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Teachers to be made safer from bullies

New guidelines say schools should protect staff as well as pupils.

TEACHERS WILL receive greater protection from school bullies under guidance to be published by the Government next month.

The guidelines will say that school policies should cover the bullying of teachers by pupils, parents or other staff members, as well as bullying between children.

Patrick Nash, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, welcomed the move. He said that bullying could have a long-term impact on teachers'

well-being.

"Bullying, harassment and concerns relating to relationships with pupils, including malicious allegations, have been the subject of 10 per cent of all calls and emails to us in the last six months," he said.

The guidelines, to be published next month, were revealed in the Government's response to a report on bullying by the Commons education committee. The Department for Education and Skills will also suggest that schools set up "safe rooms" where children can find respite from bullies during breaks. Quiet play areas in playgrounds are recommended as another solution.

Schools will be encouraged to investigate areas where bullying occurs, in "blind spots" such as stairwells and toilets and school buses, and to deploy staff to tackle problems.

Pupils could also be given power to decide on punishments for bullies.

"This will ensure pupils view sanctions as fair and will make them feel they have an influence over tackling the issue," the DfES said. Possible punishments include litter picking and school clean-ups.

The department said it was working with Stonewall, the gay rights group, to produce a specific guide on tackling homophobic bullying, to be published later this year. Meanwhile, work is soon to start on specific advice to deal with incidents related to disabilities or special educational needs.

Ministers agreed with MPs that bullied children should not have to be excluded from school for their own protection.

Teachers' leaders generally welcomed the proposals but criticised a recommendation that schools record all bullying incidents. John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it would "only mean that schools are forced to spend more time filling out paperwork".

"The emphasis should be on intervention, and not additional bureaucracy,"

he said.

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