Shearwater has double stream Classes at almost all levels, and draws students from the small, closely-knit community of the Byron Shire. The student-centred Learning Program, based on a deepened understanding of human development, together with the Class Teacher/ Class Guardian structure we have in place, ensures a strong foundation of pastoral care and balanced social integration. The students develop a strong bond with their teachers, who also build a rapport with the parents. Case studies of children experiencing difficulties are undertaken and discussed within the College of Teachers, where teachers are able to draw on the advice and observations of senior staff.
Should parents wish to communicate perceived difficulties or have a confidential teacher/parent interview, they are able follow a line of communication as directed in the section ‘Communication between Parents and Teachers’.
All the expectations and sanctions are laid out in the next section of the website.
Over the years, Shearwater has developed a strong culture of care, respect, self-regulation and open communication within the community of the School. Our education and integrated cultural program aims at promoting and enhancing this strong atmosphere of enthusiasm, harmony and good will. We encourage all School community members to deal with any aberrant behaviour as a matter of priority.
What is bullying?
Bullying behaviour can be identified as having the following features:
– it usually involves some form of power imbalance (e.g. several people carrying out the bullying, a size or age advantage, the bullies may be more articulate and confident);
– it is repeated and is not just single episode behaviour;
– it causes distress and hurt for the recipient;
– there is deliberate intent to harm or distress.
Bullying behaviour can be further classified as follows:
– Physical bullying: threatening with a weapon, punching, kicking, headlocks, forcible restraint, biting, slapping, scratching, pinching.
– Intellectual bullying: practical jokes and teasing, as in trickery, humiliation, putdowns, over-exposing someone’s mistakes, being forced into doing something by peer pressure; name calling; using email, notes or phone to send abusive or humiliating material; dirty looks; rude sign language; social rejection, as in deliberate reputation damage through rumour, exclusion, ignoring, criticizing clothing, whispering or talking about someone behind their backs, ganging up; bribery; blackmail.
What isn’t bullying?
Bullying is usually repetitive and embedded, deliberate and hurtful behaviour. This needs to be distinguished from one-off incidents of aggression / nastiness, mutual conflict and social difficulties that the Class Teacher or the Class Guardian will generally deal with as they arise.
Guidelines for students, teachers and parents on what to do in bullying situations
Shearwater’s pastoral care program with its system of Class Teachers in the Primary School – seven-year commitment – and Class Guardians in the High School – five-year commitment – fosters a strong relationship between the teachers, students and parents.
The Student Guidance and Pastoral Care Co-ordinator have a roving commission to speak to all Classes about issues of safety, bullying and communication, and reinforce behaviour expectations and School guidelines and policies. In the High School, much of this is done through the PDHPE lessons. The teacher also encourages students to communicate with him on any of these matters, including the reporting of bullying that they may have witnessed.
Students and parents are encouraged to communicate freely with staff on all matters, particularly issues concerning safety.
Parents are also directed to follow the ‘Communication Between Parents and Teachers’ procedures and report any instances of bullying. Teachers are instructed to immediately report serious transgressions to the Student Guidance and Pastoral Care Co-ordinator who will in turn inform senior management. They are made aware of reporting procedures on a continual basis through the agency of School In-service and AIS seminars.
Shearwater’s procedure following the report of an incidence of bullying
As soon as an incident of bullying has been reported to the Discipline Co-ordinator, he will immediately establish the nature of the incident. If it cannot be immediately dealt with, he will commence an investigation involving a written report using the Shearwater Incident/Grievance Profile.
Steps of the investigation
1) Establish the facts.
2) Conduct interviews.
3) Conclude the investigation.
4) Provide counselling for the student who was bullied together with his/her parents.
5) Provide counselling for the student who bullied, together with his/her parents.
6) Adopt a “No Blame, Shared Concern” approach in the investigation and counselling.
7) Keep Class Teacher/Class Guardian and parents informed of all proceedings.
Keep detailed records of all procedures. (See Incident/Grievance Profile).
What if the bullying persists?
If bullying persists after non-punitive mediation and counselling, the matter will be forwarded to the Discipline Committee who, following a re-investigation of the details, may proceed with suspension, further counselling and possible expulsion.
At this point, the Committee would consult closely with the AIS.