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Education | Addressing school bullying

To ask the Minister for Education to indicate the extent to which she continues to address the issue of school bullying; and if she will make a statement on the matter.


I launched Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying in December 2022. Cineáltas is my Department’s whole education approach to preventing and addressing bullying in schools.

Cineáltas is practical, inclusive and contains a broad range of actions which will help us all to work together towards a diverse, inclusive Irish society free from bullying in all its forms and where individual difference is valued and celebrated. It is rooted in four key principles prevention, support, oversight and community. There are 61 actions in Cineáltas which include a focus on creating an inclusive school culture and environment, provision of support for schools, training for all school staff including boards of management, research and awareness raising hoping to build strong relationships and partnerships between the whole school community, and aims to ensure that all forms of bullying including identity-based bullying are being addressed.  

Cineáltas was developed by the Department of Education in collaboration with a diverse and dedicated Steering Committee led by Dr Noel Purdy of Stranmillis University College in Belfast. Cineáltas is informed by the views of children and young people, parents, school staff, education partners and individual members of the public and succeeds in placing the students at the very heart of the plan.

The implementation of the actions in this Action Plan will greatly enhance and compliment the work that schools already do to ensure that all the children and young people are kept safe from harm and that the wellbeing of children and young people is at the forefront of everything we do.

Some of the key actions from the plan include:

  • Development of a national database to enable the publication of an annual national report on bullying in schools
  • Ensuring that student teachers and all school staff have the knowledge and skills to effectively prevent and address bullying
  • Development of a recognition process, such as a Cineáltas flag, for schools who engage in measures to prevent and address bullying
  • Piloting a programme of counselling supports for primary schools
  • Developing guidance for the establishment of a Student Support Team model in larger primary schools
  • Establishing a dedicated unit in the Department of Education to promote the voice of children and young people and to ensure that they have meaningful input into the development of Department policy
  • The progression of the Charter Bill and the development of Charter Guidelines that will strengthen the voice and participation of children and young people and their parents in the development and implementation of school policies
  • The Department of Education will continue to support the Stand Up Awareness Campaign
  • The Department of Education will review and update the Being LGBT in School Resource
  • The SPHE/RSE curriculum across primary and post primary schools will be reviewed and updated to ensure that it includes, in an age appropriate manner, the areas of consent; healthy positive, sexual expression and relationships; safe use of the internet and social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem; and LGBTQ+ identities.

An implementation plan for Cineáltas is currently being developed by my Department and an implementation and evaluation group will be established. 

My Department has established a Working Group to review and update the Anti-bullying procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools. The working group is comprised of representatives from each of the relevant management bodies and teacher and school staff unions, along with parent representatives, Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) and the National Anti-bullying Research Centre in DCU.

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