School managerial authorities are responsible for ensuring that a fair and efficient code of behaviour, encompassing rules and procedures, is drawn up and applied in schools. Circumstances vary from one school community to another, and, therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to set out formal and detailed guidelines for all schools in relation to pupil behaviour. However, my Department has issued guidelines to assist schools in discharging their responsibilities in this area. The guidelines outline the general principles to be followed in drawing up and implementing a code of behaviour in schools.
The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 will, when commenced, require schools for the first time to prepare codes of behaviour which specify the types of behaviour requiring disciplinary measures, the nature of these measures and the procedures to be followed by school authorities. The code is to be prepared in accordance with guidelines which may be issued by the National Education Welfare Board which is to be established under the provisions of the Act.
The enactment of the Education (Welfare) Act together with the implementation of the Education Act, 1998 will introduce a new legislative framework for dealing with school discipline issues generally and provide an opportunity to update existing guidelines where necessary.