G. St. Brigid’s Primary School Critical Incident Policy & Plan

St. Brigid’s Primary School, The Coombe aims to protect the wellbeing of it’s students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times. As stated in our Mission Statement ‘We in St. Brigid’s Primary school, The Coombe aim to provide a happy vibrant environment for teaching and learning where every child is nurtured to develop academically, emotionally and socially in preparation for adult life. The Board of Management, through Ms. Deirdre Early, Principal, has drawn up a Critical Incident Management plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

We have established a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to steer the development and implementation of the plan. The team members are:

  • Ms. Deirdre Early (Principal)
  • Ms. Venessa Burke (Deputy Principal )
  • Ms. Jean Coleman (Special Duties Teacher)

The staff and management of St. Brigid’s recognise a critical incident to be “an incident of sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more students, or staff members, or members of our local community. Types of incidents might include:

  • The death of a member of the school community through accident, violence, suicide or suspected suicide, drug abuse, or other unexpected death.
  • An intrusion into the school.
  • An accident involving members of the school community.
  • An accident/ tragedy in the wider community
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood vandalism, etc.
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community.

Aim

The aim of the CIMP is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident to enable us to maintain a sense of control and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff. Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited. It should enable us to effect a return to normality as soon as possible.

Creation of a coping supportive and caring ethos in the school.

We have put systems in place to help build resilience in both staff and students thus preparing them to cope with a range of life events. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of the school community.

Physical Safety

  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular emergency drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • Staff training is provided in the use of fire extinguishers
  • Pre- opening extra supervision is provided from 8.45-9.00a.m in the school hall
  • Front gate is locked during school hours
  • Admission to school premises only through buzzer security system
  • Windows and doors automatic opening for safety in the event of fire
  • Rules of the yard provided for the safety of all children and staff
  • High vis vests provided for the members of the CIMT in the unfortunate event of any emergency

Psychological safety

The management and staff of St. Brigid’s aim to use available programmes and resources to address the personal and social development of students, to enhance a sense of safety and security in the school and to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion.

  • Social, personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school on a constant basis. It is part of the language of the school. It is also addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision.
  • Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE
  • Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with concerns, suspicions or disclosures.
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary student are available.
  • Information is provided on mental health in general and such specific areas as signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Staff are informed in the area of suicide awareness.
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies; e.g. HSE; Family Support, Social services (range of district area contacts) D.I.C.P (Dublin Inner City Partnership), S.W.I.C.N ( South West Inner City Network), Community Garda and J.L.O services, N.E.P.S. Child Guidance Clinic, James St. Hospital, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy Services, Focus Ireland.
  • Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of criteria about students safety, the appropriateness of the content, and the expertise of the providers.
  • St. Brigid’s through the School Completion Programme provide the weekly services of an Art Therapist and a Play Therapist to help with individual student needs.
  • St. Brigid’s has a clear policy on Bullying as part of its Code Of Behaviour and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy.
  • There is a care system in place in the school where relevant staff to the particular child, the principal, the home school liaison teacher, the relevant special needs teachers, the parents or guardians of the child needing extra care and where appropriate the art therapist, the counsellor, the school completion coordinator or school completion project worker, the N.E.P.S psychologist, a social worker, a public health nurse become involved in seeking appropriate help and care for the child.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the designated staff member (e.g. play therapist or art therapist) and in conjunction with parents/guardians, concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. Where appropriate, a referral is made to an agency for further support.
  • Staff are informed about how to access support for themselves.

Critical Incident Plan

Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)

A CIMT has been established in line with best practice. The members of the team selected on a voluntary basis and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members will meet annually in October to review and update the policy and plan. Each member of the team (listed earlier) has a dedicated critical incident folder. This contains a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to their role, to be used in the event of an incident.

Preparation of CIMP

Roles

We at St. Brigid’s have made arrangements for assigning roles within our CIMT. These roles consist of:

  • Team Leader Deirdre Early
  • Garda Liaison D.E
  • Staff Liaison
  • Parent Liaison,
  • Community Liaison,
  • Media Liaison, D.E Chairperson, B.O.M
  • Administrator, School secretary

Team Leader

  • Alerts the team to the crisis and convenes a meeting.
  • Coordinates the tasks of the team.
  • Liaises with the B.O.M, D.E.S, NEPS etc.
  • Liaises with bereaved family.

Garda Liaison

  • Liaises with Gardai
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other development is checked out for accuracy before shared.

Staff Liaison

  • Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known.
  • Gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day.
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students
  • Provides materials for staff from critical incident folder.
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses.
  • Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually.
  • Advises them on the availability of the E.A.S. and gives them the contact number.

Student Liaison

  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students.
  • Provides materials to students appropriately from critical incident folder.
  • Keeps records of students seen by external agency staff.
  • Looks for setting up and supervision of ‘quiet room’ where agreed.

Community Agency Liaison

  • Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers.
  • Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral.
  • Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support.
  • Coordinates the involvement of these agencies.
  • Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies.

Parent Liaison

  • Visits the bereaved family with the team leader.
  • Arranges parent meetings, if held.
  • May facilitate such meetings and manage ‘questions and answers’.
  • Manages consent issues in accordance with agreed school policy.
  • Ensures that sample letters are typed up on the school system and ready for adaption.
  • Sets up room for meetings with parents.
  • Maintains a record of parents seen.
  • Meets with individual parents.
  • Provides appropriate materials for parents from critical incident folder.

Media liaison

  • The CIMT of St. Brigid’s have decided in advance of any critical incident to minimize contact with the media in the event of one.
  • In the event of an incident we will consult with the B.O.M and liaise with the I.N.T.O where necessary.
  • We will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interview only as agreed by school management.

Administrator

  • Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of
    • Parents /guardians
    • Staff
    • Emergency services
  • Take telephone calls and notes those that need to responded to.
  • Ensures that templates are on the school’s systems in advance and ready for adaption.
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and faxes.
  • Photocopies materials needed.
  • Maintains records.

Record Keeping

In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep records of phone – calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, materials used etc.

The secretary, Ms. Leanne Byrne will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations

The management and staff of St. Brigid’s have 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 seek to ensure that students and parents do so also. For instance, the term ‘suicide’ will not be used unless there is solid information that death was due to suicide, and that the family involved consents to it’s use. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead. Similarly, the word ‘murder’ should not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed. The term ‘violent death’ may be used instead.

Critical incident rooms

In the event of a critical incident the staffroom will be the main room used to meet the staff, the multi-purpose room for meetings with individual or small groups of students, the general purpose hall for meeting the main body of students and/ or parents, the parent’s room for meetings with individual or small groups of parents, the principal’s office or the school courtyard for meetings with the media and the library for meetings with other visitors.

Consultation and communications regarding the plan

All staff consulted, trained in by Ms. Briget Egan ,NEPS representative and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Students and parent representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments.

Our school’s final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff.

Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy of the plan with supplementary material in a folder.

All staff members have a copy of the plan as part of their organizational plean scoile.

All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by Deirdre Early.

The plan will be updated annually in October.