Critical Incident Policy

Critical Incident Policy

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Our school recognises the dignity and value of each person. Respect is a core value in the school and a spirit of mutual respect is promoted within the school community. Our school motto is ‘Ag fás le meas, ag foghlaim le chéile’ (Growing in respect, Learning together.’). Ethos statement.



S.N. Mhuire, Barntown also aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times. The Board of Management, through Louisa O’Brien (Principal) has drawn up a critical incident management plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.   The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) steers the development and implementation of the plan .





Critical Incident


The staff and management of S.N. Mhuire, Barntown recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanisms of the school”.


Critical Incidents may involve one or more students, 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 or other unexpected death.
  • An intrusion into the school.
  • An accident involving members of the school community.
  • A major accident/tragedy involving the wider community.
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc.
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community.





Aim of Critical Incident Management Plan


The aims of the CIMP are:

  • 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
  • to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff.
  • to help ensure that the impact on the students and staff will be limited.
  • to 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 into place to help to build resilience in both the 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:


The school has the following elements in place

  • An evacuation plan
  • Regular fire drills occur.
  • Fire extinguishers are serviced annually.
  • Health & safety audits are carried out regularly and the issues arising reported to the BOM.
  • School rules are in place to ensure the safety of pupils.
  • All visitors are asked to report to the office on entry to the school.

This area is covered in more detail under our Health and Safety Policy.



Psychological Safety


The management and staff S.N. Mhuire, Barntown 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.  It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing such issues as grief and loss, communication skills, stress and anger management, resilience, conflict 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 Procedures for Primary and Post Primary schools and school policy on how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures.
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting Primary school pupils are available.
  • Information is available on mental health in general and such specific areas on signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies- NEPS, HSE, Gardai
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy.
  • Staff are informed on how to access support for themselves.










Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)


A CIMT has been established in line with best practice. The members of the team were selected on a voluntary basis and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team will meet annually to review and update the policy and plan.  Each member of the team 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.


The members of the CIMT shall include:

  • Team leader – Principal: Louisa O’Brien
  • Staff liaison – Deputy Principal: Claire Byrne and staff rep on CIMT: Nicola Brazzill.
  • Chairperson of the Board of Management / School Chaplain: Rev. John Carroll C.C.
  • Community Liaison – Parents’ Rep from the Board of Management: Margaret Gilhooly and Chairperson of Parents’ Association: Nicola Wildes
  • School Secretary
  • In the event of a Critical Incident NEPS and Garda Liaison may be contacted.






Leadership Roles – Team Leader – Principal


  • Confirms the event.
  • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting.
  • Co-ordinates the tasks of the team.
  • Liaises with the Gardaí.
  • Liaises with the Board of Management, Department of Education & Skills & NEPS.
  • Liaises with the bereaved family.
  • Prepares a public statement with the CIMT team, organises designated room to promptly address the media.
  • Ensures the provision of ongoing support to staff and students.
  • Facilitates any appropriate memorial events.
  • Review plan.


  • The Deputy Principal will replace the Principal in her absence.





Staff Liaison – Deputy Principal and Staff Rep on CMIT


  • Leads briefing meeting for the staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, and outlines the routine for the day.
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students. Is alert to vulnerable members of staff and makes contact with them individually.
  • Provides resources for the staff and pupils (from Critical Incident Folder), outlines services available.
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses.
  • Keeps a record of students seen by external agency staff.
  • Looks into the provision and supervision of a “quiet room”.




Community Liaison – Parents’ nominee on B.O.M.: Margaret Gilhooly and Chairperson Parents’ Association: Nicola Wildes


  • Maintains up-to-date lists of contact numbers of key parents, such as members of the Parents’ Council.
  • Coordinates the involvement of volunteers from wider community whose help may be required.
  • Assists the team leader in the provision of appropriate materials to parents (from critical incident folder).
  • Provide the team with any local information which may be useful in the management of the incident.





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 school secretary will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, photocopying materials and in sending and receiving all letters, etc.







The management and staff of S.N. Mhuire, Barntown have a responsibility to protect the good name and privacy 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 the students 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 its 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.


Statements to the media


Statements to the media if required will be given by the Chairperson of the Board of Management or school principal. All other members of the school community are requested not to make any comment to the media.



Critical Incident Rooms


In the event of a critical incident:

The staff room will be the main room used to meet the staff.

The PE Hall will be the room used to meet the pupils.

The PE Hall will be used to meet parents.

Resource Teachers’ Rooms will be used for individual sessions with the pupils.

Resource Teachers’ Rooms will also be used by other visitors.

Quiet room – Library has been identified for this purpose.




Consultation and Communication


  • Staff were consulted and their views canvassed in preparation of this plan. Parents’ representatives have also endorsed the policy.


  • 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. All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by the Liaison reps.


  • The plan will be reviewed annually in the month of November from 2017 onwards and updated as necessary.




Ratification and review


Ratified by the Board of Management on 2/2/2010.


Reviewed by Critical incident team and staff on 13/2/2012 and by the Board of Management on 14/2/2012.


Reviewed by staff liaison teachers and staff  at meeting  Sept 8th 2014.

Revised policy approved  by the Board of Management on  10th September 2014.


Policy updated April 2015 to reflect move to new building.


Reviewed by Staff liaison teachers/ Parents’ Association committee in May 2016.

Reviewed by the Board of Management at its meeting on 12th May 2016.


Reviewed and updated by CIMT on 29/11/2017.

Updated policy ratified by Board of Management on 14th December 2017