School defends bullying response
A Christchurch school accused of having a bullying culture has a "head-in-the-sand mentality", a family who complained their son was assaulted say.
Oaklands School in Halswell last month received a complaint from Cameron and Emily Taylor, who said their 9-year-old son was strangled, tackled and stomped on, and witnessed a classmate being stabbed in the back with a pencil at the school.
The school's board of trustees investigated and found principal Margaret Trotter communicated with the Taylors "in a timely and appropriate manner".
It would not investigate further, but had decided to engage an independent consultant to carry out a full review of the school's behaviour management system to assure parents of its transparency.
The school's lawyer and spokesman, David Beck, said the board had received a thorough briefing on interventions put in place by staff and was satisfied that "under very difficult circumstances" the interventions were comprehensive and appropriate.
Education Review Office (ERO) review services southern manager Graham Randell said it had arranged for an independent peer-review of the information gathered during the school's 2013 review.
"At the time of the review ERO was satisfied with the measures the school had in place to support student wellbeing," he said.
ERO would determine if any further steps were needed once the Ministry of Education had finished working with the school since the issue arose last month.
"The parents you mention did the right thing in bringing the situation with their son to the attention of the school's board of trustees," Randell said.
The Taylors, who removed their son to enrol him in another school, said the school's lack of communication and "head-in-the-sand mentality" was the problem.
Cameron Taylor said he and his wife were "stymied and blocked by the school".
"The school definitely needs to communicate with the parents of bullied children better.
"We do not understand why this seems to be of such low priority to the school," he said.
They say there were four other families who left the school because of bullying, and Fairfax Media was contacted by many other families concerned about bullying at the school.
Beck said: "On a general front, schools do have an enormously difficult task dealing with behaviour issues that are not of their making and are reflective of wider social ills."