Essex school council in England recently released an anti-bullying report that outlines the ways in which teachers have been dealing with bullying in the classroom. The shocking results displayed how unequipped Essex teachers are in dealing with this sensitive issue.
The report was compiled during a consultation day of 250 students and teachers in the county. It was reported that students who were bullied for their sexual orientation were advised by teachers to “act less gay,” and those who were bullied for their physical appearances were told to “wear your hair differently.”
Kiwi had the chance to speak with Jordan Newell, a chairman of the Colchester Labour Party, a member of the LGBT Labour Party and an anti-bullying advocate who says the Essex report is deeply disturbing.
“I think it is clear form the Essex County Council report that the students had been asking teachers for more support in expressing their differences,” Newell says. “Therefore, it is truly shocking that they responded in such an inappropriate way. Many pupils rely on the understanding of their teachers when it comes to tackling bullying, and many in Essex will not be left with a feeling that now not even their teachers will protect them from the menace of bullies.”
Newell added: “This case has raised some fundamental questions about the attitude of teachers to homophobic bullying, both in Essex and across the country. It is bad enough that victims of bullying have to confront their tormentors to tackle these issues, without having to worry about the personal prejudices of their teachers.”
As teachers, Newell says they should be the ones to support acceptance, not the prejudices that some students might enter the classroom with.
“Bullying in whatever context must be confronted and tackled and I am deeply disappointed the teachers did not offer more support to the pupils,” he said. “To first express their own acceptance of difference would have been a step in the right direction.”
Essex county say they will soon be providing teachers with an information pack on bullying and how teachers can handle these types of situations in the classroom. However, as Newell says, the information pack can only do so much. It will then be up to the schools and teachers to do the work to educate themselves so that they can educate their students.
“Information packs are only useful if they are read, understood and acted upon,” Newell says. “I do not feel that they will make a difference unless teachers receive further training or are tackled about their views as expressed at this conference. I know it will take time to confront and tackle these views, but as we have seen with other forms of bullying we can do it.”
To hear more from Newell, follow him on Twitter.