How support staff can help reduce bullying

School support staff have a vital role to play because unlike teachers they are often in other areas of the building at break or lunchtime.

Lunchtime supervisors: Are you aware of pushing and shoving in the queue? Are some pupils missing lunch because they're being bullied while waiting to be served?

Playground supervisors: Are there some pupils at your infants and junior school who are spending a lot of time on their own? Are there minor conflicts during games which could escalate into more serious incidents?

When a pupil comes to you in distress saying they have been pushed over or hurt is that really horseplay or is it happening often enough to be considered bullying? If a child has nobody to go around with could you find them a playground buddy?

Are there regular issues of conflict in class?

Learning support assistants: Your input in class is not only helpful to the teacher but while the teacher has her back turned or is dealing with individual pupils you may be able to see where misbehaviour spills over into bullying. Is one pupil having their pencils taken so they can't do their work?

Are they being poked with objects like rulers? If you find hard working pupils' work deteriorating what's the reason for that? Are there serious and regular issues of conflict which are disrupting the class and other pupils?

If you're helping a pupil with special needs then you might find other pupils are jealous of the attention that pupil is getting and they take that out on the pupil you are helping.

School nurse: Your role in helping bullied pupils in a secondary school is vital. Pupils who have nowhere else to go to escape bullying may regularly turn up in your office with minor ailments looking for sanctuary.

You may be aware that girls in particular are under stress and self harming. They may not want to tell their form tutor or head of year that they are being bullied but if they confide in you, it's likely to be because they want you to pass the message on.

SENCO/Pupil support: Pupils are often teased for things they can't help, like having dyslexia and finding written work difficult, for having dyspraxia, ADHD, autism, Asperger's or a disability. These pupils may need extra support in class and at break.

Accident or assault?

Pupils do have accidents at school but Bullying UK's experience is that pupils are regularly being attacked on the premises, suffering cuts bruises and broken bones.

By far the most serious injuries are those where children are suffering such emotional distress that they don't want to go to school.

We're alarmed at the number who are already receiving psychological and psychiatric help before they contact us. When up to four pupils a day tell us that they are suicidal it's surprising that more of these cases don't end in tragedy.

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