Bullying? Explain it

What is bullying?

It is when a person or a group of people upset or hurt someone else lots of times on purpose. This can be physical, or using words like nasty name calling, saying nasty or cruel things about someone, or it can be taking way their friends on purpose or making them feel upset or embarrassed, left out or scared.

But of course primary aged children do not always see things the same way as researchers and policy writers! Using a pictorial questionnaire with 6- and -7-year-olds, Smith and Levan (1995) found children’s definitions of bullying were much broader than those of either older children, or researchers, and included fighting and aggressive behaviour that was not necessarily repeated over time. In another piece of work children who had SEN/D said they did not think it should have to be repeated to be classed as bullying.  So we say it is intentionally hurtful behaviour that is ‘often’ repeated! The other feature is that the victim feels powerless. Download a display sheet for your classroom.
Refresh your own ideas with this PowerPoint

Ask why people bully?


Group discussion

Try a group discussion for years 4-6 about this question

Power Point The difference between: Bullying and Banter

Why do people bully?
1. Elicit reasons pupils think that people bully.
2. Discuss whether bullying fulfills the needs of the bully or
3. Could this be achieved some other way?
4. Is bullying likely to solve their personal problems?

This open discussion about the issue gets them thinking about the issue in new ways. It also unravels the power of the bully.
It is important to start with rules for the session, no names are to be mentioned in connection with bullying or with victims. This is a session to discuss and understand the behaviour itself and find solutions.

What works to stop people bullying?

It is fascinating to ask children what they think should happen. Usually they begin with punishment. Red cards are always mentioned. After a while you can ask whether they think punishment works? Usually they say ‘No, not really but the victim feels better’. But now you can explore new ways in which behaviour change can be achieved. Try class rewards so that everyone is involved in seeing that there is no bullying in their class.

Emotions and identity

Teachers’ resources

When we feel sad. Michael Rosen has written a book about feeling sad and he talks about it in this BBC Newsround clip.

! CARDS ‘I wish my teacher knew… These cards help children  report their concerns. Why not ask them to design their own?



MOFFAT. A. – Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools
Written by Andrew Moffat, Assistant Headteacher at a Birmingham Primary School and introduced by Tony Howell the Director of Children’s Services in Birmingham, this resource booklet was published by Birmingham City Council in Spring 2010. A series of lesson plans for use with children of primary school age recommends story books that focus on valuing diversity and recognising that families are different. Supporting lesson plans help staff to reinforce the message that there are ‘no outsiders’ in Birmingham classrooms.

A copy of the booklet has been sent to all primary schools in Birmingham. RecommendedDownload pdf

Persona Dolls are a useful resource for educators who wish to explore emotions, relationships, bullying, fears and other concerns with young children. The programme includes a range of dolls and a book with stories to use or adapt.

 persona dolls

Fiction: reading list

Download tips on dealing with bullying

Assemblies and events

  • Awareness raising plays a major role in changing the environment in your primary school. Assemblies are one way of doing this, but don’t get caught out thinking they are enough!
  • Drama: pupils act out scenarios and ask the audience to give advice to the characters. Show ways of telling someone.
  • Use a Google earth image or map of the school and ask children to  put coloured stickers on spaces where they feel very safe (green) and where they don’t feel safe (red).
  • Have older children taken on walks by younger children who point out their happiest spaces and any they are less comfortable using. Cameras can be used to map these. Then discuss in a circle what needs to be done.
  • Diversity dinners – families bring in food for others to learn about their culture.
  • Create an anti-bullying song or rap for your school. Children write the lyrics and others perfect their beatboxing skills. Record it and teach it to others. Sing this on special days in assembly.
  • Make a video with pupils to explain your school’s Anti-Bullying policy to the school community. Watch an outstanding one from Welbourne

Lesson plans

  1. It was just banter! A lesson to explore the difference  between bullying or banter.
    Download the lesson plan.
    PowerPoint about banter and bullying
  2. Difference. A lesson to explore and celebrate difference: Thankfully we’re all different
  3. Challenging hurtful language. Is this word OK?
  4. What is a stereotype?

    ANTI-BULLYING WEEK RESOURCE PACKSAnti-Bullying Week 2016  Resources

    Anti-Bullying Week 2015 Resources

    Anti-Bullying Week 2014  Resources

    Anti-Bullying Week 2013 Resources

Group activities

Key stage 1

What makes a friend? Ask children to think about what they like about people in the class. Form the group into two circles, the inner circle facing the outer circle.. Children tell the person opposite them something they like about the other. Discuss how we feel when people are kind. Discuss how we make new friends and what makes a good friend. Stick their answers on coloured card on a life size drawing of a human being. (One child lies on flip paper joined together – others draw around their shape).

Key stage 2

Circle Time: ‘I don’t like it when… ‘  This circle aims to establish that the group as a whole dislikes seeing bullying, does not support people who bully and gives support to the victim all without mentioning anyone’s names. It gives ‘permission’ to children to discuss how it  makes them feel and what they think should be agreed.

Set up rules of the circle. No names are used. People talk one at a time. Nobody says nasty things about others. Anyone can see you afterwards if worried by anything.
Introduce the concept of respect and how we treat each other.
Invite children to complete the sentence. ‘I don’t like it when…’ (people are horrid to other people). Once they outline some situations they dislike. Invite suggestions as to how they think this could be put right. Offers of help will be given. Later it might be suitable to pair up a victim with one of those offering practical help.