School Philosophy and Ethos
The well-being of every person in our school is important to us and we hope to provide a happy environment where everyone can be caring, be honest, be respected and be their best.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is the wilful, conscious desire to hurt, threaten or frighten someone else by physical intimidation. It may be defined as the unjustified display of aggressive or physical behaviour on the part of one individual or group towards another.
Consequently, as part of the school’s responsibility for the personal and social welfare of our pupils, we would hope to ensure as far as possible that no-one is being bullied.
Positive Management of Behaviour
The school lays down expected standards of behaviour and specific school rules which are intended to be the basis for the operation of a well-ordered and caring school. These Standards of Behaviour, School Rules and the school’s Disciplinary Procedures appear each year in the school prospectus.
Religious, Social and Moral Education
Throughout the school pupils follow a programme of Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies as well as Personal and Social Education. Within these two programmes emphasis is placed on the importance of caring for others in thought and action and encouraging an appreciation of the community, the environment and a concern for peoples in other parts of the world. Pupils are encouraged to tolerate, understand, appreciate and value the spiritual, moral, social and cultural beliefs of others.
Aspects of Social Behaviour
Aspects of social behaviour are dealt with across a wide range of subjects. Each term a Values Assembly is held to reinforce the school’s values: “Be Respectful, Be Honest, Be Caring, Be Your Best”
Bridge of Don Academy actively supports pupils in their learning by providing them with opportunities to learn in new innovative ways through the use of ICT. We also recognise that pupils, teachers and parents/guardians may need some help to know how to stay safe while using ICT, in particular when using Social Networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Social Networking sites can very useful for pupils to keep in touch, share ideas and collaborate on projects. However, increasingly they are being used for online bullying and harassment. Smartphones and tablets allow pupils access to seemingly anonymous methods of bullying such as sending malicious text messages and posting embarrassing photos on the Internet. Cyber-bullying can spread rumours and lies to a very large audience at the touch of a button. As with other forms of bullying, the victim may not be in any physical danger but can still feel very upset, afraid or depressed.
Bridge of Don Academy takes all forms of bullying very seriously and cyber-bullying will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s anti-bullying policy. In cyber-bullying cases, where threats have been posted on the internet and may amount to criminal activity, parents and pupils should download the evidence and report it to the police who have various existing acts to allow prosecution:
- Under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, it is an offence to send a communication with the intention of causing distress or anxiety;
- Under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 it an offence to send an electronic message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character;
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 covers threatening behaviour or harassment, including online and offline stalking.
Parents are advised not to add to posts where cyber-bullying has taken place. This can also lead to parents being involved in prosecution.
We would direct parents and pupils to the Safer Schools Bridge of Don Academy mobile app which provides up-to-date advice and resources to support anyone caught up in cyber-bullying.
Key Elements in Action Against Bullying
To combat bullying effectively it is important that there is:
a general belief within the school community that bullying is an issue which must be taken seriously and tackled positively;
- open discussion about what counts as bullying;
- an ethos which encourages victims and witnesses to speak up freely;
- a school and classroom ethos which promotes respect for the individual;
- a readiness to treat incidents seriously, however trivial they may seem at first glance, and to take swift and positive action whenever bullying is reported or evident;
- a clear lead given in this area by the Head Teacher and Senior Management Team;
- a sense of ownership of the policy by all members of the school community –teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and pupils.
Recognition of Bullies and Victims
There is no ready-made list of specific characteristics that go to make a bully. It is important, therefore, that we should not ignore reports from pupils of alleged bullying where the bully does not fit the commonly accepted stereotype eg big, aggressive, male.
It is accepted that bullies pick on vulnerable people, but it is not always easy to judge in advance who might be seen as vulnerable. We should, however, be particularly vigilant in respect of those pupils who:
- are new to the class or school
- are different in appearance, speech or background from other pupils
- suffer from low self-esteem
- are nervous or anxious
- display extreme attention-seeking behaviour
- show deterioration in their work
Procedures for Dealing with Bullying
The single most important factor in the prevention of bullying is a school ethos in which pupils are encouraged to speak out about bullying. They should be regularly reminded that it is right to tell an adult about any type of bullying behaviour.
To enable this to take place all staff should encourage
- victims to tell
- witnesses to tell
- parents to tell
- open discussion
If we are to be seen to take the issue of bullying seriously then we should:
- listen to and offer support for anyone who claims to be the victim of bullying;
- never dismiss the victim of bullying as “weak” or a “tell-tale”;
- listen to and offer appropriate support for the bully, making it clear that it is the bullying behaviour of which we disapprove and not the bully him/herself;
- punish the bully, where this is seen to be appropriate, explaining clearly why the punishment is being given;
- help pupils to offer suggestions for dealing with bullying and to keep the situation under constant review;
- contact at an early stage the parents of an alleged victim, invite them into school to discuss the matter and offer appropriate support;
- inform at an early stage the parents of an alleged bully, invite them into school to discuss the matter and offer support agreeing, where appropriate, on a form of sanction. (The school’s expected standards of behaviour and discipline policy should be referred to in this context and it should be made clear to the parents that it is the behaviour which is disapproved of and not the pupil);
- have clear in-school procedures for dealing with reported incidents of bullying.
These procedures are:
- Where a teacher is informed of an alleged act of bullying, the teacher concerned should note briefly in writing the details of the allegation and refer the matter as soon as possible to the appropriate Principal Teacher of Guidance, who will then take action as detailed above;
- Guidance staff should keep detailed records of all referrals of this nature including notes of interviews;
- Guidance staff should advise appropriate members of the senior management team of all incidents of confirmed bullying;
- Year Heads will keep detailed records of all such confirmed incidents of bullying. Details should include – Date, People Involved, Incident, Action Taken, Outcome.
Guidance for Parents
As part of our whole-school approach to the problem of bullying, we would give the following advice/information to parents:
- Discuss regularly with your child how he/she is getting on at school. (Discuss particularly friendships, lunchtimes and intervals);
- Be alert to signs of distress – reluctance to go to school, sore stomachs, bruising, taking extra money;
- Watch for your child bringing home extra money or property;
- Encourage your child to speak out if he/she is being bullied and listen carefully to the information he/she may volunteer;
- If you think your child is being bullied contact the school as soon as possible and arrange to speak to his/her Guidance Teacher. (It can be beneficial in some cases for the parents to contact the school without their child’s knowledge so that the situation can be quietly monitored);
- Where it is confirmed that a pupil has been involved in bullying, the school will invite the parents to come into school and discuss the situation.
Be aware that, in many instances, bullying is reported by a pupil where the “victim” him/herself has played a major role in creating the problem. In such instances, it may be necessary to provide the victim with support and guidance on how to establish better relations with others.