The Preventative Curriculum in Schools and Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) Centres recently conducted a report based on a questionnaire, exploring how schools and EOTAS centres deliver preventive education. They received 509 responses from schools and centres and 14,665 pupil responses.
The report revealed some positive findings. Most primary and post-primary pupils felt safe at school, with only 6% feeling otherwise. Students also knew who they could confide in if they had concerns about their wellbeing. Staff in schools and centres effectively supported student emotional well-being. However, some challenges were highlighted. Delays in accessing external support for pupils with anxiety, social interaction difficulties, and other issues were reported due to staff absences and inconsistent social services support.
The report expressed concern about the risks of social media, including cyberbullying and digital safeguarding incidents, negatively impacting student relationships.
The report also identified areas of improvement. Some schools and centres lacked sufficient education on Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), including topics like menstruation and consent. Menstrual wellbeing education was introduced late in primary school, limiting follow-up opportunities.
The report attributed these challenges to a lack of investment in the Emotional Health and Wellbeing (EMHW) framework and related materials by the Department of Education, resulting in limited teacher confidence and expertise. Despite these challenges, the report serves as a valuable resource for addressing them collectively. By prioritizing training, support systems, and timely implementation of preventive education, we can create safer and nurturing environments for our students to thrive.