Wednesday, 10 January 2007

It's a funny thing but I suppose if you make a habit of being out there you can expect to be cornered by irate parents and carers who feel let down by the system and even very occasionally congratulated for what we are doing in schools across Leeds.

I know that people think I am Mr Positive, Mr Enthusiastic, Mr Everything is great and that I want constantly to be told the good news but actually I don't. It's nice to receive compliments but I also want to know where we get it wrong so that we can constantly strive to improve what we do for young people... so that we can really make sure that all our children and young people are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful.

It's a fact that being told what is going well rarely improves what we do. Whereas, being told what is going wrong... what is going badly... focuses the mind and gets you asking the difficult questions. It's not about blame but about a shared and collective responsibility to do things as well as we possibly can and to hold our hands up and admit to our mistakes and to our limitations. We know that this isn't easy or we would have cracked it years ago. We must search for answers to the really hard questions we face about standards, about teaching and learning, about attendance, admissions and behaviour and critically about bullying and young people's safety.

This evening I was approached by Olivia and Hollie's grandma who felt aggrieved that we had refused to give Olivia a bus pass to get her to school and away from a group of bullies who had tormented Hollie, her sister, and were now threatening and bullying Olivia. Hollie was not attending school because she was terrified of the bullies. It's strange but I felt it was my fault... here was a young woman who we had let down... who I had let down.

So what do we do for the Hollie's and the Olivia's... talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful young people whose lives were being tormented by bullies and the fear of bullies. How do we build resilience? How do we give these young people the skills to cope with this? Answers on a postcard or a blog comment would be welcome. Costed solutions would be really welcome.

1 comment:

Tony Evans said...

Tackling bullying requires an unrelenting school managment focus via: clearly stated school
policies INCLUDING robust and well understood sanctions; determined detection of, and an example made of, SOME perpetrators (eg throgh CCTV; or Deputy Head on roof with binoculars; or fortuitous observation by 2+ staff); vigilant staff presence, especially around toilets (2 staff of appropriate gender!); + getting staff,parents and community on side. It is no accident that school (A) (serving a socially disadvantaged community) can have entrenched bullying, whist school B (with a similar catchment) will have minimised the's hard work but that's how SMTs earn their bread.