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Monday, 6 March, 2000, 16:01 GMT
Bullied pupil plans court action
girl being physically bullied by two others
Schools have a legal obligation to take steps to prevent bullying
A nine-year-old girl is preparing to take her school to the High Court because she says it failed stop her from being bullied.

Verity Ward says she has endured 18 months of verbal and physical abuse from fellow pupils at Bramcote Hills Primary School in Nottingham.

I just want them to stop. I can't take it any more

Verity Ward
Physical attacks have included being slapped and kicked, and having her fingers trapped in a door.

Her family says that despite asking teachers to take action, the bullying has continued.

Now they want to ask the High Court for an enforcement order which would force the school to follow rules laid down in its anti-bullying policy.

'Only option'

Verity, who lives in Sandiacre, Derbyshire, said: "I just want them to stop. I can't take it any more. I used to love coming to school, but now I hate it."

Verity's family have already been granted legal aid to cover the cost of advice, and are waiting to hear if an application for further financial help will be approved.

Her mother, Dena Trossell, said she first feared Verity was being bullied soon after she started at the school in September 1998.

She said she had gone to see the school, written to her local MP and the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, and even contacted the parents of the girls she believed were responsible for the bullying.

Her only hope now was to force the school to act, she said.

"It's been going on such a long time I didn't know what else to do. I'd already tried everything I could think of when someone said 'Why don't you try the law?'

"Nothing else has worked - this is the only option left to us."

Verity's solicitors will have to prove the action taken by her school is not consistent with its own anti-bullying policy.

'Comprehensive guidance'

Solicitor Jacqui French said: "Verity has been made a victim twice. She has been a victim of the bullies and then a victim of lack of action by the school."

The school and the local education authority, Nottinghamshire County Council, would not comment on Verity's complaints.

But head teacher Andrew Pearson said in a statement: "All reported incidents of bullying are investigated thoroughly and action is taken in line with the school's anti-bullying policy."

The council said: "We issue comprehensive guidance to schools on reducing bullying. This requires every school in the county to include specific reference to measures aimed at tackling and reducing bullying in their behaviour policy."

The Department of Education said on Monday it had never heard of a pupil successfully bringing an action in the High Court against a school over anti-bullying policy.

Verity's family are also planning to a bring a personal injury claim through the county court, for psychological harm suffered.

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See also:

02 Mar 00 |  Education
Bullied girl back in school
01 Mar 00 |  Education
Bullying victim gets alarm
23 Feb 00 |  Education
Queen meets 'bully busters'
17 Feb 00 |  Education
Bullying: Schools' duty to act
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