Headlines: June 20th, 2012

Ofsted has criticised schools that take case by case action on bullying. It wants schools to influence the culture and take preventive measures to get a better grip on the situation.

The Ofsted report looks at what schools can do to create a positive school culture and to prevent and tackle bullying. It is critical of those schools that do not record bullying incidents, which meant they could not look for trends and patterns and could take action promptly. There is also a lack of analysis of behaviour and bullying. This meant that schools were not able to see exactly what the issues were or what actions needed to be taken next.

Research suggests that certain groups of pupils are more likely to be bullied. These include disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs, and pupils who are, or are perceived to be, homosexual. Inspectors found that casual use of language that discriminated against these groups of pupils, and others, was common in many of the schools visited. Many pupils were well aware that such language was not acceptable, but it was often seen as ‘just banter’. Staff also indicated that they did not always feel confident to challenge unacceptable language or have the strategies to do so.

An important aspect of the survey, ‘No place for bullying’, was inspectors’ focus on pupils’ own experiences and understanding of bullying and its effects. Inspectors asked pupils what they would do if they were bullied, whether they had been bullied while at their current school and how well they thought their school dealt with bullying.

Training for staff was an important aspect of the schools’ work to prevent and tackle bullying. The training that the majority of schools had provided on bullying tended to be general and did not always focus on the different types of bullying that could occur, such as homophobic bullying. This led to some staff not feeling wholly confident to tackle all types of incident.

Director, Education and Care, Susan Gregory said: “Schools must develop a positive culture so all pupils learn in a happy and safe environment. Teachers should receive the right training and support so they have the skills and confidence to teach pupils about diversity and the effects of bullying.”

She added: ”This report shows many examples where action to tackle bullying has been very effective and I hope this best practice can be emulated by other schools.”