Beaufort is a “telling school” where bullying is not tolerated.
We in Beaufort endeavour to provide a caring and supportive community which encourages each student to develop her full spiritual, intellectual, moral, physical and social potential in an environment which recognises the primacy of social justice. (School Mission Statement) In this context, it is the policy of Loreto High School Beaufort that all staff members are at all times vigilant for the signs of bullying and proactive in addressing such incidents as may arise.
Bullying of all types is a matter of increasing concern in our schools today. Our students are going through a period of huge transition in their lives and it is very important they do so in a safe environment free from bullying behaviour. For this, there needs to be a proactive anti-bullying policy in place. Loreto High School Beaufort has introduced this policy in conjunction with all members of the school community to ensure there is a stable secure learning and working environment which facilitates the growth and development of all our students.
This Anti-Bullying Policy applies to the bullying of students and should be observed while in school, while travelling to and from school and while attending any school activity including trips, sporting and cultural events. This policy should be read in conjunction with the school’s Code of Behaviour and all the school’s policies.
What is bullying?
Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others. (Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour in Primary and Post-Primary Schools, 1993) Types of bullying include:
- Physical aggression
- Damage to property
- Abusive texts, social networking messages, inappropriate use of modern media etc.
- Name Calling
- Cyber Bullying
- Any single incident which leads to an ongoing threat
The signs/symptoms which may suggest that a pupil is being bullied include:
- Unwillingness to go to school
- Loss of interest in school
- Anxiety about travelling to and from school
- Pattern of physical illnesses
- Possessions missing or damaged
- Unexplained bruising or cuts
- Visible signs of anxiety or distress
Loreto High School Beaufort takes a three pronged approach to dealing with bullying. Initially, there is a preventative approach where students are educated on what bullying is and its effects on students. Secondly, there is a disciplinary approach where the school’s Code of Behaviour is used to deal with instances of bullying.
Thirdly, support is provided to all students involved in bullying (bullies, victims and their peers).
The preventative strategies used include:
- At the beginning of each year, Student Handbooks are distributed to 1st and 2nd years by their form teachers. These handbooks contain a section on countering bullying and each class is encouraged to draw up a charter on bullying at the beginning of the school year.
- A Friendship week is organised and run by the Senior Prefects in the school. This is where the Prefects deliver lessons to the class groups on what bullying is, its effects on people and ways for a victim or a bystander to deal with bullying. The lessons are tailored to suit the needs of the different year groups. Throughout Friendship Week, there may also be speakers for students and/or parents, theatrical productions dealing with bullying, questionnaires and surveys.
- The whole school community including students, parents/guardians, staff and the Board of Management are involved in the formation and reviewing of the “Anti-Bullying Policy”.
- The “Dos and Don’ts” of bullying are printed in the students’ school journals.
- Bullying is comprehensively dealt with in the CSPE and SPHE curricula at Junior Cert.
- The “Anti-Bullying Policy” is made available on the school website (www.loretohighschool.com)
- Corridors, eating areas and sports areas are adequately supervised at all break times. All staff are regularly reminded of their duties around noting bullying behaviour and reporting it to the relevant Year Head for investigation.
- All first years are given peer buddies to help with the transition from primary school to secondary school. These peer buddies are trained in how to develop appropriate relationships with their peer group and how to deal with reports of bullying.
- The school has a highly active pastoral care team who intervene early in situations where any bullying is suspected.
- Students’ internet sessions are supervised by teachers and social networking sites are blocked so students have no access to them while on the school premises. All students are educated on “Netiquette”. Mobile phones, cameras and all electronic recording devices must be locked in the student’s locker for the duration of the school day.
- Students are reminded at assemblies of what bullying is, how it affects students and how students should deal with it.
There is “zero acceptance” of all forms of bullying in Loreto High School Beaufort.
Students are strongly encouraged to report incidents of alleged bullying to any member of the school community. Issues or incidents that are not reported cannot be dealt with. The person to whom the report is made informs the relevant Year Head. Practical ways of reporting bullying include:
- Directly approaching a staff member
- Parents contacting the school directly
- Getting a friend to report the bullying
- Leaving a note in a piece of homework to be given up to a teacher
All reports of bullying behaviour are noted, investigated and dealt with in a sensitive manner in line with the school’s Code of Behaviour. In this way, it is hoped that pupils will gain confidence in disclosing bullying behaviour.
All students involved in bullying (bullies, victims and their peers) are given assistance/counselling through the pastoral care team within the school. This Pastoral Care team includes:
- Form Teacher
- Year Head
- Guidance Counsellors
- Deputy Principal
Serious cases of bullying behaviour are referred immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal who may if necessary refer them on to the Gardai.
We aim to create an environment where our pupils and staff feel safe and are free to seek help if they need it. Incidents of bullying are dealt with in line with the school’s Code of Behaviour and Dignity at Work policy. These are available on the school website and in the Student or Teacher Handbook. Where bullying behaviour has occurred, Parents/Guardians of those involved are informed of the situation and how it is being dealt with. Any unresolved matters can be referred to the Board of Management.
This school policy is subject to continuous review.