18 December, 2018 - Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, TD, and Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, launch 2018 schools Wellbeing and Lifeskills survey

The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, and the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, today, 18 December 2018, launched the fourth schools’ Lifeskills survey.

This survey, which is conducted every three years, provides data on a number of important lifeskills-related issues within primary and post-primary schools. It has been renamed the Wellbeing and Lifeskills Survey to reflect the increased focus on student wellbeing.

The survey includes questions on physical activity, healthy eating, aspects of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), as well as anti-bullying, and substance use. The data from schools on these important topics will help the Department support schools as they embark on the development of a wellbeing promotion process.

Some key findings from the 2015 survey include that 92% of primary schools have healthy eating policies in place and that 94% of primary schools are allocating at least one hour per week to physical activity and 82% report participating in physical activity or sporting competitions outside of school time.

At post-primary level the significant work being undertaken in the area of wellbeing was evident with 93% of schools reporting that they have or are currently developing a substance misuse policy, teach road safety and help their students to identify risks and give guidelines on how to maintain personal safety. Some 99% of post-primary schools have an anti-bullying policy.

The survey for 2018 has been streamlined and made more user friendly, while ensuring that the data will be comparable to the key data trends from previous surveys.

In launching the survey, Minister McHugh said: “I would encourage all primary and post-primary principals to complete this survey. This survey provides valuable evidence about the very important work that our schools are doing in a range of areas to promote students’ overall wellbeing. I would like to commend schools for all of their efforts in this regard. The findings from the survey will help inform priorities and policies and promote wellbeing in our schools”.

The Minister thanked the Department of Health for its continued support in the promotion of healthy lifestyles for young people. In order to encourage schools to participate in the survey the Department of Health has kindly sponsored eight prizes of vouchers for PE equipment to schools to the value of €250 each. All schools that complete the survey will be entered in the draw and four primary and four post-primary schools will receive the vouchers.

Minister Byrne said: “The education sector is a vital element in Healthy Ireland, our national framework for improving the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Ireland. My Department and the HSE have therefore been delighted to work with the Department of Education and Skills and its agencies in contributing to health and wellbeing improvements in schools. In this context, I'd like to join with Minister McHugh in welcoming the launch of the Wellbeing and Lifeskills Survey and also to thank schools for their ongoing work in this area. I'd also like to encourage schools to take part in completing the survey as fully as possible; it gives us valuable information in terms of making further improvements in future.”

The 2018 survey also includes questions on the links between primary schools and early years’ settings, schools’ engagement with Education for Sustainable Development, and their links with local enterprise.

The Wellbeing and Lifeskills survey is completed online by the school principal. All schools will receive an email advising them how to access the survey.

The deadline for completion of the 2018 survey is Thursday 31 January 2019.