Head teachers are focusing on trivial concerns at the expense of tackling the real problems

By Peter Bradley, Director of Services, Kidscape

This week, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills, Amanda Spielman, has criticised schools for preventing pupils’ developing “resilience and grit” by wrapping them up in cotton wool. She went on to say that this over cautious approach can “obscure real safeguarding issues.”

I largely agree with her. As Director of Services, I confront the realities of bullying and child safety on a daily basis.

Many children and young people are struggling daily with bullying and safeguarding issues that are not being adequately addressed by school staff. Ms Spielman’s remarks are a sensible, level-headed approach within her role of advising head teachers and senior leadership teams within schools, to maintain focus on what really matters in keeping children safe. I welcome her guidance.

At Kidscape we are told of terrible cases of bullying on a weekly basis; recently a father broke down in tears telling me how his teenage son was regularly thrown into the schools domestic bins – only to be told by the Deputy Head that as his son smiled as the bullies overpowered him therefore he was partly to blame. His son is now receiving psychological support for trauma related conditions. Head teachers must focus on preventing children from being harmed from serious issues, using time and resources sufficiently to address safeguarding issues. Ms Spielman suggests that head teachers are addressing lower level health and safety issues such as a sports day being cancelled because of “dew on the grass”, while these serious issues of harm should be prioritised. Should teachers be focusing on damp grass or children being traumatised from being bullied? The answer is obvious but actions show otherwise.

I congratulate the chief inspector on speaking out about these trivial health and safety matters. Now let schools focus on addressing the real hurt that children endure from bullying and other safeguarding issues in a meaningful way.

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