We believe all of our Learners have the right to learn in an environment free from bullying behaviour and any form of harassment, whether this is on the grounds of a protected characteristic (race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, marital status or civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, gender reassignment), appearance or for any other reason. Such behaviour will not be tolerated. We seek to ensure that our learning environment is sympathetic to everyone with whom we deal in the course of our learning activities, and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
This policy is not contractual, but aims to set out how we normally deal with such issues.
This policy applies to all Learners, Rangers and other staff that attend Hill Holt Wood.
Bullying, in any form, is unacceptable at Hill Holt Wood and will not be tolerated. The primary aim of this policy is to prevent bullying and to uphold a zero-tolerance stance on bullying. All Learners have the right to learn free from intimidation or fear. All reported incidents will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. We do not take a ‘no blame’ approach to bullying as we believe that a strong message of disapproval must be conveyed to the bully and our disciplinary proceedings may be invoked. This could include loss of money, fixed term exclusion or permanent exclusion in the case of persistent bullying. However, we do take a solution-focused approach with the aim to prevent bullying through education and mediation where possible.
The secondary aim is to address any bullying that occurs effectively so that it is as short lasting as possible and effects are minimised. Hill Holt Wood also recognizes that it must take note of bullying perpetrated outside of our premises which may spill over into Hill Holt Wood. We will do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate any such bullying.
Bullying is defined as “the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or through cyberspace.
The definition above should be borne in mind when considering types of bullying;
- Emotional – being unfriendly, excluding, belittling, tormenting and threatening gestures.
- Physical – pushing, kicking, hitting, punching or any use of violence.
- Related to disability.
- Racial and religious – racial or religious taunts, graffiti and gestures.
- Cyber – Includes bullying via text message, via instant-messenger services and social network sites, via email, and via images or videos posted on the internet or spread via mobile/smart phone. Internet blocking technologies are regularly reviewed and updated and harmful sites are blocked.
- Verbal – Name calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, ridiculing and teasing.
- Interfering with another Learners property by stealing, hiding or damaging it.
Bullying related to special education needs (SEN) and disabilities
Under the Equality Act 2010 it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of age, pregnancy, disability, race, gender, religion and sexual orientation (this is not an exhaustive list). Hill Holt Wood must follow the Equality Act 2010 and staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimization. We all have a responsibility to actively promote equality of opportunity for all disabled people and eliminate disability-related harassment. Children and young people with SEN and disabilities, whether in mainstream or special schools, do not always have the levels of social confidence and competence or the robust friendship bonds that can protect against bullying.
This is particularly relevant at Hill Holt Wood where children with SEN and disabilities are themselves found to be bullying, in most cases (except those related to specific conditions) we should expect the same standards of behaviour as apply to the rest of the school community, having made the reasonable adjustments necessary.
As name calling is one of the most frequent occurrences of disablist bullying, steps must be taken to tackle disablist behaviour and name calling. All Rangers are responsible for creating a positive environment in their groups by having open discussions with Learners to address any ignorance regarding different disabilities or mental impairments.
Harassment may be defined as unwanted conduct that either violates a person’s dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. It may be related to any personal characteristic of the individual (whether perceived or real), or by association (i.e. related to the individual’s relationship or dealings with others who have that personal characteristic, even if they do not). It may be persistent, or an isolated incident and can take many forms, from relatively mild banter to actual physical violence. Learners may not always realise that their behaviour constitutes bullying or harassment but they must recognise that what is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. The fact that bullying or harassment was not intended does not mean that it cannot have occurred; however, bullying or harassment will not have taken place if the claimant’s perception of the conduct in question is unreasonable in all of the circumstances. Note that the person complaining of bullying or harassment need not necessarily be the person towards which the behaviour was directed. For example, a person who overhears comments made to someone else, and who is offended by those comments, may still make a complaint of bullying or harassment.
The Responsibility of Everyone
- Work together to combat and, hopefully in time, to eradicate bullying.
The Responsibilities of Staff
- Foster in our pupils self-esteem, self-respect and respect for others.
- Demonstrate by example the high standards of personal and social behaviour we expect of our pupils.
- Discuss bullying with all classes, so that every pupil learns about the damage it causes to both the child who is bullied and to the bully and the importance of telling a teacher about bullying when it happens.
- Be alert to signs of distress and other possible indications of bullying (see below).
- Listen to children who have been bullied, take what they say seriously and act to support and protect them.
- Report suspected cases of bullying.
- Follow up any complaint by a parent about bullying, and report back promptly and fully on the action which has been taken.
- Deal with observed instances of bullying promptly and effectively, in accordance with agreed procedures.
The Responsibilities of Pupils
- Refrain from becoming involved in any kind of bullying, even at the risk of incurring temporary unpopularity.
- Intervene to protect the pupil who is being bullied, unless it is unsafe to do so.
- Report to a member of staff any witnessed or suspected instances of bullying, to dispel any climate of secrecy and help to prevent further instances.
- Anyone who becomes the target of bullies should not suffer in silence, but have the courage to speak out, to put an end to their own suffering and that of other potential targets.
The Responsibilities of Parents
- Watch for signs of distress or unusual behaviour in their children, which might be evidence of bullying (see below).
- Advising their children to report any bullying to the Rangers and explain the implications of allowing the bullying to continue unchecked, for themselves and for other pupils.
- Advising their children not to retaliate violently to any forms of bullying.
- Being sympathetic and supportive towards their children and reassuring them that appropriate action will be taken.
- Keep a written record of any reported instances of bullying.
- Informing Hill Holt Wood of any suspected bullying, even if their children are not involved.
- Co-operating with the Hill Holt Wood, if their children are accused of bullying, try to ascertain the truth and point out the implications of bullying, both for the children who are bullied and for the bullies themselves.
Signs and Symptoms that Bullying may be Happening
A Learner may display signs or behaviour that may indicate he or she is being bullied. Everyone needs to be aware of these possible signs and should investigate if a Learner is;
- Unwilling to come to Hill Holt Wood on a daily basis.
- Becoming withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence.
- Starting to stammer (where this is not a usual occurrence).
- Attempting or threatening self-harm.
- Crying herself/himself to sleep at night and is distressed.
- Regularly feeling ill in the morning.
- Beginning to disengage from activities both onsite and at home that they used to enjoy.
- Missing possessions.
- Showing up with unexplained cuts and bruises.
- Stopping their normal eating routine.
- Frightened of getting on the transport to get to Hill Holt Wood.
We outline below the types of behaviour that are unacceptable and the actions that should be taken if students feel bullying or harassment is taking place. The examples below are not exhaustive but give a clear indication of the sorts of actions that constitute bullying or harassment.
- Unwanted physical conduct – such as unnecessary touching, patting, pinching, brushing against another person’s body; insulting behaviour or obscene gestures; physical threats, aggressive behaviour and/or
- Unwanted verbal conduct – such as unwelcome advances; patronising titles or nicknames; offensive or insulting comments; propositions or remarks; innuendo; lewd or suggestive comments; over-familiar behaviour; slogans or songs; insensitive jokes, gossip and slander (including speculation about a person’s private life and sexual activities); banter or abusive/offensive language which is either threatening or refers to a person’s sex, race (including colour and ethnic or national origins), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, marital status or civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity or gender
- Unwanted non-verbal conduct – such as racially or sexually based graffiti or graffiti referring to an individual’s characteristics or private life; abusive or offensive gestures; leering; whistling; creation, distribution or display of suggestive or offensive pictures, objects or written materials (including “pin-up” calendars) or videos through any
- Bullying – includes unwanted physical contact or assault but also verbal bullying such as insulting or threatening comments; comments intended to undermine, belittle, embarrass or humiliate the recipient; personal abuse, either in public or private, which humiliates or demeans the individual
- Virtual bullying – includes distribution of unwanted emails, texts, images or humiliating data published on social networking internet sites or abusing our technology or using the Learners own technology to contact another Learner in an intimidating or malicious
- Isolation or non-co-operation – deliberate exclusion from communications including group emails, conversations or social activities; withholding information or giving false information; constantly undervaluing
Bullying or harassment can be a single serious incident or persistent and repeated, continuing after the person subjected to it makes it clear that they want it to stop.
All Learners should note that any act(s) of bullying or harassment committed by them in the course of their time at Hill Holt Wood will be dealt with under this procedure. This includes not only situations occurring whilst working on site, but also at any time on our premises (such as during break and/or lunch times), or externally whilst attending social functions or training courses. It also covers emails, phone calls and texts sent by them outside of Hill Holt Wood using incidents that happened whilst on site, as well as posting on social networking sites and private messenger services.
Learners should always consider how their behaviour or conduct would appear to an external source, or if it were reported in the press or on TV, and should refrain from any language or behaviour which would reflect unfavorably on them.
In addition to bullying and harassment at Hill Holt Wood being a violation of this policy, and also a contravention of criminal and/or civil law in some circumstances, this type of behaviour can reduce the effectiveness of our business by creating a hostile or threatening environment. The damage, tension and conflict which harassment and bullying creates not only results in poor morale for all, but also divided teams and reduced productivity. Learners can be subject to fear, stress and anxiety, which not only affect their contribution within Hill Holt Wood but can also put great strains on their personal and family life, leading to illness, increased sickness absence and Learner turnover.
Bullying behaviour that occurs on the transport to and from Hill Holt Wood will be taken very seriously. The drivers must report any incidences of bullying as soon as they are on site and these must be dealt with immediately. Travel strikes will be issues to the Learners and unlike our other Strike Systems; the travel strikes are not reset. If their behaviour is bullying in nature then they will receive 1 strike each time. Once they reach 3 strikes, the transport will cease for them.
Therefore, all complaints of bullying or harassment will be treated very seriously.
Addressing Bullying and Prevention Strategies
- The respectful, tolerant and understanding ethos of Hill Holt Wood is promoted by Staff towards other Staff and Learners at all available opportunities.
- The topic of bullying needs to be revisited frequently through the Enrichment Programme for the Learners and through regular training for the Staff. A Level 1 qualification is offered to all Learners in which they learn about bullying and the long term impacts. All Learners engage in meaningful activities that are relevant to them during Anti-Bullying Week.
- Learners are urged to report bullying, confident that it will be addressed. Bystanders are encouraged to challenge bullying. They should point out to the bully the unacceptability of what is being done, then report bullying to an adult if this is unsuccessful.
- Surveys will be sent to all Learners, Parents and Rangers to complete on a bi-annual basis to monitor the attitudes to bullying.
- Break times and lunch times are all monitored and any issues are addressed immediately by the Rangers present.
- At every opportunity, we will build Learners self-esteem and confidence through recognition of achievements and with our merit system. We consider that Learners with strong self- belief are less likely to bully others or to allow others to bully them.
- All-For-One Approach à all staff are committed to tackling bullying and encouraging social and emotional development and learning. We emphasize building trusting and mutually respectful relationships between staff and learners.
- Mediation à where appropriate mediation will be used to help resolve the conflict. This will involve the victim and the perpetrator as well as an independent third party (mediator). The participants will be encouraged to examine the situation at hand and then come to an agreeable resolution themselves. This technique is a positive way to resolve conflicts however, if the bullying involves drugs, weapons or has caused bodily harm etc., and then a zero tolerance policy is the right course of action. Consideration must be given to a victim that doesn’t want to face their bully in a mediation situation.
- Accountability à The perpetrator must be held accountable for their actions. Regardless of the underlying reasons, bullying is wrong and perpetrators need to be held responsible. They must be helped to understand the impact of their actions and to make amends. Positive discipline methods can help to hold Learners accountable while also encouraging better behaviour in the future. Bullies should be monitored, and those who continue to bully may be subjected to increasingly serious sanctions, including suspensions, expulsions, and in very serious cases, through legal channels.
The sensitive nature of complaints of bullying or harassment is recognised and therefore a choice of routes is provided in order to encourage Learners to discuss any problems in confidence with someone they trust and feel comfortable talking to.
Anyone who believes they have been the subject of bullying or harassment can report it in the following ways;
- The Drama Llama Anonymous Email that is available to all Learners and is visible on Posters around the Hill Holt Wood and Big Wood Site. This email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Posting a notelet into a locked wooden box which is located in the Canteen, Toilets and in the Main Office.
- Speaking to any Ranger face-to-face.
- Through the Hill Holt Wood Facebook Private Messenger Service.
- Phoning the Office.
In all cases of reported bullying, the matter will be treated in strictest confidence and in a serious manner.
A Learner who, at any time, feels that they are a victim of minor bullying or harassment should make it clear to the perpetrator as soon as possible that the behaviour is unacceptable to them, explain the effect that the behaviour is having on them and that it must stop.
If they feel unable to do this, then a written request may be effective or, alternatively, a Ranger may be requested to approach the perpetrator on the individual’s behalf or to help them in taking such action. If this happens, a written record should be made of the details of any incidents of perceived bullying (including date; time; place; name of person allegedly harassing the individual; what happened including verbatim quotes of relevant comments where possible; how the individual felt at the time; names of any witnesses and any action taken), and any texts, emails, voice messages or other evidence that may support their allegations should be retained.
Where previous methods have failed, or serious bullying or harassment occurs, a formal written complaint should be made and, if necessary, assistance should be sought from any of the Rangers. Whilst recognising the Learners feelings and the effect the alleged behaviour may have had on them. It is important to establish the facts and they will be asked to provide details of the allegations, i.e.:
- What happened?
- Where did it occur?
- Who was involved?
- Was this the first incident? (if not, further detail will be needed).
- When did it occur?
- Were there any witnesses? (if so, names and witness statements will be needed).
- Has any action been taken to prevent further repetition of the behaviour?
After an allegation has been dealt with, a member of staff must call them in after no more than a month to establish if things have improved or if further action needs to be taken. This complaint may be made to either a senior manager or to a Ranger.
The Learner may, if they wish, be supported throughout the procedure and at any meetings by a Ranger or Learner of their choice.
The person receiving the complaint will carry out a thorough investigation as quickly as possible. When asking questions, it is important for the matter to be dealt with sensitively and to take care not to phrase questions in a way that implies that the bullying/harassment may in some way have been directly or indirectly invited and to avoid remarks that appear to trivialize the experience or suggest that it was imaginary. The intention of the alleged bully/harasser is irrelevant; it is the effect on the complainant that is important.
Consideration will be given to whether the alleged bully or harasser should be kept away from the victim or face fixed term exclusion until the matter is resolved.
All Learners (and also any external parties) involved in the investigation are expected to respect the need for confidentiality. At any time, the alleged perpetrator can ask to see the statements made against them but the names of the witnesses may be withheld if they request to remain anonymous, and particularly if they have a genuine concern or fear of reprisal.
Where the investigator in charge of dealing with a complaint believes that, after the investigation, bullying or harassment has taken place they will speak immediately to the Senior Management Team to invoke disciplinary proceedings. The alleged perpetrator that has been accused has every opportunity to defend or explain their actions. Common responses to allegations of bullying/harassment include denial or disbelief that the behaviour was offensive or was not welcome. None of this alters the fact that a complaint has been made which may lead to disciplinary action.
The severity of the consequence imposed upon a Learner believed to be guilty of bullying/harassment will be consistent with how other bullying offences have been treated. Where the bully/harasser is given a warning short of exclusion, discussions will take place with the person making the complaint, and, where necessary, any reasonable steps will be taken to alter working practices to minimise contact between the affected Learners.
As a general principle, the decision to progress a complaint rests with the Learner reporting the bullying. However, we have a duty to protect all Learners and we may pursue a complaint independently if we consider it is appropriate to do so.
Anyone who brings a complaint of bullying or harassment will not suffer victimization for having brought the complaint. The complainant should not be moved except at their request or in exceptional circumstances. However, if the complaint is untrue and has been brought in bad faith (e.g. spite) disciplinary action will be taken.
Following the investigation
Full consideration will be given to how the ongoing working relationship between the Learners should be managed going forwards. This may involve, for example, arranging some form of mediation or counselling or a change in the duties or reporting lines of either party. This will apply even where a complaint is not upheld (for example, where evidence is inconclusive).
Once this has been resolved and time has been given to allow relationships to stabilize and return to normal, contact should be maintained with the affected Learners informally. If further problems of bullying, harassment or victimization are encountered, or the Learner continues to suffer stress or anxiety, immediate action should be taken to investigate or find a solution.
Our bullying and harassment policy is intended to give guidance and support, taking into account the sensitivity and serious nature of such issues. However, a Learner who is not happy with the outcome of a complaint raised under this policy (or who feels, after time, that the situation has either not improved or has deteriorated again), may use the grievance procedure instead. Our grievance procedure may be used as an alternative procedure, but not as an additional procedure for the same issue.
This policy takes effect immediately. The management of Hill Holt Wood have overall responsibility for implementing and monitoring this policy, which will be reviewed on a regular basis following its implementation and may be changed from time to time.
Any queries or comments about this policy should be addressed to a manager.