Minister Foley announces publication of Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD launches Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying. This landmark new Action Plan is dedicated to the prevention and addressing of bullying, cyber bullying, racism, gender identity bullying or sexual harassment, among other areas, in schools.
This Action Plan has been 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 has been 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.
Cineáltas builds on the achievements and ambition of the previous Action Plan on Bullying published in 2013, taking into account the work undertaken in recent years to ensure that our schools are safe and happy places for all our children and young people.
Some of the key actions form 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 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.
Minister Foley said: “Our schools are vibrant, innovative and most importantly inclusive places of learning, but for some children and young people bullying is an unacceptable reality.
“Cineáltas is practical, inclusive and contains a broad range of actions which 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. Our vision is to provide schools with the tools necessary to target and tackle cyber bullying, racism, gender identity bullying or sexual harassment, among other areas.
“The implementation of the actions in this Action Plan will greatly enhance the work that we already do to ensure that all the children and young people who attend our schools are kept safe from harm and that the wellbeing of our children and young people is at the forefront of everything that we do.
“I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all those who played a role in the consultation process and in particular those involved in the Steering Committee who have ensured that this plan incorporates each of the nine components of the UNESCO Whole Education Approach. I also want to thank the many, many children and young people who contributed so effectively to this consultation process, and whose voices have been heard in the development of this plan.”
Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying is rooted in the following four key principles:
Prevention: Through the generation of empathy and the provision of training which provides a foundation for knowledge, respect, equality and inclusion
Support: Tangible and targeted supports based on a continuum of needs which provide a framework for school communities to work together
Oversight: Visible leadership creates positive environments for children and young people and all members of our school community
Community: Building inclusive school communities that are connected to society, and that support and nurture positive relationships and partnerships
The development of Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying has been informed by an extensive consultation process.
- Over 50 presentations were made to the steering committee
- Over 4,600 responses were received to the public consultation questionnaire
- 78 submissions were received to the public request for submissions
- 41 school staff and board of management members participated in school focus groups
- 170 children and young people were consulted including children with special educational needs, Traveller and Roma children, children from Ukraine and refugees.
A copy of the Action Plan is available here on gov.ie/actionplanonbullying
Background on consultation process
Reports on the consultation process can be found on gov.ie/actionplanonbullying
- Report on the consultation with children and young people
- Report on focus group with school staff
- Report on public consultation written submissions
- Report on public consultation online survey
In April 2023, Minister for Education Norma Foley launched the Implementation Plan for Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying.
Four key areas of the implementation plan are:
- a €5 million pilot programme of counselling supports for primary school students
- the establishment of a Student Participation Unit
- the establishment of an expert group chaired by Professor Laura Lundy, Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights at Queen’s University
- the updating of the anti-bullying procedures for schools
Cineáltas is dedicated to the prevention and addressing of bullying, cyber bullying, racist bullying, gender identity bullying and sexual harassment, among other areas, in schools.
It is centred on a child right’s based approach and provides a collective vision and clear roadmap for how the whole education community and society can work together to prevent and address bullying in our schools.
The implementation plan for Cineáltas commits to implementing each of the 61 actions contained in Cineáltas within a five-year period and sets out timeframes and information about how the department is going to implement the actions.
An Implementation and Evaluation Group is being established to oversee implementation of the actions and the publication of annual implementation and evaluation reports, informed by feedback from children and young people, parents, school staff, education partners, key stakeholders and relevant agencies.
Minister Foley said:
“I am delighted to be launching the Implementation plan for Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying. I am keenly aware of the harm that experiencing bullying of any type can cause our children and young people and I am fully committed to implementing the actions in Cinéaltas through the implementation of this plan.
“I know that in delivering these 61 actions over the next five years, through collaboration and partnership, we will build on the work already done to prevent and address bullying and to promote equality, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.
“Cineáltas was developed as a result of an extensive consultation process last year and I want to reiterate my thanks to the Steering Committee and all members of our school community, including most importantly, our children and young people, for helping to shape this plan.
“The UNESCO whole-education approach, on which Cineáltas is based, requires us to look at bullying behaviour from a variety of angles; we need to focus on prevention, providing support to every school community, improving oversight and awareness at all levels and working together as a community with a renewed sense of partnership and Cineáltas towards each other.
“The vision for Cineáltas is aimed at helping us all to work together towards a diverse, inclusive Irish society, free from bullying in all its forms and where individual difference is valued, nurtured and celebrated and where all our children and young people can feel happy and safe in our schools.”
Implementation of the actions in Cineáltas has already started:
- the department has recently established a Student Participation Unit, which will promote the participation of children and young people in the development of department policy, building on its existing work in this area
- an expert group has been established to advise the department on how best the Student Participation Unit can progress its work. Professor Laura Lundy, Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights at Queen’s University who developed the Lundy Model of children’s participation will chair this expert group
- work to update the anti-bullying procedures for schools is well underway with continuous professional development and training being developed for all school staff, board of management members and parents
- €5 million is being invested to pilot a programme of counselling supports for primary school students. This will serve to support the very positive work which already takes place in the area of wellbeing in schools. The details of the programme are currently being finalised
A copy of the Implementation Plan is available on gov.ie/actionplanonbullying.