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What must schools do about bullying?
Schools have a legal duty of care towards their pupils and a responsibility to prevent bullying amongst them.
Schools must have a behaviour policy that outlines measures to encourage good behaviour in schools. Some schools have a separate anti-bullying policy, which sets out how bullying is reported, recorded and what action will be taken.
These policies must be made available to parents and may be on the school website. If not, you can ask the school for a copy.
Ways that schools can deal with bullying
Schools deal with bullying in different ways. Depending on the age and needs of the children, some schools will use a combination of approaches. Others may just have policies that focus on individual behaviour.
Below are some of the most common ways that schools deal with bullying. Try to talk to your child and find out what they think would help them.
- Mentoring is having a named person your child can go to for support at school.
- Peer mentoring is when older students are trained to become ‘buddies’ or ‘playground pals’ providing support and someone to talk to nearer their own age. This helps everyone in the school learn that bullying is not acceptable.
- Being a ‘telling school’ so that if the child being bullied is unable to or too scared to tell a teacher or other adult, all other children know it is their duty to report it.
- Circle of Friends is used in mainstream schools to promote the inclusion of disabled children. It involves pupils, teachers and parents. It aims to help children develop social and communication skills and help them build friendships with each other. Through regular meetings, children are encouraged to look at their own behaviour and develop an understanding of their needs and the needs of others.
- Providing activities where disabled and non-disabled children spend time together. This can help to ‘bust the myths’ around disability and change views and attitudes.
- Organising group and individual sessions for children based on listening and behavioural therapy. This might involve looking at anger management, social skills, developing the ability to react in an agreed way, building resilience, improving emotional health and finding opportunities for relaxation.
- Restorative justice brings all the children involved together so everyone affected plays a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. There are several different methods but they usually follow these principles:
- Bullying and harassment occur in the context of group behaviour.
- Behaviour of children who bully can be changed by working together.
- Punishments like detention or exclusion don’t help children understand why their behaviour is not acceptable and it may put children at greater risk. Children who display bullying behaviour may seek revenge or continue to bully but change the method they use, making it harder to detect and resolve.
- The aim is to develop empathy and concern for others.
Many schools have a flexible approach that includes a range of responses. This includes training for school staff and lessons for pupils to encourage both staff and pupils to think of ways to make the school more inclusive.