School exclusions for bullying tripled in Blackpool, latest figures show

The latest Department of Education figures point to a three-fold increase in school exclusions for bullying in Blackpool
The latest Department of Education figures point to a three-fold increase in school exclusions for bullying in Blackpool
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Latest figures for school exclusions for bullying show that cases in Blackpool tripled over the period of one year.

While the North West region showed a decrease in cases, Blackpool appeared to buck that trend.

Researchers used the latest Department for Education data to identify English regions with the most and fewest bullying exclusions, comparing the figures for 2016/17 with 2017/18.

The North West figure for 2017/18, including Wyre and Fylde, showed a six per cent decrease on the year before.

But in Blackpool there was a notable increase, with six cases in 2016/17 compared to 17 cases in 2017/18.

Bullying is cited as one of the reasons for an increase in home schooling across the UK and Dr Nick Smith, of Oxford Home Schooling, which undertook the latest research, said: “The sad truth is that bullying is rife across English schools.

“It’s encouraging though to see that in many areas the numbers of exclusions for bullying are decreasing.

“While this doesn’t necessarily mean that bullying is becoming less of an issue, it might suggest that schools are taking measures to deal with the problem.”

In Blackpool, recent cases included that of a 12 year old girl who was being bullied because of the colour of her hair.

Her parents said their daughter even dyed her hair a different colour but even this did not stop the abuse and the girl was so distraught she considered taking her life.

Eventually she was referred to the school’s counselling service, with the school insisting it would deal with the issue and had a “robust anti-bullying policy”.

Blackpool-based human behaviour trainer and success coach, Norry Ascroft, runs a scheme called MADD About Bullying, MADD standing for Making A Direct Difference’

Norry, who launched the scheme after reading about a girl who took her own life because of bullying, has now rolled out his programme to 200 schools across the North West.

Michelle Atherton, chairman and events coordinator for MADD, said: "This doesn't surprise me, bullying is not going away.

"It is not just about teachers and school governors being aware of bullying, it is about getting parents and children onboard as well.

"We have got some new awareness events planned for the next few months."

Norry said of the bullying issue: “At the lowest level of bullying our children are being held back from reaching their true potential and, at worst, bullying causes mental health problems and an increase in teenage suicides.”

A year ago, ITC Gym, on Dover Court, Blackpool, started offering free self defence classes to youngsters who have been bullied in school after parents approached the gym.

Gary Savage, head coach, said this week: “We had about five or six youngsters who came here last year because of it.

“Martial arts, including our course in Brazilian ju jitsu, isn’t about being aggressive or confrontational, it is about giving people confidence.

“When children at school carry themselves in a different way, they are less likely to be bullied in the first place.

“Bullies are cowards who prey on weakness and lack of confidence.”

However, since data for 2017/18 was complied, some of Blackpool's schools have been dealing with issues of bullying, with Ofsted inspectors noting this year that a crackdown on bad behaviour at Highfield Leadership Academy in South Shore had worked, and pupils told inspectors the amount of bullying had dropped.