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Consultation launched to tackle bullying in our schools

Education Minister John O’Dowd has today launched a consultation on addressing bullying in schools.

Speaking today the Minister said: “All schools are currently required to record bullying incidents and provide annual returns to my department on the total number of suspensions and expulsions as a result of bullying behaviour.

“However, the specific details of the motivation behind the incident and the outcome are not currently provided to my department.

“The absence of an agreed definition of bullying can lead to confusion as to what constitutes bullying and can lead to inconsistent approaches in how schools handle reported incidents.”

Proposals contained in the consultation documents include that a common definition of bullying is outlined in legislation; that all grant aided schools must centrally record all incidents of bullying to include motivating factors and actions taken by the school; and that Boards of Governors must designate at least one governor to take responsibility for the school’s anti-bullying practices and procedures.

Continuing the Minister said: “These proposed changes will provide insight into the overall scale of the problem, identify emerging trends in bullying and allow for evidence-based policy changes. It will also be of significant benefit to the pastoral care teams inside all schools in tailoring their anti-bullying policies and practices.”

In conclusion the Minister encouraged all with an interest to respond within the consultation period. He said: “Bullying takes many forms and how it is carried out is changing with advancements in technology. We need to take action now to eradicate bullying behaviour in our schools and I urge everyone with an interest to respond to the proposed changes and let your voice be heard.”

The consultation will run for eight weeks ending on 27 February 2015 and can be accessed on the Department’s website at: http://www.deni.gov.uk/addressing-bullying-in-schools

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