In Loreto Secondary School we endeavour to provide a safe and happy environment. We endeavour to provide a caring response to students in crisis and those who experience loss in a calm supportive environment. This policy refers to the response taken by the school should a critical incident occur.
For the purposes of this policy, a critical incident is defined as any incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanisms of the school and disrupts the running of the school e.g.
- The death of a member of the school community
- An accident involving pupils or staff on or off the school premises
- A physical attack on staff member(s) or student(s) or intrusion into the school
- Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism etc.
- The disappearance of a member of the school community
- An accident or tragedy in the wider community (‘Responding to Critical Incidents’, NEPS, p.5)
Critical Incident Team
As is good practice, Loreto Fermoy has a Critical Incident Team that will convene in the event of a critical incident taking place. The team consists of the following staff members:
Membership of the team will be reviewed annually.
Contact Details and Communication
An up-to-date list of contact numbers for emergency support services is kept in the main school office and is attached as an appendix to this policy on Teacher Data. The list will be updated annually by administrative staff.
In the case of overnight school tours/overnight trips the Tour Leader will bring the following details with him/her:
- A list of all participating teachers and pupils
- A list of mobile phone numbers for all participating teachers and pupils. Parental permission will be attained by the lead teacher to use pupil mobile numbers in the event of an emergency. The list of these numbers will be destroyed on return to school.
- Home contact numbers of all involved
- Passport details (in the case of tours outside the country)
- Relevant medical information on pupils and permission forms from parents in case of a medical emergency
- Insurance details
The Principal will be provided with a copy of the itinerary.
A school mobile phone will be made available to staff for outings, trips etc.
Staff members will be notified by text in the event that a critical incident takes place outside of school hours. If the event occurs during school hours details will be shared through appropriate means depending on the circumstances e.g. school intercom, staff email/text, staffroom information screen, announcements in staffroom, sharing details in person class- to- class etc.
First Aid Training
Staff members will be informed of the location of defibrillators and the names of those trained in their use. These lists will be posted near the defibrillators, in the main school office and in this document. Staff will be reminded annually of health and safety procedures and the information will be included in the staff handbook and shared with new and substitute teachers.
Location of Defibrillators
- In the corner beside school front door
- Sports hall – inside front door
Persons trained to use the defibrillators
Location of Defibrillators
On notification of a critical incident the Principal will convene the Critical Incident Response Team who will then:
- Ascertain the facts of the critical incident
- Make contact with the family/families concerned
- Contact appropriate agencies (National Education Psychological Services, Department of Education and Skills etc.)
- Inform staff, Board of Management and Loreto Office
- Agree on a statement of facts for staff, pupils, parents/guardians and the media and inform these parties as appropriate.
- Identify high risk pupils including relatives of those involved in the incident
- Appoint one person to deal with phone calls
- Organise supervision/substitution as necessary
- Make contact/visit the home of the student where appropriate. Every effort will be made to maintain the regular school routine where at all possible, while supporting those affected by the incident. Teachers will go to their normal timetabled classes. Students will be directed to the sports hall if the main school building is unfit for use.
Guidelines for teachers in the classroom
Prepare the class by telling them that you have sad news and that is hard for you to impart this news to them. This prepares the students for what they are about to hear.
Let them know what the news is about.
Tell the class that ‘………has died (tragically/sadly). We are not fully aware of the circumstances yet. We know how shocked you are, but we are here to support you. Teachers and counselling support will be available throughout the day’.
Check that students have correctly heard what you have said.
Let the class know the range of reactions they may have to this news. Allow students to ask questions, tell their stories and express their feelings. Let them know how they can be of support to one another.
Allow students time to talk to each other/to write about how they feel/ make cards. The class may write prayers for the bereaved family. Prayers may be said in class with teachers & critical incident team members may organise a brief prayer service if appropriate.
Be attentive to those that are particularly upset. It may be appropriate for those who are particularly upset to taken to the SNA Room and to make contact with their parents to ask them to take them home.
Death of a student or staff member
In the event of death it will be necessary to:
- Inform staff and students of funeral arrangements
- Organise a Book of Condolence for members of the school community
- Hold a prayer service for the deceased and the bereaved family
- Ensure counselling services are available.
- Take care of the deceased person’s belongings and arrange for their return to the bereaved family
- Support siblings and friends of the deceased and facilitate their return to school.
Sample media statement – to be developed and personalised. This statement is to confirm that N has died tragically. (Include a sentence about the type of person N was). The school community is deeply shocked and saddened by the news. We extend our sympathy and support to N’s family in the difficult times ahead. Counselling services are being provided to support our staff and students at this sad time.
Parent enquiry – I can confirm that ‘N’ has died tragically but cannot give any further details at this time. The school will remain open for the remainder of the day and classes will operate as normally as possible. Counselling services will be provided for students.
In the aftermath of a critical incident it will be important to
- Provide appropriate support for staff and students affected by the incident
- Recognise and facilitate the support students offer each to each other to help them in their own grieving and in the healing process. Cairdeas groups should bring concerns about classmates to the attention of a teacher/Year Head/guidance counsellor.
- Keep in contact with the family/families concerned
- Be sensitive to occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas etc.
- Review the school response to the incident
This Critical Incident Policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 14th June 2016.
Date of review: 2019 or after of a critical incident.