Preventing bullying in your school

Jenny Moore

Anti-Bullying Week, running from the 15th-19th November this year, is a great opportunity to come together as a school to focus on tackling bullying. However, it’s worth remembering that this is a subject that should remain at the forefront throughout the whole year. Here are some tips on how you can be proactive in your approach to tackling bullying in your school, to try and prevent it from happening in the first place.

> Create a safe and inclusive environment

It’s important to establish an ethos where pupils treat each other, and staff, with respect – because they know it’s the right way to behave. Staff should encourage children to think about how their actions affect others.

Similarly, promote careful use of language and teach children about the power of words which can cause harm to others; they might have picked up words from family or TV and not realise why they’re harmful. Make it clear that prejudice-based language is unacceptable. You might want to work with specialist organisations too.

Although Anti-Bullying week is a good opportunity to discuss bullying, keep talking about it throughout the year to really embed it. For example, you could have regular assemblies and integrate anti-bullying themes into lessons.

Make sure you also regularly talk about and celebrate differences at your school. Be open about differences that could cause bullying, such as religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality, or different family situations.

> Have clear policies and review them regularly

Your policies should clearly outline what your school’s approach to bullying is. Make sure you cover what bullying is, how to report it, and what the consequences of bullying are. Don’t forget to incorporate technology in your policy too, for example acceptable use of school systems and devices.

Make sure you review and update your behaviour and anti-bullying policies regularly. For example, keep up to date with what games and apps children are using.. By doing this, you’ll know about potential risks and can include these in your policies, as well as sharing information with staff and parents.

> Involve pupils, parents and your community

Make sure everyone in your school community is clear on your approach to bullying, and that pupils and parents are confident that if they report bullying, it’ll be taken seriously.

Some schools have engaged parents using strategies like:

  • Regular parent and carer forums where they can come into school and talk about a range of topics and issues. Try to run them at different times of the week and day, so as many parents as possible have the opportunity to attend
  • Incorporating it into events that are happening already, where parents are already present and engaged
  • Involving parents in developing anti-bullying policies

You could involve pupils by doing things like:

  • Having anti-bullying ambassadors, playground monitors or ‘worry busters’ who can give peer-to-peer support and share information with staff
  • Encouraging pupils to generate ideas for and lead anti-bullying activities and events

You might want to also consider working with other agencies and your wider community to tackle bullying that’s happening outside school.

> Provide staff training

Your policies and approach will be more effective if staff understand them and feel confident dealing with issues. Make sure all staff know what your school’s approach is. 

Over on Safeguarding Training Centre from The Key, we have an editable staff briefing on anti-bullying, a downloadable factsheet, and practice scenarios you can use to test your staff’s knowledge of your procedures.

> Seek out resources

You can find out more about preventing and tackling bullying in the Department for Education’s guidance on preventing bullying, and research it’s published.

To get involved with Anti-Bullying week 2021, check out the range of free resources on offer from the Anti-bullying Alliance

You can also get access to a free anti-bullying staff factsheet from The Key’s Safeguarding Training Centre.

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