Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

School Bullying and the Impact on Mental Health: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Aodhán Ó RíordáinAodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin Bay North, Labour)
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I confirm that I am in Leinster House and thank the witnesses for their presentations.

Following on from Deputy Ó Laoghaire's questions about data, I am not utterly convinced that those two fora for collecting the data are going to help us in the long term. The whole-school evaluation only happens every five or six years as I understand it. It is not a regular interaction with schools and, as Ms Keating has described it, it is a mechanism for evaluating policies and procedures. What has been suggested to us by contributors at other meetings is that we do not have data on the age at which bullying starts, whether there is a gender or aggression dynamic, whether physical bullying is more prevalent than isolation-type bullying, whether there is a racial or sexual orientation element or whether it is more prevalent at second level than at primary level. It is not just about how schools are dealing with bullying but also what it is. We need to collect data to find out what bullying in our schools looks like. I ask Ms Keating to speak to that aspect of data collection, as opposed to trying to find out how schools are dealing with bullying by way of their policies and procedures.

My second question is one that was asked previously at this committee. I am interested in the under-representation of minority groups among the teaching body. We do not have a teaching body that is representative of the student body.

How can we find the mechanism to tackle that and ensure we do not have a homogenous teaching profession? I raise that because it is much easier to tackle issues of sexual orientation or racial diversity in the student body if we have a staff body which is reflective of that.