Rathnure National School Code of Behaviour


Good behaviour is based on good relations between parents/guardians, child and school.

In Rathnure National School, we hope to foster this ideal in co-operation with our parents/guardians. We have adopted a positive code of behaviour with emphasis on encouragement and reward so that good behaviour can prevail in our school.

The Board of Management of the school has ultimate responsibility for behaviour in the school.  Within the school, the overall day to day responsibility for behaviour rests with the Principal.  Each teacher has the responsibility for the maintenance of good behaviour and good order within his/her classroom while sharing a common responsibility for good behaviour within the school premises.

Parents/guardians can support the school by encouraging their children to understand the need for school rules, and by communicating any relevant concerns to the school.

Aims of the code
  • To create a positive learning environment that encourages and reinforces good behaviour
  • To promote self-esteem and positive relationships
  • To encourage consistency of response to both positive and negative behaviour
  • To foster a sense of responsibility and self-discipline in pupils and to support good behaviour patterns based on consideration and respect for the rights of others
  • To facilitate the education and development of every child
  • To foster caring attitudes to one another and to the environment
  • To enable teachers to teach without disruption
  • To ensure that the school’s expectations and strategies are widely known and understood through the availability of policies and an ethos of open communication
  • To encourage the involvement of both home and school in the implementation of this policy
Responsibility of Adults (Teachers, school staff & Parents)

The adults encountered by the children at school have an important responsibility to model high standards of behaviour, both in their dealings with the children and with each other, as their example has an important influence on the children.

As adults we should aim to:

  • Create a positive climate with realistic expectations.
  • Promote positive behaviour, through example, honesty and courtesy.
  • Provide a caring and effective learning environment.
  • Encourage relationships based on kindness, respect and understanding of the needs of others.
  • Ensure fair treatment for all regardless of age, gender, race, ability and disability.
  • Show appreciation of the efforts and contribution of all.
  • To discourage physical aggression and encourage ‘Kind Hands, Kind Words, Kind Feet’.

A Code of Conduct for staff, pupils and volunteers ensures that the rights of all are upheld.

School Rules
  1. We show respect for self and others
  2. We show respect for our own property and the property of others
  3. We show respect for other students and their learning
  4. We are kind and willing to help others
  5. We follow instructions from staff immediately
  6. We walk quietly in the school building
  7. We show courtesy and good manners
  8. We try to use respectful ways of resolving difficulties and conflict
  9. We ask permission to leave the classroom/school/school yard
  10. We do our best in class
  11. We take responsibility for our own work
  12. We wear the appropriate uniform.
  13. We follow our Healthy Eating Policy.

These can be summed up as 6 Golden Rules:

  1. We listen.
  2. We are gentle. We keep our hands to ourselves.
  3. We are honest.
  4. We are kind. We share.
  5. We work hard.
  6. We look after property.

These 6 “Golden Rules” will be the main ones used for infant classes. Rules apply during school-time and during all school related activities.

Class Rules

At the beginning of each academic year, the class teacher will draft a list of class rules with the children, based closely on the “Golden Rules”. Class rules will be kept to a minimum and are devised with regard for the health, safety and welfare of all members of the school community.  Where possible they emphasise positive behaviour (e.g. ‘Walk’ and not, ‘Don’t run’).  Rules will be applied in a fair and consistent manner, with due regard to the age of the pupils and to individual difference.  Where difficulties arise, parents will be contacted at an early stage.

Incentives/Reward System                      

Part of the vision of Rathnure National School is to help children achieve their personal best and thus prepare them for further education, life and work.  We recognise that there are many different forms of intelligence and similarly that children use a variety of approaches to solve problems.  Our reward system seeks to provide encouragement to all children of all abilities and talents. Children will be encouraged, praised and listened to by adults in the school. Praise is earned by the maintenance of good standards as well as by particularly noteworthy personal achievements. Rates of praise for behaviour should be as high as for work.

The following are some samples of how praise might be given:

  • A quiet word or gesture to show approval
  • A comment in a pupil’s copy or homework journal
  • A visit to another member of Staff or to the Principal for commendation
  • A word of praise in front of a group or class
  • Stickers, stamps or small prizes
  • Homework pass
  • Delegating some special responsibility or privilege
  • A mention to parent, written or verbal communication
  • ‘Shining light’ award or special mention at assembly.
Examples of very good behaviour are:
  • Excellent manners
  • Helping other pupils
  • Fair play
  • Good listening
  • Paying very good attention
  • Walking quietly in the class line
  • Tidying up
  • Following instructions immediately
  • Showing respect
  • Trying your best
  • Problem solving skills

These are examples and this is not an exhaustive list.

Field trips, annual school tours and any special events will be reserved for those who have consistently strived to behave well. 


Unacceptable Behaviour

While teachers and staff will place greater emphasis on positive rewards and strategies, there are times when pupils misbehave and sanctions are required.

Three levels of misbehaviour are recognised: Minor, Serious and Gross. All everyday instances of a minor nature are dealt with by the class teacher, or the supervising teacher at break-times.  In cases of repeated serious misbehaviour or single instances of gross misbehaviour parents will be involved at an early stage and invited to meet the teacher and/or the principal to discuss their child’s behaviour.

Examples of minor misbehaviour include:
  • Bringing electronic equipment or mobile-phones to school
  • Not wearing appropriate uniform; bringing in chewing-gum
  • Not following instructions
  • Interrupting
  • Being discourteous or unmannerly
  • Not completing homework without good reason
  • Running in the school building
  • Leaving litter around school
  • Not being in line when required
  • Rough play/behaviour
  • Using unacceptable language
Examples of serious misbehaviour include:
  • Behaviour that is hurtful (including bullying, harassment, discrimination and victimisation)
  • Behaviour that interferes with teaching and learning
  • Threats or physical hurt to another person
  • Damage to school property
  • Damaging other pupil’s property
  • Bringing dangerous equipment to school
  • Leaving school/school activities without permission.
  • Telling lies
  • Stealing
  • Using offensive language
  • Deliberately injuring a fellow pupil/endangering self or fellow pupils
  • Truancy
  • Copying work / cheating
Examples of gross misbehaviour include:
  • Assault on a teacher or pupil
  • Serious Theft
  • Serious Damage to property
  • Serious bullying
  • Carrying drugs, alcohol, cigarettes

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

Bullying is repeated aggression – physical, verbal or emotional – conducted by an individual or group against another or others.

  • PHYSICAL: includes pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, poking, tripping, etc.
  • VERBAL: name calling which hurts, insults or humiliates.
  • EMOTIONAL: threats or persistent hurtful remarks regarding sensitive areas e.g. appearance, dress, progress, colour, culture and disability. Isolating or shunning a child. Threats to extort money or possessions. “Cyber/text” bullying.

The school takes particular care to intervene early in responding to the needs, fears or anxieties of individual members in a sensitive manner.

Issues in relation to Bullying are explored continually during SPHE lessons and using Circle Time, Drama etc.

Should a parent/guardian have any concerns which need to be discussed with a teacher, all staff members are more than willing to facilitate a meeting, made through the proper channels i.e. a phone call to the office, or a note to the class teacher to arrange a convenient time for both parties. The first person to be informed should be the class teacher.

This arrangement ensures that all concerns are dealt with in a dignified, meaningful manner, without infringing on valuable teaching time.

Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour, while not to be condoned, cannot be described as bullying.

Incidents of bullying will be dealt with in the same manner as breaches of discipline – already outlined in our Code of Behaviour.

In the case where a parent reports a bullying incident, the school reserves the right to inform the relevant parties of the identity of the person making the complaint, when this is deemed necessary. For further information please consult the school’s Anti Bullying Policy.


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

  • helping students to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable
  • helping them to recognise the effect of their actions and behaviour on others
  • helping students (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 students and to staff that their wellbeing is being 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.

The following steps will be taken when a child behaves inappropriately.  The list is by no means exhaustive.  Teachers may put in place alternative measures bearing in mind the circumstances involved. The aim of any sanction is to prevent the behaviour occurring again and if necessary to help the pupil devise strategies for this.

  1. Reasoning with pupil
  2. Verbal reprimand including advice on how to improve
  3. Temporary separation from peers within class and/or temporary removal to another class
  4. Prescribing extra work/ writing out the story of what happened
  5. Loss of privileges
  6. Detention during break
  7. Communication with parents
  8. Referral to Principal
  9. Principal communicating with parents
  10. Exclusion (Suspension or Expulsion) from school (in accordance with Rule 130 of the Rules for National Schools as amended by circular and Education Welfare Act 2000)

This is not an exhaustive list of sanctions.  Usually sanctions will relate as closely as possible to the behaviour.

Restorative Practice:

The purpose of Restorative Practice is to help resolve conflict that may occur between pupils and to repair relationships.  In our school, we use the following guiding restorative practice questions to help resolve conflict that may arise:

  1. What happened?
  2. What were you thinking/feeling at the time?
  3. Who has been affected by this?
  4. What are you thinking/feeling now?
  5. What do you need to put things right?
Card system

In Rathnure National School the system of white cards, yellow cards and red cards will be used.  A white card will be given to a pupil in the case of a serious misbehaviour or continuous minor misbehaviours. A list of misbehaviours is printed on the card and the relevant one will be marked by the teacher.  An account of what happened may also be written on the card.  This card will be signed by the teacher and parent and will then be retained in the school. 

The following procedure applies:

  1. If a pupil has received 3 white cards they will then receive a yellow card. A meeting will be arranged between parent(s) and the classroom teacher to discuss the child’s behaviour.  The parent(s) will be asked for their co-operation in helping the pupil to improve their behaviour at school.
  2. If a pupil receives a further 3 white cards they will then receive a second yellow card. A meeting will be arranged between the parent(s), class teacher and the principal. Again the parent(s) will be informed that the pupil is in breach of the school code of behaviour.  They will be informed that the next step will involve the chairperson of the Board of Management.
  3. If a pupil receives a further 3 white cards they will then receive a third yellow card. A meeting will be arranged between the parent(s), class teacher, principal and also the chairperson of the Board of Management.
  4. If a pupil receives a further 3 white cards they will at this stage receive a red card. The pupil may then be suspended for 3 days under Rule 130 (5) for national schools.
  5. If a pupil receives a further 3 white cards, they will receive a second red card. The pupil may then be suspended for 10 days with written permission for the Board of Management.

The benefit of the card system is that because the card must be signed by the parent(s), they are informed as soon as there is an issue with their child’s behaviour.  While every effort will be made to follow the steps in the above order; in cases of serious misconduct, the school may begin sanctions on a higher step e.g. a yellow card or red card may be imposed for an incident of the teacher/principal feels it is warranted.

Class teachers will keep a written record of instances of misbehaviour and also a record of improvement in the behaviour of pupils. Every pupil will begin with a clean slate at the beginning of each school year.

Suspension and Expulsion

Before serious sanctions such as suspension or expulsion are used, the normal channels of communication between school and parents will be utilised.  Communication with parents may be verbal or by letter depending on the circumstances.

For gross misbehaviour or repeated instances of serious misbehaviour suspension may be considered. Parents concerned will be invited to come to the school to discuss their child’s case.  Aggressive, threatening or violent behaviour towards a teacher or pupil will be regarded as serious or gross misbehaviour.

Where there are repeated instances of serious misbehaviour, the Chairperson of the Board of Management will be informed and the parents will be requested in writing to attend at the school to meet the Chairperson and the principal.  If the parents do not give an undertaking that the pupil will behave in an acceptable manner in the future the pupil may be suspended for a period.  Prior to suspension, where possible, the Principal may review the case in consultation with teachers and other members of the school community involved, with due regard to records of previous misbehaviours, their pattern and context, sanctions and other interventions used and their outcomes and any relevant medical information. Suspension will be in accordance with the Rules for National Schools and the Education Welfare Act 2000.

In the case of gross misbehaviour, where it is necessary to ensure that order and discipline are maintained and to secure the safety of the pupils, the Board may authorise the Chairperson or Principal to sanction an immediate suspension for a period not exceeding three school days, pending a discussion of the matter with the parents. However, a Board of Management may wish to authorise the Principal, with the approval of the Chairperson of the Board, to impose a suspension of up to five days in circumstances where a meeting of the Board cannot be convened in a timely fashion, subject to the guidance concerning such suspensions.

Expulsion may be considered in an extreme case, in accordance with the Rule for National Schools and the Education Welfare Act 2000. Rathnure NS will follow the NEWB Guidelines in the case of expulsion.

Removal of Suspension (Reinstatement)

Following or during a period of suspension, the parent/s may apply to have the pupil reinstated to the school. The parent/s must give a satisfactory undertaking that a suspended pupil will behave in accordance with the school code and the Principal must be satisfied that the pupil’s reinstatement will not constitute a risk to the pupil’s own safety or that of the other pupils or staff. The Principal will facilitate the preparation of a behaviour plan for the pupil if required and will re-admit the pupil formally to the class.

Children with Special Needs

All children are required to comply with the code of behaviour.  However the school recognises that children with special needs may require assistance in understanding certain rules.  Specialised behaviour plans will be put in place in consultation with parents and the class teacher, learning support/ resource teacher, and or principal will work closely with home to ensure that optimal support is given. Cognitive development will be taken into account at all times.  Professional advice from psychological assessments will be invaluable.

Communicating with Parents

Communicating with parents is central to maintaining a positive approach to dealing with children. Parents and teachers should develop a joint strategy to address specific difficulties, in addition to sharing a broader philosophy which can be implemented at home and in school.

A high level of co-operation and open communication is seen as an important factor encouraging positive behaviour in the school. Structures and channels designed to maintain a high level of communication among staff and between staff, pupils and parents have been established and are being reviewed regularly.

Parents are encouraged to talk in confidence to teachers about any significant developments in a child’s life (in the past or present), which may affect the child’s behaviour.

The following methods of communication are to be used within the school:

  • Informal/formal parent/teacher meetings or phone calls
  • Through Aladdin, pupil journals’ (6th class only)
  • Letters/notes from school to home and from home to school
  • Newsletters/school web-site

This policy was reviewed and updated on 2nd May 2024.

Marie Doran


Chairperson BOM

Alice Keogh



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