Today I would like to explore the third of the three priorities that I have set us as a school community for the year ahead, namely bullying. Our policy states the following:
Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person.
Some of the ways in which people bully others are repeatedly: calling them names, saying or writing nasty things about them, leaving them out of activities, not talking to them, threatening them, making them feel uncomfortable or scared, taking or damaging their things, hitting or kicking them, or making them do things they don't want to do. Bullying is unacceptable behaviour which makes the person being bullied feel afraid, sad or uncomfortable. Bullying can affect adults in the workplace as well as students.
The school’s response to bullying
At KISU we believe that bullying is unacceptable behaviour and where it occurs it must be tackled promptly and robustly. The full range of the school’s disciplinary consequences may be used to deter and sanction bullying, including, in the case of extreme and persistent bullying recommendation to the Board for the permanent exclusion of the bully. However, at the same time the school should be mindful that the reasons why someone bullies can be complex and indeed it is possible that the bully may also be a victim of bullying himself/herself. In the first instance, the school’s response should be to try to help the bully empathise with his/her victim and thereby reach a personal commitment to cease the bullying. For full details of how the school will respond to cases of bullying please refer to the respective school discipline policies.
Teachers may not superimpose their own definitions of bullying on that outlined above. If a teacher fails to respond to, or condones, a bullying situation, it will result in disciplinary consequences.
I often say to prospective parents touring the school, that if, during their visits to potential schools, they ever hear a headteacher say that his or her school has no bullying, they should immediately walk away from it and discount it as a possibility for their child because:
- The headteacher lacks integrity or
- the school is complacent or in self-denial about bullying.
Because of their social complexities and the sheer number of people and relationships involved (and, sadly, because of what we know of human nature) schools will always face a continuing challenge to be vigilant for bullying and to tackle it robustly both in preventing it and responding to it when it occurs.
KISU is a wonderful school and we often agree that our greatest strength is our children who are on the whole well-behaved, respectful, articulate, empathetic and diligent …but don’t think for a minute that this means that we are complacent! As you will see by the list that follows, we already do a lot to both prevent and tackle bullying and it is our intention to enhance these approaches over the course of the year ahead.
KISU Approaches to Preventing and Tackling Bullying
- We have PSHE units on Bullying, Internet Safety, and Relationship. There is at least one unit on bullying every academic year.
- We are introducing Digital Citizenship and creating a pledge – this will include appropriate behaviour whilst using social media.
- We have a newly revised Child Protection Policy and all staff were trained recently by an external provider.
- We have a specially trained Child Protection Officer and Deputy Officer in each schools.
- The Home/School Learning Agreement encourages ‘Respect to Everyone’.
- Anti-Bullying/Kindness weeks- these includes a variety of activities to raise awareness and reinforce our beliefs and expectations. The exact nature of the activities varies from year-to-year but always includes an assembly focused on the theme of bullying
- Parent information session on Internet Safety and cyber bullying
- Behaviour/discipline policy states clearly and unequivocally how we deal with bullying and we apply it rigorously
- Detentions and, where necessary, suspensions are issued for behavioural issues, including bullying – not just academic issues
- Staff meetings are regularly used to review the progress, behaviour and well-being of vulnerable students
- Secondary school admissions policy has shifted to become more inclusive of students with special needs or learning difficulties. The presence of more students with behaviours that might appear at first “different’ has led to a noticeably more open-minded and accepting approach from students
- Mobile phones are banned during the school day; one of the reasons for this is to reduce opportunities for cyber/remote bullying
- Behaviour tracking allows us to monitor issues and deal with them
- We have a pastoral care programme that has been discussed with parents and students
- Teachers are on duty at break, lunchtime and after school. Performance of these duties is carefully monitored by senior staff
- There is a buddy system for new students
- We refer to the ‘KISU family’ – the term family helps reinforce appropriate behaviour and levels of respect.
- Teachers are encouraged to use seating plans and work groups to ensure some students are not left out
- School Director uses weekly staff meetings to reinforce our values and principles and has on a number of occasions reinforced the primacy of our focus on keeping children safe and happy
- Systems for recording and tracking attendance have been enhanced by the addition of the Edadmin system and Form Tutors and Key Stage Co-ordinators are encouraged to be vigilant for attendance trends that may signal concerns
- A school wide push on the importance of “student voice” (especially through the “Learning to Learn” lessons in KS3) has given students increased confidence to speak up when they have questions or concerns whether to do with learning or behaviour
- Transition activities with students planning to join our Y7 place particular emphasis on allaying fears and explaining systems for reporting any concerns, especially relating to bullying
- Annual bullying surveys are carried out in each school and the results shared with the school community
- School Council will discuss bullying and their recommendations be considered by Senior Management Team
- Bullying one of three key focuses for the academic year 2017-18
- A focus on leadership for all members of the school community to help individuals to make good decisions to challenge and report bullying