Schools in Northern Ireland to implement Addressing Bullying Act
Education Minister, Peter Weir, has welcomed the signing of the Commencement Order in relation to the Addressing Bullying in Schools Act.
The Act will start on 1 September 2021 to allow schools some time to update their policies to align with necessary requirements. It will also enable schools to consult with parents/carers, pupils and staff if they have not already done so, as required by law.
Welcoming the commencement of the Act, the Minister said:
“The Addressing Bullying in Schools Act will bring renewed focus for schools to this very important issue and deliver greater consistency in the treatment of all forms of bullying.
“Bullying is a complex issue with no single, easy solution, however, we all have a part to play in creating a society and an education system in which bullying behaviour is always challenged and dealt with effectively, as soon as it rears its head.”
The Act provides a common definition of bullying; establishes a new duty for schools to record all incidents of bullying, their motivation and their outcome; and requires the school Boards of Governors (BoG) collectively to take responsibility for the development, implementation, monitoring and periodic review of the school’s anti-bullying policies and procedures.
The Department of Education undertook a public consultation on the new legislative proposals for addressing bullying in schools from 5 January to 27 February 2015, receiving 4,860 responses. Over 4,000 of these came directly from pupils and young people themselves, reflecting the importance of this issue for our education system.
Following progression through the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016 becoming the Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (NI) 2016.
The Commencement Order was signed on 20 April by a senior officer of the Department of Education.