Exclusion ‘No Answer to Bullying’

Parents whose children have misbehaved or been bullied at school are to tell the Welsh education minister that excluding pupils is “not the answer”. A Barnardo’s Cymru group of 20 parents will meet Jane Davidson at an assembly government event to discuss bullying. But one expert in bullying policy said schools needed the sanction after all the stages of a school’s bullying policy had been worked through. A consultation event in Newtown, Powys, on Monday will bring together representatives from local education authorities, teachers, governors, parents and pupils.

Barnardo’s Cymru is putting forward a group of parents, half of whom have children who have been excluded, to make a presentation. The parents, who have all completed a Barnardo’s course on managing their children’s behaviour, are to say schools in Wales “could do better” in handling pupils’ behaviour and bullying.

Barnardo’s Cymru director Raymond Ciborowski said: “We think it is likely that they speak for hundreds of parents throughout Wales whose children have misbehaved at school or have been bullied.

“Excluding pupils can compound problems rather than tackle the root causes of misbehaviour. We all need to find ways of helping schools – and parents – to cope with misbehaviour that also has positive outcomes for the children concerned.”

But Delwyn Tatum, retired director of the Countering Bullying Unit at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, said bullying had to be considered from the perspective of the victim, not the bully. He said: “I can see how individual parents may have had a bad experience, but I can be sure there are just as many parents who can say the school dealt with the bullying well.

“A school’s policy should give the headteacher a step-by-step way of dealing with a bullying case. Exclusion is not a knee-jerk reaction, you have got to have an ultimate sanction.”

In a statement Ms Davidson said: “The Welsh Assembly Government recognises the difficulties faced by head teachers and other staff when dealing with disruptive pupils, and is firmly committed to promoting discipline and order in schools.

“All children should have the chance to study free from disruption and teachers need the tools to help them minimise disruption where it occurs.”

She added: “I want this review to look at current good practice in Wales, but also the areas where we need to improve to ensure that some of our most vulnerable young people can access the support they need to overcome the barriers to learning that they face.”