If there's a problem it's out in the open

3rd March 2006 at 00:00
Had the bullied hero of a new children's novel (see story, left) attended Llandrindod high school, in Powys, the chances are she would not have suffered in silence for long. Every one of Llandrindod's 700 pupils have been enlisted in the battle against bullying.

The school's pupil council, made up of representatives from all year groups, has sent a questionnaire to every pupil to find out about their experiences and attitudes towards the problem.

The school also has a drop-in centre offering counselling and advice. Year 10s work with Year 7s, attending their planning sessions and games to them to help them settle in.

And in its most recent inspection report in 2004, Estyn identified the Powys school as "welcoming, caring and happy".

It is for these reasons that Llandrindod high was chosen for next week's launch of Jenny Sullivan's anti-bullying novel A Guardian What?

"The school's council identified bullying as one of the issues it wanted to look at this year.

"That's not to say we have a huge problem - all schools have issues - but we face up to them and try to deal with them here," said deputy head Carol Morgan.

"I'm open-minded as to the results, and whatever we find we will act on and revise our existing anti-bullying policy."

Hannah Duggan, the school council's 18-year old chairwoman, said: "I think bullying is generally an issue in all schools.

"Nobody here has actually said 'I've been bullied'.

"But we want to find out what's happening in our school and work out what to do about it.

"Some of the questionnaires we have had back already have said they have seen bullying but haven't felt able to do anything about it. For some children it must be horrible but for others it isn't a problem."

The launch will be attended by Sara Reid, assistant children's commissioner, who is researching attitudes towards anti-bullying campaigns.

"We want to find out what young people's experience of anti-bullying policies are to see what works," she said.

"The existence of a policy in schools is always the first step."

Peter Clarke, the children's commissioner, is due to report on bullying later this year, and education, lifelong learning and skills minister Jane Davidson is launching the all-Wales anti-bullying strategy next week.

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