Too many pupils suffer from bullying during their school lives, according to a report published today by Estyn. Education providers have a responsibility to tackle bullying in all forms under the Education Act 2002, and yet the ways in which schools deal with bullying varies widely.
Estyn’s report, ‘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. Crickhowell High School in Powys has created a more tolerant environment by ensuring that issues of diversity and equality are explored in the curriculum. The school also has a student support officer who provides counselling and advises staff on issues like cyberbullying.
Best-practice case studies in the report also explore strategies to address bullying which include making effective support available to pupils at unstructured times of the day. Good schools also provide counselling services and use 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.
About the report
This report is published in response to a request for advice from the Welsh Government in the Minister’s annual remit to Estyn for 2013-2014 and is available in full.