Weir announces new legislation to address bullying in schools
Education Minister, Peter Weir, has today announced that legislation to address bullying in schools will come into operation in Northern Ireland on 1 September 2021.
The Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (NI) 2016 will bring renewed focus for schools to this very important issue and deliver greater consistency and impact in the treatment of all forms of bullying.
Announcing the introduction of the new legislation, the Minister said:
“I am pleased to be able to finally bring this important piece of legislation, which was supported by all parties, into law.
“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.
“Schools must be welcoming places and therefore issues such as bullying must be dealt with to ensure that all young people enjoy their school days and make the most of their time there to ensure they reach their full potential.”
The legislation will provide a legal definition of bullying; introduce a requirement for schools to record all incidents of bullying; and require Boards of Governors to take direct responsibility for developing and monitoring the effectiveness of Anti-Bullying policy and practice within schools.
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.