Bullying represents one of the most complex challenges facing schools and governing boards today. According to research from the Anti-Bullying Alliance, one in every four UK children is bullied frequently or all the time. Those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are at even greater risk, as researchers found they were three times more likely to be bullied and to bully others (sometimes known as “bully-victims”).

The increasing popularity of social media has made things even more complicated, with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing one in every five children aged 10-15 has been bullied online. While the scale of the problem may seem overwhelming, schools and governors must rise to the challenge if they are to improve pupils’ wellbeing, social skills, and academic outcomes.

To maximise their chances of success, Governors for Schools and national charity Kidscape have joined forces to lend support wherever possible. However, we need governors to help us understand how to best use our resources. Do you have ideas about what direction we should take on this important project? Do you have first-hand insights and experiences to share about bullying? Read on to find out more about getting involved.

How does bullying affect young people?

The experience of bullying can be very damaging to a young person’s health and wellbeing. As well as making them feel lonely and frightened in the short term, being bullied can impact a pupil’s ability to concentrate on their school work and take a toll on their self-esteem. In the long term, this can harm their relationships with others and ability to fulfil their ambitions.

And that’s not all. Bullying can also impact the wider school community, including those engaged in bullying. Students who bully other children are not simply “bad” or “malicious”. Often, these young people have been bullied themselves, or suffer from unrecognised mental health issues. As such, it is important to help all children involved in bullying build a healthier, kinder atmosphere within the school.

How can we tackle bullying? 

According to research from Children England, the majority of young people believe staff and pupils should engage in restorative approaches to bullying, rather than punitive measures. Punishing children engaged in bullying may simply exacerbate their mental health issues and make them feel victimised.

Fortunately, schools don’t have to carry out this complex work alone. Anti-bullying charity Kidscape is committed to helping teachers and young people handle difficult situations through training programmes, including ZAP workshops and Bullying Awareness Training for Staff.

ZAP workshops are free training sessions designed to educate young people about bullying, help them become more assertive, and boost their self-esteem. Between 2019 and 2020, Kidscape found that 100% of ZAP attendees reported having a better understanding of bullying after the workshop, while 98% said they felt more assertive.

What is Governors for Schools doing to help?

Governors for Schools is proud to be teaming up with Kidscape to improve our support for governors interested in anti-bullying strategies. To ensure our partnership is as fruitful as possible, we’ve launched a survey to gather governors’ views about bullying in schools. We would be grateful for your insights, which we will use to inform our anti-bullying resources. To find out more about Kidscape and its stellar work with schools and young people, visit the charity’s website.