Introduction:

In Scoil Chaitríona Baggot Street, we aim to protect the well-being of our whole-school community – children, parents and staff – by providing a warm, inclusive an caring environment.

Our Board of Management has, through consultation with the parents and staff, drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan. They have established a Critical Incidents Management Team to steer the development and implementation of the plan.

 

What is a Critical Incident?

‘A critical incident is any incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school’. (National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), 2007).

Some examples of a critical incident are as follow:

  • Death of a member (s) of the school community, i.e a pupil, or staff member
  • Death of a member of the wider school community
  • Disappearance of a member of the school community
  • A Child Protection issue

Other examples may consist of:

  • Death of a pupil or staff member, major illness/outbreak of disease (Foot & Mouth)
  • Criminal incidents (e.g. Dunblane shooting, Shooting at first communion in Ballymun.)
  • Major accidents, serious injury (e.g. ‘Navan bus crash’)
  • Suicide
  • Civil unrest, war (foreign nationals may be traumatised by events that happened in their country of origin)
  • Fire, natural and technological disaster (e.g. school ceiling collapsing in Cork)
  • Disappearance of student from home or school (e.g. Midleton incident in Cork)
  • Unauthorised removal of student from school or home.
  • World events that may affect the student body and/or staff. May be a need for provision of discussion and involvement in ceremonies e.g. 9/11, tsunami

While our whole-school community obviously hopes we never experience a critical incident, it is important that we be prepared.

 

Critical Incidents Management Team:

Leadership Role: Siobhán Weekes (Principal)

Communication Role: Niamh O’Malley (Deputy Principal)

Student Liaison/ Counselling Role: Rónán MacCairbaire (Teacher)

Chaplaincy Role: Fr. Paddy Moran (Chaplain)

Family Liaison Role: Esther Waters (Parent)

Parents Association Rep: Sharon Bolger (Parent)

B.O.M. Rep: Tom Bluett (Chairperson)

 

The Principal, Siobhán Weekes, in her Leadership Role, has the responsibilities as defined below.

 

The Deputy Principal, Niamh O’Malley, in her Communication Role, assists and only assumes responsibility on the absence of Siobhán Weekes.

 In the even that neither Siobhán Weekes nor Niamh O’Malley be able to carry out their duties duties due to personal impact of the critical incident, this policy names Máirín Barry, Principal of Catherine McAuley NS, as the person nominated to assume the Leadership Role. Our Board sincerely thanks Máirín for accepting this responsibility.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

Leadership Role – Siobhán Weekes

Intervention 

  • Confirms the event
  • Activates the Critical Incidents Management Team
  • Liaises with the Gardaí/Emergency services
  • 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
  • Expresses sympathy to family
  • Clarifies facts surrounding event
  • Makes contact with other relevant agencies
  • Decides how news will be communicated to different groups (staff, pupils, outside school)

Postvention

  • Ensures provision of ongoing support to staff and students
  • Facilitates any appropriate memorial events
  • Reviews Plan

 

Communication Role: Niamh O’Malley

Intervention

 With the Critical Incidents Management Team:

  • Prepares a public statement
  • Organises a designated room to address media promptly
  • Ensures telephone lines are free for outgoing and important incoming calls
  • Designates mobile numbers for contact
  • Liaises with relevant outside support agencies 

Postvention

  • Reviews and evaluates effectiveness of our communication response

 

Student Liaison/ Counselling Role: Rónán MacCairbaire

Intervention

  • Advises the staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable pupils
  • Alerts staff to vulnerable pupils
  • Outlines specific services available in the school
  • Puts in place clear referral procedures
  • Addresses immediate needs of staff
  • Provides materials for staff (from critical incident folder)
  • Provides information
  • Helps arrange for counselling with support of assigned NEPS Senior Psychologist

Postvention

  • Provides ongoing support to vulnerable students
  • Monitors class most affected
  • Refers as appropriate
  • Reviews and evaluates Plan

 

Chaplaincy Role: Fr. Paddy Moran

Intervention

  • Visits home(s), if appropriate
  • Assists with prayer services
  • Makes contact with other local clergy
  • Be available as personal and spiritual support to staff

Postvention

  • Provides follow-up support to families in conjunction with Home School Community Liaison
  • Works in partnership with Critical Incident team
  • Reviews and Evaluates Plan

 

Family Liaison Role: Esther Waters

Intervention

  • Co-ordinates contact with families (following first contact by Principal)
  • Consults with family around involvement of school in e.g. funeral service
  • Assists with all communication dealing with parents of any student affected by critical incident

Postvention 

  • Provides ongoing support to families affected by the incident
  • Involves as appropriate the family in school liturgies/memorial services
  • Offers to link family with community support groups
  • Reviews and evaluate plan

 

Action plan

SHORT-TERM ACTIONS (Day 1)

  • Immediate notification of the Critical Incident Management Team (Leader)
  • Immediate contact with family/families (Leader)
  • Consult with the family regarding appropriate support from the school, e.g. funeral service
  • Ensure that a quiet place can be made for students/staff

 

Media Briefing (if appropriate)

  • The Leader is designated the contact for any or all media
  • Gather accurate information (Team)
  • Prepare a brief statement (Team)
  • Protect the family’s privacy (Team)
  • It is important to obtain accurate information about the incident (Team)
  1. What happened, where and when?
  2. What is the extent of the injuries?
  3. How many are involved and what are their names?
  4. Is there a risk of further injury?
  5. What agencies have been contacted already?

 

Contact appropriate agencies (Communication Role)

  1. Emergency services
  2. Medical services
  3. S.E. Psychology Departments/Community Care Services
  4. NEPS: Richard Hennessy
  5. DES/Schools Inspector: Noreen Kavanagh

 

Siobhán Weekes leads the following procedures:

  • Convene a meeting with Key Staff/Critical Management Team
  • Organize a staff meeting, if appropriate
  • Ensure any absent staff members are kept informed
  • Organise timetable/routine for the day. (Adhering to the normal school routine is important, if this is possible)
  • Class teachers to take note of any absentees who might need to be contacted, list of friends etc, or any other relevant information. This is to be given to the Student Liaison person
  • Arrange supervision of students
  • Liaise with the family regarding funeral arrangements/memorial service
  • The Chaplain/Principal will liaise with the family, to extend sympathy and clarify the family’s wishes regarding the school’s involvement in funeral/memorial service
  • Arrange a home visit by two staff representatives within 24 hours, if appropriate. (Student Liaison person and class teacher)
  • Have regard for different religious traditions and faiths

 

MEDIUM-TERM ACTIONS (24-72 HOURS)

 

  • Preparation of students/staff attending funeral
  • Involvement of students/staff in liturgy if agreed by bereaved family
  • Facilitation of students/staffs responses, e.g. Sympathy cards, flowers, Book of Condolences, etc.
  • Ritual within the school
  • Review the events of the first 24 hours
  • Reconvene Key Staff/Critical Incident Management Team
  • Decide arrangements for support meetings for parents/students/staff
  • Decide on mechanism for feedback from teachers on vulnerable students
  • Have review of Critical Incident Management Team meeting
  • Establish contact with absent staff and pupils
  • Arrange support for individual students, groups of students, and parents, if necessary
  • Hold support/information meeting for parents/students, if necessary, in order to clarify what has happened
  • Give any teacher who feels uncomfortable with involvement in support meetings the choice of opting out
  • Arrange, in consultation, with outside agencies, individual or group debriefings or support meetings with parental permission
  • Plan for the re-integration of students and staff e.g. absentees, injured, siblings, close relative etc)
  • Student Liaison person to liaise with above on their return to school.
  • Family Liaison person + Class Teacher + Principal to visit home/hospital
  • Attendance and participation at funeral/memorial service (To be decided)
  • Decide this in accordance with parent’s wishes, school management decisions and in consultation with close school friends
  • School closure (if appropriate – advice to be sought from the Inspector, Noreen Kavanagh)
  • Request a decision on this from school management

LONGER TERM ACTIONS

Monitor students for signs of continuing distress

If over a prolonged period of time, a student continues to display the following, he/she may need assistance from the Health Board. Constant communication with family is essential.

  • Uncharacteristic behaviour
  • Deterioration in academic performance
  • Physical symptoms — e.g. weight loss/gain, lack of attention to appearance, tiredness, restlessness
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions
  • Increased absenteeism

Evaluate response to incident and amend Critical Incident Management Plan appropriately

  • What went well?
  • Where were the gaps?
  • What was most/least helpful?
  • Have all necessary onward referrals to support services been made?
  • Is there any unfinished business?

 

Formalise the Critical Incident Plan for the future

  • Consult with NEPS Psychologist
  • Inform new staff/new school pupils affected by Critical Incidents where appropriate
  • Ensure that new staffs are aware of the school policy and procedures in this area
  • Ensure they are aware of which pupils were affected in any recent incident and in what way
  • When individual pupils or a class of pupils affected by an incident are transferring to a new school, the Principal should brief the Principal of the new school

Decide on appropriate ways to deal with anniversaries (Be sensitive to special days and events)

  • Anniversaries may trigger emotional responses in students/staff and they may need additional support at this time
  • Acknowledge the anniversary with the family
  • Need to be sensitive to significant days like Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day
  • Plan a school memorial service
  • Care of deceased person’s possessions. What are the parent’s wishes?
  • Update and amend school records

 

Ratified by the Board of Management of Scoil Chaitríona Baggot Street on October 21st 2015.

 

 

Review Date: January 2017