Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (367)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

367. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if allegations of bullying have been investigated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7965/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Responsibility for dealing with bullying in schools is the responsibility of each individual school. School authorities and school personnel are required to adhere to the Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools in dealing with allegations and incidents of bullying. The procedures require all schools to formally adopt and implement an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the procedures. The school's anti-bullying policy must then be made available to school personnel, published on the school website (or where none exists, be otherwise readily accessible to parents and pupils on request) and provided to the Parents' Association (where one exists).

The Code of Behaviour sets out the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school. The Code of Behaviour must also set out any measures that the school may take when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards of behaviour and the procedures to be followed, including those relating to the investigation of any alleged breach of the code.

In accordance with the Anti-Bullying Procedures, where a parent/guardian is not satisfied that a school has dealt with a bullying case in accordance with the procedures the parent/guardian must be referred, as appropriate to the schools complaint procedures.

Under the Education Act 1998 the school Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. Accordingly, whereas my Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, it does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases. This Department's role is to clarify for parents/guardians and students how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. My Department does not comment on individual cases.

Where there is cause for complaint matters would normally be addressed by the parent(s) /guardian(s) to the individual teacher or school Principal as appropriate. If matters cannot be resolved at that level then a complaint can be addressed to the Chairperson of the school's Board of Management.

Where a person is of the view that a school's board of management has failed to investigate or adequately investigate their complaint, they should bring the matter to the attention of the Patron. In the event that, after raising its concerns with the school patron, a parent/guardian still considers that the matter has not been resolved, it is open to the parent/guardian to raise the matter with the Ombudsman for Children.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised by the Department of Education, provided the parent/guardian has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the administrative actions or non-actions of a school has, or, may have, adversely affected the child. The office can be contacted at: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1; tel. 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 865 6800 or email oco@oco.ie.

Information on Complaints procedures can be found on the Department’s website at: www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Complaints-Bullying-Child-Protection-Discrimination/.

Children First National Guidance and the Anti Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools provide that where serious instances of bullying are regarded as possibly abusive it may be necessary to make a referral to Tusla or An Garda Síochána as appropriate. Details on reporting to Tusla can be found at how-do-i-report-a-concern-about-a-child.