Behaviour Policy




St Oliver Plunkett N.S. is a special school for children with specific reading difficulties.  Children are enrolled on a temporary basis for a period of up to two or three years.  The aim of the school is to help each child to improve his/her reading skills so that he/she will be better able to benefit from and cope with mainstream education.

At St. Oliver Plunkett N.S. every effort is made to create a warm, caring atmosphere and to treat each child as an individual with his/her own special abilities, talents and needs.  The curriculum is adapted as far as possible to match the abilities and needs of each pupil.  Particular attention is paid to the development of the children’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

Every effort will be made by all members of staff to adopt a positive approach to behaviour in the school.


  • This policy should be read in conjunction with the school mission statement as it is a means to create an atmosphere where the mission statement can be realised.
  • The school recognises the variety of differences that exist between children and the need to tolerate these differences.
  • It is agreed that a high standard of behaviour requires a strong sense of community within the school and a high level of cooperation among staff and between staff, parents and pupils
  • Every effort will be made to ensure that the code of discipline is implemented in a reasonable, fair and consistent manner.
  • Staff have agreed to be careful with language used to describe children in casual conversation and to draw attention if it is inappropriate. This is a practical implementation of the agreed mission statement.


The code provides a framework through which positive behaviour is encouraged and negative behaviour is discouraged.  It has been devised with three main objectives in view.

  • The efficient operation of the school and the structuring of in-class discipline is such that an effective and stimulating learning environment is created.
  • The maintenance of order throughout the school and respect for the school environment facilitates a positive learning environment.
  • The development of self-discipline in pupils is based on consideration, respect and tolerance for others and respect for self.

Implementation of the Code of Behaviour & Discipline

The code has been developed in order to foster a harmonious relationship between children, teachers and parents.

The overall responsibility for discipline within the school rests with the Principal.  Each teacher has responsibility for the maintenance of discipline within his/her classroom while sharing a common responsibility for maintaining order within the school premises.  The SNA, under guidance from the teacher, will help to maintain discipline in the school. A pupil will be referred to the Principal for major breaches of discipline or for repeated incidents of unacceptable behaviour of a less serious nature.

The staff will adopt a positive approach to the question of behaviour within the school.  Parents are encouraged to keep in regular contact with the school.  Parents will be informed at an early stage if their child is having problems and support of parents is essential for the code to operate effectively.


Every effort will be made at St Oliver Plunkett N.S. to promote positive relations with parents.  Parents will be encouraged to take an active role in their child’s education and to keep in regular contact with the school. It has been noted by staff and parents that it is very difficult to implement this because of the wide enrolment area of the school. Parents will be given a copy of the behaviour policy when their child is enrolled, they will be asked to sign it and a copy will be available on the website.

  • A welcoming atmosphere for parents will be provided at the school.
  • Parents will be informed at an early stage if their child is having problems with learning or discipline.
  • Parents will be informed not only when their child’s behaviour has fallen short of expectations, but also when he/she has behaved particularly well.
  • Communication with parents will be verbal or by letter depending on the circumstances.
  • The main line of communication is the report card that is sent home every week.
  • If a child’s behaviour is seriously unacceptable, his/her parents will be invited to the school for a discussion with the child’s teacher.
  • Before resorting to serious action such as referral or suspension, the normal channels of communication between school and parents will be utilised.

Guidelines for Good Behaviour in St Oliver Plunkett School

School Rules

  • Be polite, kind and respectful
  • Walk quietly inside the school building
  • Put litter in bins, look after school property.
  • Keep unhelpful hands, feet and objects to yourself
  • Notify absences in writing
  • Mobile phones must be switched off during school time
  • School uniform must be worn
  • School books and property must not be damaged

Classroom Rules

Each teacher will draw up a set of class rules, with the pupils, at the beginning of the school year

Yard Rules

  • Stay in the school playground. When the bell rings, line up quietly
  • Play where the supervisor can see you
  • Playground activities only at second break
  • No hurtful physical contact
  • Playing on the grass is weather dependant and the decision is made by the teacher on yard duty.

 It is explained to children regularly that rules are created to ensure that they are safe and happy. All school rules can be traced back to these two aspirations.

Positive Reinforcement

The B.O.M. and teachers believe that order and discipline within the school result largely from the use of positive techniques of motivation such as encouragement and praise.

Although it may occasionally be necessary to impose sanctions, greater emphasis will be placed on rewards.  The idea is that the children will acquire the skills of self-discipline.

The children will work with the principal, at the beginning of each year, to create a slogan for the year. This will be positive and unique to each year group.

Discipline for Learning

This is a programme that focuses on the positive behaviour of each pupil. St Oliver Plunkett has adapted the programme to suit the particular needs of its students.

Each child gets a card weekly wherein their effort at homework, school work and behaviour is recorded. Some class teachers in St Oliver Plunkett School also use a sticker book in which pupils are rewarded with stickers for positive behaviour.

The reward system is allocated on a daily basis and at the discretion of the class teacher.

While the system is based on the positive rather than the negative, the inappropriate behaviour may also be recorded on the record card or on the booklet.

Parents/Guardians sign the cards/booklets weekly to ensure that they are aware of their child’s progress in all areas on a regular basis.

This system has been reviewed following consultation with parent representatives and the following points are relevant:

  • It is vital that the system reflects the positive reinforcement of every child that is the focus of every class teacher and central to the ethos of the school.
  • It is important that this system communicates positive, as well as negative, comments. A “sandwich” approach was suggested, where efforts would be made to note two positive comments for every negative one. This may not always be realistic.
  • A copy of the new card (which is no longer blue) is attached to this policy.
  • *Homework, schoolwork and behaviour are evaluated using a point system. There is a possibility of gaining 15 points each week. When a child reaches 60 they are entitled to a prize. This prize is the equivalent of the old “clear week” prize. Bonus points can be added at any time by members of staff.
  • Children will comment on their own week using a series of smiley     
  • The term “Clear week” will no longer be used.
  • The term “Blue Card” will no longer be used.
  • Negative comments can be viewed by parents as an opportunity to discuss behaviour with children.
  • It will be important to reflect that negative comments on the card will more than likely be recorded after interventions in class and an opportunity for the child to change their behaviour.

* Please note that this was changed in 2015. The prize point system was deemed to be cumbersome to administer and didn’t reflect progress or achievement properly. The cards are now sent home as a simple report card at the end of the week. Children are selected by teachers for special mention at assembly and are given “Hero” badges that they can wear in school. All references to the “Points System” have therefore been removed from the policy.

Therefore, to acknowledge effort and to encourage good behaviour, a system of rewards will be put in place.  These will include:

  • Oral and written praise
  • Special prizes from time to time
  • Working with the principal for some one-to-one time.
  • “Hero” badges
  • Focus on one particular aspect of behaviour. Supported by special awards and prizes.
  • Visits to the Principal’s office or to another member of staff for commendation.
  • SNA’s and other non-teaching staff can suggest children for special recognition
  • Visits to the Principal for special certificates, stickers and prizes. The Principal will keep a record of children sent to the office for positive reinforcement. Teachers will be reminded to send children for this reinforcement.
  • Notes to parents/guardians
  • Delegating some special responsibility or privilege
  • Whole school recognition, for example at Assembly
  • There will also be a yard prize for a class every month.
  • A small trophy called the special principal’s reward is also available for rewarding special effort.
  • Children are encouraged to share good news stories at assembly. Special class work, events or occasions are shared at assembly also
  • Prizes are awarded, by the Principal, for puzzle of the week and caption competitions.
  • A “Positivity Tree” will be created on the wall. The children who are trying really hard, behaving really well, working on the behaviour under focus, etc., will have their names on “leaves” and placed on the wall. This will give an opportunity to focus on, and reinforce, positive behaviour

Misbehaviour and Sanctions/Solutions

A high standard of behaviour is expected, so that every child has the opportunity to work to the best of his/her ability and to benefit fully from placement at St Oliver Plunkett N.S.

Therefore, procedures for dealing with any misbehaviour, which might arise, have been put in place.  These procedures provide clear guidelines for children, parents and teachers

Misbehaviour can be classified in three categories:

  • Minor
  • Serious
  • Gross

The category of misbehaviour i.e. Minor, Serious or Gross will be judged by the teachers and/or Principal based on a common sense approach with regard to the gravity/frequency of such misdemeanours, Please see table of misbehaviours and sanctions.

Sanctions and Solutions

Teachers will keep a written record of all instances of serious or gross misbehaviour as well as a record of improvements in the behaviour of disruptive pupils. It is important that these is as much consistency as possible in the implementation of sanctions. This will be done on the weekly card. All serious and gross behaviours will be referred to the Principal. These will be recorded in the principal’s records. These records are known as the “Red Book” The Red Book will be seen as a last resort and exceptionally serious.

Distinctions can be made between continually disruptive behaviour and occasional outbursts and also between premeditated and impulsive action.

Sanctions will be applied having regard to the seriousness of the offence and the child’s previous behaviour record. Please see table of sanctions and misbehaviours.

Minor Misbehaviour

  • Talking in class
  • Working reluctantly/slowly
  • Distracting/interrupting others
  • Arriving late for school
  • Minor physical contact
  • Having mobile phones on during the day
  • Leaving seat in class without permission
  • Not wearing uniform
  • Not completing homework without good reason
  • Homework not signed by a parent/guardian
  • Being discourteous/unmannerly
  • Interfering with other pupil’s property
  • Arriving late repeatedly

Serious Misbehaviour

  • Repeatedly disruptive in class
  • Refusing to do his/her work
  • Fighting in yard/in class
  • Using unacceptable language/name calling
  • Leaving the class without permission
  • Physical contact of a serious nature
  • Being disrespectful or cheeky to any staff member
  • Repeatedly not completing homework
  • Damage to personal, school or other people’s property
  • Repeated minor misbehaviours
  • Misbehaviour at school events or school outings

Minor Sanctions

  • DFL system – recording on report card
  • Reasoning with the child.
  • Reprimand (including advice on how to improve)
  • Time out from the group or class to another group or class at the discretion of the class teacher
  • Minor misbehaviours are dealt with in class.
  • Sanctions for minor misbehaviour remain the same but parents will receive notification from the teacher if behaviour is becoming a concern. Communication from the teacher is generally through the homework journals, notes, phone calls and blue cards.2012

 Serious Sanctions

  • Recording
  • Loss of privileges as immediate as possible
  • Detention during lunch break (See Footnote A)
  • Extra schoolwork and homework.
  • Referral to the Principal. (See Footnote B)
  • Communication with parents by phone or letter.
  • Meeting with parents.
  • Consideration of services outside the school (see Footnote C)

Gross Misbehaviour

  • Gross bullying
  • Repeated serious behaviour
  • Leaving school premises without permission
  • Open defiance of teacher’s instruction
  • Aggressive, threatening or violent behaviour towards staff/pupils
  • Possession of dangerous implements e.g. pen knife
  • Vandalism of school property or other people’s property.
  • Stealing
  • Taking medicine/drugs/cigarettes – supplying or in possession

Gross Sanctions

  • Suspension
  • Referral to services outside the school.
  • Ending of placement at St Oliver Plunkett N.S.

It should be noted that these lists consist of examples only. It is not meant to be a totally comprehensive list.

Extra Information

Detention (Footnote A)

  • A letter; to be signed by parents, will be sent home before the detention takes place.
  • Detention will involve writing out the school rules.
  • It is important that an intention to implement detention is communicated to parents. This is done through a formal school letter that is signed and returned to the principal.
  • In the case of misbehaviour during detention contact with parents will be made by the principal. The detention period will be repeated.
  • In the case of misbehaviour at this repeat detention, a one day suspension will automatically apply.

Children being sent to the office (Footnote B)

Children sent to the office will be questioned about the problem and parents will get a standard letter (see attached for samples). These letters must be signed by parents and returned. Any child who is sent to the office as a sanction will also have their name recorded in the Red Book.

Letters will be sent for the following categories:

  • Homework
  • Yard behaviour
  • School Rules
  • Serious Breach of Rules
  • Uniform
  • Class behaviour
  • Swimming

Children who are sent to the office again for the same or another category of misbehaviour will receive detention. Detention will be supervised in classrooms on a rota basis. Detention will be perceived by the children to be avoided at all costs

The principal retains the right to detain a child, during lunch break, to reflect on behaviour, to discuss behaviour with the principal or to write out an account of behaviour. This sanction will form an instant one and will not require parental permission.

In the absence of the Principal, the Deputy Principal will assume the responsibilities and authority of the Principal.

Serious and repeated misbehaviour (Footnote C)

If a child’s behaviour is seriously unacceptable there will be a meeting with the child’s parents, teacher and principal.  Support may be sought, as appropriate, from support services within the wider community e.g. Community Care Services provided by the HSE.


General Principles

  • When suspension is contemplated the parents are always invited to discuss the misbehaviour with the Principal and the class teacher.
  • Before resorting to suspension or expulsion, all the normal channels of communication will be utilised.
  • Pupils must be informed when instances of serious misbehaviour are being recorded and parents will also need to be kept informed.

Suspension Procedures

Section 24 of the Education Act sets out suspension and expulsion procedures. St Oliver Plunkett School is mindful of the child’s constitutional right to an education which should only be deprived in exceptional circumstances.

  • For continuously disruptive pupils, or a serious breach of discipline, the BOM shall authorise the Principal/Chairperson to suspend a child up to a maximum of three days.
  • All communication regarding the proposed suspension shall be in writing.
  • A written statement of the terms and dates of the suspension shall be given to parents.
  • When a child returns from suspension he/she is obliged to report to the Principal, accompanied by a parent. The child is then readmitted formally to the class.
  • A special decision of the BOM is necessary to authorise a further period of exclusion up to a maximum of 10 school days to allow for consultation with the pupils and parents/guardians.

There is an appeals procedure under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998. A copy of this procedure is attached to the behaviour policy under Appendix 1

Ending of Placement at St Oliver Plunkett N.S.

Continued enrolment at St Oliver Plunkett N.S. depends on abiding by the code of Behaviour & Discipline.  The B.O.M. reserves the right to discontinue a child’s placement during the course of the school year.  A second year may not be made available to a child, who:

  • Because of his/her very negative behaviour is unlikely to benefit from continued placement at the school.
  • Whose serious or gross misbehaviour impinges significantly on the learning of other children.

In these circumstances, parents will be asked to re-enrol their child at his/her original (home) school.

Expulsion will be in accordance with the terms of Rule 130(6) of “The Rules for National Schools”

Review of the Code of Behaviour and Discipline

 This code has been drawn up following a process, which has involved teachers, pupils, parents and Board of Management.  It will be reviewed at regular intervals.

As part of our 2013 review, all staff members have read and accepted the Code of Professional behaviour as communicated by the Teaching council. A copy of this code is kept with the Behaviour policy and is available to parents on request.

Parents were invited to read this policy in full in 2014 and were invited to add changes.

The staff were asked to ratify changes, to download the policy from the shared folder and to keep a copy of it in their class folder.

The policy was also read to the children who were offered a chance to contribute. This was done through the student council and in class.

Original Policy 2004
Review 2007
Review 2009
Review 2012
Full Review involving all partners 2014
Ratified by the BOM June 17th 2014
Minor changes made 2015


Appendix 1 Sample letter sent home

Dear Parents/Guardians,

It has come to my attention that ________ is not completing some/all homework. If this continues he/she will be detained from playtime on the yard


Please sign this letter and return it to the school.



Angela Power






Appendix 2 Appeals Procedure of the Education Act

  1. Introduction

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998, gives parents (and students who have reached the age of 18) the right to appeal certain decisions made by a school board of management, or a person acting on behalf of a board, to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills. (Changed from Science 2013)

  1. Decisions which may be appealed

Currently, section 29 of the Education Act 1998 provides that the following decisions may be appealed to the Secretary General:

  • Permanent exclusion from school
  • Suspension for a period which would bring the cumulative period of suspension to 20 school days or longer in any one school year: or
  1. Procedures to be followed

The detailed procedures that apply to all appeals to the Secretary General under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 as outlined in the appendix to Circular 22/02 will be followed. In brief there are three layers to these procedures.

  • Both parties will be asked in the first instance to see if an accommodation can be reached at local level:
  • Should that fail, and where the appeals Committee considers that it may be possible to facilitate agreement between the appellant and the school, a facilitator will be appointed to contact the parties at the earliest opportunity.
  • Finally, an appeal may be referred for hearing by an Appeals Committee appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Refusal to Enrol (amended 2015)

  • The principal has the right to decide on enrolment.
  • Parents have the right to appeal an enrolment decision to the Board of Management.
  • The Board’s decision is final but an further appeal can be made to the NCSE (National Council for Special Education)
  • Section 29 no longer applies to refusal to enrol.

Appendix 3 Weekly Report Card

Weekly Report Card

St Oliver Plunkett National School


Child’s Name______________________     Week Beginning


Day Homework School Work Behaviour Comments


Teacher’s Signature___________________________________

Parent Signature______________________________________

Child’s Comment on the week     

Please return this card to your child’s teacher. Thanks.

Parental acceptance of Behaviour Policy (mandatory for admission)

I have read this policy carefully.

I understand that signing and agreeing to this policy is a condition of my child’s placement n St Oliver Plunkett NS.


Child’s name____________________________