Teachers and school staff feel least confident when tackling prejudice-related language, a report into bullying in schools has shown.
The report by school inspectorate Ofsted is now calling for staff to receive more specific training in order to help them tackle the varying kinds of bullying that take place in schools.
The report, entitled No Place for Bullying, is based on inspectors’ visits to 37 schools, including 19 secondaries, late last year and Ofsted reported that a lot of anti-bullying training was too general and left school staff “not feeling wholly confident” to tackle different kinds of incidents.
It states: “The training that the majority of schools had provided on bullying tended to be general and did not always focus on the different types of bullying that could occur and the implications of these.
“At its best, training left staff very knowledgeable about the different forms of bullying that could be faced by pupils and feeling confident to deal with different forms of discrimination.”
It also said that pupils in all of the schools visited could give a range of examples of disparaging language that they heard in school – related to perceived ability, race, religion, sexuality, appearance or family circumstances. “Homophobic language was frequently mentioned,” it adds.
However, it said that school staff reported feeling the least confident when it came to tackling students who used this kind of language.
It states: “Few schools had a clear stance on the use of language or the boundaries between banter and behaviour that makes people feel threatened or hurt.
“Staff were not always aware of the extent of its use, or they saw it as banter, so did not challenge it. Staff also indicated that they did not always feel confident to challenge or have the strategies to do so.”
Elsewhere, inspectors highlight some schools which had encountered problems with entrenched views in their local communities and have had to “systematically tackle” racist, homophobic and aggressive attitudes that existed among parents and carers.
Overall, the report, which contains a number of case studies, found that most of the schools visited had a positive culture and most pupils were considerate of each other. It said that in the best schools, expectations and rules clearly spelled out how pupils should interact with each other and bullying incidents were also recorded effectively meaning that trends and patterns could be picked up and tackled promptly.
Download the full report from www.ofsted.gov.uk.