The Do's and Don'ts of an Anti Bullying Policy in Schools
Bullying isn’t something children can easily forget. If they’ve suffered throughout their time during school, it can damage them long term as well. As a headteacher, it’s your job to work alongside governors and other staff members to protect them — this starts with a clear school anti bullying policy.
This policy is something the entire school should understand and comes under Section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. It states schools need to have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying and encourage good behaviour in pupils. Here’s how you can draft an effective school bullying policy.
Do: Highlight the Aims and Objectives
Start by establishing your intent on how bullying is unacceptable and that you’ll do everything possible to prevent it. This is something you should make clear to everyone connected with the school, with the responsibilities clear to all.
This section of your school bullying policy should explain your stance and introduce the rest of the policy.
Don’t: Be Vague
Parents are putting the safety of their children in your hands. Don’t be vague and add as much detail as necessary so they’re comfortable that you, staff and the school take bullying seriously — and proactively take the relevant actions.
Do: Define Bullying
Your school bullying policy needs to define bullying. This area of the policy needs to discuss the common aspects of bullying to show your understanding, such as how it’s deliberately hurtful behaviour and something that’s repeated over time.
Do: Explain the Various Forms of Bullying
As the school bullying policy needs to be clear, it’s crucial to add the forms of bullying to avoid any ambiguity. In this section, ensure you cover the different types to assist staff members, such as:
- Physical bullying, such as punching, damaging belongings or forcing another pupil to do something against their will.
- Cyberbullying, such as using email and social media apps, so staff are aware of what methods could be used.
- Indirect, where the victim could be suffering from rumours or being excluded from groups.
- Verbal, where pupils are teased or have offensive comments directed towards them.
Don’t: Brush Over Specific Types of Bullying
Your school bullying policy should go into as much detail as needed. You need to explain that your school understands pupils can be bullied for any reason, while some are more vulnerable than others.
How will you help these vulnerable groups? Ensure your policy covers this to show you understand the possibilities.
- Bullying related to culture, race and religion.
- Being targeted for having a disability or special educational needs.
- Sexist, gender and sexual orientation bullying.
- Being a victim of bullying for being of a higher ability.
- Suffering from bullying due to appearance and health conditions.
- Targeted for family and home circumstances.
Do: Showcase You’ve Identified Different Bullying Roles
Bullying is never straightforward. Each story and situation is unique, making it complex. Your policy needs to show that the school understands the challenges involving bullying and the different roles involved. These include:
- The ‘ringleaders’ who direct the bullying.
- Associates who join in.
- Reinforcers who laugh, smile or record incidents and don’t step in.
- Bystanders who stay silent and appear to condone bullying.
- Defenders that step in, stop the bullying or comfort the victims.
Pupils are never boxed into one role. Highlight in your school bullying policy that you understand they can adopt different roles and that you encourage them to be responsible for their behaviour.
This doesn’t mean you’ll ignore bullying, but it shows you’ll commit to teaching them good behaviours and provide support for victims.
Do: Explain How You’ll Prevent and Respond to Bullying Incidents
This is what everyone related to your school, such as parents, will be most concerned with. It’s arguably the most critical section of your school bullying policy, so don’t leave any process steps out of it.
You should explain how you’ll work with your staff and external bodies to identify bullying and prejudice so everyone knows the signs. Also, commit to training staff to identify the different forms and signs of bullying so they can proactively step in and create relevant safe spaces.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach here. Be as in-depth as possible – think about how you’ll address bullying in the curriculum, displays, school councils, learning mentors and adding extra support for vulnerable children.
It’s also a good idea to highlight how you’ll get staff involved in helping shape and amend the bullying policy as required, so everybody is bought in.
Don’t: Ignore Pupil Involvement
A school bullying policy is one thing, but getting pupils involved is another task to cover. Your policy should explain how you’ll ensure pupils can come forward with their concerns without fear, how you’ll act on bullying claims and the anti-bullying initiatives you’ll implement.
It’s also critical to add how you’ll support victims, so they feel confident approaching staff members.
Do: Add Parent/Carer Involvement
Your school bullying policy should have a section dedicated to how you’ll liaise with parents and carers. Again, they need this peace of mind that you have initiatives in place and have thought things through.
This policy section should clearly establish who parents and carers can contact if they’re worried about bullying and what the complaint procedure is.
Do: Cover Every Person’s Responsibility
Your school bullying policy will only work if the entire community understands that you don’t tolerate policies. This applies to everyone, from you as the headteacher to parents, staff, governors and more.
Again, the responsibilities need to be outlined in great detail, so there are never any grey areas on who is responsible for what. This way, you’re in a better position to ensure you can take steps to prevent and respond to bullying incidents.
The responsibilities are different for each group of people, too. So, make this clear in your policy with clear sections dedicated to each. Along with a detailed breakdown, add a small overview section covering the biggest responsibilities for each role.
The breakdown of responsibilities also needs to include each group’s response to bullying. Although the stance for each role is the same — being against bullying and actively preventing it where possible — the policy should highlight how governors, teachers and you will address incidents.
Do: Review And Monitor Your School Bullying Policy
Your policy should never be static. Review it regularly, amend it where necessary and share it with every new staff member, even supply teachers, so they know the expectations. What’s relevant today in your school policy might be a much bigger issue in six months, so it needs updating regularly.
This is your joint responsibility with governors, but our online training course can offer more insights to improve your school bullying policy.
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