- the pupil’s behaviour has had a seriously detrimental effect on the education of other pupils
- the pupil’s continued presence in the school at this time constitutes a threat to safety
- the pupil is responsible for serious damage to property.
A single incident of serious misconduct may be grounds for suspension.
- In Determining the appropriateness of suspending a pupil the following criteria will be used
- The purpose of a proposed suspension is clearly identified, and that purpose cannot be achieved in any other way.
- Suspension will provide a respite for staff and the pupil, give the pupil time to reflect on the link between their action and its consequences and give staff time to plan ways of helping the pupil to change unacceptable behaviour.
- In coming to the decision to suspend School management will consider the risk of any unwanted outcomes from suspension, such as an increased sense of alienation from school that could lead to a cycle of behavioural and academic problems.
- A precise description of the behaviour its circumstance and its persistence in spite of interventions will be documented.
- Factors that may have triggered incidents of serious misbehaviour will be taken into account including the circumstances, age, stage of development and cognitive ability of the pupil.
- How other pupils and staff are affected by the pupil’s behaviour including particular impacts on pupils /teachers and the impact of the behaviour on the teaching and learning of the class will be examined as well as the pupil’s understanding of the impact of their behaviour on others.
- Interventions that have been tried will be recorded and monitored including results and time period and parents will be involved in finding a solution to the problem behaviour.
- Intervention of NEPS or other psychological assessment or counselling will be sought, where appropriate as well as any other interventions/support services that are thought appropriate.
The following points will be considered before suspension will be applied.
- Does the pupil’s behaviour warrant suspension and is the standard being applied to judging the behaviour the same as the standard applied to the behaviour of any other pupil?
- Will suspension allow additional or alternative interventions to be made?
- Will suspension help the pupil to change the inappropriate behaviour?
- How will suspension help teachers or other pupils affected by the behaviour?
- Will suspension exacerbate any educational vulnerability of the pupil?
Suspension as part of a behaviour management plan
Suspension will be part of an agreed plan to address the pupil’s behaviour. The suspension will:
- enable the school to set behavioural goals with the pupil and their parents
- give school staff an opportunity to plan other interventions
- impress on a pupil and their parents the seriousness of the behaviour.
Forms of suspension
In exceptional circumstances, the Principal may consider an immediate suspension to be necessary where the continued presence of the pupil in the school at the time would represent a serious threat to the safety of pupils or staff of the school, or any other person. Fair procedures will still be applied.
Inappropriate use of suspension
Pupils will not be suspended 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 potentially 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.
A pupil will not be suspended again shortly after they return to school unless:
- they engage in serious misbehaviour that warrants suspension and
- fair procedures are observed in full and
- the standard applied to judging the behaviour is the same as the standard applied to the behaviour of any other pupil.
Open-ended suspension Pupils will not be suspended for an indefinite period.
Procedures in respect of suspension
The pupil and their parents will be informed about the complaint, how it will be investigated, and that it could result in suspension and give parents and pupil an opportunity to respond
Parents may be informed by phone or in writing, depending on the seriousness of the matter.
Giving an opportunity to respond
Parents and pupil will be given an opportunity to respond before a decision is made and before any sanction is imposed.
A meeting with the pupil 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 will 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 pupil’s behaviour. If a pupil 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, it will be 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 pupil, other pupils, 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 will 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 pupil to be collected. The school will have regard to its duty of care for the pupil.
The period of suspension
A pupil will not be suspended for more than three days. 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 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 pupil, where the suspension would bring the number of days for which the pupil 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 pupil 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.
The Board of Management will offer an opportunity to appeal a Principal’s decision to suspend a pupil. 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 pupil has been suspended in the current school year reaches twenty days, the parents, 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 pupil 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
The Principal should notify the parents and the pupil in writing of the decision to suspend. The letter should 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 pupil 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).
Engaging with pupil and parents
Where a decision to suspend has been made the Principal or another staff member delegated by the Principal will meet with the parents to emphasise their responsibility in helping the pupil to behave well when he/she returns to school and to offer help and guidance in this.
Where parents do not agree to meet with the Principal, written notification will serve as notice to impose a suspension.
Grounds for removing a suspension
A suspension may be removed if the Board of Management decides to remove the suspension for any reason or if the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science directs that it be removed following an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
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 pupil
The school will have a plan to help the pupil to take responsibility for catching up on work missed. This plan will help to avoid the possibility that suspension starts or amplifies a cycle of academic failure. Successful re-integration goes beyond academic work. A suspended pupil may feel angry or resentful about their suspension, and these feelings can trigger problems with reintegration which, in turn, may lead to further problem behaviour. The school will arrange for a member of staff to provide support to the pupil during the re-integration process through HSCL teacher learning support and class teacher initiatives.
When any sanction, including suspension, is completed, a pupil 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 pupil as of all other pupils.
The responsibility of the Board of Management as regards Suspension of Pupils
The Board of Management will:
- ensure that the school has a policy on, and procedures for, the use of suspension and expulsion in its Code of Behaviour that are in line with the guidelines of the NEWB and with any additional requirements as set down by the Patron
- ensure that all pupils and parents are advised about, and aware of, the school’s policy for suspension and expulsion
- ensure that fair procedures are used for suspension and expulsion and that all staff are aware of those procedures
- take special care to ensure that the fair procedures are accessible to people with disabilities or those from different language or cultural backgrounds
- will ensure that there are no undue delays in an investigation and in making decisions about the imposition of suspension or expulsion.
- will ensure that all matters to do with an investigation of alleged misbehaviour are dealt with in confidence.
- Will ensure that all legal and procedural requirements are fulfilled as outlined in the NEWB handbook.
Suspensions and expulsions: legal and procedural requirements
Fair procedures including the right to be heard and the right to impartiality.
Parents will be informed that the alleged misbehaviour is being investigated and will have the following rights:
- the right to know the details of the allegations being made and any other information that will be taken into account.
- the right to know how the issue will be decided.
- the right to respond to the allegations.
- where the possible sanction is of a serious nature, the right to be heard by the decision-making body.
- where the possible sanction is of a serious nature, the right to ask questions of the other party or witnesses where there is a dispute about the facts. This does not include the right to question pupils of the school.
The right to impartiality means:
- the right to an absence of bias in the decision-maker
- the right to impartiality in the investigation and the decision-making.
Freedom from bias entails ensuring that a person with an interest in the matter is not involved in the investigation or decision-making.
Applying fair procedures in school
In St. Joseph’s National School fair procedures apply to:
- the investigation of alleged misbehaviour that may lead to suspension or expulsion and
- the process of decision-making as to
(a) whether the pupil did engage in the misbehaviour and
(b) what sanction to impose.
The way in which fair procedures are applied will take account of the seriousness of the alleged misbehaviour and will have regard to what is reasonable in the context of our school and the sanction being applied. The pupil and their parents will be kept fully informed about an allegation and the processes that will be used to investigate and decide the matter; and they will be given an opportunity to respond to the allegation before a decision is made and before a suspension is imposed.
Absence of bias in the decision-maker will mean that no person with a direct relationship with the parties involved in the misconduct inquiry will be involved in the decision making e.g. if the child of a member of the Board of Management was accused of misconduct, that parent would absent themselves from the Board for any consideration of the matter by the Board. A detailed investigation into the misconduct will be carried out by school staff under the direction of the Principal.
The Principal will then make a decision on whether the pupil did engage in the behaviour and about the sanction, based on the report of the investigation.
The Principal will review the investigation to ensure that it has been fully and fairly conducted and that it can be seen to be fair. It will be evident to the pupil, parents, staff and other pupils that the Principal, as decision-maker, is basing the decision, in an objective way, on the findings of the investigation.
The person alleging the misbehaviour, or who is a victim, or a witness will not usually conduct the investigation.
School authorities may need to seek legal advice to support their decision-making.
Involving the Gardaí
Where allegations of criminal behaviour are made about a pupil, these will usually be referred to the Gardai who have responsibility for investigating criminal matters.
A pupil is expelled from our school when the 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.
Our Code of Behaviour outlines the Board of Management policy on, and procedures for, expulsion which are in line with the Guidelines and with any additional requirements set down by the Patron.
Authority to expel
The Board of Management of St. Joseph’s National School has the authority to expel a student and that authority will be reserved to the Board of Management and will not be delegated.
The grounds for expulsion
Expulsion will be a proportionate response to the student’s behaviour. Expulsion of a student is a very serious step, and one that will only be taken by the Board of Management in extreme cases of
unacceptable behaviour. The school will 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 will undertake a very detailed review of a range of factors in deciding whether to expel a student.
- 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?
- 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)?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 will 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 viewed as a serious matter. Behaviour will be examined in context to understand both the behaviour itself and the response or sanction that is most appropriate.
Procedures in respect of expulsion
Where a preliminary assessment of the facts confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant expulsion, the procedural steps will include:
- A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal.
- A recommendation to the Board of Management by the Principal.
- Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of a hearing.
- Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing.
- Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer.
- Confirmation of the decision to expel.
The Board of Management will be the decision-making body in relation to expulsions.
It is a matter for each Board of Management 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 will:
- 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 will 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 will 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 will 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 will:
- 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 will undertake its own review of all documentation and the circumstances of the case. It will 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 the 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, put their case to the Board in each other’s presence. Each party will 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 will 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 will 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 will notify the Educational Welfare Officer in writing of its opinion, and the reasons for this opinion.
The Board of Management will 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)).
The Board will 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, the Board of Management may take steps to ensure that good order is maintained and that the safety of students is secured
The Board may consider it appropriate to suspend a student during this time. Suspension will only be considered where there is a 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 will formally confirm the decision to expel. Parents will be notified immediately that the expulsion will now proceed. Parents and the student will be told about the right to appeal and supplied with the standard form on which to lodge an appeal. A formal record will be made of the decision to expel the student.
A parent may appeal a decision to expel to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science (Education Act 1998 section 29). An appeal may also be brought by the National Educational Welfare Board on behalf of a student.
The appeals process
The appeals process under section 29 of the Education Act 1998 begins with the provision of
mediation by a mediator nominated by the Appeals Committee (Department of Education and
Review of use of expulsion
The Board of Management will review the use of expulsion in the school at regular intervals to ensure that its use is consistent with school policies, that patterns of use are examined to identify factors that may be influencing behaviour in the school, and to ensure that expulsion is used appropriately.
Applying the Guidelines means:The B.O.M. of St. Joseph’s N.S. will have a policy on, and procedures for, expulsion that are approved by the Board, and in line with N.E.W.B. Guidelines, and with any additional requirements set down by the Patron.
Parents are requested to familiarise themselves with this policy and to co-operate with the school with regard to its implementation. Parents should communicate regularly with the school about factors likely to affect the behaviour of their children. One day per year will be set aside for Parent/Teacher meetings. Any issues that arise pertaining to a child’s school life should first of all be addressed to the relevant classroom teacher.
Every effort will be made by teachers to adopt a positive approach to the question of behaviour in the school. Children will be rewarded now and again for good behaviour and work carefully done Roles and Responsibilities:-
Principal and Staff
The Principal is responsible for the day to day management of the school and for the creation of a school environment which is supportive of learning and safe for the whole school community. In light of this the responsibility for enforcing this policy rests with the principal while the teaching staff are responsible for its implementation within their various class groupings as well as sharing a common responsibility for its implementation within the whole school.
The Board of Management
The Board of Management will, on ratification of the Policy, supply all parents with a copy of this Policy. It will also be made available to parents enrolling a child in the school.
It shall be the responsibility of the parents to familiarise themselves with this policy document and then make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with the code by their children. It shall be the responsibility of the parents to support the teachers and Board of Management in the implementation of this policy document.