The Deputy may be aware that an Anti-Bullying Forum was held on Thursday 17th May bringing together a range of experts, support groups and representatives of the schools sector including parents and students.
I was very pleased to open this important Forum and to provide an opportunity to explore with all the relevant stakeholders how best to tackle bullying in schools and to consider what changes or updating of existing practices and procedures are required to achieve this having regard to what is feasible to implement in the current financial climate.
The range of speakers on the day of the Forum included contributions from my Department, Professor Mona O'Moore of the Anti-Bullying Centre, Trinity College, representatives of the National Anti-Bullying Coalition (NABC), and contributors from the school sector from the various perspectives of school principal, parent and pupil. The Forum also gave other stakeholders an opportunity to give their views.
The proceedings of the Forum were broadcast live over the internet and recordings of the day's events can be now viewed by accessing the Anti-Bullying Forum webpage of my Department's website www.education.ie. The presentations of the various speakers can also be viewed and downloaded from this page.
As a follow on to holding the Forum itself, I invited the stakeholders and any other interested parties, including those unable to attend the event on the day, to submit their views on this important topic to my Department by 29th June 2012. I understand that the individual concerned has made a submission as have many other interested parties. The Deputy will be aware that Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is a mandatory part of the curriculum in primary schools and in junior cycle since 2003. SPHE provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the child and to help him/her to create and maintain supportive relationships and become an active and responsible citizen in society. SPHE aims to foster self-worth and self-confidence and places a particular emphasis on developing a sense of personal responsibility for one's own behaviour and actions. The Deputy will also be aware that I recently established a working group to address the issue of tackling bullying in schools. During the course of its work, the working group will be considering the outcomes from the Forum together with the submissions from stakeholders and other interested parties. This includes the submission received from the individual referred to by the Deputy.