The Code of Behaviour was formulated in December of 2002. Initial work was done at our School-Planning Day in Rooskey on November 15th following consultation with parents, pupils and teachers. This consisted of a questionnaire issued to parents, while senior pupils contributed to the list of school rules. Further work was done at a staff meeting on November 22nd and during lunch breaks and it was reviewed again on March 16th, 2007 and reviewed further on February 2009, December 2015 and November 2017.
It was necessary to review the existing Code of Behaviour for the following reasons
to take into account the changing educational requirements and to bring it in line with the Education Act (1998) and the National Education Welfare Board – Developing and Code of Behaviour Guidelines for Schools (2008).
- Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of the School
The ethos of the school is a major factor in establishing and maintaining high standards of behaviour. This points to the importance of a strong sense of community within the school and the existence of a high level of co-operation among teachers, ancillary staff, pupils, parents, Parents Association and the Board of Management.
St. Michael’s & St. Patrick’s National School places a great emphasis on the need to give the children every possible opportunity to develop patterns of good behaviour. The aim is to ensure that the individuality of each child is accommodated while at the same time acknowledging the right of each child to education in a relatively disruptive-free environment. Discipline is seen as necessary to create a safe secure, orderly atmosphere to facilitate pupil learning.
- Aims of the Code of Behaviour
The Code of Behaviour aims to achieve three things:
- The efficient operation of the school and the structuring of in-class discipline so that there exists an efficient and stimulating-learning environment.
- The maintenance of good order throughout the school and respect for the school environment.
- The development of self-discipline in pupils based on consideration, respect and tolerance for others. As a Canadian Judge has counselled “It must be required that any one of the most important aims of education is to develop a sense of responsibility on the part of the pupils, personal responsibility for their individual actions and a realisation of the personal consequences of such actions”.
4. Principles of Discipline Policy
It has been stated “You have to keep order if you wish to teach” (D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow 1949). However, the staff of St. Michael’s & St. Patrick’s National School does not believe in an imposed authoritarian regime. The school code places a greater emphasis on rewards that on sanctions and the ideal is that pupils will require the skill of self-discipline. There are times however when it may be necessary to impose sanctions in order to maintain good order and discourage offenders. The school recognises the variety of differences, which exist between children and the need to accommodate these differences. School rules are devised with regard for the health, safety and welfare of all members of the school community.
- School Rules
- Be ready for class.
- Don’t stop people from learning.
- Respect other people’s property.
- Always do your best!
- Out of Class
- I must always be able to see the person supervising when I play at break time.
- I am allowed to play in a game if I keep the rules of the game.
- When I hear the bell I must go to my line.
- Rewarding good behaviour
A very important aspect of the school’s discipline policy is that good behaviour is encouraged, praised and rewarded in a variety of ways. Good behaviour must be seen to be rewarded with a greater emphasis on rewards than on sanctions. The idea is that pupils will see the benefits of good behaviour and acquire the skill of self-discipline. To help encourage this good behaviour each pupil starts a new school term with a clear record.
Good behaviour is rewarded by:
- Giving extra privileges e.g. job, posts of responsibility, library care etc. to those who do not get a yellow card in the month.
- Merit stickers/stars are used regularly as a sign or approval.
- Oral and written praise are given regularly for good behaviour, good work and self-discipline.
- The official opening time is 30 a.m. Classes for infants end at 2.10 p.m. Classes for all other pupils end at 3.10 p.m. Break time is from 11.00 a.m. to 11.10 a.m. and lunchtime is from 12.40 p.m. to 1.10. No responsibility is accepted from pupils arriving before 9.20 a.m. or remaining on the premises later than 3.20 p.m. Children are not allowed on the school premises after their school bus has left unless they are availing of the After school service.
- Children must be punctual each day.
- Children are not allowed to leave the school grounds during school time without the permission of the teacher/supervisor on yard duty.
- All pupils are expected to treat members of staff, their fellow pupils and visitors with respect and courtesy at all times. Likewise teachers will treat staff, pupils and visitors with respect and courtesy.
- A written note must explain absence from school. If a child wishes to leave school early, a written explanation must be given to the class teacher. If and when a student is absent for 20 or more days in a school year, the school is obliged to inform TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency.
- Children and their siblings with infectious illnesses should be kept at home from school.
- The use of foul language, cheek and any form of bullying are unacceptable. Bad language is not acceptable in any circumstance and the use of such language or any form of cheek towards a teacher will be regarded as a very serious misdemeanour.
- In the event of a child being brought home or to a doctor or to a hospital by any member of staff, it is hereby clearly stated that any such staff member accepts no responsibility for any accident/injury that may occur to the child being transported. Medical expenses are the parent’s responsibility.
- Pupils must respect all school property such as the school building, P.E. equipment, furniture, technical equipment, science equipment, library books etc. If damage is caused to any of the above by a pupil the repair or replacement costs will have to be met by the parents/guardian as agreed by the Board of Management.
- Children must enter and leave the classroom in an orderly manner.
- A school uniform helps children to feel that they belong to a certain school. It also helps to prevent undesirable competition in clothes among the older children.
- School uniforms must be worn every day except when the children have P.E. classes and please note that all garments should be labelled clearly with the child’s name.
- Children are expected to listen carefully to each other and to show respect for their classmates.
- Children are expected to work quietly and independently if any teacher is dealing with another pupil or a visitor.
- All pupils are expected to work to the best of their ability and to present work neatly.
- Children must listen carefully and obey every teacher’s instructions. This applies to the distribution of work sheets, copies, art materials and the correction of homework.
- Any behaviour that interferes with the rights of others is unacceptable.
- Behaviour out of Class
- Teachers and supervisors will supervise the playground in accordance with the latest legal ruling as expressed by O’Dalaigh, in the case of C. J. Lennon v. McCarthy” when normally healthy children are in the playground it is not necessary that they should be under constant supervision”.
- Any instructions given by the supervisor or teacher must be obeyed.
- Pupils must not behave in any way that endangers themselves or others.
- All children should enjoy their time out of class and should not be bullied by others. If a child is being bullied teachers or supervisors should be informed immediately so that the matter can be dealt with effectively.
- Climbing trees and walls, swinging from goalposts, basketball stands, volleyball net, windows and coat hangers are all very dangerous and are forbidden.
- An individual or group should exclude no child from any games.
- Kicking, fighting and rough play are also forbidden.
- Children are not allowed outsider school boundaries without getting permission from the teacher or supervisor on yard duty.
- Children are not allowed to play in the school garden.
- Children must stay off the grass area when it is wet as it can be slippy and dangerous.
- Children are not allowed to kick the footballs near windows or cars.
- On dry days all children must leave the classroom at break time and lunchtime. On wet days all children should remain in their classrooms. Lunchtime games are provided for use in the classroom on these days. All games must be tidied away at the end of break.
- If parents want their child to stay in during break times they must send in a note to the teacher. All pupils staying in at these times will go to the principal’s room for the duration of break time.
- Children must respond to the bell immediately assembling in an orderly manner in their own class line.
- Running around corners, rough playing throwing litter and writing on the walls is not permitted.
- Children must leave and enter the classroom in an orderly manner.
- Children who do not obey the school rules will have their names recorded and will face disciplinary action.
- Caring for myself
- I should respect my property, and myself always keeping my school bag, books and copies in good order.
- I should always be in on time when the school bell rings.
- I should show respect for my school and be proud to wear the complete school uniform every day.
- I should always be aware of my personal cleanliness.
- I should always bring a sensible, nutritional lunch to school: Fizzy drinks, crisps or chewing gum are not allowed.
- I should always do my best in school by listening carefully, working as hard as I can and by completing my homework.
- Caring for others
- I should be kind and respectful to teachers and fellow pupils by being mannerly and polite, by taking turns and by remaining silent and orderly in my class line.
- I should behave well in class so that my fellow pupils and I can learn.
- I should always keep my school clean by bringing unfinished food, drinks, wrappers and cartons home or by placing them in the bins provided.
- I should show respect for the property of my fellow pupils, the school building and grounds.
- I should be truthful and honest at all times.
A common sense approach will be taken by the class teacher and Principal to decide whether misbehaviour is
(a) minor (b) serious (c) major
A. Examples of minor misbehaviour are as follows:(please note that this is not an exhaustive list)
- Climbing trees and walls.
- Swinging from any of the above.
- Talking in class or class line.
- Arriving late for school.
- Running in school building.
- Leaving seat without permission.
- Not placing litter in bins.
- Not wearing their school uniforms.
- Throwing papers.
- Playing in toilets.
- Going into the school garden without permission.
- Not completing homework.
- Copying other people’s work.
- Using teacher’s resources without permission.
- Chewing gum.
- Entering school building at break times.
- Rocking on chairs.
- Not having ones journal signed. B. Examples of serious misbehaviour includes: :(please note that this is not an exhaustive list)
- Any minor misbehaviour, which continues e.g. persistently not wearing their school uniform.
- Endangering one-self and others.
- Tripping one another.
- Being constantly disruptive in class
- Deliberate lying.
- Damaging other people’s property.
- Giving cheek to a member of staff.
- Leaving school premises during the day without permission.
- Not working to one’s full potential.
- Using foul language or verbal abuse towards others.
- Damaging school property.
- Boisterous horseplay.
- Throwing objects.
- Ignoring the teacher when called.
C. Examples of major misbehaviour includes: :(please note that this is not an exhaustive list)
- Deliberately injuring a fellow pupil.
- Excluding a child from activities or games.
- Vandalism of property.
- Persistent infringement of school rules.
- Back answering school staff.
- Sniggering or making fun out of other people.
- Comments or any other disrespectful behaviour towards members of staff and
In order for school discipline to be run in an efficient and consistent manner we propose to operate the card system.
There are two colours yellow and red.
If a child breaks any of the school rules of any of his/her class rules, the teacher/supervisor may:
Step 1 Reason with the pupil
Step 2 Issue a verbal reprimand including advice on how to improve behaviour.
Step 3 Requiring the child to sit out the particular activity.
Step 4 A yellow card will be issued.
The card will then be sent home to be signed by the parents/guardians and returned to the school the following day.
A brief class record will be kept of all breaches of school rules. If a child accumulates a total of three yellow cards within a school term a red card will be issued. On receipt of a red card the child’s parents will be summoned to the school to discuss their child’s behaviour. A child who receives a red card will not be allowed to attend the next school outing. On receipt of two red cards the child’s parents will again be summoned to the school. A report will also be made to the Board of Management regarding the child’s behaviour.
A red card may be issued on the spot (i.e. without any yellow cards). Such implementation will be at the discretion of the principal or teacher for incidents of serious or major misbehaviour.
On receipt of three red cards suspension may occur. Records of yellow cards will be cleared at the start of each school term. However, red cards will be carried to the end of the school year.
The Board of Management has the authority to suspend a student. The authority has been delegated to the Principal in writing. The Principal is accountable to the Board of Management for his or her use of this authority
Suspension is defined as “Requiring the student to absent himself/herself from the school for a specified limited period of school days.”
We adopt guidelines of TUSLA (NEWB) and here is a summary.
- Outlined above general school procedures.
- Parent called on receipt of three red cards.
- Parents asked to come and collect child, meet with the Principal and the parents have an opportunity to respond.
- Letter is presented to parent (sample in policy).
Where the total number of days for which the student has been suspended in the current school year reaches twenty days, the parents/guardians, or a student aged over eighteen years, 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 student should 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 undertake such an appeal. Suspension may occur immediately in the case of exceptional circumstances. Initially the maximum period will be three school days. A further period of exclusion above three school days may be imposed in more serious circumstances. If misbehaviour continues the B.O.M. may authorise a further period of exclusion while the matter is being reviewed.
11.9 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.
A student is expelled from a school when a 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. As part of the code of behaviour, the Board of Management will follow the following procedures as laid down in the TUSLA (NEWB) guidelines (Chapter 12), and with any additional requirements set down by the Patron.
Authority to expel
The Board of Management of a recognised school has the authority to expel a student. As a matter of best practice, 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 take 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.
A Board of Management may decide, as part of the school’s policy on sanctions, and following the consultation process with the Principal, parents, teachers and students, that particular named behaviours incur expulsion as a sanction. However, a general decision to impose expulsion for named behaviours does not remove the duty to follow due process and fair procedures.
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. (See Chapter 12 page 82 National Education Welfare Board – Developing a Code of Behaviour Guidelines for Schools)
Procedures in respect of expulsion
Schools are required by law to follow fair procedures as well as procedures prescribed under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, when proposing to expel a student (see TUSLA (NEWB) Guidelines 10.3 and 10.4 for further information about fair procedures). Where a preliminary assessment of the facts confirms serious misbehaviour that may warrant expulsion, the procedural steps will include:
These procedures assume that the Board of Management is the decision-making body in relation to expulsions.
Step 1: A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal
In investigating an allegation, in line with fair procedures, the Principal should:
- 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 should 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 must 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 should 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 should:
- 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 should undertake its own review of all documentation and the circumstances of the case. It should 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 a 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, or a student aged eighteen years or over, put their case to the Board in each other’s presence. Each party should 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 must 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 should 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 must notify the Educational Welfare Officer in writing of its opinion, and the reasons for this opinion. (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24(1)). The Board of Management should refer to TUSLA – Child and Family Agency 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)).
An appeal against an expulsion under section 29 of the Education Act 1998 will automatically succeed if it is shown that the Educational Welfare Officer was not notified in accordance with section 24(1) or that twenty days did not elapse from the time of notification to the Educational Welfare Officer to the implementation of the expulsion (Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007, s4A).
The Board should 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, a Board of Management may take steps to ensure that good order is maintained and that the safety of students is secured (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24(5)). A Board may consider it appropriate to suspend a student during this time. Suspension should 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 should formally confirm the decision to expel (this task might be delegated to the Chairperson and the Principal). Parents should be notified immediately that the expulsion will now proceed. Parents and the student should be told about the right to appeal and supplied with the standard form on which to lodge an appeal. A formal record should be made of the decision to expel the student.
A parent, or a student aged over eighteen years, 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 TUSLA – Child and Family Agency 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 Science). For further details about the Appeals process, including requirements for documentation, and the steps in the process, refer to current DES guidance.
12.6 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.
- Parents role in the Code of Behaviour
Every effort is made by the Principal and staff to ensure that parents are kept well informed regarding their child’s behaviour. School rules are discussed and parents sign a form stating they have read and agree with the rules. The staff is fully aware that a policy on behaviour and discipline can be more easily implemented if the active support or parents is given and is seen to be given by the children. Parent’s co-operation is vital in encouraging their children to abide by the school rules, by visiting the school when requested and by ensuring that homework allocated is given in on time. Our school strives to provide a welcoming atmosphere for parents. Parents are told not only when their children have misbehaved but also when they have performed well.
Parents help good behaviour by:
- Explaining the school rules and the reasons for their inclusion.
- Encouraging their children to obey the school rules.
- Encouraging attitudes of respect towards teachers and other children.
- Teacher’s roles and responsibilities
Class discipline is the responsibility of each teacher. A common responsibility for good behaviour within the school grounds is shared by all members of staff. All teachers will endeavour to adopt a positive approach to the question of behaviour.
Praise, encouragement, rewards will be offered regularly, sanctions only when they have failed.
The overall responsibility for discipline within the school rests with the principal who will communicate regularly with other members of staff on aspect of class behaviour.
- Time frame for implementation
It is planned that all staff, children and parents will be made aware of the policy content. Implementation will be immediate.Feedback from all interested parties will be gathered and evaluated on an ongoing basis.
- Responsibility for review
The foregoing rules will be revised regularly.
Those involved in the review will be:
- Parents opinions noted and recorded at parent teacher meetings
- Board of Management
- This policy is not a stand-alone document. Supporting policies: This policy is supported by the following policies Anti-Bullying policy, Health and Safety Policy, Enrolment Policy, Homework Policy, Child Protection Policy, Communication Policy, Equality Policy, Data Protection Policy.
- Ratification of Policy
The policy has been discussed, amended and ratified by the Board of Management.
- Communication of Policy
A copy of this policy will be available in the school plan. An abridged version of this policy will be available to students and parents in the school homework notebook. The unabridged copy can be obtained by those who wish from the Principal/Deputy Principal and Chairperson of the Board of Management.