Our School cherishes each child and, in partnership with the parents, aims to provide a safe and happy environment which promotes esteem for oneself, for other people and the value of life-long learning.
To this end St. Fiachra’s SNS aims to protect the well-being of its students by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times.
St. Fiachra’s SNS has taken a number of measures to create a coping, supportive and caring ethos in the school. The school has also formulated a number of policies and procedures to be followed with a view to ensuring the physical and psychological safety of staff and students, both in ordinary time and in the event of a critical incident.
What is a Critical Incident?
As per DES / NEPS guidelines St. Fiachra’s SNS recognises a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more pupils, staff, the school, or our local community. Types of incidents might include:
- The death of a member of the school community through sudden death, accident terminal illness or suicide.
- Outbreak of disease or major illness in school or community.
- Serious injury sustained by a member of the school community as a result of violence on or off school grounds.
- A threatening or violent intrusion into the school.
- An accident / tragedy in the school or wider community.
- Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc.
- The disappearance of a member of the school community.
- Unauthorised removal of student from school.
Recognising that the key to managing critical incidents is planning, St. Fiachra’s SNS has developed this Critical Incident Management Policy and accompanying Plan. Our hope is that, in the event of an incident, these will help staff to react quickly and effectively and to maintain a sense of control. They should also help us to achieve a return to normality as soon as possible and ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited.
Creation of a coping supportive and caring ethos in the school
We have put systems in place to lessen the probability of the occurrence of an incident. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of both staff and students.
The following policies and strategies have been put in place in order to maintain the physical safety of all members of the school community.
- Health & Safety Statement.
- Evacuation plan formulated.
- Regular fire drills occur.
- Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked.
- The Fire Alarm is serviced regularly, at least once a year.
- Playground gates are locked during school hours.
- Pupils leaving early will only be released by a member of teaching staff when an authorised adult arrives to accompany the child from the premises. Such departures are recorded in the ‘Sign Out’ book.
- Pupils are not released into the care of persons unknown to school staff without checking with a parent/ guardian.
- Pupils are reminded of playground rules by staff at regular intervals in the context of our School Code of Behaviour.
- First Aid box maintained and kept in Secretary’s office an din the Extension building.
St. Fiachra’s SNS aims to create an open and encouraging environment in the school where students can talk about their difficulties and seek help for same.
The following strategies aim to support and ensure the psychological well-being of our pupils:
- SPHE is an integral part of the school curriculum and addresses issues such as grief and loss, communication skills, stress and anger management, conflict management, problem solving, help-seeking, decision making, and alcohol and drug prevention.
- School Anti-Bullying Policy.
- Substance / Alcohol Misuse Policy.
- Child Protection Policy.
- Staff are informed of difficulties affecting individual students and are aware and vigilant to their needs.
- Staff have access to books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary school child.
- The school has developed links with outside agencies, which may be contacted in the event of an emergency and for onward referral of students.
Critical Incident Management Team
St. Fiachra’s SNS has set up CI Management Team in line with best practice and will maintain this team in future. The members of the team were selected on a voluntary basis and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team will meet once a year to review and update the plan. Each member of the team has a Ready-to-Go pack with relevant materials to be used in the event of an incident.
Key roles have been identified and assigned as follows:
- Team Leader…………………
- Staff Liaison………………….
- Student Liaison………………
- Parent Liaison………………..
- Community Liaison………….
- Media Liaison………………..
- Administration Tasks………….
In the event of a critical incident the responsibilities of each role-holder will be as follows.
- Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting.
- Co-ordinates the tasks of the team.
- Liaises with the Board of Management and Department of Education and Science, I.N.T.O., NEPS / relevant agencies.
- Liaises with the bereaved family.
- Leads meetings to brief staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and outlines the routine for the day.
- Advises staff on the identification of vulnerable students.
- Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually.
- Provides materials to staff from the Ready to Go Pack.
- Liaises with other team members to keep staff, student up-dated with information and progress.
- Alerts staff to vulnerable students.
- Provide materials for students from the Ready-to-Go-Pack.
- Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral.
- Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies.
- Co-ordinates the involvement of these agencies.
- Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of
- Key parents, such as members of the parents’ council.
- Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources.
- Facilitates ‘questions and answers’ meetings.
- Meets with individual parents.
- Provides materials for parents from the Ready-to-Go-Pack.
- Visits the bereaved family with the team leader.
- In preparing for the role, we will consider issues that may arise during an incident and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc).
- In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the Communications Section in the DES.
- Maintenance of up to date lists of contact numbers of
- Parents or guardians
- Emergency support services
- Telephone calls needing to be responded to, letters sent and materials photocopied.
In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep detailed records of phone calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, material used etc. The school secretary will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials, etc.
Letter to Parents
The Principal will prepare a brief, written statement to include:
- The sympathy of the school community for the affected/bereaved family
- Positive information or comments about the deceased/injured person(s)
- The facts of the incident
- What has been done
- What is going to be done
Confidentiality and good name considerations
The school has a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of the people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of any public statements. The members of the school staff will bear this in mind, and will see to ensure that pupils do so also. [For instance, the term ‘suicide’ will not be used without the consent of the family involved or until it has been established categorically that the person’s death was a result of suicide. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead.]
Critical Incident Room
In the event of a critical incident, the Staff Room will be the main room used to meet the staff, students, parents and visitors involved.
Development and communication of this policy and plan
All staff were consulted and asked for their comments. Our school’s final policy and procedures in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff.
Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy.
All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by the Principal.
Critical Incident Policy to be ratified by Board of Management and reviewed regularly and up-dated as required.
While every care has been taken in transferring these policies to a digital / online format, please click the button below to access a pdf of the original paper version as certain formatting may have changed in the digitising process.