Schools are facing huge challenges in the area of Emotional Wellbeing

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny will hear firsthand how school principals and staff hope to work towards promoting a positive culture in Irish schools, whereby all children and students feel safe to express their anxieties, feelings and emotions. He will be in attendance at a National Emotional Wellbeing Symposium, titled Emotional Wellbeing – at the heart of school communities, organised by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and the National Association of Principals and Deputies (NAPD) that will take place on Wednesday, 4th November 2015 in Citywest Hotel, Dublin.
Since 2008, IPPN member consultation surveys have been highlighting increasing levels of child emotional ill-health, encompassing issues such as depression, neglect, obesity, bullying, anxiety and both physical and sexual abuse.
There has been a four-fold increase in the number of school principals who believe that children who are experiencing emotional well-being issues is one of the greatest child welfare challenges facing schools in the present day. 
Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide and self-harm in Europe and research shows that principals feel “insufficiently trained” or “not trained at all” to identify and effectively address the emotional wellbeing of students. 
Maria Doyle, IPPN President stated, “This symposium is all about formulating a different approach to developing a positive culture in our schools. It takes a community to rear a child. We live in a relational world and we are educating our children to live in that world. Emotional Wellbeing is a societal issue. It is not just about the wellbeing of students, it is about the wellbeing of staff and everyone in the school community. We hope to challenge current thinking on how emotional issues are handled in the education sector and raise awareness on the importance of primary and post-primary schools putting the emotional wellbeing of both pupils and staff at the top of the agenda”.
Pat Goff, Assistant CEO of IPPN added, “Without intervention, emotional and behavioural problems in young people may be less amenable to intervention after eight years of age. This will inevitably lead to a drop in academic performance, possible anti-social behaviour and potential school drop-out in later years. That is why we believe a whole-school approach to the problem is in the best interests of all.”
This symposium is a start but in order for a focus to be kept on emotional wellbeing within our school communities, IPPN and NAPD are calling for a National Forum to be established to build on the work that is already happening in this area. It is to be hoped that as a result, a National Strategy for Emotional Wellbeing will be developed. 
The symposium is open to all principals, teachers and chairpersons of Boards of Management of primary and post-primary schools, as well as education agencies and representatives of teacher training colleges and third level institutions.
Further information:
Full event details, speakers, etc can be found here
The event hashtag on social media is #LetsTalkWellbeing

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