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Almost one-third of students feel they don't belong at school, says new report

The report comes as Minster for Education Norma Foley today announced new anti-bullying measures for schools.

APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF post-primary students feel that they don’t belong in school, or feel that they can’t express themselves, a new report has found. 

The report, published this morning by the Department of Education Inspectorate, found that one in ten primary and special school students felt similar sentiments.

A total of 2,346 children and young people shared their views and experiences in the report.

Following the launch of the report, which is the first in a series of five annual reports, Minister for Education Norma Foley announced the launch of a new anti-bullying initiative in schools.

Speaking at the launch this morning, Foley said that the new procedures will provide for a national database on which bullying incidents will be recorded and will form an annual national report.

This information will not identify students or schools.

When asked whether bullying over social media will be recorded in the database, Foley said: “To be fair to our schools, what happens outside of school happens outside of school.”

She said that if issues outside of school were brought into the classroom or into the school environment, then it would be an issue for the school to deal with.

“We must recognise that technology can be a tool used to cause hurt and pain,” she said, adding that though it may have positive uses, there was a need to “armour” against the negative impacts.

Foley said that from having worked in education for many years, she knows that parents’ greatest hopes are for their child to “thrive” – “but I also know that their greatest fear is that their child might be a victim of bullying in school.”

She encouraged children facing bullying in schools to share what they’re experiencing.

“It lessens the burden,” she said. “But also I want to acknowledge that for too long, I feel we have not been open enough about this issue within schools.”

The database is one of several procedures that will be brought in under the new Bí Cineálta procedures to prevent and address bullying behaviour for schools.

It also provides for schools checking back with students who have been subject to bullying and their parents after 20 school days to see if the behaviour has stopped, and a verbal bullying behaviour update report by the school principal at every Board of Management meeting. This would include the number of incidents of bullying and what measures were taken in response. 

The measures will be implemented in the coming school year.

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