Critical Incident Policies

Holy Trinity N.S. 2013 Holy Trinity N.S. 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 the Principal and teaching staff has drawn up a critical incident management plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans. This plan has been reviewed by stakeholders in January 2013. The policy was approved by board of management on January 29th 2013
Our aim is to establish a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to steer the development and implementation of the plan.

Definition of a Critical Incident: The staff and management of Holy Trinity consider a critical incident to be –

‘An incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school.’

Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community. For example:

  • 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

Aim of the Critical Incident Management Plan:
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. Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited. It should 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 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
Measures to address the physical safety of the school community include the following:

  • An Evacuation Plan has been formulated and is displayed in the entrance foyer. This plan is brought to the attention of all staff and students during the school year.
  • Fire drills are held at least once a term.
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly inspected.
  • Parents are informed of the arrangements for entry to and egress from school.
  • Rules of the playground and expectations of general pupil behaviour, as laid out in the school Behaviour Policy, encourage gentleness and positive relations and prohibit bullying in any form.

Psychological safety
The management and staff of Holy Trinity 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.

For example:

  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school. It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying and decision making. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision.
  • Staff have received training for the teaching of  SPHE.
  • Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures. The Designated Liaison Person (DLP) is James Tobin and the Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP) is Loretta Redmond.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the Designated Liaison Person (James Tobin), concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. Parents are informed and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy.
  • Staff members accept their role in the pastoral care of pupils and colleagues.

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 (in September) 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.

Preparation of CIMP (Critical Incident Management Plan)
A school Critical Incident Management Team has been put in place, with key responsibilities as follows:

Roles Members Key responsibilities • Team Leader & Garda liaison James Tobin • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting• Coordinates the tasks of the team • Liaises with the Board of Management; DES; NEPS; 

• Liaises with the bereaved family

• Liaises with the Gárdaí

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

 [In the absence of the Team Leader, James Tobin, this role will be taken by Loretta Redmond]

• Staff & Student liaison  Loretta Redmond • 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.

• 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

• Parent liaison  Brianóg Brady Dawson • 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 CI folder)

• Community / agency liaison Anita Morrissey  • 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

• Media liaison Caroline Walsh • 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 relevant teacher unions etc. • Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management)

• Administrator School Secretary  

(under the direction of the Team Leader)

• 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.

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

Parental Consent 
At the Junior Infant September meeting, the principal brings the critical incident policy to the attention of parents. Parents are asked to read the Consent Form and complete as they see fit . It is considered more appropriate to assume parents will wish to avail of the advice and support of NEPS for their child in school. Therefore parents who do not wish to avail of NEPS involvement with their child must sign the form and return. The school authorities assume parents who do not sign and return form are happy to have their child seen by NEPS psychologist

Confidentiality and good name considerations
The management and staff of Holy Trinity 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. 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’ will not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed. The term ‘violent death’ may be used instead.

Critical incident rooms
In the event of a critical incident, the following room allocation will be in place:

Staff Room   

Meetings with Staff

Sixth Class Room Mr O Brien’s Room ( seniors)

1st Class Room

Ms Delaney’s Room


Meetings with students

Assembly Room  


2nd Class room(Ms Doyle’s Room)  


SET Room 1  

Individual sessions with students

 SET Room 2  

Other visitors

Consultation and communication regarding the plan

All staff were consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Parent representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments.

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 school principal

The plan will be updated annually at the October Staff Meeting. The policy will be reviewed in September 2014.

This Critical Incidents Plan has been ratified by the Board of Management, Holy Trinity N.S.

Signed: _____________________________________        Date: __________

             Chairperson BOM

Critical Incident Policy

Policy Review December / January 2013.

Structure of School Improvement Plan

Main Strengths

  • Clear guidance
  • Consultation with NEPS
  • In the event of incident in which normal coping mechanisms of school can’t cope- this plan is clear and everyone knows their role.


  • References to staff need to be updated.
  • Reference to various rooms to be used should be updated.
  • Parent Consent form to be explained to new parents in junior infants each year: opt-in/opt-out.
  • Security at Front Door.


  • Reviewed existing policy during December 2012.
  • Gathered information at Staff meeting 9/1/13.
  • Consulted with Parent Association 14/1/13.
  • NEPS Psychologist: 16/1/13


  • Parental permission should be completed Sept on year beginning  school.
  • Parents should be made aware that there are protocols and procedures that are in place if the school is faced with a critical incident.
  • Redraft to be forwarded to parent association.
  • As a separate issue the security at front door will be brought to attention of BoM.


  •  Updates to personnel and school configuration were included.
  • Update to communication process.
  • Attention is drawn to parental consent form, which gives the school permission to involve NEPS personnel if considered appropriate.

Approval &Communication

  • Re Draft to be posted in staffroom until January 23rd for comment.
  • Redraft to be brought to board of management for approval Jan 29th.
  • Policy will be posted on school website and in school corridor
  • Notice will be sent to parents on next school newsletter drawing attention to the updated policy.
  • A hard copy will be available in school office for any member of school community.
  • Principal to update all staff at beginning of each school year.