School Discipline Policy and Procedures

Introduction

We believe the objective of Discipline is to create a calm, orderly atmosphere conducive to the development of the whole child as an individual and create the best possible environment for curriculum based learning.
The success of the Code of Discipline will depend on the support of teachers, the pupils, the Board of Management and the parents. We are firmly convinced that all concerned wish to create and maintain an ordered atmosphere which will allow for individual development, and which at the same time, each child's right to learn in a disruption–free environment is jealously guarded. The school places a greater emphasis on behaviour than on discipline.
The school recognises that standards of behaviour come from the home. It is therefore vital that parents regularly instruct their children as to what constitutes correct behaviour.
Parents/Guardians are therefore requested to familiarise themselves with the content of the attached documents on discipline procedures. While they will be discussed at regular intervals, both in class and at General Assemblies, they should also be discussed in the homes with children from time to time.

Discipline Procedures, St. Damian's School

We want to promote the best opportunity possible for our pupils to pursue their studies without hindrance.
Therefore all efforts are made to:

  • Solve problems through talking with the pupils, listening to their views and seeking to resolve the issue
  • Understand the personal circumstances of pupils and families and take this into account when dealing with them
  • Seek parental support in ensuring that a fair but firm discipline is consistently sustained

The loyalty of the pupil towards the school begets a positive attitude towards school activities, and promotes the best attitude towards discipline and full attention to study. The proper channels of communication with the school are part of the incidental working of our disciplinary procedures worthy of note below. Listed are noteworthy examples of misbehaviour, although the list is by no means exhaustive. Included are some of the most common sanctions used in the school.

Also listed is a sample of our efforts to promote good discipline in St. Damian's. These are taken from a document, formulated by the staff and pupils, which contain an extensive list of suggestions that teachers use in class.

Rewards and Positive Discipline Strategies

Every effort will be made by all members of the staff to adopt a positive approach to the question of behaviour in the school. The school places greater emphasis on rewards than on sanctions in the belief that this will, in the long run, give the best results.

Some of the Rewards and positive strategies:

In Class:

  • Certificates... Star of the week... for various criteria (helping others, hard work etc.)
  • Stickers
  • Notes in journal (positive)
  • Golden Time
  • Gold Board
  • Verbal praise and affirmation
  • Being sent to Principal or other teacher to show work
  • Circle Time
  • Class Rules... drawn up in consultation between teacher and pupils
  • Extra Privileges
  • Class points Table
  • Children drawing up rules

In Yard:

Super... where classes gain extra playtime for good behaviour, going to yard, in yard, lining up and coming in from yard.

Minor Misbehaviours

Behaviours that may fall under this category:

  • Talking constantly
  • Name calling
  • Sending notes
  • Not in uniform
  • Late
  • Not working to best ability
  • Wasting teachers time
  • Disrupting others

Procedures consequential to Minor Misbehaviours

Possible actions taken may include:

  • Talk with pupil and listen to his/her perspective
  • Pupil advised on inappropriate behaviour
  • Reason with child on how to behave and improve
  • Extra work given e.g. Write a story, finish work not concentrated on during class, lines etc.
  • Withdrawn from group and put sitting on their own
  • Parents informed of offence through a note to be signed
  • Withdrawn for 5 to 25 minute from playtime

Moderate Misbehaviours

Some of the behaviours that may fall under this category:

  • Defiance shown towards teacher
  • Repeat offences
  • Continuous verbal assault on other children
  • Constant disregard for school rules
  • Fighting
  • Vandalism of school property or property of others
  • Repeat no homework
  • Use of inappropriate language
  • Having objects in their possession that could endanger themselves or others

Procedures consequential to Moderate Misbehaviours

These are examples of procedures but not necessarily in the order they are followed:

  • Behaviour discussed with pupil
  • Withdrawn from privileges
  • Formal recording of behaviour in class and/or yard book
  • Restricted from yard and playtime
  • Extra work given at the weekend
  • Isolated from peers e.g. sent to another room
  • Teacher asks to meet parents
  • Pupil sent to principal
  • Principal meets with teacher, parents and child

Major Misbehaviours

Behaviours that may fall under this category:

  • Repeat moderate offences e.g. constant disregard for school rules, use of inappropriate language
  • Stealing
  • Serious physical assault on another pupil
  • Blatant defiance of staff
  • Playing truant
  • Vandalism
  • Bullying(see Anti-Bullying Policy)
  • Use of drugs(see Substance Use Policy)

Procedures consequential to Major Misbehaviours

» SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION OF A STUDENT

Context

All students and staff have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free from disruption, intimidation, harassment, discrimination and victimisation. There may be cases of unacceptable behaviour where it would be in the best interests of the school community and/or the student involved, for the student to be removed from the school for a period of time or completely. Suspension and expulsion are the options available to the Board of Management in these situations.

The Grounds for Suspension

When making a decision on a suspension the school considers that suspension should be a proportionate response to the behaviour that is causing concern. Normally, a range of appropriate student welfare and behavioural interventions will have been tried before suspension, and the school staff will have reviewed the reasons as to why these have not worked. Communication with parents may be verbal or by letter depending on the circumstances.

The decision to suspend a student is not taken lightly and requires serious grounds such as:

  • The student's behaviour has had a seriously detrimental effect on the education and/or welfare of other student/s and/or staff and on the administration and management of the school.
  • The student's continued presence in the school at this time constitutes a threat to safety.
  • The student is responsible for serious damage to property.
  • A single incident of serious misconduct may be grounds for suspension.

The following Factors will be considered before a pupil is suspended:

  • The nature and seriousness of the behaviour
  • The context of the behaviour
  • The impact of the behaviour
  • The interventions tried to date
  • Whether suspension is a proportionate response
  • The possible impact of suspension

Authority to Suspend

The Board of Management of the school has the authority to suspend a student. This authority is delegated in accordance with procedure by the Board, to the Principal in the event that an immediate suspension of not longer than one day is warranted for reasons of the safety of the pupil, other pupils, staff or others. The Chairperson of the Board of Management and the Principal are authorised to impose a suspension, up to and including 3 days in circumstances where a meeting of the Board cannot be convened in a timely fashion. This authority will be exercised by them having regard to their responsibilities to the whole school community and to the principles of procedural fairness.
All longer term suspensions can only be imposed by the Board of Management.

Procedures to be followed in respect of suspension

When proposing to suspend a pupil the school authority will apply the principles of fair procedure. Where a preliminary assessment of an incident confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant suspension, the following procedures will apply:

  • A formal investigation will be conducted
  • The pupil and parent will be given details of the complaint and any other information that will be taken into account and will be given an opportunity to give their side of the story and if necessary to ask questions about the evidence of the serious misbehaviour.

The period of suspension

A student should not be suspended for any one period exceeding 3 days. The Board may authorise the Principal, with the approval of the Chairperson, to impose a suspension of up to three days in circumstances where a meeting of the Board cannot be convened in a timely fashion.
The maximum period that may be imposed by the Board for any one suspension is 10 days in total unless the Board is considering expulsion.

Under Section 29 of the Education Welfare Act (1998) parents are entitled to appeal to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science against some decisions of the Board of Management, including

  1. Permanent exclusion from the school and
  2. Suspension for a period, which would bring the cumulative period of suspension to 20 days or longer in any one school year (See Circular 22/02)

Notification of suspension

The Principal will notify the pupil and the parent in writing of the decision to suspend. The notification will 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 student and the parents.
  • The right of appeal to either the Board of Management or the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science.

Appealing a suspension

Parents who wish to appeal a decision of the school to suspend should discuss the matter with the school principal who will inform them of their rights. An appeal may be made by a parent/guardian if they consider that correct procedures have not been followed, or that an unfair decision has been made. An appeal should be made in writing stating the reason for the appeal.
The decision of the Principal to suspend a pupil may be appealed only to the Board of Management.
The decision of the Board of Management to suspend a pupil may be appealed to the Patron.
Where the total number of days for which the student has been suspended in the current school year reaches twenty days, the suspension may be appealed to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science.

Grounds for removing a suspension

A suspension may be removed if the Board of Management/Patron 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.

Procedure for re-introduction of student

When any sanction, including suspension, is completed, a student 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 from this student as of all other students.

Records and reports

Formal written records will be kept of:

  • The investigation (including notes of all the interviews held)
  • The decision making process
  • The decision and the rationale for the decision
  • The duration of the suspension and any conditions attached to the suspension.

Report to the Board of Management

The Principal will report all suspensions to the Board of Management, with the reasons for and the duration of each suspension and also to the NEWB as required.

Report to NEWB

The Principal is required to report suspensions in accordance with the National Education Welfare Board reporting guidelines [Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, section 21 (4) (a)]

EXPULSION

The Grounds for Expulsion

The Board of Management is the decision-making body in relation to expulsions.
Expulsion should be a proportionate response to the student’s behaviour. The step to expel a student is very serious and will only be taken by the Board of Management in extreme cases of unacceptable behaviour. 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.

Factors to Consider Before Proposing Expelling a Student

  • The nature and seriousness of the behaviour
  • The context of the behaviour
  • The impact of the behaviour
  • The interventions tried to date
  • Whether expulsion is a proportionate response
  • The possible impact of expulsion

Procedures in respect of expulsion

Fair procedures as well as procedures prescribed under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 will be applied where a preliminary assessment of the facts confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant expulsion. The procedural steps will include:

  • The parents and student will be informed in writing that a detailed investigation in line with fair procedures will be carried out under the direction of the Principal to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and will be given an opportunity to give their side of the story and if necessary to ask questions about the evidence of serious misbehaviour.
  • The Principal will make a recommendation to the Board.
  • The parents and student will be provided with all details and invited to a hearing with the Board.
  • The Board of Management will consider the recommendation and conduct a hearing in accordance with fair procedure.
  • The Board will inform the parents in writing about its conclusions and the next steps in the process.
Where expulsion is proposed, the parents will be told that the Board of Management will inform the Educational Welfare Officer to that effect.

The student cannot be expelled before the passage of twenty school days from the date on which the EWO receives a written notification (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, S24 (1). A Board may consider it appropriate to suspend a student during this time.
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).
It is a matter for the 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.

Appeals

A parent may appeal a decision of the Board of Management to expel a student to the Secretary General of the Department of Education & Science. An appeal may also be brought by the National Educational Welfare Board on behalf of a student. All appeals must be made in writing.

Accordingly the school hereby advises parents of that right of appeal and associated timeframe. Appeals must be made within 42 calendar days from the date the decision of the school was notified to the parent or pupil.

With regard to expulsion the appeals procedure is without prejudice to the right of the Board of Management to take such other reasonable measures, as it considers appropriate to ensure that good order and discipline are maintained in the school and that the safety of pupils is secured.
Parents who wish to appeal must apply for an appeal form to:
The Secretary General, Department of Education and Science, Marlborough St., Dublin 1.

Removal of Suspension (Reinstatement)

Following or during a period of suspension, the parent/s may apply to have the pupil reinstated in the school. The parent/s must give a satisfactory undertaking that a suspended pupil will behave in accordance with the school code and the principal must be satisfied that the pupil’s reinstatement will not constitute a risk to the pupil’s own safety or that of the other pupils or staff. The Principal will facilitate the preparation of a behaviour plan for the pupil if required and will re-admit the pupil formally to the class.

Important

  • Communication with parents regarding their child's misbehaviour will take place at an early stage.
  • Misconduct is investigated and dealt with fairly.
  • In the case of disputes between pupils both sides must be heard and, where necessary, witnesses will also be heard.
  • The ultimate sanction is expulsion and is applied as a consequence of the most serious misbehaviour. The process of expulsion must be in accordance with Section 29 of the Education Act (1998). This process is outlined above.

Supervision Policy

The school's Supervision policy as stated in "School Rules" and "Yard Duty" documents include procedures for supervision of the classrooms, yard and corridor and set a positive atmosphere in relation to pupils learning, behaviour and achievement.

Methods of recording breaches of behaviour

  • The teacher records breaches of behaviour in a class notebook or yard notebook.
  • The principal records breaches of behaviour referred to him in Principal's Folder.
  • The principal maintains record of correspondence between the school and parents concerning behaviour.
  • Parents of pupils who have a record of misbehaviour are informed when their children behave particularly well.
  • Behaviour records are not maintained on computer files.

Policies, procedures and practices that are linked to behaviour

Supervision

The school's supervision policy includes procedures for supervision of the classrooms, yard and corridor and set a positive atmosphere in relation to pupil learning, behaviour and achievement. The school staff provides supervision for all pupils throughout the school day; however no responsibility is accepted for pupils before 8.45 a.m. and after 2.30 p.m.and after 1.30 p.m. for Infant classes. Parents who wish to have their children escorted home should make their own arrangements to have them met at the school not later than 2.30 p.m.

Anti-Bullying Policy

The school has an Anti-Bullying policy. Bullying in any form is unacceptable. Definition of bullying: Bullying is repeated aggression; verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against others.
A copy of the policy is available in the school and is given to all parents when children are enrolled in the school.

School Attendance

The school must notify the National Educational Welfare board when a child has missed 20 days in the school year. Parents must notify the school of their child's absence. It is better to do so in writing. In most cases there are good reasons for absences. However if there is a concern that a child is missing out on his education, an Educational Welfare officer may visit his home to discuss the matter. The school will advise parents on attendance matters in September of every year.

S.P.H.E.

Social Personal and Health Education including Circle Time is part of the curriculum. It encourages a positive approach to behaviour management among children.

Lively and interesting lessons

All efforts will be made to match the curriculum to the abilities, aptitudes and interests of each pupil. This should help to reduce boredom, lack of interest or lack of progress.

Classroom Discipline Plan

The teachers' Classroom Discipline Plan consists of three parts:
  • Rules that all students must follow at all times.
  • Positive Recognition that student will receive for following the rules.
  • Consequences that result when students choose not to follow the rules.

Health and Safety Statement

The School Discipline Policy and Procedure, the Anti-Bullying Policy, the School Rules, Yard Duty and adequate supervision arrangements are necessary parts of the schools Health and Safety Statement.

Sport and Hobby activities

The school encourages participation in school activities such as Gaelic football, athletics, basketball, soccer, volleyball, hurling, tennis, swimming, Speech and Drama, chess, singing (choir) and lunchtime activities in order to develop skills, friendships, and pride in their school community. Pupils participating in these activities are less likely to be drawn into anti-social activities.

School Psychological Service

Every effort will be made to have children with special educational needs referred for psychological assessment without delay. Help will be sought from support services within the wider community, e.g. Community Care Services provided by the Health Boards.