Low level bullying; how can school deal with it?

(14 Posts)
ohnoherewego Fri 08-Nov-13 18:52:19

DD 14 has been suffering low level bullying since the start of Year 9. She's now in Year 10. We contacted the school when it started and thought it had got better because she didn't tell us otherwise and we received 2 school reports saying she had a good group of friends. We were very upset when we went to an end of year do therefore and saw that none of the other girls spoke to her and they all blanked her. She was completely isolated. DD then admitted that she had not been going to lunch for months as she had no one to sit with. By that time it was the end of Year 9.

We told DD that if it was that bad she should move and we would move heaven and earth to find a suitable school for September. We told her it was now or never to move as it may mess things up for her academically to move in Year 10 or 11. She was adamant she wanted to stay as she said she enjoys her lessons and is doing well. At the beginning of September I told the school about the exclusion and that their assessment of her having a good group of friends was way off the mark.

This week it has started again. Lots of little comments which are not much in themselves but cumulatively they are designed to make DD feel like shit. The girls in question have mums who are all very friendly and who blank me too. I can take it but they make me feel like shit so I have no idea how DD must feel having to spend all day with their daughters. I have told DD to keep a diary and we can then go into school and show them what has been happening. But what should I be asking the school to do? Any advice greatly appreciated.

Labro Fri 08-Nov-13 19:20:56

This happened to my ds for the whole of year 6. I still get the other mums blanking me, but I can tell you what the school did to stop the problem for ds.
* a named teacher for the child to speak to about any problems
* meetings between myself and the named teacher so that there was a plan.
* targeted observations of the situation and the 'ring leaders' spoken to.
* teachers being pro active rather than reactive, being aware of group work and not sitting known problems together.
*incident log so that they could see if a pattern was forming.

Encourage your dd to join an activity where she can get to know others outside of lesson structure.

The school also ran a whole class set of lessons on self esteem etc.

Obviously, your dd is older but do check out Kidscape as well as they have useful advice as to what you can expect from the school.

ohnoherewego Fri 08-Nov-13 20:11:21

Thank you Labro. Is your ds at the same school still or was it a school that finishes in Year 6?

SanityClause Fri 08-Nov-13 20:23:38

Speak to the HOY.

This kind of low level bullying is so hard, because it just sounds like nothing. A good HoY will have exprerienced it before.

I think, sometimes when bullies are called on this type of behaviour, they realise they have been rumbled, and are not going to get away with it any longer. DD2 had a "best friend" who would periodically try to exclude her from the friendship group. The HoY was quite helpful, as she got them to "make friends" without being best friends. They are now in the same friendship group but as they are not best friends, the other girl doesn't have the power over DD that she had previously.

I know your DD's situation is different, but do try the HOY.

Also, make sure your DD has other friends, perhaps in other classes or at outside activities.

I really feel for your DD. I hope she gets some help from the school.

Labro Fri 08-Nov-13 21:17:05

Hes still in same school. Would second what pp said about HoY, this year the HoY has been fab.

ohnoherewego Fri 08-Nov-13 21:44:44

I did involve the H of Y last year but don't think she dealt with it very well. Rather than criticising the way she dealt with I'm trying to think of strategies that I could suggest she might try. Thank you for your suggestions. The hardest thing s trying to establish what exactly is going on as I appreciate when DD gets home she doesn't want me to pick at the scabs. She does have 1 good friend at a different school so I try to concentrate on the positive.

alpinemeadow Fri 08-Nov-13 22:03:20

Is it now definitely too late to move (from the academic point of view)? I can see you and dd wouldn't want dd to jeopardise her gcses.
As for what hoy can do - does the school have an anti-bullying policy on the website that sets out what she should be doing? If not i'd ask to see a copy before your meeting.
There are two separate linked issues it seems - one is the bullying, which they at least should have a policy for, so now the thing for hoy to do is to implement it. The other is that your dd does not have a friendship group. I think there is a lot schools could do in this situation, like organising lunchtime 'tasks' to bring your dd together with girls she might get on with, class seating plans etc - however i sometimes think that schools just don't see this as a priority or their job, and you may have to press very hard to get them to do something. Are there some lunchtime clubs your dd could join where she might meet new faces - however much she has to fake an interest in mandarin or whatever!
My sympathies to you and your dd - horrible situation for her, and sounds awful for you as well,

ohnoherewego Fri 08-Nov-13 22:43:27

Thank you alpine. She has started her options which are very specific and she would struggle to replicate elsewhere. The anti- bullying policy is on the school website but it doesn't say what they will actually DO in a situation like this.
I think you're spot on with the suggestion of tasks. Last year the H of Y made a point of asking DD every time she saw her if she was alright, which although may have been well intentioned, made DD feel patronised and singled out. I also think being assigned tasks may increase her confidence which has taken a battering.
She has joined lunchtime clubs and I think it took a lot of guts to do so. The heart breaking thing though is that at the do at the end of last year NONE of the girls spoke to her and I think it has gone on for so long that at best it is viewed as not cool to speak to her or at worst that she is the year's weirdo. That is why we strongly suggested she move. She was adamant she didn't want to (and still doesn't) and I 'm not convinced pulling her out against her will would be beneficial. What if I took her from the frying pan to the fire?
We are considering different options for 6th form and are going to a sixth form open morning at another school tomorrow which may cause her to realise there is life outside the bubble. I remember all too well at that age thinking that what was, was how it had to be if that makes sense.

alpinemeadow Sat 09-Nov-13 05:56:57

Oh that does sound heartbreaking about last year's do - and the lunches.

You sound very perceptive - both about the fact that sometimes a dteen for no apparent reason becomes 'the dteen it is uncool to be friends with', and the fact that at that age you don't think you can change things, and what 'is' is just the way it has to be. It is interesting that school said she had a group of friends - do you think your dd had some people she could appear to 'hang out' with but was never really part of the group? Or was it a 'real' friendship that then tailed off?

It is a real dilemma when a dd doesn't want to move, even though she's unhappy. It's a brilliant idea to look round 6th forms, and i'd be inclined to look round several and start talking airily as if it's quite likely she'll want to move. Is it the 'norm' where you are? I know it varies from place to place. By the end of this term it's then effectively only 17 months till the end of yr 11, and if your dd knows the end is nearing, it may make it easier.

but those 17 months are still months she's entitled to enjoy, or at least not be miserable in, so as you are planning i would press the hoy very hard for action. Tasks, projects with some of the kind or also 'lost' girls, seating plans to put her with kind or also 'lost' girls, what about Getting dd and some other yr 10 girls to set up a lunchtime club for yr 7s? I'd suggest a follow up phone call with hoy on a fixed date a week or 10 days after the initial meeting, so there's a spur to action. If that doesn't reap results go to deputy head and then head - what have you got to lose?

On the bullying issue, if the policy doesn't go into detail, i would ask hoy for specific details of what the procedure is in this sort of case, and ask for a follow up call to confirm it's been done. I don't have experience - can any other lovely mnetter say what has worked in their case?

ohnoherewego Sat 09-Nov-13 18:28:49

Thank you alpine; it's just comforting to know that someone understands. We went to a sixth form open morning today at a school we rejected at 11 as being too far away. Both DH and I thought it would be fab for her now though. Most people will stay on at her school and the 6th form is huge. This other one is smaller and I think she'll have more of a chance to shine so we are planting the seeds. It's the school where her cousins went so we feel we can get a true picture before she goes which helps.

alpinemeadow Sun 10-Nov-13 08:20:16

Fantastic that the other school seems fab - an end is in sight at least! and if you can get dd on board so that she's looking ahead to that, it may mean current school seems less important to her, therefore she is more confident with the 'mean commenters' - a kind of unspoken 'actually i genuinely don't care what you think of me, i'm out of here in a year' vibe develops, which strangely can shift the social balance a bit.

You mention the current school 6th form is huge - does that mean the current year group is as well? If so might there be an untapped pool of potential friends at the current school outside dd's current form or 'friendship group that isn't'? But it can be almost impossible for a dc to find them, especially if her confidence has been worn down. Is changing form a runner? (i know - why should she have to, but if she's in a rut with current form it might be worth considering?)

ohnoherewego Sun 10-Nov-13 13:53:25

Thank you Alpine.The 6th form is about 250 a year rather than 130 a year in lower years. We discussed changing forms last year but the problem seems year wide rather than form wide. She really does seem to have been cast as the girl no one wants to be seen with. Ironically (but thankfully) she says that the only girls who are nice to her are the uber cool popular girls who maybe not so worried about their social status. They don't want to go so far as to hang out with her but at least will pass the time of day.

Re the new school she said this morning that she would consider going before GSCE's but they don't do the one subject she loves, excels at and gives her confidence so for that reason she is going to stay where she is for her GCSE's.

I am meeting with the HOY this week as I finally feel I've got the real picture of what has gone on and what continues to go on and I'll ask for an action plan as to what she intends to do. I'll let you know how I get on.

alpinemeadow Sun 10-Nov-13 21:17:53

Well, you never know, the uber popular girls will be changing as they grow older, maybe spreading their wings friendship wise and some becoming less interested in being cool, so it's not inconceivable that your dd will end up making friends with one or two of them? - there are those who say things change a lot in yr 10 and 11, so i'd suggest to your dd that she shouldn't assume they'll never be her friends - stay open to any overtures from them!

The subject that your dd loves that is keeping her at the current school - is there any possibility that if dd changed school she could still do gcse in that subject outside school? Maybe being entered for it by the new school even if they don't teach it? I have heard of this happening, so might be worth bearing the possibility in mind if things don't improve this half term?

Yes, asking for an action plan is an excellent idea - if hoy says s/he needs to think about it, discuss with others etc, i'd suggest she e mails you by x date to update you. Good luck again - to you and your dd!

ohnoherewego Sun 10-Nov-13 23:03:17

Thank you alpine; all very constructive advice.

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