At Gusford Primary we want all our children to be safe and happy at school, and we take bullying very seriously.
But sometimes there are squabbles and conflicts between children which, whilst genuinely upsetting, do not fit into the normal definition of bullying.
So, what is bullying?
The following definition was taken from the gov.uk website (https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/bullying-a-definition)
There is no legal definition of bullying.
However, it’s usually defined as behaviour that is:
intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally
often aimed at certain groups, e.g. because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation
It takes many forms and can include:
What is NOT bullying?
(Taken from http://www.safefrombullies.com/)
Not liking someone: It is very natural that people do not like everyone around them and, as unpleasant as it may be to know someone does not like you, verbal and non-verbal messages of "I don't like you" are not acts of bullying.
Being excluded: Again, it is very natural for people to gather around a group of friends and we cannot be friends with everyone, so it is acceptable that when kids have a party or play a game at the playground, they will include their friends and exclude others. It is very important to remind kids they do the same thing sometimes too and, although exclusion is unpleasant, it is not an act of bullying.
Accidentally bumping into someone: When people bump into others, the reaction depends mostly on the bumped person's mood. If they have had a bad day, they think it was an act of aggressive behaviour, but if they are in the good mood, they smile back and attract an apology. This is also relevant for playing sport, like when kids throwing the ball at each other hit someone on the head. It is very important for teachers and parents to explain that some accidents happen without any bad intention and it is important not to create a big conflict, because it was NOT an act of bullying.
Making other kids play things a certain way: Again, this is very natural behaviour. Wanting things to be done our way is normal and is not an act of bullying. To make sure kids do not fall into considering it as an aggressive or "bossy" behaviour, we need to teach them assertiveness. Although it is not fun or pleasant, this is NOT bullying.
A single act of telling a joke about someone: Making fun of other people is not fun for them, but the difference between having a sense of humour and making fun of someone is very fine. Unless it happens over and over again and is done deliberately to hurt someone, telling jokes about people is NOT bullying.
Arguments: Arguments are just heated disagreements between two (or more) people (or groups). It is natural that people have different interests and disagree on many things. The argument itself is NOT a form of bullying, although some people turn arguments into bullying, because they want to win the argument so much.
Expression of unpleasant thoughts or feelings regarding others: Again, communication requires at least two players. Although it may be unpleasant to hear what someone thinks about you, it is NOT a form of bullying but a very natural thing.
Isolated acts of harassment, aggressive behaviour, intimidation, or meanness: The definition of bullying states that there is repetition in the behaviour. Bullying is a conscious, repeated, hostile, aggressive behaviour of an individual or a group abusing their position with the intention to harm others or gain real or perceived power. Therefore, anything that happens once is NOT an act of bullying. As a parent, it is important that you pay attention to what your kids are telling you and find out if things are happening more than once.
What happens at school?
The school is a large site (for small children). Although children are closely supervised when in school there may be times when children are away from the direct sight of adults – this includes using the toilet or changing for P.E (in the older classes). Children are encouraged from the beginning of their school career to undertake gradually increasing responsibilities. Very young children in Nursery will be accompanied as they take the register to the office. Younger children in Reception and Key Stage 1 may begin to undertake this task (usually considered an honour) without an adult, but usually in pairs. Older children may go alone. Similarly, when moving to different teaching spaces, younger children will usually be escorted, but Key Stage 2 are expected to find their way independently. When children are unaccompanied in this way, occasional jostling and squabbling can occur. Adults will always listen out, and bring such things to a swift end.
In the playground, children are supervised by teachers and assistants at break times – staff they know well, and who know them. At lunchtime, there is a team of supervisory staff, which includes staff who are also well known to the children as teaching assistants or sports coaches. In addition, in Years 4, 5 and 6 there are pupils who have been selected to be ‘anti-bullying ambassadors’. These young people are available to help out if a pupil feels (s)he is being bullied. Staff respond to all incidents in an appropriate, proportionate manner, in line with school policy. If a child is still unhappy, they will speak to the class teacher on their return to class. He or she will probably speak to other children as witnesses as well as the ‘victim’ and alleged ‘bully’. It is obviously difficult to sort things out after the event, and children are encouraged to tell an adult as soon as an incident occurs.
School is very clear that bullying is unacceptable.
Often, children may go home and tell a parent or other family member. It is natural that parents become upset and angry, and look to the school to sort things out, and we are always very pleased when they do this at the earliest opportunity. Leaving things over a longer period of time makes follow up more difficult.
One off incidents of unkindness and hurting are dealt with, using a restorative approach. In this, children are helped to explore:-