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Faversham: Petition launched to clamp down on bullying at Abbey School

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A petition to clamp down on bullying at a Faversham school received almost 300 signatures in just four days.

The head teacher of the Abbey School Catrin Woodend has now spoken out after the huge response to the petition, where parents and pupils, past and present, have shared their harrowing experiences of the torment they have faced.

An Ofsted report from earlier this year, which had seen the school rated as Good, said that bullying was “rare” and that it was dealt with using “good procedures”.

The Abbey School.
The Abbey School.

However, the petition says: “There are loads of children within the school suffering bullying which the school do not sort out.

“Children are being forced to leave the school or being home tutored to get away from it.

“The school do not make it stop and do not discipline the bullies to make them realise they have done wrong. I am asking for signatures for parents and pupils who have suffered or who are suffering bullying at the school.

“If we get enough we can take this to the board of governors or local MP and maybe we can make the school a happy place for our kids.”

Ofsted also said that the pupils’ relationships with staff are good and there was a “high quality of care and support” from staff.

Mrs Woodend says that the petition may not be representative of the entire school.

She said: “We are deeply disappointed that this petition has been set up.

“Like in all schools, there will be occasions when pupils are unpleasant to each other and when reported these are dealt with accordingly.

Head teacher of the Abbey School Catrin Woodend.
Head teacher of the Abbey School Catrin Woodend.

“As a school, we are proud of the strong relationships that exist between staff and students. Ofsted in 2017 clearly saw this.

“We regularly survey parents and students to ask their views and we regularly receive emails and letters, on a weekly basis, thanking staff for their care and guidance.”

Pupils were among some of the people who signed the petition and left a comment.

One said: “I am so happy this has finally been brought to people’s attention. I am currently a Year 13 student at the school.

“I was bullied throughout Year 7 – Year 12 from multiple people and I went to the teachers multiple times and nothing ever got sorted.”

“Most children were cruel and I had nobody until I was a little older and lost some weight. I was an easy target as the fat girl. It scarred me for life.” - A comment on the petition

There were past students too: “I am signing because my son may be going to the Abbey School in a year’s time.

“I spent most of my school years being bullied there.

“Most children were cruel and I had nobody until I was a little older and lost some weight. I was an easy target as the fat girl. It scarred me for life.”

Parents make up the majority of the comments.

One said: “Our son also suffered bullying from the time he started in Year 7 right through to Year 11. He was once accused of being the bully until a particular time a teacher actually stood and witnessed that he was actually the victim.

“The school never listen.”

Mrs Woodend added that she had only this week received an email from a former student, that she says “encapsulates the views of the majority”.

It said: “I would like to thank yourself and all your staff for the outstanding support I received in my lowest times of secondary school. I could always guarantee if I walked into a classroom with an issue, the help would be there.

“And I can’t recall a time it wasn’t.

“I wish the people on this petition could see the issue from a different point of view and see the good that the school has done along with the positive impact it has had on people like myself.”

To see the petition, click here.

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