St. Patrick's Glen Primary School
161 Glen Road
Tel: 028 7964 3267
ST. PATRICK’S PRIMARY SCHOOL
What is Bullying?
The Department’s publication Pastoral Care in Schools: Child Protection defines bullying as “deliberately hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for the victim to defend him or herself”.
At the level of the individual, it is an attack on his or her right to be safe at school; at school level, it is an attack on its ethos. While repetition gives bullying its oppressive and frightening quality, individual incidents of bullying are also important, and should be recognised and dealt with as such: for teachers to dismiss an incident as ‘one-off’ runs the risk of its happening again.
Like all forms of abuse, bullying thrives on secrecy, the reluctance of the target to talk about it, and the reluctance of responsible adults to acknowledge its existence. Bullying is in contravention of children’s rights to protection from all forms of violence, both physical and mental. It also infringes their right to education and to freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment under the Human Rights Act 1998. It can make pupils’ lives miserable; can make it next to impossible for them to concentrate on their work, and can sometimes push them into truancy. In extreme case in recent years it has led to young people taking their own lives.
Bullying is an insidious social problem found in many occupations and walks of life.
Bullying can be:
• Physical: pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, any form of violence, threats;
• Verbal: name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, persistent teasing;
• Emotional: tormenting, threatening ridicule, humiliation, exclusion from groups or activities;
• Sectarian / Racist: taunts, graffiti, gestures;
• Sexual: unwanted physical contact, abusive comments.
Signs of bullying might include:
• unwillingness to come to school;
• withdrawn, isolated behaviour;
• complaining about missing possessions;
• refusal to talk about the problem;
• being easily distressed;
• standard of work falling;
• rate of progress much less than expected
• damaged or incomplete work.
At St. Patrick’s the problem of bullying will always be treated with the greatest seriousness. Bullying in whatever form it is manifested is totally unacceptable and every effort will be made to resolve any problems that are identified.
The main features of the anti-bullying policy of this school are:
• A caring and supportive ethos where the rights and well-being of the child are paramount.
• Clear procedures for staff, pupils and parents as to how concerns regarding suspected bullying should be handled.
• A determination that bullying will not be tolerated and thatincidents will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
• Support for the victims of bullying
• Support for the bully aimed at helping him / her to recognise and modify their unsociable behaviour
• Whole school strategies to be employed in dealing with specific bullying incidents
• Classroom activities and strategies aimed at creating a climate where bullying becomes unacceptable amongst the children themselves.
Identifying the Problem
• Each member of staff, whether teacher, supervisor, ancillary or administrative, has a duty of care to the children. Consequently if a child, parent or other individual makes an allegation of bullying it must be taken seriously.
• In the first instance the problem should be reported to the class teacher, who will decide whether to investigate and remediate personally or to pass on the issue to the Principal.
• In either event a written record of the incident, investigation and outcomes should be made and a copy passed to the principal to be held in the child protection file/incident book.
• If the report comes to the principal a copy of the written record should be passed to the class teachers of any children directly involved.
• It should be recognised that bullying may be going on without the victim reporting it to those in authority. Members of staff should therefore be on the lookout for specific behaviour patterns that might indicate that bullying is occurring.
• Where staff have concerns they should, as appropriate:
∙ Talk to the children
∙ Talk with the children’s parents
∙ Discuss the concerns with the Principal or designated teacher for child protection.
• Again a written record of these concerns (and any further action) should be maintained in the child protection file/incident book.
• Parents should be kept informed about these incidents from an early stage. However, many incidents may be low key, involving behaviours that are not deliberately intimidatory. It would be inappropriate to involve parents at this level. It will therefore be the policy of this school that unless an incident is particularly serious it will in the first instance be handled internally.
• Should the behaviour be repeated parents will be informed and involved in any solution
• In the first instance (and possibly the second) the No Blame Approach* will be employed.
• If the problem persists the parents of the bully will be brought in and a planned approach, setting out strategies, possible sanctions, and dates for review will be drawn up.
Whole School Strategies
A number of strategies will be used. These include:
1. The No Blame Approach
2. Circle Time
3. Peer Mediation
4. Peer Support
5. Involving Parents
6. Identifying activities, where possible, to redirect the bullies energies to more productive and social activities
7. Referring the bully to our internal behaviour support by SMT
8. Involving Education Welfare Officer to work directly with the bully and his / her family.
9. Temporary Exclusion
10. Permanent Exclusion
All teachers should be aware of the problem of bullying and of their role in cultivating a climate where bullying will not be tolerated by on looking children. To this end a number of classroom activities can be employed. This might include:
• Circle Time
• Use of children’s letters to Bullying Online, Tips for Victims from Bullying Online etc. as starters for classroom discussions, comprehensions etc.
• Video and discussion
• Literature – stories / poetry
• Debate / discussion
At least one session each month should be given over to the issue of bullying.
Advice to Pupils
If you are being bullied:
• tell a friend
• tell a playground supervisor and your buddy
• tell your teacher
• tell Mrs Connolly
• tell your parents
• If you see anyone else being bullied at school please tell someone about it
• People who are being bullied need friends so if you can help someone who is so unhappy please do so
• We take bullying seriously. It will be sorted out. You have a right to be happy.
Advice to Parents
If you feel your child is being bullied:
• Ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.
• Tell the class teacher
• Tell the principal
• Be prepared to work with the school to resolve the problem
• Keep the school informed if the bullying does not immediately stop or if at a later date it re-occurs
Most reports of bullying behaviour are resolved after one intervention from the Principal. A few may take longer to be resolved and will involve ongoing reviews.
The Strategies Explained
1. The No Blame Approach
The aim is to sort out the problem for the ‘victim’ rather than to punish the bully. This overcomes the typical bullying cycle where the victim is further targeted for having got the bullies into trouble. We find that this is a very successful method in most cases as in most cases the ‘bullies’ do not appreciate the effect their behaviour is having and once this is understood, or indeed once the bullies see that the situation is being taken seriously and regularly monitored, the problem stops.
Regular reviews of the situation are of course inbuilt and if the problem does persist the parents of the bullies will be brought in and a planned approach, setting out strategies, possible sanctions, and dates for review will be drawn up and the support of the parents will be expected.
2. Circle Time
Children sit in a circle with their teacher and engage in a programme of activities to
challenge and motivate the class / group to promote positive relationships. Activities
include a wide range of co-operative games, rounds, drama strategies and discussions in which children take turns to listen to one another.
3. Peer Mediation
This involves a group of pupils being identified to whom other pupils may come with
any problems they would not wish to bring to an adult, e.g.- minor bullying etc.
The peer mediator will attempt to mediate between the parties at this early stage. If
everyone is co-operative no one needs to worry about punishment, as it will not need to be brought to the attention of teachers or the principal.
4. Internal Behaviour Discussions
Throughout the year the Principal and Senior Teacher are available to meet formally/informally with all teachers who have any concerns regarding the behaviour of specific children. This will be an opportunity to:
∙ Share concerns and expertise
∙ Discuss possible strategies
∙ To develop / review a behaviour plan for the child
5. Peer Support
This involves identifying a small circle of friends who will be supportive to the victim
and who will discreetly inform the class teacher if the victim continues to be
targeted. This strategy will only be used after the parents of the victim have given their consent.
Bullying Online: www.bullying.co.uk
National Association of Head Teachers
Department for Education and Science (England and Wales)