This policy has been written to inform staff, parent and students.
True to our Christian ethos, Park Community School will have zero tolerance for any type of discrimination or bullying. It can make a child or staff member so worried that he or she can’t work well at school, often leading to persistent absence to get away from it. This type of situation is unacceptable.
We have a robust anti-bullying strategy to build students’ self-esteem, create an ability to empathise and an atmosphere of valuing and encouraging the uniqueness of each person in our community. As the school grows, we will also develop a peer mentoring programme on the playground to support social learning and dispute resolution. Peer mentors will be trained in dispute resolution strategies as well as how to initiate and lead games for younger children. We will also use a traffic light system for playground areas and other non-academic times and areas.
Definition of Bullying
Park Community School has no tolerance for any type of bullying, which is persistent unwelcome behaviour, mostly using unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, also exclusion, isolation or being singled out. Our school understands that bullying can mean many different things. These are some ways children and young people have described bullying:
- being called names and teased
- being intimidated or threatened
- being systematically ignored and left out
- being pushed, pulled about or being hit or attacked
- having one’s bag and other possessions taken and thrown around
- having rumours spread about someone
- being forced to hand over money or possessions
- being attacked, teased or called names because of one’s religion or colour or sexuality.
Types of bullying
- Racist, religious and cultural bullying. Racial taunts, graffiti, gestures. The Race Relations Act 1976 states that schools and governing bodies have a duty to ensure that children do not face any form of racial discrimination, including attacks and harassment.
- Sexual. Unwanted physical contact or abusive comments
- Homophobic. Any hostile or offensive action against lesbians, gay males or bisexual or those perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
- Abuse of the vulnerable. For example, children with physical disabilities, on the autism spectrum, or with special educational needs. Bullying also occurs to children who are carers or children who have suffered a death in the family.
- Emotional bullying. Such as ridicule and exclusion, seems to be more common than physical violence and it can also be more difficult to cope with or prove.
- This also includes threats and intimidation to control and/or manipulate a younger child, one who is new to Park Community School or another adult.
- Cyber bullying. New methods have also followed this old problem – texting, cruel photos from mobile phones, emails and web-based attacks are increasingly prevalent.
Restorative Justice: Problem-Solving Approach
Park will use a Restorative Justice problem-solving approach to prevent these incidents from taking seed in any person’s thinking and feeling. The No Blame Approach is a multi-step process to develop shared responsibility among bullies and witnesses to stop bullying episodes by forming a problem-solving group. This approach has been remarkably successful in schools in addressing incidents, preventing recurrence of any further ones and in helping victims feel safe at school.
Meet with the child being bullied
In the event that a bullying incident (or situation) is reported to a member of staff, the Assistant Principal responsible for Community Development and Inclusion will meet with the child to record a report of his or her experience. A victim report will be completed (often by the staff member after the meeting) providing opportunity to record how the child feels about being in class, on the playground, in the lunch hall and/or anywhere else where s/he feels vulnerable to the bullies. The victim report also records the account of the bullying incident/s that lead to feeling vulnerable. While “victim” is the term of reference used in this policy for clarity of meaning, this phrase is never to be used in reference to any specific child.
Set up a Problem-Solving Group
This report is shared with the child’s parents or carers and it is then used in the next stage in which the Assistant Principal and/or the Principal will meet with a problem-solving group, which is comprised of the bully/bullies, one or two witnesses and an advocate for the victim. These children will only be informed that they are there to help solve a problem for a child at school. They are not informed who it is, only how the child feels. The group discussion focuses on building empathy, then shared responsibility and finally the children make an action plan to ensure the situation does not occur again. The group will meet together in a later review meeting and these actions will be monitored on a regular basis both with the victim directly as well as with his or her advocate/s.
During the meeting, no blame is attached, but it is made clear that any further incident will be an automatic red zone incident on the behaviour traffic lights. The parents or carers of the bully/bullies will be informed of the incident/s, the meeting and agreed actions as well as consequences of further bullying.
The Principal and/or Assistant Principal will meet with the victim and his or her parents or carers to check how the child feels about being in school. This check will be within one week and daily in some cases, depending on the context and needs of the family. In the second week following the first problem-solving meeting, the children will be invited to meet again to discuss how well the plan is working and any new plans will be recorded. These review meetings will continue at increasingly longer intervals (e.g. one month and end of term) to ensure the issue is completely resolved.
In the very rare event that bullying continues, the bully/bullies will be excluded for a fixed term and the school will work with the bully and his or her family to address underlying causes for this behaviour. At this point, the school will be prepared to engage multi-agency support such as involvement with CAMHS for the victim as well as for the bully during and after the fixed term exclusion. The school recognises that people who bully have often been victims themselves. Children at risk of exclusion as a result of continual bullying will have a Pastoral Support Plan created, which will target internal and external support aimed at improving and stopping behaviour.
Support for the victim
The type and level of support for a child who has been bullied will be as unique as is the child. Park is committed to providing the most nurturing and encouraging support as appropriate in the context of each situation. Some strategies could include:
- offering the child an immediate opportunity to talk about the experience with a trusted member of staff, often his or her personal coach.
- offering continued support through the pastoral system, such as will a “Big Buddy” who is an older child trained to stand up against bullying behaviour assertively and constructively.
- working with the child’s family to ensure s/he feels safe in and around school.
Monitoring and Evaluation
All reported incidents and their outcomes will be logged into SIMS. This log will be reviewed termly to check for any necessary follow up action.
- A survey will be undertaken each year in the School Parliament, Parents and Carers Forum and individual children and families to gain insight into how safe children feel at Park.
- An anti-bullying group compromising of students, parents, governors and staff will meet to review the survey.