Critical Incident Policy

CRITICAL INCIDENT POLICY proposal November 2012

Note The principal has drawn up a proposal for critical incident management plan as part of the school’s policies and plans .


Holy Family National School aims to provide a secure caring and creative learning environment for all its students. The Board of Management, through the principal has drawn up a critical incident management plan as part of the school’s policies and plans.
The aim of the school is to establish a Critical Incident Management Policy(CIMP)

Review and Research
The Principal consulted the resource documents below in devising the policy.

These include:
Responding to Critical Incidents; Guidelines for Schools (NEPS 2007)

Definition of a ‘critical incident’

The staff and management of Holy Family  National school recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school”.
Critical incidents may involve one or more students or 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
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider community
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community
  • Disruption to the normal running of any classroom because of unacceptably violent or aggressive behavior of a pupil ,parent or guardian, or a member of the wider community which causes a health and safety risk to the teacher or pupils in that classroom.

The aim of the CIMP is 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 and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff to enable the school 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 in place to help to build resilience in both 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 – Refer to the Health & Safety policy

• Evacuation plan formulated and displayed in all classrooms

• Regular fire drills occur once per term

• Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked

• Pre-opening supervision in the school yard by a teacher and a SNA.

• Rules of the playground are contained in the school code of behaviour

Tours and outings –teachers will carry mobile phone on tours and outings.Text a parents is also in operation to notify all parents if the need arises.


Psychological safety

The management and staff of Holy Family National school 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 dealing with

loss (as required); communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. • Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE as needed e.g. Walk Tall, Anti-bullying, RSE and child protection seminar for the DLP and Deputy DLP.

• Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures.

 • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies – HSE, NEPS, local Priest, local Gardaí,

• Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of

criteria about student safety, the appropriateness of the content, and the expertise

of the providers.

• The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance

with this policy


The key roles which need to be covered are as follows:

• Team Leader

• Garda liaison

• Staff liaison.

• Student liaison

• Parent liaison

• Community liaison

• Media liaison

• Administrator

Outlined below are some points on the key responsibilities of each role.

Team leader

• Alerts the staff members to the crisis and convenes a meeting

• Coordinates the tasks of the team

• Liaises with the Board of Management; DES; NEPS; SEC

• Liaises with the bereaved/  family

It is important to consider who will take the lead in the absence of the team leader.

Garda liaison

• Liaises with the Gardaí

• Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared

Staff liaison

• Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day

• Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students

• Provides materials for staff (from their critical incident folder)

• Keeps staff updated as the day progresses

• Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually

• Advises them of the availability of the EAS and gives them the contact number.

Media liaison

• In advance of an incident, will consider issues that may arise and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc)

• In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the SEC; relevant teacher unions etc.

• Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management)

Student liaison

• At post-primary level, may co-ordinate information from tutors and year heads about students they are concerned about

• Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately)

• Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)

• Keeps records of students seen by external agency staff

• Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison

• Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of

– Key parents, such as members of the Parents Council

– Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources

• Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral

• Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support

• Coordinates the involvement of these agencies

• Reminds agency staff to wear name badges

• Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies

Parent liaison

• Visits the bereaved family with the team leader

• Arranges parent meetings, if held

• May facilitate such meetings, and manage ‘questions and answers’

• Manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy

• Ensures that sample letters are typed up, on the school’s system and ready for adaptation

• Sets up room for meetings with parents

• Maintains a record of parents seen

• Meets with individual parents

• Provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder)

Administrator ( School secretary )

• Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of

– Parents or guardians

– Teachers

– Emergency services

• Takes telephone calls and notes those that need to be responded to

• Ensures that templates are on the schools system in advance and ready for adaptation

• Prepares and sends out letters, emails and faxes

• Photocopies materials needed

• Maintains records 

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, material used etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations

The management and staff of Holy Family National school have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name 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 students do so also.

Critical incident rooms

In the event of a critical incident,
The Principal’s office  will be the main room used to meet the staff ,parents and any other visitors

School GP room for meetings with students
Principal’s office/GP room for media

Consultation and communication regarding the plan

All staff must be consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Parent representatives must also be consulted and asked for their comments. The school’s final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents will be  presented to all staff.

The plan will be updated annually .