Information for Teachers and School ManagersAnti-Bullying Network
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See also
"Reasonable Expectations - What are the Obligations of Local Authorities and Schools in Relation to Bullying?" - October, 2002. A Discussion Paper based on the proceedings of an Anti-Bullying Network Seminar for Invited Delegates, held in Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. View in our resources section here...

What is expected of schools?
  • All schools are now officially encouraged to develop anti-bullying policies.
  • In Scotland, Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools examine anti-bullying policies and procedures during their visits to schools. Special attention is paid to this during the recently introduced "care and welfare" inspections which, unlike normal inspections, are unannounced. Inspectors expect schools to have a policy statement which accurately describes how bullying is tackled.
  • Given all the support and advice which has been made available to schools over the past ten years it is reasonable to expect that all reports of bullying will be treated seriously and dealt with calmly. It is unreasonable to expect any school to be free of bullying, or that teachers will be able to stop every single episode of bullying as soon as it is revealed. Coping with persistent bullying demands a consistent long-term approach.

Which strategies can schools use?

The single most effective thing that a school can do to tackle bullying is to develop a policy outlining how the issue is raised within the curriculum, and how incidents are dealt with after they have happened; i.e. the policy must acknowledge the need for both pro-active and re-active strategies. Such a policy must involve all members of a school community including pupils, parents, teachers and non-teaching staff.

Examples of the pro-active strategies which schools have used to prevent bullying include:

  • Questionnaire surveys which have helped reveal the scale and nature of the problem
  • Short awareness-raising poster campaigns
  • Improved supervision in known problem areas
  • Using drama, role-play, novels etc. within the formal curriculum to help pupils understand the feelings of bullied children and to practice the skills they need to avoid bullying
  • Developing the playground as a learning environment
  • Circle time
  • Improving links with parents and the community through meetings and other activities
  • Peer Support and buddy schemes
  • Assertiveness training
  • Featuring bullying at school assemblies
  • Asking the student council to agree an anti-bullying code<

Examples of the re-active strategies which schools have used to deal with bullying once it has happened include:

  • Bully courts and councils, where pupils decide what should happen to people accused of bullying
  • Bully boxes, in which pupils can post notes about their worries
  • Telephone help lines, run by pupils in the school
  • Shared Concern Method and the "No Blame" approach – these are similar strategies for dealing with group bullying which allow something to be done even when circumstances are not clear
  • Counselling for victims
  • Peer counselling, where older pupils have been trained to help younger ones
  • Mediation, as a non-violent way of resolving disputes
  • Safe rooms for victims
  • Punishment, which remains an option if bullying is serious and proven

NB It is vital that teachers assess the true nature of an incident before applying any of these strategies. There are many different types of behaviour that we class as bullying. Each requires an appropriate response.


What resources are available to schools?

The following resources have been distributed to schools in Scotland:

  • 1990, Spotlight 23 - Bullying in Scottish Secondary Schools (SCRE): a research report [Available here]
  • 1991, Bullying - a package of materials sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and BT)
  • 1992, Action Against Bullying (SCRE): a pack designed for use in teacher in-service training [Available here]
  • 1993, Supporting Schools Against Bullying (SCRE): a pack aimed at enabling the whole school community to become involved
  • 1994, Let’s Stop Bullying - Advice for Young People: a free Scottish Office leaflet [Available here]
  • 1994, School Boards Focus on Bullying: a free Scottish Office leaflet [Available here]
  • 1995, Let’s Stop Bullying - Advice for Parents and Families - a free Scottish Office leaflet [Available here]
  • 1995, Which Way Now - A Progress Report on Action Against Bullying in Scottish Schools (SCRE): a research report and discussion paper [Available here]
  • 1998, Promoting Personal Safety and Child Protection in the Curriculum (MHI): a discussion paper which contains a useful review of teaching packages

In addition, some local authorities have provided support and resources to their schools. For example, schools in the former Strathclyde Region were offered a pack called Promoting Positive Relationships – Bullyproofing our School.

Schools in England and Wales have been given the opportunity to order a free copy of the DFES anti-bullying pack, Don’t Suffer in Silence, which was a product of the DFES/Sheffield University Anti-Bullying project. Visit the DFES bullying website here.


Some available resources
  • The three free Scottish Office leaflets listed above
  • Spotlight 23 and Spotlight 43: further copies are available free of charge from SCRE
  • A leaflet describing Discipline and Anti-Bullying materials published by SCRE
  • A leaflet describing Discipline and Anti-Bullying materials published by Moray House Institute of Education
  • Information about conferences being organised by the Anti-Bullying Network
  • "Promoting Positive Discipline - Whole school approaches to tackling low level discipline". This book has been distributed by the Anti-Bullying Network but is now out of print. However the full text is available online here.
  • Dealing with Disruption - this CD-Rom, a Scottish resource, is now available to view online (you will need QuickTime 4.1 and Adobe Acrobat); an adapted module from this CD-Rom entitled 'Disruption in Class' is also available to view here.
  • Safer Scotland/Scottish Executive distributed a new resource pack 'Let's Stop Bullying' in June 2005. This pack includes classroom/groupwork resources for children in the age range P6-S1, tips for adapting resources for older or younger age groups, and worksheets to support learning activities. Learn more here.


The Anti-Bullying Network can be contacted by email.

Questions about government policy or Scottish Executive materials should be directed to the Scottish Executive, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.