As we approach Anti-Bullying Week this year, it’s important to be reminded that preventing and tackling bullying is something we do all year round – and getting the basics right is key to achieving this.
This year’s theme for Anti-Bullying Week is ‘One Kind Word’. Schools up and down the country, including yours, will be delivering assemblies and classroom activities, celebrating Odd Socks Day on Monday 15 November, and holding a ‘Friendship Friday’ on the 19th.
All these things help to shine a light on the issue, but what next? What do you do the week after? Well, it may be a good time for you to consider reviewing and updating your policy and practice and considering how effective your whole school approach to dealing with bullying really is.
Research shows the whole school approach key to success and is what getting the basics right is all about. Involving everyone is the most important way to keep children safe from harm and safe to learn – from parents/carers and school staff (including catering, office, and cleaning staff, not just teachers and TAs) and – front and centre – your pupils.
To help review your whole school approach, consider the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s ‘Ten Key Principles’:
- Listen – take the time to consult with your stakeholders. Everyone in the school community will have something important to share, whether it be their experiences, ideas, or concerns.
- Include all – make sure you involve those most vulnerable to bullying. These can be children and adults with SEND, young carers, and traveller families.
- Respect – school staff are role models to children and parents/carers alike. It’s their duty to protect children and to treat all fairly. School staff set the tone of the school and embody the culture and ethos.
- Challenge – words matter, and discriminatory language should be challenged and taken seriously every time it is heard or reported.
- Celebrate difference – make everyone feel welcome at your school by ensuring all communities are visibly represented and that your school ethos is one that values uniqueness.
- Understand – ensure everyone in your school community knows what bullying is and what it isn’t. You can do this by following principle number 1.
- Believe – children and adults must be able to trust that your policy and practice is reliable and robust. Children need to know when they report bullying to an adult they will be believed and taken seriously.
- Report bullying – it is important pupils and their parents/carers know how to report incidents of bullying. Schools must have an effective system to collect this information. Ofsted inspectors ask for schools’ data and will want to know what you are doing to prevent and tackling bullying as a result.
- Take action – respond quickly to all incidents of bullying. Make sure children affected are involved in what happens to them. Consider implementing a restorative approach to dealing with conflict and the harm caused, if you haven’t already.
- Have clear policies – actively involve the school community in writing and reviewing your anti-bullying policy. Make sure pupil voice is loud and clear within it. Make sure it links to other policies, such as the behaviour policy, equalities, online safety, etc.
Support for schools to prevent and tackle bullying, and improve policy and practice is available all year round.