Disabled primary school pupils are twice as likely to suffer from persistent bullying as their non-disabled classmates, and more than twice as many children with SEN say they experience bullying 'all the time' at age seven, than those without SEN.
As we come to better understand bullying, the more concerned health professionals are becoming over the potentially damaging and long-lasting impact that bullying has on the mental health of children and young people who experience it.
Working in collaboration with the Department for Education, we aimed to dramatically reduce the disproportionate amount of bullying that disabled children and children with special educational needs experience in schools.
Promoting effective practice
Led by the Anti-Bullying Alliance we worked with 12 local authorities and one academy trust to establish ‘champion anti-bullying’ areas. Schools were offered the chance to become champion schools by combining a whole-school anti-bullying approach with a social model of disability approach to reducing bullying.
Over the course of the project we provided the champion areas:
- Face to face workshops, development planning and access to hundreds of supportive resources.
- Access to an online wellbeing questionnaire of pupils in school which enabled schools to hear directly from children about levels of wellbeing and bullying in school where they could see differences between disabled pupils and those with SEN and non-disabled pupils.
- Free online training for all school and children’s workforce staff.
- Additional face to face training sessions for all school staff and the wider children’s workforce.
What we achieved
Over the course of the programme we have worked with over 550 schools including 100 trainee teachers. We’ve supported 500 workforce professionals’ and 200 parent carers and trained over 6,000 professionals and 2,500 parents via our online training.
The schools that took part in the training were encouraged to monitor the progress of their school’s anti-bullying practice with a pupil wellbeing questionnaire. In just three months, the schools are showing results. Many have seen substantial reductions in the number of children who are bullied and by the end of the programme they will ensure that no child is being frequently bullied. In contrast to the beginning of the programme pupils were as likely as all other participants to feel safe, have good relationships with teachers, and enjoy going to school. This improvement in pupils’ experiences is one of the first steps to a healthier school environment, where the rate of bullying is low
What we found is:
- More than 80% of staff that attended training reported a sustained increase in confidence.
- 55% of schools said they have seen an improvement in pupil wellbeing as a result of the programme.
- Pupils themselves reported a vast improvement in wellbeing, with disabled and non-disabled pupils having the same levels of wellbeing.
We found that effective schools engaged in anti-bullying strategies that engaged the whole school, that celebrated difference in all pupils and staff and that listened to the voices of young people.
Since developing this programme we have established the next iteration of this programme called the All Together programme. You can find out more about All Together School or register your school by visiting the Anti-Bullying Alliance at at www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/alltogether