I don’t normally write about school bullying, but an article on the front page of the Sunday Times was so astonishing, I couldn’t let it pass. Corpus Christi Roman Catholic High School in Cardiff is apparently considering legal action after a pupil covertly recorded the bullying she was going through over a two week period. The footage was to be used for a programme on bullying being made for ITV.
The pupil’s parents allowed the secret filming and the girl’s mother explains to the Sunday Times how it was a last resort since all other measures to tackle the bullying had failed. The aim of the programme was to show the footage to the school and participants in order to instigate positive change.
The school is said to be furious and calling in the lawyers.
If they are furious, then it should be over the fact that a pupil at their school was so badly bullied for two years that she resorted to undercover techniques to expose the problem. I’m sure it’s tough to swallow for a school with the sterling reputation of Corpus Christi, but such evidence is pretty impossible to deny. They can wring their hands all they want about the Human Rights Act and right to privacy, but the situation should not have been left to get that bad.
Now, you might be asking why am I so outraged about this particular incident when school bullying also needs to be highlighted, but I normally restrict myself to writing about workplace bullying?
That’s because I went there. I’m a former pupil. (And before the lawyers say it is a breach of my own anonymity to reveal this fact, it's a big school and you'd have to try hard to narrow down exactly which pupil I was).
I can tell you all about bullying at that school. I don’t like to dwell on it and I have to say friends of mine suffered even worse than I did. An ironic fact, given that I write about bullying, is that my friends and I suffered particularly in the English class, although bullying was pretty much an everyday occurrence.
In one English lesson, the class were provoking my friend and I before the teacher arrived. The taunting escalated and we did our best to ignore it. In the end, my friend couldn’t take any more and told them to leave her alone. She was, as a result, given an almighty slap across the face. A group of girls threatened her further before the teacher walked in. How she sat through the rest of the class with the splayed handprint burning on her cheek, I’ll never know. How on earth were we supposed to concentrate on the actual lessons? Not surprisingly, I couldn’t wait to leave.
There was one kind teacher who let us shelter in his classroom at breaktimes. He kept a watchful eye on us – as much as he could. He later became the head teacher, but has since retired.
Corpus Christi Roman Catholic High School can talk all they want about being ambushed, but I want to give an A* to that girl with her backpack. She can I'm sure, like my friend and I in the English class, tell the head teacher and governors about what it's really like to be ambushed.