Government focus on wellbeing promotion, prevention and early intervention
The Minister for Education & Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., today (20th of July) launched his Department’s Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice 2018-2023, fulfilling a key action in the Minister’s Action Plan for Education, which seeks to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.
Making the announcement today, Minister Bruton said, “This Policy will inject momentum into supporting schools to nurture resilience in our students. It recognises that Wellbeing is a whole of school responsibility with partnership roles for staff, parents, students and the wider community.”
The Policy clearly outlines what a school demonstrating best practice in this area looks like. Such a school will have strong policies and actions that ensure:
- Students experience a sense of belonging, connection and safety
- The voice of the student is heard
- There are a wide range of curricular activities which purposefully support Wellbeing
- Good protocols for students experiencing challenges to their wellbeing are in place with systems for directing students to external services when required
- There is regular self-evaluation to assess progress in wellbeing promotion and to identify areas for improvement.
Our National Support Services will step up the investment made in building capacity within schools to deliver:
- More training for teachers and school staff (including the Incredible Years programme, the Friends programme and the SafeTALK programme)
- Improved curriculum content (through the Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme, improved resources for teachers to deliver Relationships and Sexuality Education)
- Best practice models of school based student support teams
- Protocols for connecting to wider support services
- A national training programme to support schools to implement the Self-Evaluation Wellbeing Promotion process and the development of Wellbeing Resources, including self-evaluation planning and feedback templates.
The Minister also announced a Framework for practice today, which will be used to assess Irish practices in wellbeing promotion, compared to international best practice.
This Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice complements existing measures already in place to support work in this area – the introduction of the Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme, a nearly 20% increase in the number of NEPs psychologists (since 2012), the restoration of guidance posts and the recent rollout of suicide awareness for prevention, and critical incident management training for teachers.
Minister Bruton said, “I am keen during my time as Minister to make sure that we are doing all we can to support students, teachers and schools in the area of Wellbeing promotion. All schools and centres for education will have embedded a Self-Evaluation Wellbeing Promotion Process by 2023. This process will include an assessment of their current policies and practices and will map out targets for improvement, in line with best practice for school wellbeing promotion. Schools will be supported in this work by a national professional development programme for all schools and centres for education, currently being developed and trialled, and commencing in 2019.”
Minister Bruton acknowledged the considerable work already being undertaken by schools and centres for education to provide innovative approaches to wellbeing promotion, supported by strong leadership and quality teaching and learning. The Minister said, “By providing this Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice I believe that we can build on the excellent work that is happening in our education system already and realise our goal to achieve the best education and training system in Europe by 2026”.
Notes to Editor
Full Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice 2018-2023 can be accessed here: www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/wellbeing-policy-statement-and-framework-for-practice-2018–2023.pdf