School Code of Behaviour

Our School’s Code of Behaviour


The school’s code of behaviour was reviewed in February 2005 and January 2007.  It was reviewed in 2008 by a committee with representation from the Board of Management, teaching staff, SNA’s and Parents’ Association. A Consultation meeting was held with parents on 5/3/2008.  Those parents who could not attend the meeting were asked to fill out a questionnaire.

Students were asked to give their opinions on the school rules by their teachers. The staff reviewed the Code of Behaviour at a staff meeting on the 23/5/08.   The students’ comments were considered at this meeting.

The Code of Behaviour was reviewed in November 2009 by post holders and at a staff meeting in February 2010. The code of Behaviour was reviewed by the whole staff September –December 2011. It was discussed at a Parent’s Association

Meeting, and ratified by the Board of Management on 12th December 2011.

The policy was reviewed by staff on the 1st and 8th of December 2015.  It was reviewed by the Board of Management and ratified on the 17th of December 2015.  The policy was again reviewed by the staff in 2018 and discussed at a staff meeting on 28th of September 2018.  It was reviewed by the board and ratified on November 12th 2018. The policy was amended by the board again on the 3rd of February.


The Education Welfare Act (2000) Section 23 requires the Board of Management to prepare and make available a Code of Behaviour for the students registered in the School.

Section 23 (2) states that The Code of Behaviour shall specify:

  1. The standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school
  2. The measures that shall be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards
  3. The procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school
  4. The grounds for removing a suspension in relation to a student
  5. The procedures to be followed in relation to a child’s absence from school.

Relationship to the Characteristic Ethos of the School.

St. Mary’s N.S. seeks to be a warm and welcoming place, respectful and accommodating of diversity in race, culture, religion, gender and ability. We strive to provide an inclusive environment in response to the needs of all children.

We aim to develop an atmosphere of tolerance, openness, honesty and creativity.  All children are nurtured and cherished and encouraged to reach their full potential. It is recognised that they contribute to the wider school community by their uniqueness as individuals.

St. Mary’s N.S. seeks to cherish and challenge children in a safe, secure and attractive learning environment. We aim to provide quality learning experiences that are enriching and enjoyable through a broad balanced and relevant curriculum. We strive at all times to provide a peaceful, happy and fun learning environment.

St. Mary’s N.S. values its open and welcoming relationship with parents. We will continue to work in partnership with parents to ensure the welfare of each individual child and the school as a whole.


  1. To create an atmosphere of mutual respect.
  2. To create a climate in which teaching and learning can take place.
  3. To help develop positive relationships (between teachers and their students between students and their peers and between school and home).
  4. To develop in the children a sense of civic pride in their school and in their work.
  5. To promote good manners, courtesy, co-operation and helpfulness.
  6. To promote positive behaviour.
  7. To ensure a safe and healthy environment for all members of the school community.
  8. To allow the school to function in an orderly way where children can make progress in all areas of their development.
  9. To ensure that the systems of rules, rewards and sanctions are implemented in a fair and consistent manner throughout the school.

Whole School approach to promoting positive behaviour

  • Developing and maintaining a positive school ethos

“a positive school ethos is based on the quality of relationships between teachers and the way in which pupils and teachers treat each other. This positive ethos permeates all the activities of the school and helps in forming a strong cohesion within the school” (circular 20/90)

  • The development of positive relationships

In our school we treat all children with respect and dignity. We strive to develop a strong sense of community and co –operation among the staff, pupils and parents and all are agreed that their focus is primarily on the promotion and recognition of positive behaviour.

The SPHE curriculum also supports the code of behaviour. This curriculum helps children to develop communication and problem – solving skills while fostering self – esteem.

An effective Code of Behaviour requires the co-operation of all stakeholders in the school.

  1. Staff

As a staff we work together to devise reward/sanction programmes.

This behaviour policy is circulated to all staff. Through regular staff meetings and good communication, the policy is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

All staff implement the school code of behaviour to ensure consistency and transparency.

  1. Board of Management

The board was involved in this policy review and will be involved in future reviews.

The Board supports the code of behaviour in the school on an ongoing basis

The Board of Management supports the staff in implementing the code of behaviour.

The Board gives authorisation for the sanctions outlined in the policy.

  1. Parents

The Board of St. Mary’s school recognises that parents have a primary role and responsibility in teaching their children how to behave in an acceptable manner.

Parental understanding and support for the plan is crucial.

When children enrol in the school, parents are given a copy of the code of behaviour, and the expectations of pupils are discussed, along with the role of parents in helping pupils to meet these expectations.

Parents are encouraged to share information about anything that might affect a child’s behaviour in school.  This can be done by meeting with either the class teacher or the Principal.

If a child consistently misbehaves, his/her parents will be invited to meet with the class teacher and/or Principal to discuss and agree ways of helping the child.

The school has a Parent’s Association. Parents are encouraged to get involved in this association as a structure through which they can work together for the best possible education for their children.

  1. Pupils

Pupils are expected to respect the right of other pupils to learn and to avoid disrupting the work of the classroom.

Pupils are expected to have respect for their teachers and follow instructions given by them.

Pupils are expected to go to and from their classroom in an orderly manner and running is not allowed at any time in classroom or on the corridors.

Pupils are expected to show courtesy and respect towards other pupils.

Visitors to classes should be greeted politely and pupils should continue to work quietly.

Each child is responsible for his/her own behaviour. Children are reminded on a regular basis of their responsibilities inside and outside the classroom. This will enable the children to develop honesty and good behaviour and will boost their self-esteem.

Acceptable behaviour in our school reflects the Christian values promoted within the school with an emphasis on forgiveness, reconciliation, new beginnings and hope.


Good behaviour involving staff, pupils and parents.

  1. All members of the school community treat each other with respect.
  2. Open dialogue between all members of the school community is encouraged to ensure that everyone is listened to.
  3. School Rules and Policies apply to all members of the school community to ensure the well-being and safety of all.
  4. Children are encouraged, praised and rewarded for good behaviour and effort.
  5. Assemblies are held to bring the school together as a community to celebrate children’s achievements.
  6. School seeks and values parents support and co-operation in promoting good behaviour.
  7. School rules and the sanctions for not following the rules are taught to all the children. They are displayed in all classrooms, staffrooms, corridors and offices (see appendix).
  8. From 2nd to 6th class a system a system of rewards and sanctions apply (see appendix).

Attendance and Punctuality

The school is legally bound to furnish the Education Welfare Officer with a list of the names of all children who have missed 20 school days. The school formally reports to the National Education Welfare Board five times a year.

All absences must be explained

  1. With a written note, which can be written in student’s                                       journal. (1st – 6th Class).
  2. Or verbally by a parent to the teacher.

The children must remain on the school premises during the school day unless:

  1. They are collected by a parent/guardian.
  2. They have permission from a parent/guardian to leave
  3. They are accompanying their teacher on a trip.

Children are not allowed on the school premises outside of school hours unless attending an activity, which has been approved in advance by the Board of Management.

School doors open at 9.00 a.m. Supervision is provided in the yard for ten minutes before school opens.

When the bell rings, students should line up with their class group. The class teachers will collect the children from the yard.

When it is raining heavily, pupils will be taken into the hall at 8.50am.  Parents cannot accompany their children into the hall on wet days, for Health and Safety reasons.

School ends at 1.40pm for Junior and Senior Infants and at 2.40pm for the remainder of the school. Children should be collected on time, as we do not have the personnel to supervise after school hours.  Please let the class teacher know who will be collecting your child. (If your child ever has to be collected by someone else, please advise class teacher beforehand. Teenagers will only be permitted to collect children if they have written permission from the child’s parent).  In June, you will receive a school calendar. Please organise family holidays to coincide with the school calendar.

Punctuality:   Children are encouraged to be punctual. If a child misses 10 minutes of class every day then that is 50 minutes of class time missed a week and just over 3½ hours of class time missed in a month!

When children are late, they are asked to sign in at the front office. The Deputy Principal will contact the parents of the children who are continuously late. If a child is continuously late or absent, his/her parents may be asked to explain this to the Board of Management.


  • The school uniform should be worn every day and school track suit on P.E days. If a child is not wearing his/her uniform, a note is sent home. After 3 notes, parents will be contacted by the Principal.
  • Runners should be worn on P.E. Days for Health and Safety reasons. If students are not wearing runners, they cannot participate in P.E. lesson.
  • Children should not wear make up to school. A note will be sent home if they do. After the 3rd note, parents will be called and asked to remove it.
  • For Health and Safety reasons, children should not wear jewellery, except small studs in their ears. If they do, they will be asked to remove it, a note will be sent home and after three notes, the Principal will contact the child’s parents. The school will not accept any responsibility for any lost or damaged jewellery.

School Yard

  • Break times should be enjoyed by all!
  • The teachers on ‘yard duty’ are in charge and all children are expected to obey those teachers. We expect the children to treat all personnel (Special Needs Assistants, Caretaker, Secretary, etc.) with respect at all times.
  • The School Rules & Sanctions apply in the school yard.

If a child hurts themselves on the yard, the class teacher will tend to them. If they are seriously injured their parents/guardians will be informed.  If a parent/guardian cannot be contacted and the child needs further attention, school personnel will take the child to a doctor or hospital. Children are obliged to stay within the boundaries of the school during break times. The bell signals at the beginning of school and at the end of each break time and must be obeyed. On hearing the bell, the children are expected to stop play, freeze and make their way to their line, where they should line up in an orderly way until their teacher gives them permission to return to their classroom.


Children must have respect for their own property, the property of other students and school property.  In as far as possible, children are responsible for their own property. Every item brought to school should be clearly labelled with the child’s name.  Particular attention should be paid to lunch boxes and items of clothing.

The school does not accept responsibility for property which is lost, mislaid or stolen.

The children should always have regard for the property of others. The children must always respect school property. School property includes buildings, fixtures, furniture and equipment. Compensation will have to be made if another child’s property is defaced, damaged or stolen. Defacing, damaging or stealing school property by a student of the school will be reported to his/her parents/guardians and compensation will have to be made.  Children who damage property either accidentally or deliberately must report it straight away to the Principal.

Health and Safety

St. Mary’s N.S. has a separate health and safety statement, which is available in the school.  Children must walk inside the school building (running inside the building is not allowed.)

Encouraging Positive Behaviour

The following are some examples of the ways on which teachers encourages positive behaviour.

  1. Drawing attention to and praising positive behaviour.
  2. Student of the week.
  3. Giving students responsibilities e.g. captains of groups, line leaders etc.
  1. Forming the children into groups and encouraging them to support each other in behaving positively. The positive behaviour is recorded by the teacher and at the end of the week the best group gets a reward.
  1. Circle Time.
  2. Smiley Jar –each time a student is noticed being positive, they write their name on a slip and put it in a ‘smiley jar’. At the end of the week, 5 names are pulled out and each of these gets a reward or each name is pulled out and students receive praise and a bualadh bos from their class.
  3. Classroom/School rules are taught to the children.

Rewards and Sanctions

Rewards recognise good behaviour, work well done and achievement.

Sanctions are administered where there is irresponsible behaviour.

Types of Rewards

This list is not exhaustive!

  1. Treats/prizes
  2. Praise, a word of encouragement, thanks
  3. Stars, stickers, positive comments in copies/homework journal, certificates
  4. Homework vouchers
  1. Golden time


The purpose of a Sanction is to bring about a change in behaviour by

  • Helping children to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable.
  • Helping them to recognise the effects of their actions and behaviour on others.
  • Helping children (in ways appropriate to their age and development) to understand that they have choices about their own behaviour and that all choices have consequences.
  • Helping them to learn to take responsibility for their behaviour.

A Sanction may also

  • Reinforce the boundaries set out in the Code of Behaviour.
  • Signal to other children and staff that their wellbeing is protected.

In instances of more serious breaches of school standards, sanctions may be needed to:

  • Prevent serious disruption of teaching and learning
  • Keep the student, or other students or adults safe.

Sanctions will be fair, just, predictable and consistent.

Misbehaviour/irresponsible behaviour may be divided into three categories

  • Minor misbehaviour
  • More Serious Misbehaviour
  • Major Misbehaviour

Examples of Minor Misbehaviour

  • Talking in class
  • Talking out of turn
  • Ignoring directions
  • Out of seat without permission
  • Being non-responsive
  • Interrupting
  • Unruliness on corridor or in ‘line’

Examples of More Serious Misbehaviour

  • Any minor misbehaviour which persists
  • Being insolent to a teacher/any school employee
  • Refusing to do class work
  • Constant and deliberate interruptions in class
  • Deliberate lying
  • Persistent refusal to do homework
  • Name calling and objectionable comments
  • Using bad language
  • Throwing objects in classroom

Examples of Major Misbehaviour

  • Racist Name Calling.
  • Persistent infringement of school rules.
  • Physical assault on another student, a member of staff, a parent or a visitor to the school.
  • Vandalism of property.
  • Persistent verbal assault of staff, children, parents or visitors
  • Theft to the school.
  • Temper tantrums.
  • Bullying (see Anti-Bullying Policy).
  • Assault using weapons.
  • Consistently leaving premises.
  • Bringing a weapon to school.
  • Using school equipment in a violent manner.
  • Bringing and or using drugs or alcohol in the school.
  • Smoking on the school premises, including directly outside the gate.
  • Misuse of mobile phones on the school premises, including directly outside the gate. The school has a separate Mobile Phone Policy.

Examples of types of sanctions

Note: Sanctions used on a daily basis are attached in Appendix 2.  The following are further sanctions which may be used for serious/repeated more serious and major misbehaviours.  This may also be used as part of an individual behaviour plan.

  • Isolation within the classroom (e.g. sit at ‘time out’ table).
  • Deprivation of privileges e.g. Football Matches, School Tours, Golden Time, End of Year Nature Walk.
  • Detention at break-times.
  • Report to Principal.
  • Contact parents by note or phone call.
  • Replacing, repairing or paying for property damaged or stolen.
  • Student makes an apology and gives guarantee to behave in the future (this may be verbal or written/private or public and may be countersigned by parents/guardians).
  • Parents are called to give a guarantee of child’s future good behaviour.
  • Sent to another class. When a child is sent to another class, a note will be sent to the child’s parents. After three notes, parents will be asked to attend a meeting.
  • Parents are called to give a guarantee of child’s future good behaviour.
  • A phone call home so that the child is collected from school.
  • In cases where the Class Teacher and Principal have gone through the normal procedure without success, the Principal will bring the matter to the attention of the Board of Management to be reviewed by Board of Management. The child involved may then be suspended for a maximum of three days or a further period in accordance with Rule 130 for Primary Schools.

In any situation where there is a big group of children together it is inevitable that there will be disputes and disagreement. If your child is upset about any incident which happened in school, please let the class teacher know and he/she will deal with it. The matter may be reported to the Principal or Deputy Principal if necessary.  The Board of Management would like to point out that under no circumstances should a parent approach another parent’s child in the school about an alleged incident.


A child may be suspended for up to a period of 3 days for any serious or major misbehaviour.

The Chairperson of the B.O.M. will be informed, the Principal will contact parents/guardians and inform them.  The Parent/Guardian will be given a letter outlining dates and reason for suspension.

Section 29 Appeal

Where the total number of days for which the pupil has been suspended in the current school year reaches 20 days, the parents may appeal the suspension under section 29, the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) act 2007

When parents are being formally notified of such suspension they will be told about the right  to appeal to the secretary general of The Department of Education & Skills, under section 29 and will be given information about how to do so (including a copy of Circular 22/02 and related forms)

When a child returns from suspension a programme will be developed to work with the child and if necessary, relevant agencies will be contacted to help support the child e.g. Social Workers, Counselling Service.

A member of staff will be appointed as mentor for the child.


The Board of Management will expel a child if:

  1. A child engages in repeated acts of Serious Misbehaviour (see list) and efforts to work with the student and his /her parents/guardians have failed.
  2. If a child is repeatedly suspended and all efforts to work with the child and his/her parents/guardians failed and the child is continuing to engage in acts of serious Misbehaviour (see list)

In accordance with the Welfare Act, before a child is expelled, the Welfare Officer will be notified in writing, and the child will not be expelled before the passing of twenty school days following the receipt of notification by the Education Welfare Officer.  This is without prejudice to the right of a Board of Management to take such other reasonable measures as it considers appropriate to ensure that the safety of students is secured (Education Welfare Act 200 Section 24 Subsection 5)

Section 29 Appeal

When parents are being formally notified of such an expulsion they will be informed of their right to appeal to The Secretary General of The Department of Education & Skills under section 29 and will be given information about how to do so (including a copy of circular 22/02 and related forms)

Students with Special Education Needs

The school’s role is to plan for and meet student’s individual needs. Class teachers and specialist personnel e.g. Learning Support/Resource teacher,

SNA’s, EAL teachers will check that standards and rules are communicated to pupils with special educational need.

Students with special educational needs and/or severe behaviour problems, will have a  Behaviour Support Plan. The Behaviour Support Plan will be a component of their individual Education Plan if it is felt that their behaviour impedes their safety and learning or interferes with the safety and learning of others.

The Behaviour Support Plan must include:

  • The results of behaviour assessment detailing the function of the selected behaviour.
  • A precise description of the behaviour selected for deceleration and precise description of the behaviour to be developed.
  • A component, which considers the student’s environment and alterations, which will reduce the need for inappropriate behaviours. The term environment is used in its broadest sense to cover everything that may affect a student including personal interaction styles.
  • A positive teaching strategy which serves to teach the pupil specific, socially acceptable behaviour.
  • Details of how appropriate behaviours will be reinforced, how often and by whom

These plans will be discussed with parents and all staff working with these students will be made aware of these plans.

Physical Interventions

There should be no physical contact with the children, other than holding hands, when deemed necessary, unless agreed with the parents and recorded in their IEPs/Behaviour Support Plan. This includes kissing, hugging, carrying and sitting children on laps.

Physical restraint in St Mary’s is defined as the positive use of force in order to protect a person from harming himself/herself or others. In exceptional circumstances, and as a last resort procedure, staff may use physical intervention as part of a total response to the student, but only if its use has been agreed by the student’s parents or if the child or other children are in imminent danger.

Implementation and Review

This revised policy will be implemented from November 2018.

It will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Success Criteria

Consistent discipline.

Successful resolution of behaviour problems.

Regular communication with parents.

Uninterrupted quality teaching and learning.


This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 3rd February 2020.


Signed:                    __________________________________________

Chairperson of Board of Management


Appendix to Code of Behaviour

Appendix 1.

School Rules

  1. Be on time and be prepared for class every day


  • Always do your best and let others do the same.


  • Do as you are told by staff immediately.


  • Act in a safe and respectful way at all times.


  • Use good manners to all children, staff and visitors to the school.

Appendix 2 


Sanctions-Junior Infants to First Class

Step 1: First verbal warning. The child’s name is moved from the green smiley face to the orange smiley face on the Smiley Face Chart.

Step 2: Second verbal warning. The child’s name is moved from the orange smiley face to the red smiley face on the Smiley Face Chart.

Step 3: The child is asked to move seats to another place in the classroom, for ten minutes.

If a child carries out a “Major Misbehaviour” (see behaviour policy for list of these) the following sanctions will be used:

  1. Time out. This is an area marked out on the yard where the children go for 5 – 10 minutes.

If the behaviour continues, or is repeated in the Time out area or in the classroom:

  1. Child will go to detention with work for that lunchtime and for small break of the next day.

If the behaviour still continues in the Time out area or in the classroom:

  1. Child will go to detention with work for that lunchtime, small break and 15 minutes of their lunch break the next day. They will also be sent to a senior class yard for “play time”.

If the behaviour persists, or is repeated in the Time out area or in the classroom;

  1. Child will miss small break and 15 minutes of their lunch break for two days. They will also be sent t a senior class for “play time” for two days.

If the behaviour persists, or is repeated in the Time out area or in the classroom;

  1. Child will be suspended.

Sanctions-Second to Sixth class: Steps

Step 1: First verbal warning, child placed on Step 1 on board (visual reminder).

Step 2: Second verbal warning, child moved to step 2 on board.

Step 3: Third verbal warning, child moved to step 3 on board.  Child moved to another seat in classroom.

Step 4:  Child moved to step 4 on board. Child sent to partner teacher’s classroom for x amount of time (with work).  Step 4 letter to be sent home and returned.  Child should fill in behaviour reflection form.

Step 5: Full day exclusion from class.  Child placed in another class for the day.  Step 5 letter to be sent home and possibly a phone-call home.  Child should fill in behaviour reflection form.

Step 6: The child is excluded from class and the yard for a second day. A meeting is held with the child’s parents, class teacher and principal.  Sanction letter signed by parents at meeting.

Step 7: Suspension.  Parents informed by letter and phone by the principal.

Appendix 3

                                     Golden time

Golden time is used to reward good behaviour from first to sixth class. It is operated at the discretion of the class teacher.

Golden time is run for 30 – 40 minutes once a week at the end of the school day, usually on a Friday. During Golden time children engage in activities e.g. Board games, IT activities, jigsaws, dance art.

If a child misbehaves during Golden time he/she will be given time out by his/her class teacher.


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