Introduction

We value the happiness and wellbeing of every member of our community at the East London Science School including teachers, support staff, volunteers and pupils. We expect everyone in the community to treat each other with courtesy and respect. We expect everyone to be able to make the most of their time at the school unhindered by the behaviour of others. Our ethos is built on mutual respect and hard work in which everyone is striving for success. If any individual steps outside of this ethos and engages in behaviour likely to be seen as bullying by their victim it is a serious breach of our ethos and will invoke a swift and strong response. This document sets out the schools policy on dealing with such unacceptable behaviour and how we can work together to prevent it from occurring.

This policy has regard for the latest advice available including reference to Preventing and tackling bullying: Advice for head teachers, staff and governing bodies, DfE, October 2014; Behaviour and discipline in schools: A guide for head teachers and school staff, DfE, February 2014 and School support for young people and children who are being bullied, October 2014.

Legal responsibilities

There are a number of statutory obligations on schools with regard to behaviour which establish clear responsibilities to respond to bullying. In particular section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006:

  • provides that every school must have measures to encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. These measures should be part of the school’s behaviour policy which
    must be communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents
  • gives head teachers the ability to discipline pupils for poor behaviour even when the pupil is not on school premises or under the lawful control of school staff

The Equality Act 2010

Schools have a public sector Equality Duty (5 April 2011) which covers age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The Duty has three aims. It requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the act
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it

Safeguarding children and young people

Under the Children Act 1989 a bullying incident should be addressed as a child protection concern when there is ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’. Where this is the case, the school staff should report their concerns to the local authority children’s social care.

Criminal law

Some behaviour involved in bullying could be a criminal offence if it fits within the realm of harassing or threatening behaviour or communications under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1998, the Communications Act 2003 and the Public Order Act 1986.Schools are advised to contact the police if they feel an offence may have been committed.

Bullying outside the school premises

Head teachers have a specific statutory power to discipline pupils for poor behaviour outside of the school premises. This can relate to any bullying incidents occurring anywhere off the school premises.

Where outside bullying is reported to the school, it should be investigated and acted on. This may requisite the head teacher contacting the police or local authority anti-social behaviour coordinator.

Our ethos – creating robust individuals

As stated in the recent DfE advice:

“Schools which excel at tackling bullying have created an ethos of good behaviour where pupils treat one another and the school staff with respect because they know that this is the right way to behave. Values of respect for staff and other pupils, an understanding of the value of education, and a clear understanding of how our actions affect others permeate the whole school environment and are reinforced by staff and older pupils who set a good example to the rest.” Preventing and Tackling Bullying, DfE, October 2014.

This is very much in tune with the School’s ethos

“We hold the highest expectations for all our pupils irrespective of their starting point or background. This is built into the fabric of the school and informs everything we do as is made clear in our vision statement. Holding the highest expectations for academic achievement, demands the highest standards of behaviour from everyone in our community. In order to give pupils the space to develop intellectually and personally, they need to be able to work in atmosphere that celebrates achievement and encourages every individual to strive to improve. It will be a matter of pride that every pupil lives up to these expectations and that the school celebrates and reinforces every child’s achievements as a matter of course.” Behaviour Policy, ELSS.

Our starting point will always be that pupils’ behaviour must be good in order to maximise their achievement academically. But at the same time this is part of creating individuals who are intellectually and emotionally robust and see themselves as making their mark on the world. The outward focus and emphasis on creating independence will mean that bullying has no place in our school community and will not be tolerated by pupils and staff.

Advice to pupils

What is bullying?

There are many definitions of bullying, but most have three things in common:

  • it is deliberately hurtful behaviour
  • it is repeated often over a period of time
  • it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves

Bullying can take many forms but the main types are:

  • physical – hitting, kicking, taking or damaging belongings
  • verbal – name-calling, insulting remarks
  • indirect – spreading nasty stories about someone, excluding someone from social groups
  • technological – derogatory emails, images (photographs or video) or references on social networking sites, or via text messaging, are examples of cyber-bullying

Bullying may be of a racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise personal nature such as commenting on a person’s culture, religious background or disability, or holding up members of a person’s family to ridicule on the basis of their race, gender, sexuality, religious belief, disability or appearance, or because of the fact of the person targeted by the bully/bullies being adopted, or otherwise in care, or being carers, themselves.

Why is it important that bullying is always dealt with quickly and firmly?

Bullying must be dealt with quickly and firmly because it is a very serious matter. Bullying can cause serious and long-term physical and psychological damage to a victim.

What should you do?

Bullying and its effects can only be dealt with if responsible adults are made aware of what is happening.

So TELL your Form Tutor or any other responsible member of the school community (which could be your Head of Year, any teacher, any member of the support staff, your form captain) whenever:

  • you feel that you have been a victim of bullying
  • you see bullying going on – this includes what you see or hear when online or using your phone
  • you have bullied someone yourself and would like to stop

TELLING is absolutely necessary because

  • the bully believes he or she is safe so long as nobody TELLS. In fact we help nobody – victim, school, bully or future victims – by keeping such behaviour secret
  • for victims and onlookers to TELL is not just their right, it is an obligation
  • in the end, TELLING helps everybody

The whole school community has a responsibility to combat bullying.

Action which is taken will take careful account of the needs of both the victim and the bully.

Advice to staff

Every appropriate opportunity should be taken to remind pupils of the definition and meaning of bullying which the School has adopted.

All Year 7 pupils will receive a talk in the Autumn term on bullying – how to recognise it, how to combat it, why it must not be tolerated. It will also be covered as part the Ethics course in Year 7 and during the reading half hour through our recommended reading list. Cyber-bullying and responsible behaviour on the internet will be covered in Computer Science in Year 7.

All staff will receive training in terms of identifying and responding to bullying as part of their induction; discussion of concerns about the well being of individual pupils also forms a normal part of form tutors’ meetings and HoYs meetings. Responding to potentially serious incidents and/or difficult relationships in and out of school will be addressed by the SLT and may involve coordination meetings with the community police officer and Newham Children’s Services Department.

Any incidents involving clashes between pupils from other local schools and our own would be dealt wth through joint discussions with the relevant head teachers and senior staff.

Victims and observers of bullying must be publicly encouraged to tell a responsible adult.

It must be made clear to the pupil that any conversation that implies action must be taken cannot remain in confidence. This implies a degree of sensitivity on the part of staff and a clear explanation of what will happen following the conversation.

All staff must be alert to the possibility that bullying may occur at any time and any place. Staff should be sensitive to changes in behaviour, mood, and patterned absenteeism. If you believe you have noticed such a pattern emerging this should be highlighted with Head of Year and a note recorded and passed to the Head of Year.

Staff must take every incident seriously – speak directly to the Form Tutor.

For a member of staff to allow or to condone the bullying of a pupil is a highly serious matter and if a member of staff is found to have behaved in this way, this may lead to the School’s Designated Person (Child Protection Officer) being asked to investigate in accordance with the School’s policy on the Safeguarding of Children.

  • Although bullying can occur at any time and in virtually any location, staff should take particular note of the following times/locations:
  • before and after school, especially outside The Clock Mill, in and around Tesco and at the bus stop and tube station entrance and underpass
  • during break and lunchtime in the Hall
  • toilet facilities on each floor and in the Hall
  • In corridors between lessons – be alert for signs such as intimidating body language being used by one pupil towards another
  • During lessons – be aware and respond firmly to any malice or derision being directed towards one pupil’s contributions
  • On visits especially on transportation

We can address the nature and implications of bullying through our programmes in Ethics and RE, through discussions and presentations during Reading Half Hour and through Assemblies. Tutors in particular are encouraged to make use of such opportunities to explore with their forms why bullying is unacceptable especially if an issue has arisen

A particular concern is the use of inappropriate language which can be identified as potentially racist or homophobic or challenging in another way. Care should be taken not to overestimate the intent of the perpetrator. Whilst it is of great importance that such language should be challenged immediately, it should be recognised that the intent to cause distress is often not as serious as might be understood by an adult. The reaction to such incidents should involve the education of the pupil uttering such language as to why their language is inappropriate and likely to cause offence. No pupil should be punished without understanding fully the consequences of their actions and how to avoid the situation that caused the problem in the first instance. However, repeat offenders should then be told that they risk being identified as a bully in line with the definition already explained.

After an Incident

The Form Tutor has the responsibility for initiating the School’s response and he or she may take advantage of the expertise of any other member of staff, subject to the following considerations:

  • a Form Tutor must inform the appropriate Head of Year
  • the Head of Year should enter details of the incident on to the Bullying Log
  • the Head of Year must be directly involved whenever parents are contacted
  • serious bullying must be reported to both sets of parents in a calm, clear and reassuring manner

In dealing with bullying, the following considerations should apply:

  • always talk sensitively and privately to both victim and bully
  • a written and dated statement should be made by both parties and kept on file
  • guarantee some protection to the victim
  • try not to allow the victim to feel foolish or inadequate
  • the victim may need some assertiveness training and certainly advice on how to avoid similar incidents in future
  • the bully must see and feel the School’s (and his/her parents’) disapproval and must understand that his/her acts must stop
  • try to get the bully to see the victim’s point of view – empathy is the key to improvement; this may entail a face to face meeting
  • with a group, deal with the pupils separately, but remember that it is unwise to make a separate example of the leader
  • the bully may also require subsequent support
  • where possible and thought to be of help, the bully should be involved in reparatory behaviour which may include, for example, formally expressing an apology to the person(s) who has been hurt.
  • ultimately, every pupil has the right to be happy at the East London Science School, and continued bullying is likely to lead to the Principal considering a pupil’s membership of the School, in accordance with the procedures set out in the School’s Behaviour Policy.
  • a pupil at the East London Science School approached members of staff with concerns about a fellow member of the School who is being bullied will as far as is possible and consistent with allegations being investigated fairly, be allowed to remain anonymous. Any such concern expressed must be treated seriously. Information or evidence they may supply should be written down, by the pupil, and the statement dated. Where such information leads to an incident of bullying being uncovered, it is appropriate, at a later point, to acknowledge the positive contribution made by pupils who give such information, in a way that is discreet – for example, a written note to a tutor or parent and private word of encouragement and appreciation for the pupil in question.
  • It is possible that an incident of bullying may have implications in terms of Child Protection, according to the terms of the 1989 Children’s Act, as indicated in the introductory paragraph above. For example, if bullying of one pupil by another has been carried out with the involvement of an adult, or where investigation of the behaviour causing a child to bully reveals significant information about that child’s  personal circumstances, the School’s Child Protection Officer should be informed without delay

Punishment needs great care and must go hand in hand with counselling:

  • allegations must be substantiated
  • the bully may have had some provocation and needs to be listened to.
  • the bully’s provocation may be related to a deeper issue in that child’s life and circumstances

In accordance with the School’s Behaviour policy, a pupil found to have bullied another member of the School can expect to receive a short fixed-term exclusion with a return to school being dependent on a discussion between parents / carers and the Principal / Vice-Principal / Head of Year. In cases where this is not the pupil’s first exclusion within the previous year, this can lead to continued membership of the School being reviewed.

If the circumstances and nature of the bullying are regarded by the Principal and Vice-Principal as serious enough, immediate permanent exclusion may be considered, in line with the School’s Behaviour policy, which states: “Exclusion may also be used when a pupil’s behaviour jeopardises the education of others or places the School or other members of the School community at risk.” This would involve the governing body and local authority being asked to review the case whilst the pupil is excluded pending a disciplinary hearing.

The 2010 Education Act grants powers to schools to authorise searches of personal electronic devices including, but not limited to, mobile phones, laptops and tablets, where there is reason to suspect these devices contain material which has been used, or could be used, to bully another person. Where this is thought to be the case, the Principal or Vice-Principal may authorise a search of any such devices that may be on the school site, or may require them to be produced in order that such a search can take place. Please refer to School’s Digital Usage Policy.