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Beating the bullies

by Rachel Sutton of Mrs Sutton Says of 

Expert educator on eliminating bullying

Bullying is something that all class teachers have to deal with, some more regularly than others. A television phone-in I caught this week offered advice to parents and students who may be affected. Many felt that schools and teachers were not doing enough and were only reacting to a situation rather than taking preventative measures.

This got me thinking, as a class teacher what can you do to help prevent bullying in your classroom?

1. Teach your students about bullying. Show them the difference between bullying and being mean/teasing. Some people often get the two confused but someone who is bullied is consistently targeted by another individual or group.  It isn’t always physical and could be persistent name-calling. It could be happening on social media. Younger students often have access to Facebook and parents may be completely unaware.

2. Look at your school’s anti-bullying policy and be familiar with it. Plan lessons on anti-bullying. Role-play scenarios, look at examples of what is and isn’t bullying. Make all your pupils aware of exactly what constitutes bullying and that it will not be tolerated. Make it clear that there will be repercussions and any incidents will recorded and parents involved.

3. Ensure that within your class environment students feel they can report bullying without fear of reprisals. Your classroom should be a safe haven for all students. Conducting regular anonymous surveys can help you to identity how pupils feel within the class and the school as a whole.

4. Always lead by example. Your students pick up on things you do not even realise. Be courteous to colleagues and pupils. Demonstrate good manners to all. If you hear a pupil saying something inappropriate to another student such as calling them a name, do not ignore it. Call them out and make it clear that it is not acceptable in your classroom/school.

5. Foster strong pastoral relationships with parents. Be proactive and call parents into discuss problems before they get out of hand. Make them trust you and feel confident that they can talk to you in confidence should they need to.

Rachel Sutton founded Mrs Sutton Says in 2017 to share her experience of teaching in the UK and in China.