Bullying is anti-social behaviour and affects everyone; it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Only when all issues of bullying are addressed will students be able to fully benefit from the opportunities available at schools.
Bullying is defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves. The three main types of bullying are:
- physical (hitting, kicking, theft)
- verbal (name calling, racist remarks)
- indirect (spreading rumours, excluding someone from social groups).
The nature of their learning needs means that students at Woodlands may not have sufficient understanding or awareness that certain behaviours directed towards others may be undesirable or that they might be construed as bullying. Similarly, some students, who are the recipients of such behaviours may be unable to express or communicate their aversion to such behaviours or to tell adults. This means that all staff at Woodlands School have a duty to not only be aware of such behaviours and of any child involved, but also to respond appropriately to instances of bullying behaviours.
If necessary, Woodlands School can draw upon a range of skilled and knowledgeable professionals to help devise strategies to manage and reduce bullying behaviours and their effects.
The students attending Woodlands School all have an Education, Health and Care Plan. This may mean that they are likely to have a limited ability to comprehend that they may be engaging in activities which have the characteristics of bullying behaviour. These may include wanting to be near a ‘target’ child or being interested in making physical contact with a student, such as touching a particular part of his or her body, or demonstrating potentially physically harmful behaviours, such as kicking or pinching the skin.
The student who is the target may show fear or anxiety when they see the student who targets them. This information must be shared amongst all members of the class team, as well as other members of staff who come in to contact with them.
Staff need to be skilful in observing the outcomes of the behaviours described above. It is important to refer to the Woodlands School Behaviour Support Policy.
All incidents of bullying should be reported using the schools electronic systems for recording incidents.
The proactive strategies being employed to overcome a student’s potential or actual bullying behaviour must be recorded in a Behaviour Support Plan. This Behaviour Support Plan will be shared with the child’s parents or carers, and must also be copied to the child’s school file. Strategies need to be carried out over a specific time span and their effectiveness reviewed. It is important that strategies are shared with parents and carers of the students involved so that there is a consistency of approach at school and at home.
It is also important to help the student who is the target of bullying behaviour, particularly as he or she may have difficulty communicating about their experiences. The child should be able to communicate in his or her preferred mode. The students need to understand that they will always be “safe” if they do this.
In all work with students, staff emphasise the importance of developing social skills, including respect for the feelings of others. Where students have difficulties interacting appropriately with their peers or with adults, then staff aim to help them develop an awareness of why particular behaviours are valued socially and what is inappropriate. Woodlands School curriculum builds on this through a wide range of activities including Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL).
Staff are important role models for the students. The behaviour of adults towards each other and towards the students is a potentially highly effective tool for preventing and for decreasing bullying behaviours in our students.