Committee Publishes Report on the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 10 February 2016

Reference: EDUC 03/15/16

The Committee for Education has published its Report on the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill.

The Bill, which seeks to define bullying, also places duties on Boards of Governors of grant-aided schools to devise and implement measures to prevent bullying and to keep records of incidents of bullying. 

Speaking after the publication of the Report, Committee Chairperson Peter Weir, MLA said: “While the Committee is broadly in favour of the principles of the Bill, our report recommends a number of amendments which we feel will help to inform and strengthen school policy in respect of bullying and make the final bill more effective. 

“In developing the report, we heard from a number of school principals and teachers who greatly impressed us with the subtlety, skill and dedication that they bring to resolving issues of bullying.  However, we must assume that good practice does not always happen everywhere and therefore there is a need to set down in law some basic approaches to countering bullying in schools.” 

Mr Weir continued: “We are concerned that while the Bill does require schools to consult with pupils and parents on their anti-bullying policies, it does not set out a timescale for discussion and review. We believe that in order for schools to ensure that their anti-bullying policies remain effective and fit for purpose, a full consultation with pupils and their parents should occur at least once every four years.” 

Mr Weir concluded: “The most important voice in all of this; the voice that is sometimes lost; is of course the voice of the child. For that reason we organised focus groups to allow children and young people to have their say.  One of the pervading themes to come out of these groups is the growing incidence of cyberbullying and the inherent difficulties in recognising and tackling this issue. We are therefore recommending that a new power that will allow Boards of Governors to consider measures to tackle cyberbullying is included in the final Bill.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

Read the "Report on the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill".

Education Committee Membership:

Chairperson: Peter Weir MLA

Deputy Chairperson: Sandra Overend MLA

Jonathan Craig MLA
Chris Hazzard MLA
Dolores Kelly MLA
Danny Kennedy MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Nelson McCausland MLA
Maeve McLaughlin MLA
Robin Newton MLA
Pat Sheehan MLA 

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