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St Vincent De Paul Infant School, Marino, Dublin 9

Critical Incident Policy

Introduction & Rationale

St Vincent de Paul Infant School aims to protect the well-being of its students by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times. Our mission is to create a human environment which is conducive to the personal development of all concerned and to their fruitful interaction.


We have taken a number of measures to create a coping, supportive

and caring ethos in the school. The school has formulated a number of policies and

procedures to be followed, with a view to ensuring the physical and psychological

safety of staff and students, both in ordinary time and in the event of a critical



What is a Critical Incident?

In line with the National Educational Psychological Services [NEPS] publication

“Responding to Critical Incidents in Schools”, St Vincent de Paul Infant School recognises a critical incident to be:


“An incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping

mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school”.


Critical incidents may involve one or more pupils, staff, the school or the local

community. Types of incidents might include:

  • The death of a member of the school community through sudden death,

accident, terminal illness or suicide;

  • An intrusion into the school;
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider school community;
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism etc.
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community;
  • An accident involving members of the school community.




Our hope is that, in the event of an incident, this policy will help staff to react quickly and effectively and to maintain a sense of control. It should also help us to achieve a return to normality as soon as possible and ensure that the effects on the students and the staff will be limited.


Ethos – Assisted by support structures


We have put systems in place to lessen the probability of the occurrence of any

incident. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological

safety of pupils and staff alike.


Physical safety:


o   Adherence to the Health and safety policy

o   Evacuation plan formulated with Fire Drills each term

o   Fire exits & extinguishers are regularly checked

o   School exit doors locked during class time

o   Adherence to Code of Behaviour


Psychological safety

St Vincent de Paul Infant School aims to continue to create an open and encouraging environment in the school, where pupils can, talk about their difficulties and seek help for same.


  • Our SPHE Programme addresses issues such as communication skills, conflict resolution, problem-solving, help-seeking and decision making.
  • Our Code of Behaviour in conjunction with our SPHE programme develops strategies for dealing with bullying.
  • Our staff when informed by parents of difficulties affecting individual students are therefore aware and vigilant to their needs.
  • Rainbows Programme operates in the school.


Critical Incident Management Team [CIMT]

St. Vincent de Paul Infant School has set up a CIMT in line with the best practice and will maintain this team in future. The members of the team will meet once a year to review and update the plan.

The members of the CIMT are:

  • Principal and Deputy Principal
  • Health and Safety Rep – Catherine Kennedy
  • A representative from the Parent’s Association
  • A representative from the Board of Management
  • School secretary
  • School caretaker

Critical Incident Rooms:

In the event of a critical incident, the hall will be the main room used to meet staff, students, parents and visitors involved. Where the School Hall is not available then Scoil Mhuire Hall will be used for such meetings.

Contact numbers/Emergency information:

The Principal has responsibility for maintaining an up to date list of contact numbers for students and their parent(s)/guardian(s). The parents have a responsibility to promptly inform the school of changes to contact information. The Principal has responsibility for maintaining an up to date list of contact numbers for staff. The health and safety rep has responsibility for ensuring that a list of contact numbers for the emergency support services is displayed in the staffroom and the office.

Evacuation Procedures:

The Fire Safety Officer has responsibility for ensuring that the evacuation procedures are displayed near the door of every classroom. The evacuation procedures (fire drill) are practised at least once a year.

Training and staff development:

The school will provide opportunities for staff and BOM members to attend information/training meetings on issues such as suicide, grieving and first aid.


Visitors, including parents, must report to the office, identify themselves and state their business in the school. Visitors will not be allowed beyond the office except at the invitation of a member of staff.  Visitors organized by Senior School but working downstairs to introduce/identify themselves to Infant School secretary/staff member.

The Media:


A critical incident may on occasion necessitate dealing with the media. Only the Principal, Deputy Principal or Chairperson of the Board of Management will communicate with the media.

Members of the media must report to the reception office, identify themselves and state their business in the school. Members of the media will not be allowed beyond the reception office except at the invitation of the Principal or Deputy Principal. The media will not be allowed to interview or photograph pupils on the school premises.

As necessary, the principal and deputy principal will prepare a brief media statement to include the following;

  • Expressing sympathy for the affected /bereaved family.
  • Positive information or comments about the deceased/ injured parties.
  • The facts about the situation (following consultation with legal team and the affected/bereaved families.)
  • What has been done
  • What’s going to be done


Some of the following procedures may be considered in the event of a critical incident:

Short-term actions (1st day)

  • Ensure the safety of students, staff and visitors
  • Convene a meeting of the CIMT and delegate responsibilities
  • Gather accurate information (incident report form)
  • Identify high-risk students
  • Contact appropriate agencies and organize support
  • Contact the DES, the BOM, NEPS, and the PA
  • Arrange the supervision of students
  • Inform parents and students where appropriate
  • Make contact with affected/bereaved family
  • Organize reunion of students with their parents
  • Respond to media (principal and deputy principal only)
  • Arrange a visit to affected/bereaved family
  • Report to HEALTH AND Safety Authority, if necessary

As far as possible maintain normal school routine

Medium Term Actions (24-72 hours)

  • Convene a meeting of the CIMT to review the events of the first 24 hours and to delegate responsibilities
  • Arrange support for students, staff and parents
  • Update staff and students
  • Update the DES, the BOM, the PA and the relevant external agencies
  • Update the media (principal and deputy principal only)
  • Liaise with the family and clarify the school’s involvement in funeral/memorial services
  • Plan visits to the injured
  • Plan for the reintegration of students and staff
  • Assess the roles of the BOM and the PA
  • Plan the restoration of the normal school routine
  • Consider the legal and financial consequences

Long-term actions:

  • Monitor students and staff for signs of continuing distress
  • Plan for anniversaries and memorials
  • Evaluate the school’s response to the critical incident and amend the Critical Incident Policy appropriately
  • Evaluate the effect on student/teacher relationships
  • Ensure that new staff are aware of the CIP  and are informed of which staff/students were affected by any recent incident
  • Ensure that a report is sent to new school when the student is transferring
  • Evaluate the legal and financial consequences
  • Report to the BOM, the PA and the DES
  • Offer access to the Rainbows Programme

Monitoring, review and evaluation:

The CIP committee will review the policy every 3 years or before the formation of a new BOM. Ongoing review and evaluation will take cognizance of changing information, legislation, developments in the school-based programme and feedback from parents/guardians, teachers and students. The policy will be revised as necessary in the light of such review and evaluation and within the framework of school planning.