Authority vows to keep better eye on bullying

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam.
Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam.

Scottish Borders Council has pledged to review how it records reports of bullying in its school after doubts were voiced about the effectiveness of the current system.

Council leader Shona Haslam has vowed to take responsibility for ensuring school staff know how to use an IT system on which all incidents of bullying should be logged and monitored,

Concerns over the effectiveness locally of the National Information System for Schools (SEEMiS) were expressed at the latest full council meeting by Tweeddale West member Kris Chapman.

He claimed councillors had recently been told that there had been no reports of bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender pupils in any schools here.

“We all know that this is simply not the case,” said Mr Chapman, and he asked what advice had been given to schools on using the system.

“At present, we are getting mixed messages over the level and nature of bullying in our schools.”

He was told by Tweeddale East councillor Mrs Haslam that schools had been advised to record incidents of bullying on SEEMiS under a policy introduced in 2012.

The system has a bullying and equalities function, enabling schools to enter and keep details of any alleged incident reported to them.

“Within the new business support structure for schools, our business managers now have a responsibility and an opportunity to streamline all key information-recording processes,” said Mrs Haslam.

“As part of their role, they are looking at the use of SEEMiS by all schools and will be providing support to ensure all schools are following advice and guidance.

“The safeguarding of children in our schools is of primary importance, and I will take responsibility to make sure teachers are properly advised.”