School forced to defend action against bullying

Berwickshire High School
Berwickshire High School

Organisers of an online petition calling on Berwickshire High School to tackle bullying in the school are claiming victory.

Started last Wednesday, within two days the online petition had attracted 498 signatures, and many of those signing up left comments about their personal experiences of being bullied at school.

Euan Matthews, who started the petition, closed it on the Friday saying they were in talks with the school. The petition page now says: “The school are introducing new training and systems to make the school a leader in anti bullying in Scotland.

“We are very happy that our wee school of BHS has accepted and responded to this petition so quickly and processionally.”

A number of parents whose children will join Berwickshire High School from primary school after the summer holidays had expressed concern on the website petition and high school head teacher, John Clarke, wrote to all parents and guardians of P7 pupils on Friday in response to the petition comments.

In his letter to parents Mr Clarke said: “I wish to issue a response to this petition that

I hope will both reassure and give you confidence that the school does indeed recognise the importance of dealing effectively with all incidents of bullying behaviour.”

The incident that triggered the petition involved an autistic pupil who allegedly received a letter telling her to kill herself and when a teacher was notified they crumpled it up and put it in the bin.

Mr Clarke said of the incident: “The school had acted on the particular issue mentioned and contacted the respective parent before the petition was even created. I can quote the parent, with permission, who stated that ‘the school did everything to sort the issue out’.

“We endeavour to make our entire school feel safe at all times.”

The parent of a future pupil wrote: “My son will eventually attend this school and I would like to know the staff and school are doing everything in their power to prevent bullying.

“With social media bullying can go to a whole new level.”

Another parent added: “I have sat endless nights with a child who couldn’t understand why when she was only ever kind and helpful she would be singled out for ridicule. You have to understand the lifetime devastation bullying causes.”

A former pupil added his comment: “Bullying is getting completely out of hand now and its long over due that something serious is done about it. Biggest lie you get told in school is that ‘bullying is not tolerated’.”

In a joint response, the school and Scottish Borders Council said: “Berwickshire High School takes all incidents of bullying very seriously. Staff do their very best to deal as effectively as possible with all incidents made known to them by pupils or parents.

“The school uses SBC’s respectful relationships policy, which provides guidance to staff, parents and pupils on the prevention and management of bullying behaviour. This policy aims to ensure a safe, respectful and positive environment is encouraged within the school.

“All staff at Berwickshire High challenge bullying behaviour and report to pastoral staff any incidents which require to be followed up.

“In this particular incident, the school acted on the issue and then contacted the parent of the child concerned - before the online petition was set up. The parent was satisfied the school had made every effort to rectify the issue.

“The school has now written to parents of all high school pupils as well as all primary seven children due to start at the high school in August, to reassure them that bullying behaviour is taken seriously at Berwickshire High. The letter also advises them to contact the school with any concerns.”

I hope will both reassure and give you confidence that the school does indeed recognise the importance of dealing effectively with all incidents of bullying behaviour.”

The incident that triggered the petition involved an autistic pupil who allegedly received a letter telling her to kill herself and when a teacher was notified they crumpled it up and put it in the bin.

Mr Clarke said of the incident: “The school had acted on the particular issue mentioned and contacted the respective parent before the petition was even created. I can quote the parent, with permission, who stated that ‘the school did everything to sort the issue out’.

“We endeavour to make our entire school feel safe at all times.”

The parent of a future pupil wrote: “My son will eventually attend this school and I would like to know the staff and school are doing everything in their power to prevent bullying.

“With social media bullying can go to a whole new level.”

Another parent added: “I have sat endless nights with a child who couldn’t understand why when she was only ever kind and helpful she would be singled out for ridicule. You have to understand the lifetime devastation bullying causes.”

A former pupil added his comment: “Bullying is getting completely out of hand now and its long over due that something serious is done about it. Biggest lie you get told in school is that ‘bullying is not tolerated’.”

In a joint response, the school and Scottish Borders Council said: “Berwickshire High School takes all incidents of bullying very seriously. Staff do their very best to deal as effectively as possible with all incidents made known to them by pupils or parents.

“The school uses SBC’s respectful relationships policy, which provides guidance to staff, parents and pupils on the prevention and management of bullying behaviour. This policy aims to ensure a safe, respectful and positive environment is encouraged within the school.

“All staff at Berwickshire High challenge bullying behaviour and report to pastoral staff any incidents which require to be followed up.

“In this particular incident, the school acted on the issue and then contacted the parent of the child concerned - before the online petition was set up. The parent was satisfied the school had made every effort to rectify the issue.

“The school has now written to parents of all high school pupils as well as all primary seven children due to start at the high school in August, to reassure them that bullying behaviour is taken seriously at Berwickshire High. The letter also advises them to contact the school with any concerns.”