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Ombudsman for Children: A safe school environment should be every school’s priority

In his address at the start of the school year, Ombudsman for Children Indrek Teder urged school principals to pay attention to the importance of a safe and bullying-free school environment. He also encouraged school principals to use anti-bullying programmes more actively.

In his address, Indre Teder pointed out the importance of the role of school principals in shaping the school environment and values. He urged school principles to set a safe and bullying-free environment as a priority for their schools, because a physically and mentally string school environment as well as friendly and supporting relationships are a precondition of successful studies. “Research indicates that when safety in the school in important for the principal, everyone in the school – both teachers and students – makes an effort to eradicate bullying,” said the Ombudsman for Children. He also emphasised that professional instruction and guidance of children starts in nursery school, which means that we should give nursery schools and nursery school teachers the same kind of attention that we’re giving to schools and school teachers.

The Ombudsman for Children also encouraged school principals to be more active in the implementation of various of anti-bullying programmes. Many anti-bullying programmes that have proven to be successful in other countries have arrived in Estonia. Information about these programmes and other options of making the school environment safer is available on the website of the Ombudsman for Children under Bullying-free School. This website is meant for students, teachers, school principals, parents and everyone else who is looking for practical advice on how to prevent bullying and resolve cases of bullying.

Before the previous school year, Indrek Teder sent out a memo to school principals where he emphasised the importance of resting and playing in the development of children and asked schools to adhere to the requirements established for carrying out tests. As the children who have contacted the Ombudsman for Children still complain that health protection rules are ignored when tests are carried out, Teder found it necessary to return to this subject in his address. “Adherence to health protection requirements is necessary to support the well-being and development of children. Also, adhering to requirements or ignoring them is a sign to students of the values upheld in the school,” he explained.

Start of the school year address of the Ombudsman for Children