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Anti-Bullying Policy

Proposed Anti-Bullying Policy

Section 1  In accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the code of behaviour guidelines issued by the NEWB, the Board of Management of Shanbally NS 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 which were published in September 2013.

Section 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:

1.       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;

2.       Effective leadership

3.       A school-wide approach

4.       A shared understanding of what bullying is and its impact

5.       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;

6.       Effective supervision and monitoring of pupils

7.       Supports for staff

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

9.       On-going evaluation of the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy.

 

Section 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,
  •  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.

 

Examples of bullying behaviours, this is not an exhaustive list

See Appendix 1

 

Section 4  The relevant teachers for investigating and dealing with bullying are as follows:

Principal: David Nolan

Deputy Principal: Claire O’Connell

Patricia Kelly

Kathleen Tuohy

Mary Sheahan

Naomi O’Donovan

Oonagh Cunningham

Aideen O’Mahony

Margaret Ryan

Mairead Tate

Sandra Moran

Eilish Callanan

Nollaig Boland

Padraig Clifford

Aidan O’Mahony

Any teacher may act as a relevant teacher if circumstances warrant it.

 

 

 

 

 

Section 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:

 

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 teacher(s)
  • 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 students in contributing to a safe school environment e.g.  Buddy system, 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 included in student journals and 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 (every year) which must be signed by both parties in the school journal.
  • The implementation of regular termly 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; annual or term or monthly student surveys; regular school or year group assemblies by principal, deputy principal, year heads etc.  based on the Anti-Bullying Campaign Strands.
  • Encourage 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.
    • Anti-bully or Niggle box?
    • Get a parent(s)/guardian(s) or friend to tell on your behalf.
    • Administer a confidential questionnaire once in the 1st term and at the start of the 3rd term to all pupils from 3rd to 6th class.
    • Ensure bystanders understand the importance of telling if they witness or know that bullying is taking place.
    • Identify clear protocols to encourage parent(s)/guardian(s) to approach the school if they suspect that their child is being bullied. The protocol should be developed in consultation with parents.
    • The continued implementation of an 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.
    • The listing of supports currently being used in the school and the identification of other supports available to the school e.g. Anti-Bullying Campaign – Tools for Teachers

 

Implementation of curricula

  • The full implementation of the SPHE and the RSE and Stay Safe Programmes.
  •  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, and The Walk Tall Programme etc.
  • 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.
  • The school will implement the advice in “Sexual Orientation advice for schools” , see Appendix 5

 

               Links to other policies

  • List school policies, practices and activities that are particularly relevant to bullying, e.g. Code of Behaviour, Child Protections policy, Yard Behaviour Policy, Acceptable Use policy, and Attendance Policy.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Investigating and dealing with incidents: Style of approach

  • In investigating and dealing with bullying, the (relevant)teacher will exercise his/her professional judgement 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 conducting interviews, templates from the Anti-Bullying Campaign may be used.
  • When analysing incidents of bullying behaviour, the relevant teacher should seek answers to questions of what, where, when, who and why. This should 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 should 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 statements;
  •  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), using templates from the Anti-Bullying Campaign

  •  In cases where it has been determined by the relevant 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 (by reference to the school policy). 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 relevant teacher has determined that a pupil has been engaged in bullying behaviour, it should be made clear to him/her how he/she is in breach of the school’s anti-bullying policy and efforts should be made to try to get him/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 or 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 relevant 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. Records will be kept in a Bullying Incident Book. All incidents must be reported to the relevant teacher
  • While all reports, including anonymous reports of bullying must be investigated and dealt with by the relevant teacher, the relevant teacher must keep a written record of the reports, the actions taken and any discussions with those involved regarding same
  • The relevant teacher must inform the principal of all incidents being investigated.

 

Formal Stage 1-determination that bullying has occurred

  • If it is established by the relevant teacher that bullying has occurred, from Easter 2014 the relevant 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 relevant teacher will pass on their records at the end of the school year to the next teacher for September.

 

Formal Stage 2-Appendix 3 (From DES Procedures)

The relevant teacher must use the recording template at Appendix 3 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 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. Such circumstances would include bullying related to physical aggression or harassment based on any of the following nine grounds outlined in the equality legislation i.e. gender (including transgender), civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.

 

When the recording template is used, it must be retained by the relevant teacher in question and a copy maintained by the principal. The principal will retain such copies indefinitely in his office. The principal will decide access on each case’s merit.

 

 

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
  • Circle Time
  • Implementing questionnaires from the Anti-Bullying Campaign

 

 

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

 

 

  • 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 care system
    • Monitoring by relevant teachers and/or school principal
    • Buddy 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 e.g. Carrigaline Family Support Services
  • Pupils should understand that there are no innocent bystanders and that all incidents of bullying behaviour must be reported to a teacher i.e. We are a TELLING school.

 

Section 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.

 

 

Section 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.

 

Section 10  This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on ________________ [date].

 

Section 11  This policy has been 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.

 

Section 12  This policy and its implementation will be reviewed by the Board of Management once in every school year. 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 the Department.

 

 

 

Signed: ____________________________________        Signed: ___________________________

(Chairperson of Board of Management)                                 (Principal)

 

 

Date: ______________                                                              Date: __________________

 

 

Date of next review: _______________

 

 

 

 

Appendix 1.

Bullying can take a number of forms. These may include any of the following (this list is not exhaustive):

D  Harassment based on any of the nine grounds in the equality legislation e.g. sexual harassment, homophobic bullying, racist bullying etc.

D  Repeated aggressive behaviour/attitude/body language, for example:

D  Shouting and uncontrolled anger

D  Personal insults

D  Verbal abuse

D  Offensive language directed at an individual,

D  Continually shouting or dismissing others

D  Public verbal attacks/criticism

D  Domineering behaviour

D  Open/physical aggression

D  Offensive gestures and unwanted physical contact

D  Intimidation, either physical, psychological or emotional, e.g. Treating in a dictatorial manner

D  Ridicule

D  Persistent slagging

D  Deliberate staring with the intent to discomfort

D  Persistent rudeness in behaviour and attitude toward a particular individual

D  Asking inappropriate questions/making inappropriate comments re. personal life/family

D  Asking inappropriate questions/making inappropriate comments re. social life or schoolwork

D  Interference with property, for example:

  • Stealing/damaging books or equipment
  • Stealing/damaging clothing or other property
  • Demanding money with menaces
  • Persistently moving, hiding or interfering with property
  • Marking/defacing property

D  Undermining/Public or Private Humiliation, for example:

  • Condescending tone
  • Deliberately withholding significant information and resources
  • Writing of anonymous notes
  • Malicious, disparaging or demeaning comments
  • Malicious tricks/derogatory joke,
  • Knowingly spreading rumours
  • Belittling others’ efforts, their enthusiasm or their new idea,
  • Derogatory or offensive nicknames (name-calling)

D  Cyber Bulling

  • Denigration: Spreading rumors, 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

D  Disrespectfully mimicking a particular individual in his/her absence

D  Deliberately refusing to address issues focusing instead on the person

D  Ostracising or isolating, for example:

  • Deliberately marginalising an individual
  • Deliberately preventing a person from joining a group
  • Deliberately preventing from joining in an activity, schoolwork-related or recreational

D  Blaming a pupil for things s/he did not do

D  Homophobic and Transgender Bullying

  • 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 manner

D  Bullying based on 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

D  Sexual Bullying

  • Unwelcome or inappropriate  sexual comments or touching
  • Harassment

D  Bullying based on Special Educational Needs, Disability

  • 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

 


 

Appendix 2  Practical tips for building a positive school culture and climate

 

The following are some practical tips for immediate actions that can be taken to help build a positive school culture and climate and to help prevent and tackle bullying behaviour.

 

 

  • Model respectful behaviour to all members of the school community at all times.
  • Explicitly teach pupils what respectful language and respectful behaviour looks like, acts like, sounds like and feels like in class and around the school.
  • Display key respect messages in classrooms, in assembly areas and around the school. Involve pupils in the development of these messages.
  • Catch them being good – notice and acknowledge desired respectful behaviour by providing positive attention.
  • Consistently tackle the use of discriminatory and derogatory language in the school – this includes homophobic and racist language and language that is belittling of pupils with a disability or SEN.
  • Give constructive feedback to pupils when respectful behaviour and respectful language are absent.
  • Have a system of encouragement and rewards to promote desired behaviour and compliance with the school rules and routines.
  • Explicitly teach pupils about the appropriate use of social media.
  • Positively encourage pupils to comply with the school rules on mobile phone and internet use.
  • Follow up and follow through with pupils who ignore the rules.
  • Actively involve parents and/or the Parents’ Association in awareness raising campaigns around social media.
  • Actively promote the right of every member of the school community to be safe and secure in school.
  • Highlight and explicitly teach school rules in pupil friendly language in the classroom and in common areas.
  • All staff can actively watch out for signs of bullying behaviour.
  • Ensure there is adequate playground/school yard/outdoor supervision.
  • School staff can get pupils to help them to identify bullying “hot spots” and “hot times” for bullying in the school.
    • Hot spots tend to be in the playground/school yard/outdoor areas, changing rooms, corridors and other areas of unstructured supervision.
    • Hot times again tend to be times where there is less structured supervision such as when pupils are in the playground/school yard or moving classrooms.
    • Support the establishment and work of student councils.

 


 

Appendix 3 Template for recording bullying behaviour         

 

1. Name of pupil being bullied and class group

 

Name _________________________________________Class__________________

 

2. Name(s) and class(es) of pupil(s) engaged in bullying behaviour

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Source of bullying concern/report (tick relevant box(es))* 4. Location of incidents (tick relevant box(es))*
Pupil concerned Playground
Other Pupil Classroom
Parent Corridor
Teacher Toilets
Other School Bus
Other

5. Name of person(s) who reported the bullying concern

 

6. Type of Bullying Behaviour (tick relevant box(es)) *

Physical Aggression Cyber-bullying
Damage to Property Intimidation
Isolation/Exclusion Malicious Gossip
Name Calling Other (specify)

 

7.  Where behaviour is regarded as identity-based bullying, indicate the relevant category:

 

Homophobic Disability/SEN related Racist Membership of Traveller community Other (specify)

 

8. Brief Description of bullying behaviour and its impact

 

 

 

  1. Details of  actions taken
 

 

 

Signed ______________________________ (Relevant Teacher)   Date ___________________________

 

Date submitted to Principal/Deputy Principal ___________________

* Note: The categories listed in the tables 3, 4 & 6 are suggested and schools may add to or amend these to suit their own circumstances.

 

Appendix 4 Checklist for annual review of the anti-bullying policy and its implementation

The Board of Management (the Board) must undertake an annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation. The following checklist must be used for this purpose. The checklist is an aid to conducting this review and is not intended as an exhaustive list.  In order to complete the checklist, an examination and review involving both quantitative and qualitative analysis, as appropriate across the various elements of the implementation of the school’s anti-bullying policy will be required.

Yes /No

Has the Board formally adopted an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools?
Has the Board published the policy on the school website and provided a copy to the parents’ association?
Has the Board ensured that the policy has been made available to school staff (including new staff)?
Is the Board satisfied that school staff are sufficiently familiar with the policy and procedures to enable them to effectively and consistently apply the policy and procedures in their day to day work?
Has the Board ensured that the policy has been adequately communicated to all pupils?
Has the policy documented the prevention and education strategies that the school applies?
Have all of the prevention and education strategies been implemented?
Has the effectiveness of the prevention and education strategies that have been implemented been examined?
Is the Board satisfied that all teachers are recording and dealing with incidents in accordance with the policy?
Has the Board received and minuted the periodic summary reports of the Principal?
Has the Board discussed how well the school is handling all reports of bullying including those addressed at an early stage and not therefore included in the Principal’s periodic report to the Board?
Has the Board received any complaints from parents regarding the school’s handling of bullying incidents?
Have any parents withdrawn their child from the school citing dissatisfaction with the school’s handling of a bullying situation?
Have any Ombudsman for Children investigations into the school’s handling of a bullying case been initiated or completed?
Has the data available from cases reported to the Principal (by the bullying recording template) been analysed to identify any issues, trends or patterns in bullying behaviour?
Has the Board identified any aspects of the school’s policy and/or its implementation that require further improvement?
Has the Board put in place an action plan to address any areas for improvement?

 

Signed _____________________________________                                Date ________________

Chairperson, Board of Management

 

Signed _____________________________________                  Date ________________

Principal

 


 

Notification regarding the Board of Management’s annual review of the anti-bullying policy

 

To: _____________________________________

 

The Board of Management of ____________________ wishes to inform you that:

 

 

  • The Board of Management’s annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation was completed at the Board meeting of _______________ [date].

 

  • This review was conducted in accordance with the checklist set out in Appendix 4 of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.

 

 

Signed _____________________________________                                Date ________________

Chairperson, Board of Management

 

Signed _____________________________________                       Date ________________

Principal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 5  Sexual Orientation – Advice for Primary Schools

 

GENERAL POINTS

• Schools can foster a culture that is accepting of difference. This can be expressed where appropriate, rather than making the assumption that everyone understands it.

• An integral part of RSE is learning to respect others; this will include respect for families or individuals who are different from the norm.

• The Equal Status Acts 2000 and 2004 provide protection against discrimination on nine grounds, one of which is sexual orientation. The Acts oblige those who manage schools to protect students and staff from discrimination or sexual harassment.

• If children are using the word ‘gay’ in a negative fashion it is better not to ignore it in the hope that it will go away. The same advice would apply for any instance of bullying.

• Schools are advised to develop a strategy for responding to children who have questions about sexual orientation or who are taunting others about being gay. This should be done in the context of the school’s ethos and RSE policy and with the awareness that primary school children are probably too young to engage in any detailed discussion of sexual identity.

 

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS

• Depending on the context and the age group of the children, the teacher could ask a child or a class group what they mean by the word ‘gay’

• A school could decide on a response to this question, such as ‘The majority of people are attracted to people of the opposite sex. This is called being heterosexual. Some people are attracted to people of the same sex. This is called being homosexual or gay.’

• To give factual information like this in an open and straightforward way may help to remove the secrecy which is necessary for any bullying to flourish.

• Homophobic insults should be treated in exactly the same way as racist or other insults

– the teacher can calmly explain to the child that such insults are hurtful to the other person and are not acceptable.

• Schools promote a culture of communication which actively discourages abusive name calling