St. Coen’s N.S. aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and happy environment at all times. The Board of Management, through the principal, Lee Kavanagh has drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

Review and Research

The CIMT have consulted resource documents available to schools on and including:

  • Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resources for Schools (NEPS 201 6)
  • Well-Being in Primary Schools - Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion (DES, DOH, HSE 201 5)

Define what you mean by the term ‘critical incident’

The staff and management of St. Coen’s N.S. 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


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

  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular fire drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • Fire alarm is externally monitored and serviced regularly
  • School doors locked during class time
  • The School has a Behaviour Policy and are supervised in class and during breaks
  • Pupils leaving school early will only be released when an authorised adult arrives to accompany the child from the school. Such departures are recorded in the Sign Out book.

Psychological safety

The management and staff of St. Coen’s N.S 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 issues such 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 Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary school student are available
  • Information is provided on mental health in general.
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies – HSE, Wicklow Child and Family Agency, Pieta House (Wexford)
  • 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. See DES Circulars 0022/2010 (Primary).
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy. The school uses Abi anti bullying programme.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the designated staff member e.g. support teacher), concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support provided. Parents are informed, and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency. See R23, Responding to critical incidents, NEPS guidelines and Resource Materials for Schools.
  • Staff are informed about 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 Critical Incident Management Team are Lee Kavanagh, Lisa Callaghan, Colm McAdam, Claire Murphy, Suzanne McEvoy, Síle Keane and Grainne Kelly (SNA).

Team leader: (Lee Kavanagh, Principal)


  • 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; SEC
  • Liaises with the bereaved family
  • Liaises with the Gardaí
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared

Staff liaison: (Lisa Callaghan)


  • 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.

Student liaison: (Sile Keane)


  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately)
  • Maintains student contact records (R1).
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison: (Colm Mc Adam/ Suzanne McEvoy)


  • 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: (Clare Murphy)


  • 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)

Media liaison: (Mary Murphy)


  • 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)

Administrator: (Grainne O’Kelly)


  • 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 school’s system in advance and ready for adaptation
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and texts as directed by the principal
  • 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. Rosemarie Luddy, school secretary will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters as requested, photocopying materials, etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations:

Management and staff of St. Coen’s N.S. have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of public statements. Members of school staff will bear this in mind, and seek to ensure that students do so also, e.g. 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.

Critical Incident Rooms

In the event of a critical incident, the following rooms are designated for the indicated purposes

Room Name: Designated Purpose:
Staff Room Main room for meeting staff
Classrooms / Hall Meetings with students
Classroom or Principal’s Office Meetings with parents
Classroom or Principal’s Office Meetings with parents
Meetings with media
SEN Rooms Individual sessions with students
Principal’s Office or SEN 3 Meetings with other visitors

The plan will be updated annually in June.

Ratified by the Board of Management on: 17/05/2021.

Mary Murphy
Chairperson BOM
Date: 17/05/2021

Lee Kavanagh
Principal/Secretary BOM
Date: 17/05/2021

Critical Incident Management Team

Role: Name:
Team leader Lee Kavanagh
Garda liaison Lee Kavanagh
Staff liaison Lisa Callaghan
Student liaison Síle Keane
Community liaison Colm McAdam
Parent liaison Clare Murphy
Media liaison Mary Murphy
Administrator Grainne O’Kelly

Short term actions – Day 1

Task: Name:
Gather accurate information Team Leader
Who, what, when, where? Team Leader
Convene a CIMT meeting – specify time and place clearly Team Leader
Contact external agencies Team Leader
Arrange supervision for students Deputy Principal
Hold staff meeting All Staff
Agree schedule for the day CIMP
Inform students – (close friends and students with learning difficulties may need to be told separately) Class Teacher / SEN teacher
Compile a list of vulnerable students Team Leader / Deputy Principal
Prepare and agree media statement and deal with media Team Leader
Inform parents Team Leader
Hold end of day staff briefing Team Leader and Staff Liaison

Medium term actions - Day 2 and following days

Task: Name:
Convene a CIMT meeting to review the events of day 1 Team Leader
Meet external agencies Team Leader
Meet whole staff Team Leader / Staff Liaison
Arrange support for students, staff, parents Team Leader
Visit the injured Team Leader / Classroom Teacher / Staff Liaison
Liaise with bereaved family regarding funeral arrangements Team Leader
Agree on attendance and participation at funeral service Team Leader and Staff Liaison
Make decisions about school closure BOM

Follow-up – beyond 72 hours

Task: Name:
Monitor students for signs of continuing distress Class Teachers
Liaise with agencies regarding referrals Team Leader
Plan for return of bereaved student(s) Staff Liaison and Classroom Teacher
Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved family Staff Liaison and Classroom Teacher
Visit the injured Team Leader / Classroom Teacher / Staff Liaison
Decide on memorials and anniversaries BOM / Staff, Parents and Students
Review response to incident and amend plan Staff / BOM


Garda 0404 67107
Hospital 01 2825800
Fire Brigade 112 / 999
Local GPs 0404 31551, 0404 40847
HSE 01 2408787
Community Care Team
Child and Family Centre 087 1201393
Lucena Clinic 0404-25591
School Inspector (Edel Corcoran) 087 0510850
NEPS Psychologist (Christine Chapple) 076 1108404
Edel Corcoran (Inspector)
087 0510850
INTO / ASTI / TUI 01 8047700
Clergy 0404 61699, 0404 67196
State Exams Commission
Employee Assistance Service 1800 411 057