Scotland’s anti-bullying policy failing, say teachers

The Scottish Government is currently drawing up a new anti-bullying strategy. Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Government is currently drawing up a new anti-bullying strategy. Picture: John Devlin

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Teaching leaders have called for change in the approach to tackling bullying in Scotland’s classrooms amid concerns from pupils that the current approach is not working.

MSPs warned yesterday that “policy after policy” aimed at addressing the issue in schools has not worked. It comes amid recent concerns over a rise in homophobic and sexist bullying in Scotland’s classrooms.

The Scottish Government is currently drawing up a new anti-bullying strategy. Holyrood’s equalities committee has taken evidence from youngsters in recent months – who have said the current approach is not filtering through to the frontline – and grilled education leaders on the issue yesterday.

Labour’s Mary Fee said: “We’ve heard from pupil after pupil, from professional people who tell us that we have polices, we refresh the policy, we introduce another policy, we refresh it again, we do something else.

“And then we get young people in here who tell us it’s made absolutely no difference.

“With the greatest of respect, introducing policy after policy clearly is not addressing the issue.”

Philip Gosnay of the Association of Directors of Education said teachers must be confident in meeting the “demands” of children to tackle bullying.

He said: “We need to change our approaches and that will be helped through the guidance we’re going to get.

“It will help develop our responses if we then listen to young people.”

MSPs heard that pupils in independent schools often help draw up anti-bullying plans, as they are closest to the frontline on the issue.

Teaching union the EIS issued new guidance last year on tackling sexist attitudes after research found teachers reported girls being “pushed, grabbed and groped”, and subject to sexist abuse.

Campaign group TIE claimed earlier this month that nine out of ten LGBTI students experience homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at school, with 27 per cent having attempted suicide as a result of bullying.

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