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Bullying

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Bullying is unacceptable regardless of the setting but bullying in school is endemic.Anti Bullying Logo

The parents of an unacceptable 45%* of home educated children who went to school report bullying as a reason for home educating. While bullying is normally by other pupils it is sometimes even by staff. The problem is often exacerbated by the schools poor, or totally absent response to the problem. This needs to change. (* The face of Elective home education I, EHP 2005 Mike Wood)

Since bullying events must be reported to their LA, many schools fear being stigmatised as a school where bullying is prevalent and too often their fall back position is to deny it happens and refuse to trigger their anti-bullying policy in any but the most flagrant of cases. So while some schools take a positive proactive stance against bulling, other schools fail to respond.

The reality of course is that bullying is present in all our schools, and indeed most settings. By ignoring it, or failing to act decisively, schools condone bullying as an acceptable cost of maintaining their schools reputation, the bullied child is simply collateral damage.

While the home education community is supportive of parents and their children who face this issue and will welcome them into the community and no matter why parents first began to home educate, the decision to do so is rarely a cause for regret, we do not want parents to feel coerced into a decision they would not otherwise consider. Therefore we urge parents to make all reasonable attempts to settle the matter with their school, providing delays do not represent a danger to your child.

There are some organisations that can offer support:

Kidscape also offer interactive one day workshops for children and families coping with bullying. These are available even if you now home educate.

if you finally decide to home educate, you can be assured of a warm welcome from the home education community who will be sure to offer you support in your decision. If you are curious to know more about home education try reading our FAQ.
School Bullying Advice

Michael Charles (specialist solicitor in schools & special needs law) suggests a 20 point check list to consider in bullying cases.

It is not necessarily exhaustive but he hopes it helps those who need it...

1

First and foremost special needs families should NOT be under a mistaken belief that statements of SEN in Wales, or EHCP's in England are not available. They are available and are all about protecting and providing support for children with special needs. Do not necessarily believe the word on the street as it is often wrong and does not represent the true legal position. If you are without such a plan or statement write to your local authority and request an assessment.

2

Be on the alert for changes in your child's behaviour. Record any unusual behaviour and speak to them about what might be worrying them. Often the child may not speak to those most close to them. In which case ask someone to take your place to give your child an opportunity to voice his or her concerns and report back.

3

Record each and every instance of bullying in a diary. Record the day, time, location, circumstances names etc. as soon as you are able to do so, recording also when you wrote it down. This will undoubtedly become increasingly important.

4
Report the bullying to the school. Not only by telephone but be sure to follow what is said in writing. Record in writing the promises to take action which might be made. Write back to the school to reiterate what was said and what action is being proposed.
5
Ensure that the action proposed is carried out by pointing out any mistakes or omissions. Record this in writing in the diary also.
6
Regularly ask for copies of the school records relating to your child. Be sure to check whether each incident is recorded in the school file and is accurate. If reports are not recorded ask for them to be recorded. Check the records for appropriate accuracy.
7
Ask for meetings to be minuted. If not ensure that you write back afterwards setting out your understanding of what was agreed in a letter or email.
8
If the school has prepared minutes ask for copies and check that the notes are accurate. Check in particular that it records the action plan correctly.
9
Check the school anti bullying policy and check to ensure it is being complied with. If it is not, write to the school to say so.
10
When reporting bullying to a school, ask to ensure that each incident, whether in school or on way to or from school, is recorded in an incident record. Ask for copies of this to be placed in the school pupil records (your childs file the same file that you routinely ask for up to date copies of.)
11
If your child's health is affected (either mental or physical), take your child to the GP. Follow medical advice.
12
Remind the head teacher of his or her duty to ensure proper discipline in the school. Ask whether disciplinary action is being taken against any culprits. If not ask why not. If you are unhappy with the answer say so and record what you say in writing, send a copy to the school.
13
If your child appears to be the victim of a crime report it to the police. Record the crime reference number. Remember bullying may also be a crime. Regular emotional harassment or physical assault can be a crime (Protection from harassment Act or Offences Against the person Act).
14
If non compliance with the plan is observed, or if the situation appears to highlight serious failures, report the failures in writing to the school. Ask them to take appropriate steps to intervene if situation is being ignored.
15
If the child is unwell and unable to attend school for medical reasons. You can ask the local authority for home tuition pending recovery.
16
If the child is too traumatised to return to school always seek medical advice and recognition of medical unfitness to attend school. If so ask local autjority for a new school and or home tuition (EOTAS). If new school is requested also ask that they arrange and pay for transport to the new school. Again put all requests in writing whether you have spoken to the authority or not.
17
Take photographs of any injuries and date them.
18
If other children or persons witnessed incidents ask them whether they would be prepared to put their statement in writing.
19
Check your child's social media accounts and messages. Monitor his or her mobile phone to check for bullying and evidence on the phone or computer. Record the evidence by taking copies (screen shots). Then report it to school in writing.
20
Do not rely on oral conversations. Make sure everything gets recorded in writing.

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