Anti-bullying Policy

1. In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the TUSLA, the Board of Management of St. Columba’s N.S. 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 the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, published September 2013 and with DES circular 0045/2013.

2. 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:

(a) 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 non-threatening environment; and

  •  promotes respectful relationships across the school community;

(b) Effective leadership

(c)  A school-wide approach

 (d) A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact

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

  • build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils; and

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

  • effective supervision and monitoring of pupils;

(f) Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils

(g) Supports for staff

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

(i) On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

3. 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 or 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, extortion,

isolation, persistent name-calling

  •  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.

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

Additional information on different types of bullying is set out in Section 2 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

The list of examples below is non exhaustive.

Examples of bullying behaviours


General  behaviours which apply to all types of bullying


  • Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality

Legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.

  • Physical aggression

  • Damage to property

  • Name calling

  • Slagging

  • The production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials aimed at intimidating another person

  • Offensive graffiti

  • Extortion

  • Intimidation

  • Insulting or offensive gestures

  • The “look”

  • Invasion of personal space

  • A combination of any of the types listed.





  • Denigration: Spreading rumours, lies or gossip to hurt a person’s reputation

  • Harassment: Continually sending vicious, mean or disturbing messages to an individual

  • Impersonation: Posting offensive or aggressive messages under another person’s name

  • Flaming: Using inflammatory or vulgar words to provoke an online fight

  • Trickery: Fooling someone into sharing personal information which you then post online

  • Outing: Posting or sharing confidential or compromising information or images

  • Exclusion: Purposefully excluding someone from an online group

  • Cyber stalking: Ongoing harassment and denigration that causes a person considerable fear for his/her safety

  • Silent telephone/mobile phone call

  • Abusive telephone/mobile phone calls

  • Abusive text messages

  • Abusive email

  • Abusive communication on social networks e.g. Facebook/ Twitter/You Tube or on games consoles

  • Abusive website comments/Blogs/Pictures

  • Abusive posts on any form of communication technology

Identity Based Behaviours

Including any of the nine discriminatory grounds mentioned in Equality Legislation  (gender including transgender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and

membership of the Traveller community).


Homophobic and Transgender


  • Spreading rumours about a person’s sexual orientation

  • Taunting a person of a different sexual orientation

  • Name calling e.g. Gay, queer, lesbian...used in a derogatory


  • Physical intimidation or attacks

  • Threats


Race, nationality, ethnic background and membership of the Traveller  community


  • Discrimination, prejudice, comments or insults about colour,

nationality, culture, social class, religious beliefs, ethnic or

traveller background

  • Exclusion on the basis of any of the above






This involves manipulating relationships as a means of bullying. Behaviours include:

  • Malicious gossip

  • Isolation & exclusion

  • Ignoring

  • Excluding from the group

  • Taking someone’s friends away

  • Spreading rumours

  • Breaking confidence

  • Talking loud enough so that the victim can hear

  • The “look”

  • Use or terminology such as ‘nerd’ in a derogatory way


  • Unwelcome or inappropriate  sexual comments or touching

  • Harassment


Special Educational Needs,


  • Name calling

  • Taunting others because of their disability or learning needs

  • Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to recognise and defend themselves against bullying

  • Taking advantage of some pupils’ vulnerabilities and limited capacity to understand social situations and social cues.

  • Mimicking a person’s disability

  • Setting others up for ridicule



4. The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are the class teachers and/or supervising teachers.

5. The education and prevention strategies (including strategies specifically aimed at cyber-

bullying, homophobic and transphobic bullying) that will be used by the school are as follows (see Section 6.5 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools):


 Education and prevention strategies

School-wide approach

  • A school-wide approach to the fostering of respect for all members of the school community.

  • The promotion of the value of diversity to address issues of prejudice and stereotyping, and highlight the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.

  • The fostering and enhancing of the self-esteem of all our pupils through both curricular and extracurricular activities. Pupils will be provided with opportunities to develop a positive sense of self-worth through formal and informal interactions.

  • Whole staff professional development on bullying to ensure that all staff develops an awareness of what bullying is, how it impacts on pupils’ lives and the need to respond to it-prevention and intervention.

  • An annual audit of professional development needs with a view to assessing  staff requirements  through internal staff knowledge/expertise and external sources

  • Professional development with specific focus on the training of the relevant teachers

  • School wide awareness raising and training on all aspects of bullying, to include pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s) and the wider school community.

  • Supervision and monitoring of classrooms, corridors, school grounds, school tours and extra- curricular activities. Non-teaching and ancillary staff will be encouraged to be vigilant and report issues to relevant teachers. Supervision will also apply to monitoring student use of communication technology within the school.

  • Involvement of the student body in contributing to a safe school environment e.g.  Buddy system, mentoring and other student support activities that can help to support pupils and encourage a culture of peer respect and support.

  • Development and promotion of an Anti-Bullying code for the school-to be displayed publicly in classrooms and in common areas of the school.

  • The school’s anti-bullying policy is discussed with pupils and all parent(s)/guardian(s)s are given a copy as part of the Code of Behaviour of the school

  • The implementation of regular (e.g. once per term) whole school awareness measures e.g. a dedicated notice board in the school and classrooms on the promotion of friendship, and bullying prevention; annual Friendship Week and parent(s)/guardian(s) seminars; International Day (every two years); regular school or year group assemblies by principal, deputy principal

  • Encouraging a culture of telling, with particular emphasis on the importance of bystanders. In that way pupils will gain confidence in ‘telling’. This confidence factor is of vital importance. It should be made clear to all pupils that when they report incidents of bullying they are not considered to be telling tales but are behaving responsibly.

  • Ensuring that pupils know who to tell and how to tell, e.g.:

  • Direct approach to teacher at an appropriate time, for example after class.

  • Hand note up with homework.

  • Make a phone call to the school or to a trusted teacher in the school.

  • Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.

  • Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.

  • Encouraging parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied.

  • Implementing the Acceptable Use Policy in the school to include the necessary steps to ensure that the access to technology within the school is strictly monitored, as is the pupils’ use of mobile phones.



Implementation of curricula

  • The full implementation of the SPHE curricula and the RSE and Stay Safe Programmes as amended, updated or replaced from time to time.

  • Continuous Professional Development for staff in delivering these programmes.

  • School wide delivery of lessons on bullying from evidence based programmes, e.g.  Stay Safe Programme, or Walk Tall Programme.

  • Awareness-raising exercises each year in each class grouping where class teacher pro-actively explains the nature, 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 incidents. The aim is to build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils and a positive sense of self-worth.

  • School wide delivery of lessons on Relational aggression, Cyber Bullying ( Be Safe-Be Web wise, Web Wise Primary teachers’ resources), Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying, Diversity and Interculturalism.

  • The prevention and awareness-raising measures will also deal explicitly with cyber-bullying in the middle and senior classes. The focus is on educating pupils on appropriate online behaviour, on how to stay safe when online and on developing a culture of reporting any concerns about cyber-bullying. The role of parents is crucial in this.

  • Delivery of the Garda SPHE Programmes. These lessons, delivered by Community Gardai, cover issues around personal safety and cyber-bullying

  • The school will specifically consider the additional needs of SEN pupils with regard to programme implementation and the development of skills and strategies to enable all pupils to respond appropriately.


               Links to other policies

  •  Code of Behaviour, Child Protection Policy,  Acceptable Use Policy  (AUP), SPHE


6. 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:


Procedures for Investigating and Dealing with Bullying


The primary aim in investigating and dealing with bullying is to resolve any issues and to restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved (rather than to apportion blame);


The school’s procedures must be consistent with the following approach.

Every effort will be made to ensure that all involved (including pupils, parent(s)/guardian(s)) understand this approach from the outset.


 Reporting bullying behaviour


  • Any pupil or parent(s)/guardian(s) may bring a bullying incident to any teacher in the school.

  • All reports, including anonymous reports of bullying, will be investigated and dealt with by the class/supervising teacher.

  • Teaching and non-teaching staff such as secretaries, special needs assistants (SNAs), caretakers, cleaners must report any incidents of bullying behaviour witnessed by them, or mentioned to them, to the class/supervising teacher;


Investigating and dealing with incidents:

  • In investigating and dealing with bullying, the class/supervising teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement in conjunction with advice from senior colleagues to determine whether bullying has occurred and how best the situation might be resolved;

  • Parent(s)/guardian(s) and pupils are required to co-operate with any investigation and assist the school in resolving any issues and restoring, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved as quickly as possible;

  •  Teachers should take a calm, unemotional problem-solving approach.

  • Where possible incidents should  be investigated outside the classroom situation to ensure the privacy of all involved;

  •  All interviews should be conducted with sensitivity and with due regard to the rights of all pupils concerned. Pupils who are not directly involved can also provide very useful information in this way;

  • When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the class/supervising teacher will seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This will be done in a calm manner, setting an example in dealing effectively with a conflict in a non-aggressive manner;

  •  If a group is involved, each member will be interviewed individually at first. Thereafter, all those involved should be met as a group. At the group meeting, each member should be asked for his/her account of what happened to ensure that everyone in the group is clear about each other’s accounts;

  •  Each member of a group should be supported through the possible pressures that may face them from the other members of the group after the interview by the teacher;

 It may also be appropriate or helpful to ask those involved to write down their account of the incident(s)

  • In cases where it has been determined by the class/supervising teacher that bullying behaviour has occurred, the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the parties involved should be contacted at an early stage to inform them of the matter and explain the actions being taken. The school should give parent(s)/guardian(s) an opportunity of discussing ways in which they can reinforce or support the actions being taken by the school and the supports provided to the pupils;

  •  Where the class/supervising teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to her how she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to get her to see the situation from the perspective of the pupil being bullied;

  •  It must also be made clear to all involved (each set of pupils and parent(s)/guardian(s)) that in any situation where disciplinary sanctions are required, this is a private matter between the pupil being disciplined, his  her parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school



Follow up and recording


  • In determining whether a bullying case has been adequately and appropriately addressed the class/supervising  teacher must, as part of his/her professional judgement, take the following factors into account:

- Whether the bullying behaviour has ceased;

- Whether any issues between the parties have been resolved as far as is practicable;

-Whether the relationships between the parties have been restored as far as is practicable;

-Any feedback received from the parties involved, their parent(s)/guardian(s)s or the school Principal or Deputy Principal

  •  Follow-up meetings with the relevant parties involved should be arranged separately with a view to possibly bringing them together at a later date if the pupil who has been bullied is ready and agreeable.

  • Where a parent(s)/guardian(s) is not satisfied that the school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with these procedures, the parent(s)/guardian(s) must be referred, as appropriate, to the school’s complaints procedures.

  • In the event that a parent(s)/guardian(s) has exhausted the school's complaints procedures and is still not satisfied, the school must advise the parent(s)/guardian(s) of their right to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children.


Recording of bullying behaviour


It is imperative that all recording of bullying incidents must be done in an objective and factual manner.

The school’s procedures for noting and reporting bullying behaviour are as follows

 Informal- pre-determination that bullying has occurred

  • All staff must keep a written record of any incidents witnessed by them or notified to them. These records are to be kept locked in the teacher’s filing cabinet.  All incidents must be reported to the class/supervising teacher.

  • While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the class/supervising teacher, this teacher must keep a written record of the reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same

  • The class/supervising teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.



       Formal Stage 1-determination that bullying has occurred

  • If it is established by the class/supervising teacher that bullying has occurred, that teacher must keep appropriate written records which will assist his/her efforts to resolve the issues and restore, as far as is practicable, the relationships of the parties involved.

  • The school office will collect such records at the end of the school year for storage in a ring-binder folder. Such notes may be used in subsequent years but only for the purposes for which they were taken.


         Formal Stage 2-Appendix 3 (From DES Procedures)

The class/supervising teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 1 to record the bullying behaviour in the following circumstances:


 a) in cases where he/she considers that the bullying behaviour has not been adequately and appropriately addressed within 20 school days after he/she has determined that bullying behaviour occurred; and

b) Where the school (i.e. the investigating teacher in consultation with the principal and/or the deputy principal) has decided as part of its anti-bullying policy that in certain circumstances bullying behaviour must be recorded and reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal as applicable.


When the recording template is used, it must be retained by the investigating teacher and a copy maintained by the principal. These will be kept in locked filing cabinets.



Established intervention strategies

  • Teacher interviews with all pupils

  • Negotiating agreements between pupils and following these up by monitoring progress. This can be on an informal basis or implemented through a more structured mediation process

  • Working with parent(s)/guardian(s)s to support school interventions

  • No Blame Approach

  • Circle Time

  • Restorative interviews

Reference is made to the following intervention strategies: Ken Rigby.pdf

  • The traditional disciplinary approach

  • Strengthening the victim

  • Mediation

  • Restorative Practice

Such strategies will be used by the school where relevant in the context of the primary school.

7. The school’s programme of support for working with pupils affected by bullying is as follows

(see Section 6.8.16 of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools) :


  • All in-school supports and opportunities will be provided for the pupils affected by bullying to participate in activities designed to raise their self-esteem, to develop friendships and social skills and build resilience e.g. 


         - Buddy / Peer mentoring system

          - Group work such as circle time


  • If pupils require counselling or further supports the school will endeavour to liaise with the appropriate agencies to organise same. This may be for the pupil affected by bullying or involved in the bullying behaviour. St. Columba’s School will request advice, when necessary, from our assigned NEPS psychologist.

  • Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher.

8. 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.


9. 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.


10. This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on 27th March 2014(date) and has been amended in June 2019.


11. Once adopted by the Board, the policy will be made available to school personnel, published on the school website and provided to the Parents’ Association. A copy of this policy will be made available to the Department and the Patron if requested.


12. This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management as necessary. 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 to the Department.