Charter plans to combat bullying among pupils

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The Independent Online
AN EDUCATION authority has drawn up a 14-point plan to help school governors combat the problem of bullying after the suicide this year of a girl who had allegedly been taunted by her school friends.

Katharine Bamber, 16, was found hanging in the garage of her home in Eastnor Close, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, five months ago. She left a note claiming that she had been bullied at Stourport High School.

Her case was highlighted by Esther Rantzen, the That's Life television presenter, who launched a nationwide campaign to stamp out bullying with the help of Katharine's parents.

As the new school year started yesterday, the Hereford and Worcester education department sent out a blueprint 'charter' to schools throughout the county as a suggested model for all governors to follow.

The document, which includes 14 points for guiding teachers, is headed: 'The governing body's statement of general principles covering measures for the promotion of good standards of behaviour in school.'

It says: 'Self-discipline should be encouraged and violence, including verbal violence, is to be discouraged most strongly.

'All children should be encouraged to have respect for themselves, for their peers and for adults. Self-respect is the essential foundation of respect for others and positive efforts are needed to foster it, especially in those children in whom it is lacking.'

The report warns that persistent bad behaviour might be caused by unhappiness at school or home.

Corporal punishment of offenders is forbidden, it says, and exclusion from school should be avoided unless there is a threat to the provision of education for, or the safety of, the majority of children.

Instead, persistent trouble-makers should suffer loss of privileges, be given extra tasks, placed on a reporting system and be given detention.

Parents of an unruly pupil should be brought into discussions about their child's future, and other bodies such as the social services department should be consulted if problems could not be solved by school staff.

The education department claimed, however, that anti-bullying measures were already being drawn up before Katharine's death, and a conference on the problem was being planned for 150 senior teachers next February.

Alec Mackie, the Hereford and Worcester County Council spokesman, said: 'This new report shows that the education service in this county has been involved in monitoring childrens' behaviour for a considerable time.'