Code of Behaviour

St Fergal`s College Code of Behaviour


Mission Statement.

St Fergal`s College is a co-educational school which aims to provide a quality education for all our students in a caring and respectful environment.

We enable students to develop fully a sense of their own unique worth by providing a broadly based curriculum which fosters intellectual, spiritual, moral, emotional and physical growth.

We are committed to promoting good relationships between students, staff, parents and our community.

We aim to create a safe, healthy learning environment that nurtures self-discipline and encourages our students to take responsibility for their own learning.

We aim to educate our students not only for now, but also for life.


How our code was developed.

This code was developed in consultation with all the education partners involved in the school. The Board of Management, teachers, parents and students, were all involved in producing this document.


Our Vision

The Code of Behaviour in St. Fergal’s College is a statement of best practice which covers all aspects of school life. The code is designed to promote and maintain good behaviour and a positive school ethos. The health, safety and welfare of each member of the school community are the core concerns of this code.

In recognising the aspiration in the school mission statement to provide a quality education for all our students in a caring and respectful environment, there is a duty and responsibility for all to act in a manner which recognise the rights of all to fulfil their roles without threat, fear or obstruction and with the support and respect entitled to each individual.



The school expects good behaviour to be the norm and always acknowledges good behaviour.

All members of the school community are expected to help maintain an atmosphere supportive of  learning and to demonstrate courtesy and mutual respect. These are linked and mutually empowering objectives.

Good school discipline, which contributes to an effective and stimulating learning environment depends on full co-operation between all members of the school community. The support of parents/guardians greatly assists the school in the implementation of our Code of Behaviour. Parents/guardians, while not physically present in our school, exercise a huge influence on the behaviour of their children.



  • To create a school community based on respect for human dignity.
  • To encourage an understanding of and adherence to an agreed principles of behaviour.
  • To support effective teaching and learning.


Promoting Positive Relationships.

St. Fergal`s College seeks to create a positive climate for teaching and learning in which each student can develop his/her educational potential. By working together, students, teachers and parents contribute to the creation of a learning community. Our learning community expects the highest standards of work, behaviour, attendance and punctuality. Students are expected to co-operate fully with teachers and all staff, and to challenge themselves to achieve their best in every aspect of life in the school. The highest standards and expectations are set for all.

Teachers are entitled to respect and the opportunity to focus on their teaching work without unfair distraction. All teachers share responsibility for good order in the corridors, school grounds and during school events. Teachers are primarily responsible for maintaining discipline in their own classes, in the context of the school`s overall discipline structures. When misbehaviour arises the teacher will impose an appropriate reprimand and / or appropriate sanction.

Our learning community will:

  • Show respect to all.
  • Show kindness, fairness, courtesy and be willing to work with and help others. (This approach has been recently highlighted as best practice, by the Department`s integrated strategy on school Guidance.)
  • Attend school and be punctual.
  • Follow the agreed school rules.
  • Avail of all positive learning opportunities which arise at school.
  • Work hard.
  • Act sensibly and with due consideration for the dignity of others.


Acknowledging good behaviour, progress and effort

In St. Fergal`s College praise and rewards are emphasised and highly valued. Pupils will receive recognition for the positive contribution they make to school life. Such contributions include sound academic work and effort, positive contribution to school activities e.g. sport and good behaviour.

It is expected that good standards of behaviour will be encouraged through the fair application of the Code of Behaviour supported by a balanced combination of rewards and sanctions, as part of a positive school ethos.

This system aims to support the Code of Behaviour and to develop a consistent pattern of rewards, which are known, understood and agreed to by all.

Awards include informal rewards and formal awards.

Examples of informal rewards which staff are encouraged to use for academic achievement, appropriate behaviour and outstanding effort include, general praise and encouragement in class, letters home, notes to parents in the journal, comments to parents written on school work and term reports.

Our formal awards include the following;

Merit Award

Merits will be awarded by the Year head in recognition of good behaviour over the course of a school term to students who have not received a note (see below for description).  A student with three Merits in one school year will be presented with a Merit Award.

Academic Award.

This is awarded to students (male and female), who achieve the best results in their end of year examination.

Achievement Award.

This is awarded to students (male and female) who have shown a significant commitment to some aspect of life, whether in study, sport or extra-curricular activity.

Attendance Award.

This is awarded to students with 100% attendance record.

Sports Person of the Year.

This is awarded to the students (male and female) who are considered to be best sports persons in each year group. They are nominated by their year group.

Active Citizen Award.

This is awarded to students who are active in voluntary work outside of school. Please note: students can be nominated for this award by parents or other interested parties using the form available on the website.



Tom Daly Award.  

Tom Daly served this College for 42 years, 35 as Deputy Principal, an example of outstanding commitment and loyalty. This award is presented in his honour to a student or students for exceptional achievement.


Issues of concern

Where issues of concern arise, parents and / or students are encouraged to make an appointment (at an agreed suitable time) to meet with the relevant teacher, Year Head, Deputy Principal or Principal.


School Rules

(i) General:

In the interest of order and safety, students must obey teachers and the school rules when walking within the building, on the school grounds and when using school transport.

Each school day begins at 8 40am. If a student arrives late, he/she must sign in at the school office before entering class. A student who arrives late for school on a regular basis will be subject to sanction.

Students may not leave the school at any time without a written request from their parent/guardian. This request must be presented in the School Journal and sanctioned by the relevant Year Head, the Deputy Principal or Principal. Before leaving the school grounds students must sign out at the school office.

On returning to school after an absence, students must present an explanation to their Year Head, signed by a parent/guardian, in the School Journal.

Students will wait quietly before class and enter the room in an orderly manner. Books, copies and other required equipment should be ready for use in class. Homework must be completed on time and presented neatly. Classes must not be disturbed with unnecessary noise or activity. Students must participate in class discussion and answer questions civilly. Fixtures and fittings must not be damaged.

(ii) Uniform:

The full school uniform must be worn while students are in school, including during state examinations and on school outings, unless otherwise decided by the school authorities.

The school uniform consists of the following:

  • Tartan calf length kilt (of the designated design), or grey, straight leg, school pants (girls).
  • Green knee length socks (girls). A minimum of two pairs recommended.
  • Grey, straight leg, school pants for boys.
  • 2 Grey shirts.  (Polo neck t-shirts are not allowed).
  • Green jumper with school crest and red stripe at the neck and wrists.
  • Red school jacket.
  • Black or navy leather shoes (no steel tips, platforms or boots).
  • Headscarves / hat may only be worn for religious or medical reasons following consultation with the Principal.

Teachers will check every student is in school uniform. Any student out of uniform or wearing jewellery will incur a note in their Journal. Students out of uniform will be referred, at a suitable time, to the relevant Year Head by the teacher and will be required to wear a uniform supplied by the Year Head.


 (iii) Hygiene and Appearance:

Personal hygiene and the wearing of the school uniform in a presentable condition are signs of self-respect, personal maturity and respect for others.

  • Students may not dye, bleach or shave designs into their hair.
  • Hair must be kept clean, neat and tidy.
  • Students must be clean-shaven at all times.
  • Students may not wear earrings, jewellery, bands or badges (other than approved school badges).
  • Make – up is strictly forbidden.


(iv)  Respect, Manners and Courtesy:

Everyone is entitled to be shown respect. All members of the school community are expected to treat each other with kindness and thoughtfulness. This includes all occasions of student-teacher contact outside school hours. The use of improper and offensive language is forbidden.

Acquiring habits of good manners and courtesy is an important training for life. The school always values and expects politeness, courtesy, co-operation and respect for others and for their property. Students should always act respectfully to others. This should include the  appropriate way of addressing teachers or other adults and observe the normal courtesies in matters such as standing back, holding doors, putting your hand up before talking in class (unless otherwise directed) etc.


 (v) Anti-Social Behaviour:

The school reserves the right to take serious disciplinary action (up to and including, suspension or expulsion) for serious anti-social or dangerous behaviour, or behaviour detrimental to the good name and welfare of its teachers, staff, students and/or the school.


(vi) Property:

We are all entitled to a clean, litter-free environment. Such an environment makes life more pleasant for everyone. Every member of the school community is expected to play a part in achieving this by placing litter in the bins provided and by placing recyclable material in the recycling bins provided. Behaving correctly in this regard is also a demonstration of environmental awareness which is a key part of our learning.

Students are required to care for school buildings, furnishings and the property of others. The writing of graffiti and the chewing of gum are strictly prohibited. Damage to property must be reported immediately to the Principal or Deputy Principal and may have to be paid for.

Students are also encouraged to respect the property of others outside school and not to throw litter anywhere on the way to or from school.


(vii) School Journal:

(a) Students must take their Journal to class each day, keep it in a neat and tidy condition and use it to record exactly the homework/study set in each subject. (See the Homework Policy.)

(b) Students who do not have their journal must ask their Year Head for a temporary Journal.

(c) If a student loses his/her School Journal, or if the Year Head considers that the School Journal is in an unsatisfactory condition, s/he must purchase a new Journal (cost:€25).

(d) The misuse or destruction of a School Journal will be regarded as a serious breach of the school Code of Behaviour.

(e) It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the School Journal is checked and signed by his parent/guardian each week. First and Second Year students must get their journals signed for each school day to show that homework has been completed.

(f) A student is required to present his School Journal to teachers when requested. Failure to do so will be seen as a serious breach of the Code of Behaviour.

(g) All communications from home regarding absences, doctors’ appointments etc. must be included in the School Journal.


(viii) Absences from School.

St Fergal`s College is obliged under The Education Welfare Act 2000 to put in place a system of strategies and measures, which encourage regular school attendance. Therefore the College asks parents/guardians to work with the school in promoting an appreciation of learning among the students and in encouraging pupils to attend school regularly.

  • Absences and ‘lates’ must be accounted for by completing the relevant section in the school journal.
  • Parents/guardians are expected to inform the school of planned absences before they occur.
  • In the event of an unplanned absence contact should be made with the school at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Year Heads may contact parents/ guardians to confirm the reasons given for absences/ ‘lates’.

The school is also obliged to forward information in relation to absences to The National Educational Welfare Board and the local Education Welfare Officer.


(ix) Academic Honesty.

St Fergal`s College encourages students to believe in themselves and to act with integrity. Therefore, students are expected to submit work which is original and a product of their own endeavours.
(x)       Academic Effort.

During the school year, students are expected to fully and diligently engage with their school work. Activities such as extra-curricular activities, additional tuition after school, part time work, holidays, hobbies, socialising etc. must not be allowed interfere with homework and classwork (See the Homework Policy)


 (xi) Computer Honesty.

Students are expected to use computers and computer networks solely for the purposes of education and curricular research. Students must not interfere with or reconfigure any computer hardware or software without the permission of a teacher. To do otherwise is a serious breach of Code of Behaviour.

Any student using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the purpose of bullying a fellow student, insulting or defaming a teacher or any other member of staff associated with the school and/or bringing the school into disrepute in any fashion will be immediately and severely sanctioned under the Code of Behaviour. These are serious breaches of the Code of Behaviour.

The school’s ICT policy (Currently under review) forms part of this school’s Code of Behaviour and must be signed by all students and parents / guardians.


(xii) Health and Safety.

St. Fergal’s College aspires to create a safe environment for all members of the school community. The school has a detailed safety statement which is available from school authorities on request.

St. Fergal’s College through its Social, Personal and Health Education programme (SPHE) aims to create student awareness of the choices available to them with regards to their health and personal safety. SPHE encourages them to take responsibility for their own actions.

  • Bullying

Bullying behaviour is not tolerated in this school. (See Anti-Bullying Policy)

  • Substance Misuse

Under the 1995 Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Regulations and the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, 2002 (Section 47) Regulations 2003, smoking is illegal in all schools and enclosed places of work.

Smoking or the possession of cigarettes/tobacco in the school grounds and going to and from school is forbidden.

Students may not have any dangerous object or substance in their possession.

Students may not possess or partake of alcohol, prohibited substances or drugs in school, on the way to and from school, or on school outings.

In the interests of safety the school reserves the right to inspect lockers and school bags at any time.


(xiii)School Buses:

Students must travel directly to and from the College on their designated school bus unless required by Bus Eireann to change buses.

Breaches of these rules or misconduct on buses can result in temporary or permanent withdrawal of a student’s bus ticket by Bus Eireann and will be regarded as breach of the school Code of Behaviour.


 (xiv) Cars

Students do not have permission to drive or park cars on the school premises.


(xv) Mobile Phones and other electronic equipment:

Mobile phones, and other electronic equipment such as i-pods, must be turned off at all times on the school premises and grounds.

Where this regulation is breached, the electronic equipment will be confiscated until the end of the school year. Students/parents may be contacted, in case of emergency, through the school office at any time.

Any breach of the school rules will incur a note in the Journal and/or a further sanction at the discretion of the Year Head


System of Referral and Procedures.

Teachers may keep written records of breaches of discipline by students. Records of serious breaches of discipline are retained in the students’ files. Copies of letters sent to parents and records of phone calls and meetings with parents will be retained. A teacher will refer a student directly to the appropriate Year Head, Deputy Principal or Principal in the event of a serious breach of discipline. Such a breach will be recorded in an Incident Report and kept on file.

A serious breach of discipline may result in detention and, depending on the gravity and record of the student`s misbehaviour, suspension or expulsion.

Teachers do not remove a student from the classroom and leave him/her unsupervised outside the classroom. If immediate intervention is necessary, another student will be sent to the Deputy Principal or Principal with a message / note explaining the problem.

The following measures/sanctions may be used depending on the seriousness of the offence,

  • Reasoning with student,
  • Verbal warning,
  • Additional work or exercises.
  • Standing at the back of the classroom for short periods.
  • Separation from peers.
  • Lunch or after-school detention.
  • Note for Year Head in the student`s journal.  Four or more of these in a week will result in a Friday evening detention.
  • Note to parents in the students journal.
  • Reduced break,
  • Phone call to parents,
  • Referral to Year Head
  • Meeting with Parents/Guardians
  • Referral to Principal/Deputy Principal.


Role of the Year Head.

Year Heads have overall responsibility for the pastoral care and discipline for their respective year group. They will respond to the referral of a student in a manner which is proportionate to the breach of discipline and the student`s record of behaviour. In seeking to correct inappropriate behaviour a Year Head may use one, or some, of the following:

  • Seek class teacher reports.
  • Detention.
  • Place the student on “report”.
  • Meet with student at the beginning and/or end of each day to monitor progress.
  • Arrange a meeting with parents/guardians.
  • Refer to Guidance Councillor.
  • Refer to Deputy and\or Principal.
  • Refer, if applicable, to appropriate external agencies following consultation with Deputy and/or Principal.

The nature of the misbehaviour will dictate the measure(s) deployed.


 Detention is an effective means of sanctioning students who persistently breach the Code of Behaviour.

Lunchtime detention may be used by teachers and Year Heads for some breaches of the Code of Behaviour. It is supervised by the teacher setting the detention. Students who go home for lunch may have their detention deferred to facilitate them bringing in lunch.

After school detention on (Friday 1.15 pm -3.15pm) is supervised by a teacher/Year Head/Deputy Principal/Principal. This detention is used as a sanction for:

  • 4 notes for poor behaviour in a student`s journal over the course of a single week (Thursday to Wednesday).  A fifth or subsequent note in any week will carry forward to the next week.  Poor behaviour includes: misbehaviour in class, coming to class without books or homework, chewing gum, graffiti, improper uniform, wearing make-up etc.


  • An Incident Report written following the removal of a student from class for persistent disruption, or any other serious breach of the school Code of Behaviour.

A Student who is absent from detention without prior agreement with the Year Head may be suspended.  A letter will be sent home to inform parents. Three consecutive Friday afternoon detentions will also result in a suspension from school.


Policies and procedures for suspension and expulsion.

Suspension from school will be imposed where the Principal / Deputy is satisfied that this is warranted by serious offences such as bullying, theft, damage to persons or property, defiance of a teacher, or where a student has failed to respond to other forms of sanction for repeated misbehaviour. In many cases suspension is imposed for a limited number of days at the expiry of which the student may return to the College. In certain cases Parents may be required to meet the Principal/Deputy to determine the conditions under which the student may be permitted to return.

Students may be suspended for one or a combination of the following:

  • Persistent bullying behaviour
  • Challenging the authority of the teacher.
  • Leaving school without permission.
  • A physical or verbal assault of another person.
  • Coming to school in an altered state due to alcohol or drugs.
  • Consuming alcohol or taking drugs or other substances on the school grounds, school trips etc
  • Persistent breaches of school discipline where all other sanctions have been exhausted.

Students returning from suspension will be placed “on report” for a minimum of one week. Student and parent may be asked to sign a “Good Behaviour Contract” .



Where, following the procedures listed above there is no improvement in the behaviour of the student, or where there is a sufficiently serious single act or acts of misbehaviour, the Principal, or the Deputy Principal acting on behalf of the Principal may refer the case to the Board of Management and recommend exclusion/expulsion.

The Board may invite the student and his/her parents/guardians to a special meeting to discuss the matter.

Right of Appeal.

In cases of suspension or exclusion parents/guardians may appeal, in writing, to the Board of Management in the first instance and then to Mrs Anne O’Keeffe, CEO, Laois-Offaly Education and Training Board (ETB)

Following the appeal process the decision of the Board to expel a student along with the reasons for same will be forwarded to the Education Welfare Officer in writing. The expulsion shall not take effect before the passing of twenty school days following the receipt of this written notification by the Education Welfare Officer.