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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 21:27 GMT 22:27 UK
Experts to tackle unruly pupils
The "Tell Someone" film urges children to speak out
Specialist consultants are being brought in to help schools in England tackle the problem of badly behaved children.

The move is part of a range of measures designed to improve behaviour in primary and secondary schools.

The scheme will also see a 60-second film, reinforcing the message that bullying is unacceptable, offered to more than 70 television stations.

The film urges bullied pupils to "tell someone" and not to suffer in silence.

The message will also be relayed in motorway service stations, BT internet kiosks, shopping centres and London buses.

The Tell Someone film gives details of the Department for Education's anti-bullying website and the number for ChildLine, which offer further help and advice for children, parents and teachers on tackling bullying.

Behavioural consultants will be made available to local education authorities in England and the education watchdog, Ofsted, will have to report on schools' anti-bullying measures.

Education Minister Ivan Lewis said: "Tackling bad behaviour in the classroom is essential if we are to raise educational standards and create a greater respect for teachers.

No child should know the indignity and distress of suffering in silence
Education minister Ivan Lewis
"It is also central to reducing the anti-social behaviour which is damaging people's quality of life in too many communities."

He added: "We must have a new zero tolerance approach to bullying in our schools. No child should know the indignity and distress of suffering in silence."

Mr Lewis was bullied himself for the first two years of his secondary schooling, which began 25 years ago this week in Manchester.

"It was a very lonely experience, it was a very painful experience. Every day I believed that an adult would bring this to an end. It didn't happen," he said.

Minister's fight

It had affected the rest of his life and he had a "strong personal passion" to do something about the problem.

"There was a day where all the feelings I had about bullying came to a head and for the first and last time in my life I had a physical fight with the guy who was bullying me. That seemed to completely change the dynamics with this guy and all the others."

But he said that was "completely unacceptable and anathema to me" as a way of dealing with the issue.

"Frankly, for people to say, 'learn to stand up for yourself' is the right approach is completely unacceptable."

The fact that he had had to fight back had been "an indictment of the failure of responsible adults that could have dealt with that problem earlier in some way", he said.

Workload concern

The National Union of Teachers welcomed his initiative, saying unacceptable pupil behaviour often drove teachers to leave the profession.

But the union expressed concern that the scheme would add to teachers' workload.

"The last thing teachers need is extra workload arising from this initiative. Teachers' professional judgement should determine what is effective in ensuring pupil discipline," said NUT general secretary, Doug McAvoy.

"Any package on behaviour management must ensure that each education authority makes available to schools a wide range of support including special schools and withdrawal units.

"If a school can no longer cope with a particular pupil, there must be somewhere for that pupil to go."

Mr McAvoy also highlighted the need to encourage parents to accept responsibility for their children's behaviour.

"Parents must work with schools but many need help in doing so," he added.

The other big classroom union, the NASUWT, said all teachers should get behaviour management training if they wanted it, not only senior managers.

"It has to be borne in mind that the primary responsibility of pupils' attendance at school belongs to parents and guardians," said the general secretary, Eamonn O'Kane.

"It should not always fall to schools to be surrogates in meeting the legal responsibilities of parents."

The leader of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, said anti-bullying measures could be effective.

"Schools have put a huge amount of effort into developing anti-bullying strategies and the recent Ofsted report recognised the momentum that has been building up to deal with the very difficult issue of bullying.

"In Ofsted's words, 'Practical action founded on clear moral principles and the active involvement of pupils and parents can combat bullying'."

Will these measures help to stop bullying in schools? Send us your comments.

Surely these so called 'consultants' are or rather, should be, school counsellors. Barking and Dagenham are, I believe, one of the few enlightened boroughs who have taken on school counsellors and cover nearly all secondary schools and a primary school. This should cover all schools in all boroughs for truly effective support.
Carole Binysh, England

A lot of bullying takes place on school buses, where up to 50 pupils, sometimes from a mixture of schools, are "looked after" by only the bus driver. A similar number on a school trip would require three, or even four, adults to accompany and control them. To stamp out bullying on buses, spend money and employ a minimum of two adults on each bus.
Giles Falconer, UK

Public humiliation of bullies. It's the only way they learn. My bullies at school would only stop for a week that start again when I reported them. At the time, my school was proud to be one of the small minority that had a written charter on bullying.
Kevin, UK

Being picked on by others and constantly called names DOES hurt and is something which is not forgotten in later life
Helen Blissett, England
No, I don't think it will. I was bullied throughout infant, junior and senior school life. When bullying was reported to teachers it made it worse. I don't honestly know what the answer is regarding bullying in schools. They say "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" but it makes no difference. Being picked on by others and constantly called names DOES hurt and is something which is not forgotten in later life. I will never forget the treatment I received at the hands of others and I can see why some children are driven to suicide.
Helen Blissett, England

As usual the minister says that responsible adults i.e. teachers should stop bullying "in some way", without giving any particular guidance as to what the right way is. They've been banging on about this for the last fifteen years at least, and I have never worked in a school that hasn't had an anti-bullying policy, but it is all very well saying bullying is bad, and should be stopped, that's the easy bit, HOW is the bit that needs to be studied!
Lesley Hawes, United Kingdom

I was bullied at school (I am 41 now) and when I brought this to the attention of my head teacher I was told I should have sympathy for the bully as he was an only child. Will these measures help? Only if the attitudes of the adults have changed.
Karl Hemmings, Scotland

Remember to tell your child, pupil or student that you love him or her, however, you do not like his or her behaviour, what you do or say is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Sawak Sarju(Family Life Educator), Canada

Unfortunately teachers and educationalists are the least qualified people to interpret child behaviour, in most cases they have very little real world experience and their judgement is purely subjective. I'd like to see the definition of bullying extended to include the misuse of power by weak minded teachers, heads and governors against both pupils and parents. It's about time this cartel was broken up and real education given to all of our children, not just the servile elite!
Brian, UK

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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"It was a painful and lonely time"

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