Sheffield headteacher says bullying is not tolerated, as parents fear a child could be seriously injured if more is not done

Parents with Year 7 children at a Sheffield school claim almost-daily instances of bullying and violence are not being taken seriously enough, and are concerned a child could be seriously injured or worse.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 7:45 pm

The Star has spoken to five parents with Year 7 children at King Edwards VII lower school on Darwin Lane, Crosspool, all of whom say their children have become fearful about going to school following months of them either being involved in, or witnessing, daily attacks, chases and threats.

The parents have all chosen to remain anonymous, and say they fear their children are not safe at the school, which was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at the last inspection in 2018.

They claim the group of between 15 and 20 what they describe as ‘bullies,’ most of whom are in Year 7, only receive minimal sanctions of either a day in the inclusion unit or a one-day expulsion following regular incidents of violence; and parents say they are concerned the school is not taking their behaviour seriously enough.

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King Edward VII - Lower School

"They’re acting like adults with the violence they use, so they should be punished like adults,” one parent said.

But King Edwards VII School Headteacher, Linda Gooden said the school ‘does not tolerate bullying in any form, and all allegations of bullying brought to our attention are investigated thoroughly and actions taken where necessary’.

“We are aware of a series of complex incidents involving a small group of students and we have been working closely with the students and parents involved, along with the police, to address the incidents.

"Appropriate sanctions have been taken in line with our robust school policies,” Ms Gooden said.

The parents suggest there is a culture of unprovoked violence among the ‘bullies’ at the school.

Parents say they have tried working with the school to tackle the problem, but they claim communication is poor.

They told the Star that the school tells them they are not able to disclose how pupils are sanctioned, but their children are able to ascertain how the ‘bullies’ have been punished by seeing who is missing from class the following day.

One parent said: “Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are a nightmare for children and parents because the bullies are in school, but they’ve usually been removed from lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of things they’ve done the day before.”

Some of the parents say they think the school has been overwhelmed by a particularly aggressive and violent year group, and believe school leaders do not know how to handle the escalating situation.

All of the parents have reported how their child’s demeanour has changed between primary school and now, saying the situation at King Edwards VII has led to their mental health deteriorating significantly.

One parent said: “If things carry on the way they are I think either a child is going to get seriously injured, or a child is going to take their own life.”

Ms Gooden added: "The health, safety and happiness of our students are our absolute priorities and we employ robust policies and procedures that protect the health and wellbeing of our students.

"Last year, in our parent view survey, 95 per cent of parents and carers said that their child felt safe at school and that children and young people are well behaved.

"We are committed to maintaining these high standards and will continue to work with students, parents and carers to ensure our school continues to provide a happy, respectful, positive and successful learning environment for all.”

The parents say social media is awash with videos of violent incidents, allgedly carried out by King Edwards VII lower school pupils, both on and outside school premises

One such video shows an unprovoked attack against a young boy on a bus who is kicked and punched by four other boys.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said they have not received any complaints concerning the attack, and no arrests have been made either.

They added: “Officers are however in contact with the school and have meetings next week to discuss concerns including that of the video.

“Officers have also been providing presentations on knife and weapons in recent weeks.”