Posted in bullying, Key Stage 2 Support, Mental Health, Uncategorized

What to do if your child is being bullied

It is utterly gut-wrenching to discover that your child has been targeted by a bully. You can feel completely helpless – and incredibly angry. It’s pretty much the one thing that can make the mildest mannered parent turn in to a raging bull. It’s extremely tempting to storm into school all guns blazing and yelling blue murder.

I know, I’ve been there at times with both The Teen and The Tween!

But we all know that angry confrontation is unlikely to solve the problem – so here is my guide to dealing with bullying in (and out) of school.

Listen, Listen, Listen!

Let your child talk. However tempting it is to jump in with possible solutions, they may have been bottling this up for a while and getting it all out into the open can be a great relief. Ask them if they have any ideas of how you can help. Ask them if they are happy for you to help – sometimes children feel that getting you involved will make the situation worse. Stay calm!

Gather evidence

Keep a diary of any incidents. Write down everything that your child tells you about the incident. If your child is being bullied on social media – take screen shots (messages may be deleted by the sender in certain apps, and in others, like SnapChat, they disappear after a certain amount of time). Take down names of both the perpetrators and any witnesses.

Check your school’s anti-bullying policy

Every state school in the UK is legally obliged to have a policy regarding bullying – check what your school promises to do. You can always refer to this when doing the next step…

Talk to your child’s teacher

Keep as calm as possible, and present the evidence that you’ve collected. Ask if they are aware of the situation – if so, what actions have been taken so far? If not – what actions will be taken by the school to adress the issue?

Follow up the meeting by an email or message!

Many schools have a messaging app now, like ClassTing, Bloomz, ParentSquare etc to enable you to direct message your child’s teacher. If not, an email to the school’s email address for the attention of the teacher is also good. Message your child’s teacher summarising what has been discussed and what actions were agreed – it is helpful to have a record of all contact with the school in case the situation isn’t resolved, and needs to be escalated. Keep a printed copy if possible!

Head up the pay scale!

If things are not resolved and your child is still experiencing bullying, request a meeting with the Head Teacher and the DSL – Designated Safeguarding Lead. All schools MUST have a DSL as part of their Safeguarding policy. As before, take all the evidence you have gathered and any written communication that you have sent to or received from the class teacher. Remember that schools have what is called a Duty of Care to make sure your child has safe access to learning – and bullying makes this access to education UNSAFE.

Again, follow up any meetings with an email or message summarising the meeting and what actions have been agreed on.

If your child has been targeted because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or disability, the Equality Act 2010 means that people cannot treat your child in a way that violates their dignity, or creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment – this is considered discrimination under the act. This is extremely serious – bring this up in any meetings if any hate-speech with regards to these issues has been aimed at your child.

Still not sorted? Contact the Chair of Governers

At this point, it’s time to contact the Chair of Governers. The school will have the name and contact details of all the governers, and you can write to them (again, this is where your evidence and records of all meetings and contact with the school is useful) and insist on an investigation. Make sure you give a time frame as to when you wish to hear back from them.

If all else fails…

Contact your local education authority.

You can make a formal complaint about the school through your local education authority.

If your child is continuing to experience physical assaults and threats, contact the police and report it.

I hope that helps! If you have any advice you’d like to add, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below, or (as always!) you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, or join our lovely Supporting Superstar Students Facebook group for LOADS of hints, tips, resources and advice about navigating those Key Stage Two years!

Posted in Mental Health, Transitions, Uncategorized

5 Things Your Child Might Be Thinking About Their Next School Year…

… and how you can help!

It’s half term, summer is here, Year 6 SATs are over, surely our kids are breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying life, right?

There are many kids (mine are two of them!) who are looking towards the end of this school year with some trepidation. The end of the school year means change – change of class, change of teacher, change of classmates and for our Year 6 and Year 2 kids – change of school.

Here’s five things your kids might be worrying about – and how you can help!

I don’t know my new teacher…

Virtually all schools now run transitions days or weeks where children get to spend time with their new teacher in their new classroom. However, these days are often right at the end of the summer term – your child may be getting worried before then!

What you can do:

  • take a look at your school’s website or reception/office and look at the photographs of the staff. Chat to them about the different teachers they can see. How many do they know? What would they tell a new kid about the teacher they have had this year?
  • talk to your child’s teacher. They should be able to arrange for your child to meet teachers that they may have in the new school year.

The work will be too hard…

Schools are really good at sharing current work in displays around school, on their websites, and now even on social media! Our kids can look at this and think to themselves, “I’ll never be able to do THAT!”

This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure.

What you can do:

  • Remind your child that this work is what has been produced AT THE END of the school year – those children have learned a lot since September and probably wouldn’t have been able to produce that work at the beginning
  • Reassure your child that their new teacher will KNOW your kid’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses BEFORE the new school year starts – their current teacher will pass on LOTS of information to the new one!

I won’t be with my friends…

This is a tricky one. While teachers DO make an effort to make sure that every child has friends in class, if your child is being placed into ability groups (as is usual moving to a large secondary school), your child may not be placed with their best friend if they are of differing abilities. And sometimes, certain friendships might not be conducive to effective learning… I remember being split up from my best friend in my third year at Junior School because we just wouldn’t stop talking and distracting each other!

What you can do:

  • Reassure your child that they will get to see their friend at breaks and lunch times. You might want to arrange for them to see each other after school or at weekends so they can spend more time together
  • Remind them that you know how hard it is to make new friends sometimes, but they will get to know other people in their class
  • Talk to their current teacher – they can take friendship groups into consideration when new classes are being organised

I won’t be able to find my way around…

This was a huge worry for The Teen when he was in Year 6 and getting ready to transition to High School. He has the directional ability of a drunk bluebottle, so I admit I was a tad concerned too!

What you can do:

  • make sure your child goes to transition days – the high school The Teen goes to now does a whole transition week, where the Year 6 kids spend five days in with their new form tutor. They learn their way around as a group, and by the end of the week feel much more confident.
  • most schools are happy for you and your child to visit the school after school hours so you can look round again – this is often REALLY useful if your child feels intimidated by the sheer size of some of the students! Most Year 10 and 11s tower over me, let alone The Tween!

I might get bullied…

This one is very, very common. Our lovely Year 6 kids going to high school or Year 2 kids going to Junior school are used to being THE BIGGEST KIDS in their school. They are the big fish in the little ponds, and going back to being the youngest again is daunting. ALL SCHOOLS should now have a policy on bullying, and should be proactive in making sure it doesn’t happen – but it still can.

What you can do:

  • Check out the new school’s policy on dealing with bullying – it should be on their website, and if not, contact the school office and ask for a copy.
  • Find out who you need to talk to if your child is bullied – I found The Teen’s Year 7 form tutor and the head of year both fantastic to talk to, and very effective at dealing with a particular issue The Teen had. Make sure your child knows who this person is!
  • Stay calm – sometimes our kids worry that we will go storming in, protecting our beloved babies roaring like a lion – and they feel we would make the situation worse. Even when you are spitting bullets, keeping calm is essential when both TALKING ABOUT and DEALING WITH bullying.
  • Reassure your child that IF bullying happens, you will work with them to deal with it.

Check out the blog post about SATs stress and anxiety to find other ways that may help your child if they are anxious about September HERE.

I’d love to know how your kids are feeling about the new school year in September! Hit me up on Facebook here or on Instagram here – or leave me a comment below!

Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized

Mental Health in May!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States – and it’s seventy  years since it was first started in all the way back in 1949.  Here in the UK, we are coming up to Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on Monday 13th May – ironically, this is also SATs week for our Key Stage Two kids, when they are likely to be more stressed than usual!

As parents, we feel confident in picking up our children when they fall – putting plasters on grazed knees, soothing away nightmares, giving Calpol for a fever, but dealing with their mental health can be frightening and make us feel helpless.

Throughout May I’ll be sharing hints, tips and resources to help YOU help your child if they are becoming anxious or worrying about school, friendships, bullying, loneliness, body image, exams, the new school year and new classes/schools. 

And remember – mild anxiety and worries are normal parts of life for all of us, adults and children alike.  But if you think your child is at risk of harming themselves, or are constantly struggling with anxiety, low mood or depression, please reach out for help: