Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage compiled by David Gribble




And in 2010: Bullying




Extracts from interviews conducted in 2010 with twenty students, aged between 11 and 15, who had transferred to Sands School, Ashburton, because of their experiences at other schools.

'And why did you not like your last school?'

'I got bullied a lot and no one kind of cared what was happening. You just felt really left out and everything, it was really horrible.'

'Did the teachers not notice?'

'Not at all. If you someone had pulled your hair or something in bullying they would say it was your fault, and leave you alone.'


'You were at lots of schools, were you, before coming to Sands?'

'Yes, quite a lot, because I kept on moving house.'

'Was that part of the reason that it was difficult to fit in with the schools?'

'Well, the schools were for at least one year each time.'

'Were some of them better than others?'

'None of them were better than others except that that only thing I think could be better was in the playground. There was only one school which had no bullying. And that school is now closed down.'

'Were you frightened at those other schools?'

'Well, I wasn't particularly frightened. At my first school I used to they didn't really seriously didn't look after the children in the playground. There was a group of big bullies, and I was only five. There were three bullies. Physical bullies. Every school I've been to had a physical bully in it. In one of my schools there was basically lots of bullies who did just exactly whatever they wanted to. Even if a teacher was around there they wouldn't do anything at all.'

'So what sort of things happened?'

'Masses of physical battles between one massive group and one tiny group.'

'Were you usually in the tiny group?'


'Were they all private schools?'



'She did really horrible things to me and horrible things to other people as well and I told my parents and they told the headmistress, and it shows just how not very good the teachers were there, because she just told the girl who was being horrible in front of me so the girl knew that I told on her, so she sort of wasn't very nice to me again.'


'In break times there was nothing much to do, you had to go outside, you couldn't stay inside, you get told off if you go inside. If it's raining you just have to go outside. Everyone used to "go under". They would just let some people in.'

'So was that some sort of sheltered area where you could stand?'

'Yeah. There was just one bit, well, two bits.'

'And sometimes you were stuck out in the rain?'

'They would let some people in, but if you were really wet they wouldn't let you in.'

'If you were really wet they wouldn't let you in?'

'Yes, if you were already a lot, like dripping wet, they wouldn't let you in because you would get their things all wet.'

'So what happened when you went back into class if you were wet?'

'You got told off.'


'There was a lot of bullying as well, because it was such a big school, and no one could really ask for help, and if you did they didn't really do much about it. You had to sort it out yourself which can be really difficult if it's really bad bullying.'


'I felt that my class was bullying me. And we were constantly being told if you felt like you were being bullied, tell somebody, and after an incident in the class, where somebody said something to me that I was really at the end of my tether, and I told the teacher afterwards or in the class, I can't remember she shouted at me in front of everybody, and really put me down in front of everybody who already thought that I was a bit stupid. It completely took away my confidence and she didn't talk to me afterwards or anything. I was obviously really upset about it, and I tried to go up to her afterwards, but she just completely ignored me. It was really badly dealt with, because we were always being told, "If you are being bullied or teased or just not treated very well then tell somebody," and I told somebody and instead they kind of bullied me more. It wasn't very nice.'


'What didn't you like about your last school?'

'It was just that I got bullied.'

'And what happened when you got bullied?'

'They weren't very good at dealing with it, and they were just pretty bad about that.'

'What did they try to do?'

'They put us in a room and told us to talk and it didn't help very much, we were just sitting up there staring at each other. Strange.'

'What was the bullying? What actually happened?'

'In the maths room he pushed my head against the wall behind me, and it bled.'

'Did that happen more than once?'


'After you'd had this conversation that they organised. What happened after that?'Big boy bullying little boy


'Did he go on being horrible to you?'


'Did he ever hit your head against the wall again?'

'No, he just punched me.'


'When I was eleven I went to a secondary state school for Year 7, and basically it wasn't so much about things that happened to me, but it was more about what I saw. Like, for instance, one of my friends being dangled over a five-story stairwell, by his ankles, and another boy being put in a bin and having his head kicked in and being thrown out of the window, and all kinds of really horrible things to see, but even worse for the people they are happening to. For instance there was a day of gang warfare, I remember, where there were horrible fights with knives and that sort of thing, just outside on the astroturf behind the school. And the teachers completely lost control, because the students were crazy. And there were lots of different everyday things, so it's kind of too numerous to label all of them. I guess for an eleven-year-old as well, it's very scary.'

'Did this bullying happen at break times?'

'Yes, break times and in between classes, just walking through the corridors, you'd see it all around you. All these different incidents happening. I mean I think it was a great shame that my friend got put upon, beaten up, that was pretty horrible, but every day in the school was quite shocking, it was happening every day, it was not just isolated incidents that were randomly sometimes occurring.'

'Was it an inner city school?'

'No, it was just in a town, a country town which wouldn't expect you wouldn't expect it, you know. It was a big school, like a one thousand five hundred students or something, but it was a town, you know, definitely not a big city.'