Testing time for anti-bullying policy

A schoolboy has won his fight to have his school's stance on bullying reviewed by the courts, reports Roger Pearson. Bullying has become a matter for the courts, with a major case now pending at the High Court in which a school's position over the problem is to be challenged.

It follows an incident in which a 10-year-old boy's arm was broken by fellow primary school pupil, also 10.

The father of the victim claims that his son ended up being unfairly isolated from other children at the school in Basingstoke, Hampshire, after what happened.

No disciplinary action was taken against the boy responsible, but Mr Justice Forbes has now given leave for the victim's family to seek judicial review of the school's actions following the incident.

Philip Engelman, counsel for the boy, identified only as W, and his family, argued in his application for judicial review, that letters from the headmaster and the school governors revealed that the school had "closed its mind" to what was a serious matter.

Engelman said that the head teacher had been reluctant to take action and had indicated shortly after the incident that he did not believe that there had been a serious assault.

"There has not been a serious investigation of the underlying facts, or serious consideration of the harm actually inflicted on the applicant by the other boy," said Engelman.

The court was told that the injured boy had previously been bullied to such an extent in the lunchtime queue by the same boy that he had, at one stage, stopped having school dinners.

After police decided not to prosecute, the school governors said they were satisfied with the school's anti-bullying policy.

The chairman of the governors also wrote to the injured boy's father saying that they would not tolerate a campaign against the good name of the school.

However, in paving the way for what could be a landmark case in the campaign against bullying, Mr Justice Forbes held that it was an appropriate case in which to grant leave for the school's stance to be challenged.