Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Staff need more help to tackle bullying in schools

Ofsted has published a report that looks at what schools can do to create a positive school culture and to prevent and tackle bullying.

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.

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.

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.

'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.'

Inspectors found that most of the schools visited had a positive culture and most pupils were considerate of each other. Many of the schools had developed a range of effective strategies for pupils to learn about moral and social issues. In the best schools, expectations and rules clearly spelled out how pupils should interact with each other. This meant that children developed empathy and understood the effect that bullying could have on people.

However, in some schools the analysis of behaviour and bullying was not always as sharp as it should be. This meant that schools were not able to see exactly what the issues were or what actions needed to be taken next. The best schools recorded bullying incidents, which meant they could look for trends and patterns and could take action promptly.

In a small group of schools visited, behaviour was more variable and interactions between pupils were not as positive. Incidents were dealt with when they happened but the preventative work was not as effective.

Many headteachers and staff spoke about the tensions that could sometimes exist between the culture that they were trying to instil and maintain in their schools, and aspects of the culture in the wider communities around the school.

Some schools had achieved significant success by working with parents and carers and members of the community to reach a better understanding.

Notes to editors

  1. The report No place for bullying, can be found on the Ofsted website at www.ofsted.gov.uk.
  2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359

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