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Podcast: anti-bullying in schools

Last updated: 28 May 2019 Topics: Podcast

How to implement effective anti-bullying policies and procedures in your school

It is vital that schools have a robust anti-bullying culture and procedures set in place to ensure the safety of their students, including any bullying that takes place online.

In this podcast, we are joined by Kay Joel, Senior Educational Consultant at the NSPCC who discusses:

  • the importance of having anti-bullying policies and procedures
  • why schools need an anti-bullying ethos approach
  • how policies and procedures have changed over the years
  • what makes an effective anti-bullying policy and procedure
  • where to go for further tips and advice on bullying.

Start listening to the podcast now to learn more.

About the speaker

Kay Joel is a Senior Consultant at the NSPCC who works closely with schools to provide external consultancy. This includes undertaking safeguarding policy audits and visiting schools to verify safeguarding practices. She has also worked for over 25 years as a qualified teacher in primary and special education.

NSPCC Learning Podcast

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Related resources

> Read more about how you can protect children from bullying and cyberbullying

> Download a range of specialist training and resources aimed at teachers, schools and colleges

> Use our free online tool to assess your current safeguarding procedures


Podcast transcript 

Welcome to NSPCC Learning, a series of podcasts that cover a range of child protection issues to hopefully inform, create debate and tell you all about the work we do to keep children safe. At the heart of every podcast is the child’s voice and how what they tell us informs the work we do.

Hi and thanks for listening to the latest NSPCC Learning podcast. It’s quite a short episode this week, around about ten minutes but we hope it’s no less interesting.

I sat down and had a chat with Kay Joel. Kay was a teacher for over 25 years and she’s currently the NSPCC’s Senior Education Consultant. We talked about schools and how they can use their anti-bullying policies and procedures in practice. We talk about the good practice that Kay has seen in schools, how an anti-bullying ethos should be a whole school approach and as always, the importance of the child’s voice when discussing bullying.

I began by asking Kay why schools’ anti-bullying policies and procedures are so important.

Well, they’re an important part of what schools do to keep children safe, so any work that they do around bullying and preventing bullying sits within a safeguarding framework and part of the whole school ethos.

Everything that they do from the moment children arrive in school to the moment they leave and maybe even beyond that, in terms of keeping them safe and we know that bullying remains a concern for lots of children and also parents. So I think it’s important that schools show children and parents that they’re taking bullying seriously, that they’re responding to concerns, but not just about that but it’s also about what they do in terms of preventing bullying from happening in the first place.

How have policies and procedures changed over the years?

Well in the legal framework around what schools should have in a bullying policy has sort of got less and less. But in terms of the content, online bullying is obviously an ever-changing aspect that schools are having to deal with and that’s a particular challenge because online bullying doesn’t just happen at school. It doesn’t stop when children go home.

It becomes a sort of 24-hour issue, so it’s really important that schools work with parents as well and make sure that parents understand the issues so that they can carry on that support and that vigilance beyond the school day.

So Kay, you do a lot of work with schools on their policies and procedures, could you tell us how you work with them to ensure that their policies and procedures work well in practice?

Yeah, obviously having a policy written on a piece of paper that sits in a folder isn't going to make any difference.

It’s really about looking at what the school’s doing in terms of responding to different types of bullying, looking for any patterns and trends, trying to analyse perhaps where in the school building bullying is taking place and that would involve working quite closely with pupils because they’ll tell you things that perhaps staff don’t know.

It’s being really aware of who’s vulnerable and if there are any particular groups or individuals who do seem to be often reported about or because they are the ones doing the bullying, so it’s really important that the policy looks at how they support children who have been bullied but also how they support children who are doing the bullying.

Could you give us some good examples of case studies and maybe of a school or some schools that have implemented its policies and procedures well?

I think it’s schools where they start possibly with a really high-profile and anti-bullying week is a really good starting point for lots of schools and maybe using that week as a focus to raise the issue or reignite some discussion and some work around it.

Schools that might then follow that through in PHSE lessons or tutor time or circle time, whatever they use, where messages are given out to everyone who’s involved in the school community. It’s all staff, all pupils, parents, visitors making messages about bullying being unacceptable in school really explicit. So displays, getting the pupils involved in designing things, running campaigns, maybe using social media as long as that’s within the school context to raise awareness and report their concerns and some schools have done some really great work around bystanders and children knowing that bullying is wrong and if they see bullying happening in school that they should report that to someone.

Even if perhaps their friend’s saying “no, I don’t want you to” and that takes a lot of courage but schools that encourage that kind of ethos where their concerns are taken seriously and children know that are likely to do it much better.

Could we maybe, on the flip side, talk about kind of poor practice where it hasn’t been implemented well or maybe hasn’t even been implemented?

I haven't seen or heard this for a while but excuses like it’s just banter or it’s part of growing up and it’ll make you a stronger person and all of those things, but I don’t think that that is … I think awareness is much greater now so that probably doesn’t happen.

Probably the worst thing that you might see is the policy’s there on paper, it’s got all the right dates on and refers to all the right guidance, but it’s not seen in practice.

You talked about involving pupils in these policies and procedures as well, would that be a really good strong message?

Yeah, I’ve seen also some schools produce a child-friendly version of the anti-bullying policy, so it might be just a few bullet points, like these are the things that we do and these are the things that we don’t do, but it’s written in the words that children might use themselves. So if you’ve got a school council – again anti-bullying weeks are a really good time to involve your school council in making… putting that on their agenda and seeing what they want to do.

Just to round off Kay, where can schools go to for further advice and tips?

On our own website… bullying gets quite a few mentions in the Education Self-Assessment Tool which is free to use and downloads are free too and also on our website we have top tips for bullying. So they are about making sure your policy’s up-to-date, the messages that you give out in your school such as bullying’s not acceptable, concerns are taken seriously, looking at your curriculum, how you use display space around school to reinforce those messages and the importance of recording accurately and analysing those records to make your policy live in the school.

Great, thank you Kay.

All right.

We hope you enjoyed this podcast. NSPCC Learning has some really good content on bullying, such as advice on how to protect children from bullying and cyberbullying, a range of templates and resources, we’ve got reports on what children are telling us about bullying and we’ve also got the Safeguarding Self-Assessment Tool that Kay referred to earlier on in the podcast and the NSPCC also offers support and training to schools through our online and face- to- face courses.

For all this information, go to


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