Bullying in a primary school : a case study
Bullying has become a significant issue for schools and one that has attracted the media spotlight. It has also received considerable attention from the research community since the late 1980s following the tradition established through the work of many Scandinavian researchers. Much of the research has been longitudinal and sought to illuminate the experience of children who bullied or were being bullied. There has been considerably less research into teachers' and parents' understanding and experience of bullying between school children. This thesis seeks to rectify that situation by examining the views of Year 5 and 6 pupils, teachers and a sample of parents from a case study primary school. The research was conducted over a period of two years in a school referred to under the pseudonym Nicholas Street. The thesis investigates three questions: first, the meaning that key parties attribute to the term bullying; second, the nature of their experience in the context of the school; and third, their views on how it is handled or resolved. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and reinterviews with teachers; unstructured and semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and a selection 'game' with pupils and semi-structured interviews and questionnaires with parents. All interviews were audio-taped and transcribed onto a computer database (Hyperqual) and questionnaire responses from pupils were analysed with the support of computer technology (SPSS). The inductive analysis commenced with a case study of a single pupil, Lorraine. This provided the reference point for the structured analysis of bullying issues in the wider context of the school. Findings include: 0 the differing ways that bullying was defined by the parties; 0 the emergent distinction between a relationship that was founded on bullying and an action that might be described as bullying; 0 that bullying usually occurred between pupils in the same class and was not a clandestine activity nor unknown to non-participants (the secretive image); 0 that, although there was a degree of satisfaction reported by all parties concerning methods deployed in handling bullying, there was also inconsistency, confusion and a lack of awareness of policy.