Those figures come from a national study conducted by the Anti-Bullying Centre in Trinity College, Dublin, and they are a real wake-up call as to the scale of the problem.

In schools, dealing with bullying can be a huge challenge. But one Dublin school is determined to tackle the problem by adopting an innovative, hands-on approach to eliminate or minimise school bullying.

The school is Stratford College in Dublin. And its deputy principal, English teacher Siobhan Reynolds, joined Sean O’Rourke on the Today programme on RTÉ Radio 1, along with transition year student, Charlotte Ward Pratt.

“Our principal, Patricia Gordon, recognises the importance of preventing a crisis emerging and developing relationships between the tutor and their students.”

The programme is based around a designated teacher called a 'form tutor', who sits down twice a year with each student and asks a series of questions. Those questions range from enquiring whether students are happy, to the atmosphere in the class, and how they are settling in with friends. Generally, this meeting would last between five and 10 minutes, if there is no problem, or 15-20 minutes, if problems are identified.

During the course of the interview, Charlotte explained the merits of the programme from the students’ point of view: "Since we have been doing it, since first year, you build up quite a relationship of trust with your form tutor.

"You are in a private room, talking to her one-on-one, you know that she is not going to go and tell anyone. It’s between you and her. And she can go and see what she can do about it."

And Siobhan picked up from there, explaining the approach of the teachers: "Say, for instance, six students might have expressed concern for John. I will sit down with John and say: 'John, six of your peers have expressed concerns about you'… It’s not accusatory. It is restorative."

That said, the school does not avoid punitive measures, where necessary. It’s just not the starting point. Nor are they naive, expecting that students are going to be 'best mates'.  It is simply about encouraging empathy between students and groups of students so that bullying is cut off before it becomes a major problem.

Click below to hear the interview in full from Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1


Today with Sean O'Rourke is on RTÉ Radio 1 weekdays from 10am.