This policy applies to the Hope Sentamu Learning Trust Board and all Trust schools/academies. It is to be read in conjunction with the school/academy behaviour policy, the Trust’s addendum to school behaviour policy/code of conduct, the Trust and school safeguarding and child protection policy, the school attendance policy, the Trust’s online live learning addendum, the school’s relationships and sex education policy, the Trust’s [staff] code of conduct policy and the Trust’s whistleblowing policy.
Date policy approved: 14th December 2020
Next review: December 2021
Approving Body: Standards Committee
Date: Dec 2020
Policy updates: NEW policy
Statement of Intent
Name of school believes that all pupils are entitled to learn in a safe and supportive environment; this means being free from all forms of bullying behaviour. Hope Learning Trust is committed to a safe, welcoming and inclusive learning environment, in which all our pupils are happy, can flourish and will thrive, to live life in all its fullness (John 10:10). Every child is revered and respected as a member of our community.
Bullying of any kind can have devastating effects on the personal mental health and wellbeing, identity-formation and self-esteem of any child or young person. This can have an impact on socialisation and academic achievements. We educate all our community about the dangers of bullying and how to treat one another with respect and to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Any form of bullying is totally unacceptable in the school/academy. We treat bullying as a serious offence and deal with any bullying complaints firmly, fairly and promptly.
This policy outlines how instances of bullying are dealt with, including the procedures to prevent occurrences of bullying. These strategies, such as learning about tolerance and difference as part of the school’s curriculum, aim to promote an inclusive, tolerant and supportive ethos at the school. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 outlines several legal obligations regarding the school’s response to bullying. Under section 89, schools must have measures in place to encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. These measures are part of the school’s Behavioural Policy, which is communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents.
All staff, parents and pupils work together to prevent and reduce any instances of bullying at the school. There is a zero-tolerance policy for bullying at the school.
Date: <as per publication date of this digital document>
Chair of Governors
Date: <as per publication date of this digital document>
This policy has due regard to all relevant legislation including, but not limited to, the following:
- Education and Inspections Act 2006
- Equality Act 2010
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Malicious Communications Act 1988
- Public Order Act 1986
- Communications Act 2003
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Crime and Disorder Act 1998
- Education Act 2011
This policy has been written in accordance with guidance, including, but not limited to:
- DfE (2017) ‘Preventing and tackling bullying’
- DfE (2018) ‘Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools
- DfE (2018) ‘Mental health and wellbeing provision in schools’
This policy operates in conjunction with the following school policies:
- Behavioural Policy (school policy)
- Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy (Trust policy)
For the purpose of this policy, “bullying” is defined as persistent behaviour by an individual or group with the intention of verbally, physically, or emotionally harming another person or group. Bullying is generally characterised by:
- Repetition: Incidents are not one-offs; they are frequent and happen over a
period of time.
- Intent: The perpetrator(s) means to cause verbal, physical or emotional harm; it
is not accidental.
- Targeting: Bullying is generally targeted at a specific individual or group.
- Power imbalance: Whether real or perceived, bullying is generally based on
unequal power relations.
Vulnerable pupils are more likely to be the targets of bullying due to the attitudes and behaviours some young people have towards those who are different from themselves. Vulnerable pupils may include, but are not limited to:
- Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
- Pupils who are adopted from care, or who are currently in care.
- Pupils suffering from a health problem, including mental health difficulties.
- Pupils with caring responsibilities.
Types of bullying
Many kinds of behaviour can be considered bullying and can be related to almost anything. Teasing another pupil because of their appearance, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, home life, culture, disability, or SEND are some of the types of bullying that can occur. Bullying is acted out through the following mediums:
- Online (Cyber)
Racist bullying: Bullying another person based on their ethnic background, religion or skin colour. Racist bullying is a criminal offence under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and Public Order Act 1986.
Homophobic bullying: Bullying another person because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
Transphobic bullying: Bullying based on another person’s gender ‘variance’ or for not conforming to dominant gender roles.
Sexist bullying: Bullying based on sexist attitudes expressed in a way to demean, intimidate or harm another person because of their sex or gender. Sexist bullying may sometimes be characterised by inappropriate sexual behaviours.
Sexual bullying: Bullying behaviour that has a physical, psychological, verbal or nonverbal sexual dimension/dynamic that subordinates, humiliates or intimidates another person. This is commonly underpinned by sexist attitudes or gender stereotypes.
Prejudicial bullying: Bullying based on prejudices directed towards specific characteristics, e.g. SEND or mental health issues.
Relational bullying: Bullying that primarily constitutes of excluding, isolating and ostracising someone – usually through verbal and emotional bullying.
Roles and responsibilities
The Local Governing Committee (LGC) is responsible for:
- Evaluating and reviewing this policy to ensure that it is not discriminatory.
- The overall implementation of this policy.
- Ensuring that the school adopts a tolerant and open-minded policy towards difference.
- Ensuring the school is inclusive.
- Analysing any bullying data to establish patterns and reviewing this policy in light of these.
The Headteacher/Principal or SLT designate is responsible for:
- Reviewing and amending this policy, accounting for new legislation and government guidance, and using staff experience of dealing with bullying
incidents in previous years to improve procedures.
- Keeping a record of all reported incidents, including which type of bullying has occurred, to allow for proper analysis of the data collected.
- Analysing the data in the record at regular intervals to identify trends, so that appropriate measures to tackle them can be implemented.
- Arranging appropriate training for staff members.
Heads of Year/Progress Leaders/Key Stage Leaders are responsible for:
- Corresponding and meeting with parents where necessary.
- Providing a point of contact for pupils and parents, when more serious bullying incidents occur.
Teachers are responsible for:
- Being alert to social dynamics in their class.
- Being available for pupils who wish to report bullying.
- Providing follow-up support after bullying incidents.
- Being alert to possible bullying situations, particularly exclusion from friendship groups, and that they inform the pupil’s Heads of Year/Progress Leaders/Key Stage Leaders of such observations.
- Refraining from gender stereotyping when dealing with bullying.
- Understanding the composition of pupil groups, showing sensitivity to those who have been the victims of bullying.
- Reporting any instances of bullying once they have been approached by a pupil for support.
The School Welfare Officer/Education Welfare Officer (EWO)/Pastoral Support Manager/School Counsellor is responsible for:
- Anti-Bullying Policy
- Offering emotional support to victims of bullying.
- Alerting the relevant Heads of year/Progress Leaders/Key Stage Leaders regarding any incidents of bullying.
Parents are responsible for:
- Informing their child’s Heads of Year/Progress Leaders/Key Stage Leaders or Form Tutor/Class teacher if they have any concerns that their child is the victim of bullying or involving in bullying in anyway.
- Being watchful of their child’s behaviour, attitude and characteristics and informing the relevant staff members of any changes.
Pupils are responsible for:
- Informing a member of staff if they witness bullying or are a victim of bullying.
- Not making counter-threats if they are victims of bullying.
- Walking away from dangerous situations and avoiding involving other pupils in incidents.
- Keeping evidence of cyber bullying and informing a member of staff should they fall victim to cyber bullying.
The school understands that, under the Equality Act 2010, it has a responsibility 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.
The school understands that, under the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, it could have charges brought against it if it allows the rights of children and young people at the school to be breached by failing to take bullying seriously. The Headteacher/Principal will ensure that this policy complies with the HRA; the Headteacher/Principal understands that they cannot do this without fully involving their teaching staff. Although bullying itself is not a criminal offence, some types of harassment, threatening behaviour and/or communications may be considered criminal offences:
- Under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, it is an offence for a person to electronically communicate with another person with the intent to cause distress or anxiety, or in a way which conveys a message which is indecent or grossly offensive, a threat, or contains information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender.
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes it an offence to knowingly pursue any course of conduct amounting to harassment.
- Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message, or other matter, that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character. It is unlawful to disseminate defamatory information through any media, including internet sites.
- Other forms of bullying which are illegal and should be reported to the police include: violence or assault, theft, repeated harassment or intimidation and hate crimes.
The school clearly communicates a whole-school commitment to addressing bullying in the form of a written statement which is regularly promoted across the whole school.
- All reported or investigated instances of bullying will be investigated by a member of staff. Staff will encourage pupil cooperation and the development of interpersonal skills using group and pair work.
- All types of bullying will be discussed as part of the curriculum.
- Diversity, difference and respect for others is promoted and celebrated through various lessons. Seating plans will be organised and altered in a way that prevents instances of bullying.
- Potential victims of bullying are placed in working groups with other pupils who do not abuse or take advantage of others. Opportunities to extend friendship groups and interactive skills are provided through participation in special events, for example, drama productions, sporting activities and cultural groups.
- All members of the school are made aware of this policy and their responsibilities in relation to it.
- All staff members receive training on identifying and dealing with the different types of bullying.
- A safe place, supervised by a teacher, is available for pupils to go to during free time if they feel threatened or wish to be alone. The teacher supervising the area will speak to pupils to find out the cause of any problems and, ultimately, stop any form of bullying taking place.
- Pupils deemed vulnerable, as defined in section two, will meet with their Form Tutor/Class Teacher/Key Worker regularly to ensure any problems can be actioned quickly.
- Form teachers/Class Teachers/Key Worker will also offer an ‘open door’ policy allowing pupils to discuss any bullying, whether they are victims or have witnessed an incident.
- Before a vulnerable pupil joins the school, the pupil’s Head of Year/Progress Leader/Key Stage Lead will develop a strategy to prevent bullying from happening – this will include giving the pupil a buddy to help integrate them into the school.
- The school will be alert to, and address, any mental health and wellbeing issues amongst pupils, as these can be a cause of bullying behaviour.
- The school will ensure potential perpetrators are given support as required, so their educational, emotional and social development isn’t negatively influenced by outside factors, e.g. mental health issues.
Signs of bullying
Staff will be alert to the following signs that may indicate a pupil is a victim of bullying:
- Being frightened to travel to or from school
- Asking to be driven to school
- Unwillingness to attend school
- Becoming anxious or lacking confidence
- Saying that they feel ill in the morning
- Decreased involvement in school work
- Returning home with torn clothes or damaged possessions
- Missing possessions
- Missing dinner money
- Asking for extra money or stealing
- Cuts or bruises
- Lack of appetite
- Unwillingness to use the internet or mobile devices
- Becoming agitated when receiving calls or text messages
- Lack of eye contact
- Becoming short tempered
- Change in behaviour and attitude at home
Although the signs outlined above may not be due to bullying, they may be due to deeper social, emotional or mental health issues, so are still worth investigating. Pupils who display a significant number of these signs are approached by a member of staff, to determine the underlying issues, whether they are due to bullying or other issues. In addition, staff will be aware of the potential factors that may indicate a person is likely to have bullying behaviours, including, but not limited to, the following:
- They have experienced mental health problems, which have led to the pupil becoming aggravated
- They have been the victim of domestic abuse
- Their academic performance has started to fall, which has meant they are stressed
If staff become aware of any factors that could lead to bullying behaviours, they will report this using the school’s pastoral monitoring system. The Head of Year/Progress Leader/Key Stage Lead will investigate the matter and monitor the situation.
- The school will ensure that prevention is a prominent aspect of its anti-bullying vision.
- Staff will treat reports of bullying seriously and they will not ignore signs of suspected bullying.
- Unpleasantness from one pupil towards another is always challenged and never ignored.
- Staff act immediately when they become aware of a bullying incident; this applies to all staff, not solely teaching staff.
- Staff always respect pupils’ privacy, and information about specific instances of bullying are not discussed with others, unless it is in a setting that the victim has given consent to, or there is a safeguarding concern.
- If a member of staff believes a pupil is in danger, e.g. of being hurt, they will inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) immediately.
- Follow-up support is given to both the victim and bully in the months following any incidents, to ensure all bullying has stopped.
Preventing peer-on-peer sexual abuse
The school has a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of peer-on-peer sexual abuse, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sexual harassment refers to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that occurs online or offline. Sexual harassment violates a child’s dignity and makes them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, and can create a hostile, sexualised or offensive environment. If left unchallenged, sexual harassment can create an atmosphere that normalises inappropriate behaviour and may lead to sexual violence. Sexual violence refers to the three following offences:
- Rape: A person (A) commits an offence of rape if he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
- Assault by Penetration: A person (A) commits an offence if s/he intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of her/his body or anything else, the penetration is sexual, B does not consent to the penetration and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
- Sexual Assault: A person (A) commits an offence of sexual assault if s/he intentionally touches another person (B), the touching is sexual, B does not consent to the touching and A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
The school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy outlines our stance on addressing peer-on-peer sexual abuse, and the procedures in place will be adhered to if any instances of sexual harassment or sexual violence be uncovered. To prevent peer-on-peer abuse and address the wider societal factors that can influence behaviour, the school will educate pupils about abuse, its forms and the importance of discussing any concerns and respecting others through the curriculum, assemblies and PSHE/Enrichment/RSE lessons. The school will also ensure that pupils are taught about safeguarding, including online safety, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum in PSHE/Enrichment/RSE lessons, and group sessions. Such content will be age and stage of development specific, and tackle issues such as the following:
- Healthy relationships
- Respectful behaviour
- Gender roles, stereotyping and equality
- Body confidence and self-esteem
- Prejudiced behaviour
- That sexual violence and sexual harassment is always wrong
- Addressing cultures of sexual harassment
All staff will be aware that pupils of any age and sex are capable of abusing their peers and will never tolerate abuse as “banter” or “part of growing up”. All staff will be aware that peer-on-peer abuse can be manifested in many ways, including sexting and gender issues, such as girls being sexually touched or assaulted, and boys being subjected to hazing/initiation type of violence which aims to cause physical, emotional or psychological harm. All staff will be made aware of the heightened vulnerability of pupils with SEND, who are three times more likely to be abused than their peers.
Staff will not assume that possible indicators of abuse relate to the pupil’s SEND and will always explore indicators further. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) children can be targeted by their peers. In some cases, children who are perceived to be LGBT, whether they are or not, can be just as vulnerable to abuse as LGBT children. The school’s response to boy-on-boy and girl-on-girl sexual violence and sexual harassment will be equally as robust as it is for incidents between children of the opposite sex. Pupils will be made aware of how to raise concerns or make a report and how any reports will be handled – this includes the process for reporting concerns about friends or peers. If a child has been harmed, is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, a referral will be made to children’s social care services (CSCS).
Victims will always be taken seriously, reassured, supported and kept safe. Victims will never be made to feel like they are causing a problem or made to feel ashamed. If a friend of a victim makes a report or a member of staff overhears a conversation, staff will act – they will never assume that someone else will deal with it. The basic principles remain the same as when a victim reports an incident; however, staff will consider why the victim has not chosen to make a report themselves and the discussion will be handled sensitively and with the help of CSCS where necessary. If staff are in any doubt, they will speak to the DSL. The DSL will be informed of any allegations of abuse against pupils with SEND. They will record the incident using the schools pastoral monitoring system, working with the SENCo, decide what course of action is necessary, with the best interests of the pupil in mind at all times.
The school will only engage with staff and agencies required to support the victim and/or be involved in any investigation. If a victim asks the school not to tell anyone about the disclosure, the school will not make this promise. Even without the victim’s consent, the information may still be lawfully shared if it is in the public interest and protects children from harm. The DSL will consider the following when making confidentiality decisions:
- Parents will be informed unless it will place the victim at greater risk.
- If a child is at risk of harm, is in immediate danger or has been harmed, a referral will be made to CSCS.
- Rape, assault by penetration and sexual assaults are crimes – reports containing any such crimes will be passed to the Police.
More information regarding the school’s stance on preventing peer-on-peer sexual abuse is available in our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy. Pupil confidentiality will be maintained in line with the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy, Data Protection (GDPR) Policy and Whistleblowing Policy.
The school has a zero-tolerance approach to cyber bullying. The school views cyber bullying in the same light as any other form of bullying and will follow the sanctions set out in section 12 this policy if they become aware of any incidents. The school will support pupils who have been victims of cyber bullying by holding formal and informal discussions with the pupil about their feelings and whether the bullying has stopped, in accordance with section 13 and section 14 of this policy. In accordance with the Education Act 2011, the school has the right to examine and delete files from pupils’ personal devices, e.g. mobiles phones, where there is good reason to do so. This power applies to all schools and there is no need to have parental consent to search through a young person’s mobile phone. If an electronic device is seized by a member of staff, and there is reasonable ground to suspect that it contains evidence in relation to an offence, the device must be given to the Police as soon as it is reasonably practicable. If a staff member finds material that they do not suspect contains evidence in relation to an offence, the Headteacher/Principal or SLT Designate will decide whether it is appropriate to delete or retain the material as evidence of a breach of the relevant policies. The school’s Behaviour Policy will be followed at all times in relation to any searches conducted by staff on pupils.
Minor incidents are reported to the victim’s Form Teacher/Class Teacher/Pastoral staff, who investigates the incident, sets appropriate sanctions for the perpetrator and informs the Head of Year/Progress Leader/Key Stage Lead using the schools pastoral monitoring system, recording the incident and outcome. When investigating a bullying incident, the following procedures are adopted:
- The victim, alleged bully and witnesses are all interviewed separately
- Members of staff ensure that there is no possibility of contact between the pupils being interviewed, including electronic communication
- If a pupil is injured, members of staff take the pupil for first aid consultation, to investigate the extent of their injuries
- A room is used that allows for privacy during interviews
- A witness is used for serious incidents
- If appropriate, the alleged bully, the victim and witnesses, are asked to write down details of the incident; this may need prompting with questions from the member of staff to obtain the full picture
- Premature assumptions are not made, as it is important not to be judgemental at this stage
- Members of staff listen carefully to all accounts, being non-confrontational and not attaching blame until the investigation is complete
- All concerned pupils are informed that they must not discuss the interview with other pupils
Due to the potential for sexist, transphobic, sexual, etc bullying to be characterised by inappropriate sexual behaviour, staff members involved in dealing with the incident are required to consider whether there is a need for safeguarding processes to be implemented.
If the Headteacher/Principal or SLT Designate is satisfied that bullying did take place, the pupil will be helped to understand the consequences of their actions and warned that there must be no further incidents. The Headteacher/Principal or SLT Designate informs the pupil of the type of sanction to be used in this instance (detentions, service-based activities, etc.) and future sanctions if the bullying continues. If possible, an appropriate member of staff will attempt reconciliation and will obtain a genuine apology from the bully. This will either be in writing to the victim (and/or witnesses if appropriate), or face-to-face, but only with the victim’s full consent. Discretion is used here; victims will never feel pressured into a face-to-face meeting with the bully. Parents are informed of bullying incidents and what action is being taken. The Head of Year/Progress Leader/Key Stage Lead/Class Tutor/Key Worker informally monitors the pupils regularly to ensure no further incidents occur.
- If necessary, group dynamics are broken up by members of staff by assigning places in classes.
- The victim is encouraged to tell a trusted adult in school if bullying is repeated.
- The victim is encouraged to broaden their friendship groups by joining lunchtime or after-school club or activity.
- The school will work with the victim to build resilience, e.g. by offering emotional therapy.
- The school realises that bullying may be an indication of underlying mental health issues. Where appropriate, perpetrators will be given support with any underlaying mental health or emotional wellbeing issues.
- The school will work with the perpetrator regarding any underlaying mental health or emotional wellbeing problems, where appropriate.
- The progress of both the bully and the victim are monitored by their Form Tutors/Class Teachers/Key Worker.
- One-on-one sessions to discuss how the victim and bully are progressing may be appropriate.
- If appropriate, follow-up correspondence is arranged with parents after the incident.
Pupils who have been bullied are supported in the following ways:
- Being listened to
- Having an opportunity to meet with a trusted adult
- Being reassured
- Being offered continued support
- Being offered counselling, where appropriate
Pupils who have bullied others are supported in the following ways:
- Receiving a consequence for their actions
- Being able to discuss what happened
- Being helped to reflect on why they became involved
- Being helped to understand what they did wrong and why they need to change their behaviour
Appropriate assistance from parents
- Pupils who have been bullied will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the DSL/SLT
- Designate will, if necessary, refer the victim of bullying to CAMHS.
- In cases where the effects of bullying are so severe that the pupil cannot successfully reintegrate back into the school, the Headteacher/Principal will look to transfer the pupil to another mainstream school.
- Where a child has developed such complex needs that alternative provision is required, the pupil who has been the victim of bullying, their parents, the Headteacher/Principal or SLT Designate will meet to discuss the use of alternative provision.
Bullying outside of school
The Headteacher/Principal has a specific statutory power to discipline pupils for poor behaviour outside of the school premises. Section 89(5) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 gives the Headteacher/Principal the power to regulate pupils’ conduct when they are not on school premises, and therefore, not under the lawful charge of a school staff member. Teachers have the power to discipline pupils for misbehaving outside of the school premises. This can relate to any bullying incidents occurring anywhere off the school premises, such as on school or public transport, outside the local shops, or in a town or village centre. Where bullying outside school is reported to school staff, it is investigated and acted on. In all cases of misbehaviour or bullying, members of staff can only discipline the pupil on school premises, or elsewhere when the pupil is under the lawful control of the member of staff, e.g. on a school trip.
The Headteacher/Principal or SLT Designate is responsible for determining whether it is appropriate to notify the Police, or the anti-social behaviour coordinator, of the action taken against a pupil. If the misbehaviour could be of a criminal nature, or poses a serious threat to a member of the public, the Police are always informed.
Monitoring and review
This policy is reviewed every two years by the Standards Committee, Headteacher/ Principal and the DSL. The scheduled review date for this policy is recorded in the Document Management section of this policy.