Bullied children: government offers new advice to schools
The government has issued an addendum to the advice it previously published to help schools tackle bullying and support victims.
The additional advice, whilst not statutory, is aimed at providing schools with information to support pupils who are affected by all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying.
It provides guidance on identifying vulnerable children and suggests a range of support measures from a “quiet word” from a teacher to referring affected pupils to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
Assessing and responding to the needs of victims of bullying
According to the new advice, addressing the needs of pupils who encounter bullying should be assessed on an individual basis, and that any action taken should be done on a case-by-case basis.
Bullying that has a severe impact on the victim, affecting their social, mental or emotional health, should be taken seriously, ensuring short-term needs are taken care of to ensure the child can learn effectively throughout this time.
If bullying leads to long-term difficulties with learning, then the advice is that schools develop a graduated response which may lead to the possibility of assessment for special education needs (SEN).
Whilst a child being bullied should not routinely be a cause for SEN assessment, support should be available where needed.
Removing a child from school, in most cases is unhelpful
When it comes to on-site provision, the advice is that children who can attend school should continue to do so, and they should be supported by having access to separate areas that offer some respite, whilst continuing to learn.
The government advises that in most cases removing a bullied child from school can disrupt their education and also gives out the wrong message about tackling bullying – that “victims of bullying are unwelcome.”
It can also make it more difficult for the bullied child to return to school, and may make them feel more isolated.
According to 2013 research by the NSPCC, almost half of children (46%) say they have been the victims of some bullying at school at some point in their lives. In addition to this, over a third of disabled pupils were worried about being bullied.