Teachers from across Northern Ireland will come together tomorrow (Wednesday, November 8) to learn new strategies from Canada to tackle bullying in schools.
They will be taking part in a British Council workshop ahead of Anti Bullying Week (November 13-17) and will hear from Christine Mahood from Gilnahirk Primary School and Moe Emerson from Down High School, who have both recently returned from an International Study Visit to Alberta, Canada, supported by the Department of Education.
The focus of the workshop will be to learn more about the strategies and principles being adopted in schools there, while also learning about new legislation around the Addressing Bullying in Schools (NI) Act 2016 and the guidance which is currently being developed by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum.
Speaking ahead of the workshop was Moe Emerson, Head of Down High’s Junior School.
She said: “The British Council visit to Alberta, Canada was an amazing experience and gave me fresh ideas on how to cope with bullying in our school. Saying that, Down High is no different to any other school in Northern Ireland and any school that says they don’t have problems with bullying is in denial.
“What we found when we went to Alberta, was that there is a massive difference in their education system compared to ours. They embed good mental health into the curriculum and start at a very grassroots level.
“They had a strong amount of empathy and the pupils had an amazing awareness, knowing when they needed help, and how to articulate that. I think children here are under a lot more pressure and everything is more academic. Teachers in Canada were appalled with our selection process and their pupils are given credit for everything they do – whether it’s hair, beauty or science.
“It’s taken Alberta 20 years to get to where they are now and we can learn a lot from them. It’s not better than our education system, it’s just different – and it’s just important for us to remember to empower the teachers as well as the pupils.”
The school usually holds an assembly for anti-bullying week, but this year, they’re turning it into a week-long event.
About this Moe said: “This year we’re going to have a bigger focus and have a range of activities planned – and are aiming to build mindfulness in our curriculum. We’re at the point of a new school development plan and with this being Year 1, there’s a big emphasis on anti-bullying.
“As part of this, we’re going to introduce Childnet Digital Leaders, a programme which aims to empower pupils to champion digital citizenship and digital creativity within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online.
Moe concluded; “In Northern Ireland, schools don’t work closely together, I see this workshop as an opportunity to meet with other, share experiences and hear about good practice in action.”
Speaking about the importance of International Study Visits, Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director at British Council Northern Ireland said: “International Study Visits aim to inspire new approaches to teaching across the curriculum. It’s great for teachers from Northern Ireland to learn from colleagues and peers in another country and to develop new insights and understanding but equally important for our teachers to be able to share their own experiences and expertise internationally.
“Visits like this are extremely important for actively raising the awareness among teachers about the importance of sharing ideas and information on a global scale and tomorrow’s workshop will enable learning on this important topic to be disseminated to a wider audience.”
For more information on British Council Study Visits or more information on the international opportunities they provide, visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org , Follow @BCouncil_NI on Twitter or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland.