As you will probably know, this week is Anti-Bullying Week across the UK. In our latest blog, we’ve outlined some information about different types of bullying and how you as a supply teacher can help to support and find resolutions for affected pupils.
While significant efforts have been made to prevent bullying in almost every educational institution, the problem is still prevalent and there are shocking statistics that highlight the extent of bullying in UK schools.
Firstly, nearly a quarter of pupils say they are bullied a few times a month, while more than 14% say they are bullied frequently, which makes the UK the fourth most affected country out of the 34 surveyed in an OECD study. In addition, nearly half of children and young people have been bullied at school at some point in their lives.
Different forms of bullying
There are many different types of bullying, including physical bullying at school, which is the form that most supply teachers will likely be aware of. However, in recent years cyberbullying has been on the rise as the use of technology becomes more prevalent amongst young people. Worryingly, the number of children reporting being bullied online has increased by 88% in the past five years, with over three-quarters of teachers reporting that digital technology has made bullying worse in schools in that time. Ethnic minority students are reportedly at a much higher risk of being bullied, while 65% of gay or bisexual young people have experienced homophobic bullying in school.
Bullying doesn’t just have a major impact on the mental wellbeing of pupils, but also potentially on their educational outcomes. More than 16,000 young people are absent from school every day due to bullying, leaving potentially major gaps in their education, and those that do attend face being distracted by persecution from other students which also impacts their ability to perform to the best of their abilities.
But what can supply teachers do? Firstly, you need to recognise what is and isn’t bullying. Learning to understand and manage different types of conflict is a major part of growing up; however, bullying is not simply a ‘falling out’ and it can have a significant impact later on in life and into adulthood.
We don’t want to go over ground that you’re probably very familiar with but, practically speaking, the key to helping children affected by bullying is to listen to their concerns and not let them feel as if they’re being dismissed or ignored. Equally, you can’t make unrealistic promises but you can reassure them that you can help to stop issues and feedback to senior management about the bullying in as much detail as possible.
It is also vital that schools and other settings have a shared definition of bullying. This should be understood by the whole school or setting including parents, young people and all staff.
When taking on a role you should ensure you read the school’s anti-bullying policy, as no two schools are the same, and there will be different policies and protocols to follow. You should be willing to be a sounding board; pupils often feel more comfortable speaking to supply teachers, particularly those with that they’ve previously developed a rapport with in the past, as this provides a break from the norm. You are a different person to speak to who won’t know the other children involved to the same extent, and will therefore be able to provide a more neutral perspective.
Training and development
Supply teachers can’t be expected to know how to tackle such a complex and challenging issue as bullying without the required support, and one of the training packages that we offer to specialist supply staff is based on developing an awareness of bullying of children and young people, the impact it can have and practical methods on how to tackle issues impacting schools and pupils.
This qualification will help to develop your understanding of bullying, including how to recognise that bullying is taking place and how to take action to stop it. This qualification covers the definitions of bullying and cyberbullying, legislation that relates to bullying, the effects of bullying on children and young people and how to act when it is identified.
If you would like to speak to us about supply teaching opportunities or would like to bolster your skill set and get better at tackling bullying in the schools that you’re working in, then get in contact with us here.