Schools to get 'safe rooms' for pupils who feel anxious
Safe rooms where children can go if they feel anxious or distressed are to be encouraged as part of a new wellbeing programme for schools.
Education Minister Richard Bruton will today launch a policy document that sets out a series of ways that teachers can help young people cope with the pressures of modern life.
Among the ideas are the establishment of a 'one good adult' system, where children will be allocated one member of staff with whom they can talk privately about school or family.
Mr Bruton said the 'Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice 2018-2023' would help "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 50-page document says schools that engage in best practice should have strong policies and actions that ensure:
Students experience a sense of belonging, connection and safety;
The voice of the student is heard;
A wide range of curricular activities that purposefully supports 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.
The physical environment is identified as one area where schools should make modifications.
The framework paper suggests the addition of a 'safe' room/space "for distressed/anxious students".
Other ideas include sensory room/sensory gardens and a room for individuals or small groups that require targeted intervention and support.
A 'buddy bench' is also proposed as part of a befriending system for children and young people who require support to interact with peers.
There is also a number of actions listed to help school staff, including a mentoring system so experienced teachers can offer practical and social support to newly qualified staff.
Mr Bruton said the national support services were set to step up investment in schools to allow for more training for teachers and improved curriculum content in the area of wellbeing.
"All schools and centres for education will have embedded a self-evaluation wellbeing promotion process by 2023," he said.
"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."