News, Issue One Anti-Bullying Network
Welcome Back
   
Professor Pamela Munn Professor Pamela Munn is the Director of the Anti-Bullying Network and of the Positive Ethos Programme, which also includes the Scottish Schools Ethos Network and the Promoting Positive Discipline Initiative.

Welcome to the first edition of the Network Newsletter. The Scottish Executive is funding the Network because bullying damages lives. All of us involved in schooling, young people, parents, teachers, support staff and educational professionals in general, need to share ideas and experiences about how bullying can be tackled. The News is one way of trying to do this.

The Anti-Bullying Network is freely open to all. There is no membership fee and no age limit (minimum or maximum!).

Prevention is better than cure. The most important thing that schools can do to minimise bullying is to establish an ethos in which bullying is unacceptable and in which all feel free to speak up if bullying takes place. Secrecy and silence nurture bullying. So creating an atmosphere in which young people know that their concerns are going to be taken seriously and where they are actively involved in working out a policy on bullying is important.

Underpinning all the work lies the importance of school ethos. A positive ethos promotes positive discipline, encourages regular attendance, has high expectations of pupils and makes young people feel safe and secure, ready to learn. So developing a positive ethos is part of the concerted effort schools across Scotland are making to raise standards. It is not an optional extra.

Our millennium conference in June 2000 will be celebrating the success of Scottish schools in raising achievement, illustrating how the component parts of a positive ethos programme are fundamental to school success. Further details in the next News.

Reacting to bullying is the theme of our second local conference in Aberdeen on 12 November 1999. There will be a chance to hear from young people, their teachers and parents about the kinds of strategies that help to stop bullying. These include peer counselling, the no-blame approach and work with bullies as well as with victims.

The full-time staff of the Network are Andrew Mellor, Network Manager and Adele Hartley, Senior Clerical Assistant. Our Advisory Committee is chaired by Gordon Jeyes, Director of Education, Stirling Council.

   
Our first conference
Peter Peacock Minister’s Memories
Peter Peacock, Deputy Minister for Children and Education in the Scottish Executive said how pleased he was to open the conference. Everyone was engaged on a vitally important task and he wanted to acknowledge that by being present. He said that he still had playground memories of the faces of children whose education and lives had been blighted by bullying. He said that the Network had been set up ‘to ensure that good practice already out there is shared throughout Scotland and schools and authorities are given support in their efforts to tackle the problem’.

"The response to the setting up of the Network has been overwhelming, with support coming from schools, authorities, parents, teachers and pupils. There is real enthusiasm to tackle this problem openly in partnership and it is this strength which will make it succeed".


Friends Against Bullying Friends Against Bullying – a Working Policy
Surveys of pupil opinion in Hermitage Academy suggest that bullying has been reduced by 50% in the last 5 years. Guidance teacher Morag McDonald writes: "The FAB approach is based on a counselling relationship between teacher and pupil. It offers the chance for victim and bully to talk openly about their feelings in a non-threatening atmosphere".

Hermitage students write about the conference:
"All the different groups from different schools were very informative and helpful". (Jonathon Spouge, S1)
"I learned a lot from it – things I didn’t know, and I got to meet more people which was nice". (Mhairi Goodfellow, S1)
"It was nice to talk to people who were interested in what we had to say, and possibly even influence their way of thinking". (Emma Brammer, S6)

The Hermitage team were: Emma Brammer, Laura Dennet, Mhairi Goodfellow, Morag McDonald and Jonathon Spouge.

   

A Local Authority Strategy to Combat Bullying: A Multi-Agency Approach to Bullying
A parent and pupil pressure group was set up after 14,000 parents in East Lothian signed a petition against bullying in schools. The group has worked with East Lothian Council on a strategy to combat bullying in schools and in the wider community. One aspect of this – a pupil contract – was widely reported in the press. The East Lothian team were Rhona Beattie, Ann Marie Carrie and Janet Davie.

 

East Lothian Team

Sandra Brown Sandra Brown organises the Scottish Workplace Bullying Information Line. This is open to all, but many of the calls come from teachers! The Information Line is available from 7pm – 9pm on Tuesday and 10am – 12 noon on Saturday. Ask for Sandra Brown on 0131 339 9232.
Learning for Life, an interactive CD ROM for 5-13 year old pupils covering bullying, vandalism and drugs was demonstrated by Inspector Ewan Forbes and the disc’s author, Wilma Gillanders MBE. It contains 76 age-graded interactive lessons for pupils and support material for teachers. This useful resource is available from: Grampian Police Education Liaison Unit on 01224 709975. SCRE
Rosemary Wake and John Lewin displayed the wide range of anti-bullying materials published by the Scottish Council for Research in Education. For details, visit their website or telephone 0131 557 2944.
Cawdor Books
Neil Ross displayed some of the thousands of commercial anti-bullying publications which his company can supply and gave away copies of a recently prepared book list. Contact him on 0141 766 1000.
   
Bellshill Academy Listening to the Voices of Pupils
Students played a key role in the Bellshill Academy presentation and can be heard speaking on a BBC web site which reports on the conference [go here].

Derek Goldman, the school’s Partnership Officer said "developing successful anti-bullying measures is more like a journey than a destination – the work is never complete, but you can make a difference if your efforts are sustained and your focus remains clear".

The Bellshill Academy team were Brian Cowan, Derek Goldman, William McCart, Robert Sommerville, Christopher Millar and Debbie Smith.

     
Creating and Maintaining a Safe Environment in the Primary School
The Angus Council team of Ann Ballantine, Alison Duncan, Gillian Strachan and Sheena Webster presented 4 perspectives from different professionals who worked together to tackle bullying. They were able to draw on a wealth of practical experience and theory which has been developed over many years in schools, the community and the psychological service in Angus and the former Tayside Region.
    
SSBA Parents & Children - What Bullying Can Do
Ann Hill, Chief Executive of the Scottish Schools Boards Association led a wide-ranging discussion which focussed on the need to involve parents in the development of school policies. SSBA HelpLine 01387 260428.
 
Conference feedback
We would like to thank all those who took time to fill in the conference evaluation sheet. A number of suggestions were made which will be incorporated into our next conference. The following comment was typical: "An extremely worthwhile conference which has made me challenge my own position as well as the effectiveness of my school’s strategies in dealing with the issue of bullying".

One of the young people taking part wrote: "I really enjoyed myself and would like to do it again some time".

Only one person had major criticisms: "We need to get the problem of bullying into perspective - if we do not then every squabble between families will land in the school for (teachers) to solve. What I really learned at the conference was not how to tackle the issue".

Andrew Mellor replies: "Bullying has come to the fore after being ignored for too long. This tardiness showed a lack of concern for the welfare of the significant minority of young people who were its victims and a failure to appreciate the importance of creating a more positive ethos in schools. Anti-bullying is a key issue in schools which is helping young people to learn the importance of things like respect for others, rights, responsibilities and openness. Schools which are successful in creating an atmosphere of openness will sometimes find that problems in the wider community are revealed. We should remember that schools are an integral part of the communities they serve and that tackling bullying successfully demands the creation of strong inter-agency links. Schools cannot solve all of a community’s problems but they can and should be part of any solution".

   
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Back This newsletter also featured some websites which the Network thought helpful for parents, teachers or pupils. Please see the Links page here for these websites and others.