Estyn: Too many suffer school bullying in Wales

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Media captionSchool inspectors say 'at risk' groups are targeted

Too many school pupils are still suffering from bullying, Wales' education watchdog is warning.

Estyn says there needs to be greater support for 'at risk' groups who are targeted because of their sexuality, ethnicity, religion or disability.

The rise in cyber bullying is a particular problem for schools because it is anonymous and pupils can be too embarrassed to report it.

Education inspectors have also drawn up an anti-bullying checklist for schools.

The report found how different schools deal with bullying varies widely - and even between different staff at the same school.

The rise in cyber bullying was a concern for most secondary schools, with Estyn finding it difficult for staff and pupils and staff to deal with.

It was often unreported because pupils feel too ashamed to talk about it.

Often by the time teachers become aware of cyber bullying, it has been taking place for some time.

Image copyright Estyn
Image caption The research looked at 21 schools in detail

The report includes a checklist of anti-bullying practices which it recommends schools should have in place.

These include:

  • All pupils should know what to do if they experience bullying
  • An agreed definition of bullying understood by everyone in the school
  • Strategies to tackle cyber bullying
  • Counselling should be available
  • Effective supervision between lessons, at breaks and lunchtime
  • Safe places for vulnerable groups at breaks and lunchtime
  • Display details of where help is available in school or on help lines
  • Opportunities for pupils to take responsibility e.g. buddy systems or peer support

Estyn chief inspector Ann Keane said: "Schools should be places where all pupils feel safe and able to learn. Bullying not only affects a child emotionally and psychologically, but can result in poor attendance and underachievement."

While exact figures are not known, studies estimate between one-fifth and a half of all pupils suffered bullying at some point.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Cyberbullying through social network sites has been identified as a growing problem

Tackling cyber bullying case study - Dwr-y-Felin School, Neath

  • A detailed anti-bullying policy is in place
  • E-safety is taught in IT, social education and assemblies
  • Staff do not allow mobile phone use and monitor internet use with a sophisticated system linked to the school network
  • The school works closely with police liaison officers to support pupils whether cyber bullying has taken place in or out of school.

Source: Estyn

Pupils in secondary schools are less confident than younger children that the school would be able to do anything about it.

But some schools are praised for good initiatives aimed at preventing bullying.

They included Hafod Primary School, Swansea, for its panel of pupils able to call suspected bullies to account and Eveswell Primary School in Newport for eradicating homophobic language.

Crickhowell High School, Powys, was praised for creating a more tolerant atmosphere by teaching pupils about diversity and equality through the curriculum.

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