Bullying is behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally. Bullying can take many forms (for instance, cyber-bullying via text messages, social media or gaming, which can include the use of images and video) and is often motivated by prejudice against particular groups, for example on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, special educational needs or disabilities, or because a child is adopted, in care or has caring responsibilities. It might be motivated by actual differences between children, or perceived differences.
The school will consider that a learner is being bullied or victimised when he or she is exposed repeatedly and over duration of time to harmful actions carried out by one or more of the other learners.
Due to high levels of supervision and low learner numbers, bullying associated to ALP Schools learners is rare, Nethertheless, we take proactive measures to raise awareness and deal with bullying if it is to occur.
At this school there are some behaviours that if displayed intentionally and over time will be considered to be examples of bullying. These are as follows:
- Hitting, kicking and any display of aggressive behaviour directed towards a specific learner
- Imitating the behaviours of other learners with harmful intent
- Taking possessions from another learner without permission
- Uttering remarks and comments hurtful to other learner
- Cyber Bullying – Using online platforms to ‘virtually’ bully other learners in and out of school
Bullying and Autistic Spectrum Disorder / Vulnerable Learners
Learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorder find it very difficult to understand other people’s mental states as well as the causal relationships between behaviours and specific emotional states.
Although simple emotions such as happiness, sadness and anger may be within their understanding, a severe impairment in interpersonal-affective relatedness could constrain the learners empathic understanding of the emotions other people experience as a direct consequence of their actions.
In spite of this, it is sometimes the case that some of the learners attending ALP Schools will display behaviours, which inflict emotional or physical harm on their peers, and therefore immediate and effective action should be taken.
Bullying can happen to all children and young people and it can affect their social, mental and emotional health. School staff will support all pupils who are bullied. This means being alert to the effect any form of bullying can have and being especially alert to where it may have a severe impact. There is evidence to suggest that learners that are badly bullied in school are more likely to be bullied out of school, for instance either on their way to or from school or through cyberbullying.
Some learners are more likely to be the target of bullying because of the attitudes
and behaviours some young people have towards those who are different from themselves. For example those with special educational needs or disabilities, those who are adopted, those who are suffering from a health problem or those with caring responsibilities may be more likely to experience bullying because of difference. Children in care that are frequently on the move may also be vulnerable because they are always the newcomer. These young people are often the same young people who might need greater support to deal with the impact of bullying, for example those who are going through a personal or family crisis. In addition children with special educational needs or disabilities can often lack the social or communication skills to report such incidents so it is important that staff are alert to the potential bullying this group faces and that their mechanisms for reporting are accessible to all.
ALP Schools will consider the special educational needs of learners when considering how to address both the victim and perpetrator of bullying behaviour.
Strategies to Deal with Bullying
ALP Schools operate with a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. These means that the school recognise the adverse effects of bullying and as a result it is not tolerated. Therefore, on identifying bullying behaviour the school will address it effectively and promptly with support for victims.
The above principles are translated into a number of specific strategies to be used at school, class and individual level. ALP School’s believe that the most effective approach is to work on all three levels:
1. School Level
All incidents of bullying in school will be dealt with quickly. Our policy will be displayed on our website and will make it to clear to learners and parents how we deal with bullying.
Our school environment is characterised by warmth, positive interest and involvement from adults on the one hand and firm limits to unacceptable behaviours on the other.
The school should create an environment that ensures learners are respectful to the staff and each other because they realise this is the appropriate way to behave.
Learners who are likely to bully others and learners who are likely to be victimised will be identified in individual risk assessments. Incidents of bullying will be identified on behaviour logs and / or in a separate bullying log. The aim of the logs and risk assessments are to increase supervision and inform staff who do not necessarily work closely with a specific learner of appropriate responses to specific behaviours and is a method of preventing bullying before it occurs by ensuring the staff are proactive rather than reactive. It also aims to increase awareness among all members of staff and therefore increase the protection of learners who may be bullied.
Risk assessments and positive handling plans will be updated regularly by tutors, the behaviour specialist and members of the SEnior Management Team and copies will be distributed among the staff.
Meeting with Parents
Parents will be informed and asked to cooperate with school staff in eradicating bullying behaviours. They will be invited to participate in discussion groups regarding bullying through meetings in school or at home and on an individual basis whenever appropriate.
2. Class Level
Class meetings to explain rules against bullying.
Teachers/LSA’s will focus on what bullying is and how it can occur etc during PSHE / PSD and other group sessions how we should all work together to prevent it. This is a way to help the students understand the level of respect expected at the school and involving the students in creating the required school environment to help enable this. Assemblies may also focus on bullying.
Learners will always be encouraged to speak to their Teacher / Keyworker, if they are the victims or witnesses of a bullying event.
3. Individual Level
Teaching of Play and Occupational Skills
Learners who engage in bullying behaviours will need to be redirected towards engaging in constructive activities in their free time between lessons. These activities will be planned and provided by the SMT or behaviour specialist. The learners will gain positive reinforcement when they occupy themselves constructively.
Reorganisation of the Environment
Specific learners who have the tendency to display inappropriate behaviours may be asked to work individually and programmes will be devised to motivate the learner to work in groups appropriately.
They may be placed in separate lessons, be given an LSA for a period of time, be asked to work off-site or in a separate part of the school building.
Specific behaviours incompatible to bullying will be encouraged and reinforced consistently by school staff. The learners may use a token or recognition system whereby he/she can have extra rewards for the display of appropriate behaviours.
Learners who have been victims of bullying will be taught strategies to protect themselves from those acts. Possible strategies might be:
- Social stories to promote positive attitudes to behaviour and strategies on how to recognise and deal with bullying
- Talking to teacher / Keyworker
- Learning to avoid confrontational situations
- Learning to say ‘No’
Programmes of Behaviour Modification / Prevention
See section on management of behaviour in Behaviour Policy.
ALP Schools take preventive action towards bullying. Therefore, not only dealing with it as it arises but by developing a sophisticated approach in which school staff proactively gather intelligence about issues between learners which might provoke conflict and prevent strategies for preventing bullying in the first place.
The school take proactive steps to install good behaviour in learners and make them realise that bullying behaviour is not acceptable and learners treat each other with respect. This approach occurs in assemblies, group sessions, PSHE, Enrichment, celebrations and via proactive interventions that promote inclusion and prevent bullying.
The school will from time to time promote anti-bullying within the school. This may be done via awareness sessions, using ICT to reinforce E-Safety or promoting anti-bullying on our school website.
The school involves parents to ensure that they are clear that the school does not tolerate bullying and are aware of the procedures to follow if they believe that their child is being bullied. Parents feel confident that the school will take any complaint about bullying seriously and resolve the issue in a way that protects the child, and they reinforce the value of good behaviour at home.
Learners who have communication skills and have been victims of bullying will have the opportunity to talk about their own feelings, their worries and strategies for protecting themselves in the future.
The Senior Management team and key workers are available for any student who would like to talk.
Recording of Bullying
Bullying incidents will be recorded in the incident report forms, behaviour logs and in a separate bullying log where appropriate. A register of incidents of bullying will be kept and monitored. (See example in Appendix A)
ALP schools will always try to work with individuals to change their behaviour for the better. However, where bullying may be persistent, high level or beyond toleration exclusions may be put in place (See Exclusions Policy)
The school may also use restorative justice and / or methods to build a relationship between the individuals or groups involved.