Rotherham uses browser-based service to encourage teachers to report bullying

Local education authority aims to get accurate data through wider input.

Local education authority aims to get accurate data through wider input.

Rotherham Local Education Authority has deployed a hosted service to help it get a more accurate picture of how much bullying occurs in local schools.

The Government's Every Child Matters strategy requires local authorities to record all incidents of bullying in their schools. However, authorities have found that headteachers are reluctant to report that pupils have been bullied in case it damages their school's reputation.

Managers at Rotherham LEA, which is responsible for 16 primary and four secondary schools, believe they will get a more accurate picture of the level of bullying by enabling any member of  the teaching staff to report incidents that worry them, without their headteacher's knowledge.

It opted for a hosted incident recording service called Sentinel from Vantage Technologies, which is accessed via a browser. Because Sentinel is web-based, it can be accessed from anywhere by anyone with a valid user name and password.

Rotherham LEA has set up user names and passwords for all its teachers.

Most schools in the UK have never recorded levels of bullying, according to Vantage. "Ninety-five per cent of LEAs do not know how many bullying incidents take place in their schools," said Vantage sales manager Nikki Scriven.

At present the only other local education authority to have looked at the Sentinel recording system is Knowsley in Merseyside. Managers at Knowsley LEA are considering whether to enable children to report when they have been bullied.

The authority believes there would be demand from children to use Sentinel, but setting up separate accounts for every child at the authority's schools would be expensive.

Rotherham LEA had previously recorded incidents of bullying on a database before it bought the Sentinel application. However, the database was not sufficiently flexible to process the incoming information from all the different schools.

The Department for Education and Skills is currently developing a database of vulnerable children. Although most entries on the database are expected to come from social services, incidents of playground bullying, racism and parental violence should all appear in the database as well. The data collected on the Sentinel system would be a useful addition to this resource.

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