On Air

Chris Country

Bullying Still A Concern

Too many pupils suffer from bullying during their school lives, according to a report published earlier this year by Estyn.

‘Action on bullying’, found that even schools with good strategies to address bullying do not have a common understanding of how important it is to focus on groups of pupils with a higher-than-average risk of being bullied, such as gay, lesbian and transgender pupils, those with a disability and pupils from a minority ethnic background.

Very few schools consult with groups of pupils to gain a true picture of the extent and nature of bullying at the school. The report examines how effectively schools take action to address all instances of bullying.

Ann Keane, Chief Inspector, says, “Too many pupils have their lives spoilt by bullying. Schools should be places where all pupils feel safe and able to learn. Bullying not only affects a child emotionally and psychologically but can result in poor attendance and underachievement.

“Our report outlines common weaknesses and provides schools with an anti-bullying checklist to use to see if they are on track.

“Schools should provide staff with training on how to identify, prevent and manage bullying so that they can eliminate this behaviour from our classrooms. I encourage all teachers to take note of the recommendations in the report and help to make sure that all schools establish an ethos in which children understand that they have a right to be safe.”

Inspectors found that not enough schools keep a specific record of bullying incidents and fail to identify patterns of behaviour that could inform anti-bullying planning. In most secondary schools, the rise in cyberbullying is a concern and schools find its anonymous nature difficult to manage.

Nevertheless, the majority of pupils know how to report bullying. The best schools take a proactive approach to preventing bullying. Hafod Primary in Swansea was held up as an example of best practice for the way in which it addresses the problem. It makes effective support available to pupils at unstructured times of the day. It also provides counselling services and uses external agencies to support pupils who experience bullying.

‘Action on bullying’, contains a series of recommendations for schools and local authorities. Schools should ensure that staff know how to deal with and record incidents of bullying and make sure they can tackle different types of bullying. Local authorities and regional consortia should provide training and support for school staff and governors.

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