The student bullying of teachers in Irish second level schools: exploring the influence of historical low state intervention in education on the development of contemporary policy responses in Ireland
Rea Garrett, Lynda
University College Cork
The student bullying of teachers (SBT) is a distinct and complex form of bullying with a multiplicity of diverse, changeable and intersecting causes which is experienced by and affects teachers in a variety of ways. SBT is both a national and an international phenomenon which is under-recognised in academic, societal and political spheres, resulting in limited conceptual understanding and awareness of the issue. This study explores teachers’ experiences of SBT behaviours in Irish second level schools as well as teachers’ perceptions regarding training, policies and supports in Ireland to address the issue. Specifically, the study seeks to explore the influence of historical low State intervention in education on contemporary policies and supports to deal with SBT in Ireland. A mixed methods approach involving a survey of 531 second level school teachers and 17 semi-structured interviews with teachers, Year Heads and representatives from teacher trade unions and school management bodies was employed to collect and analyse data. Findings indicate that SBT behaviours are prevalent in many forms in Irish second level schools. The hidden nature of the phenomenon has simultaneously contributed to and is reinforced by limited understanding of the issue as well as teachers’ reluctance to disclose their experiences. Findings reveal that teachers perceive the contemporary policies, training and support structures in Ireland to be inadequate in equipping them to effectively deal with SBT. State intervention in addressing SBT behaviours to date, has been limited, therefore many teachers are forced to respond to the issue based on their own initiatives and assumptions rather than from an informed critically reflective approach, supported by national guidelines and sufficient State investment. This has resulted in a piecemeal, un-coordinated and ad-hoc approach to SBT in Irish schools both in terms of teachers’ management of SBT behaviours and with respect to the supports extended to staff. The potential negative consequences of SBT behaviours on teachers’ wellbeing and professional performance and thus, on the education system itself, underlines the need for a strategic, evidence-based, resourced and integrated approach which includes, as a pivotal component, consultation with teachers, whose contribution to the process is crucial.
Bullying , Teachers , School violence , Low state intervention , Irish education policy
Rea Garrett, L. 2015. The student bullying of teachers in Irish second level schools: exploring the influence of historical low state intervention in education on the development of contemporary policy responses in Ireland. DSocSc Thesis, University College Cork.