Bullying Still Exists in All Schools Warns Children's Advocate; Cruelty Continues as Authorities Fail to Implement Policy

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Byline: Abbie Wightwick

ANTI-BULLYING policies in Welsh schools have proved "inconsistent and ineffective", the Children's Commissioner has warned.

Speaking to the Western Mail, Keith Towler said some schools had tackled bullying with active, effective policies, but others had left the situation to deteriorate.

Since 2003 all schools in Wales have been required by law to have anti-bullying policies.

But whether these are visible and used remains another matter and bullying still exists in every school, he warned.

"Implementation of anti-bullying policies is inconsistent and ineffective across Wales," Mr Towler said.

"Because it's inconsistent it has not worked yet."

The Assembly Government is currently reviewing its anti-bullying guidance to all schools and trying to survey the extent of bullying.

Education Minister Jane Hutt insisted anti-bullying policies had been effective, but admitted more must be done.

"Anti-bullying strategies have made a difference but we can't rest on our laurels," she said.

"The feedback we have is that guidance provides a framework for schools. "But we've got to learn from schools and the pupils about their evidence and be more specific with guidance."

The review will include more specific advice on how schools can tackle homophobic and cyber bullying and bullying of pupils with disabilities. Mr Towler has made a number of recommendations to the review including improved initial teacher training on recognising and dealing with all bullying and on-going, on-the-job, training.

He would also like all schools to hold annual meetings with all staff to discuss bullying and for there to be constant reviews and updates of policies.

Mr Towler said he hoped the Assembly Government review would mean the policies eventually work to help reduce the problem everywhere.

"There's still, in some areas a reluctance to admit bullying happens in their school," he said.

"Those that say 'bullying doesn't happen here' should be ashamed because bullying happens everywhere. The idea that you might ignore it or say you are a happy school is not helpful."

He claimed some schools had "very good" anti-bullying policies on their shelves that teachers had no idea existed. Others had good policies that are acted upon and secondaries could learn from changes in primaries, he added.

"I've visited primaries where teachers are working really hard to create a warm, inclusive culture with playground 'buddies'. …