Minister urged to train school staff tackle bullying

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The Ulster Teachers’ Union is urging the Education Minister John O’Dowd to ensure teachers have adequate training and support to deliver the recommendations of the Department of Education’s latest report into bullying among pupils.

“Sadly, bullying is a fact of life for some children, as this report has reiterated, and we welcome the fact that the Minister understands that schools alone cannot tackle the issue,” said Audrey Stewart, a field officer with the UTU and former principal of Olderfleet Primary.

“Communities raise children – not just parents or teachers – and the anti-bullying message must be central to school communities as well as those beyond the gates. That is our starting point in confronting bullying.”

The report made a number of recommendations in relation to teachers which DENI is currently considering.

“Further training was identified as a need by both teaching and non-teaching staff. This relates to a range of issues as teachers see it – the most common being how to identify and address different types of bullying. Some members would also see a need for specific training in areas like counselling and behaviour management,” said Mrs Stewart.

“We feel it is important that all teachers are trained and supported to recognise and manage bullying and that this training is regularly updated to take account of changing trends in bullying or the introduction of new interventions to address bullying.

“We welcome the fact that the report also recommends that DENI undertakes a training needs analysis of all staff with regard the bullying and that the content of Initial Teacher Education and Early Professional Development in this area is regularly reviewed and updated.

“We would urge both the Minister and the training providers, ie the Education and Library Boards, to take these recommendations on board – both for the benefit of the pupils, who have a right to be educated in a non-threatening environment, and the teachers who need to know that support is there should they have to intervene in bullying situations .”