PARENTS of a former Melksham Oak pupil have heavily criticised the secondary school who they say failed to protect their daughter from bullying.
But the head of the school has denied the allegations, saying the school worked to address every incident raised, ‘swiftly and effectively’ in accordance with its zero-tolerance stance on bullying.
Angela and Trevor Norris say their daughter Chelsie was severely bullied at the school for many months, but was let down by the school who failed in their duty to protect her. They eventually pulled their daughter out of Melksham Oak to send her to another school.
“The whole situation is shocking and the school have acted appallingly,” Angela Norris told the Melksham News.
“It began towards the end of Year 7. It wasn’t anything serious, name calling mainly, but it still wasn’t very nice for her. A few weeks later the bullying started again, but this time more severe. Social media played a big part in the abuse, with the girl sending pictures of Chelsie around the school and calling her horrendous names.
“We told the school again and Chelsie was given the option to do her school work in The Haven which is a classroom for pupils to go to if they feel scared or intimidated by another pupil. I wasn’t happy about this because I didn’t think it was fair that Chelsie had to be taken out of her lessons and not the bully.
“The bullying didn’t stop and it got so bad that Chelsie stopped eating and would lock herself in her bedroom and didn’t want to see anyone or speak to anyone. The school said because the bullying was on social media and out of school hours, there wasn’t anything they could do and the girl remained in a lot of Chelsie’s classes.
“In the end, me and her dad took her to the doctor and she was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMNS). They confirmed that Chelsie was showing signs of severe anxiety and depression because of the bullying and to put her back in the situation would be detrimental to her health and wellbeing.”
Angela Norris says that the girl was then suspended from school towards the end of the year and Chelsie returned to school. However, she says that following the summer holidays and just before returning to school, earlier this month, the deputy headteacher informed the family that the girl concerned would be returning to the school. When they found this was the case, they took Chelsie out of the school.
“The whole experience has been horrendous,” added Chelsie’s mum. “They have gone to great lengths to protect the bully, but have not protected my daughter.
“Chelsie is doing well at her new school but she wasn’t happy that she had to move schools because she misses her friends.
“Melksham Oak say they have a zero tolerance policy on bullying but this clearly doesn’t apply to verbal abuse. We have been hugely let down by Melksham Oak.”
Headteacher at Melksham Oak, Stephen Clark issued the following statement in response to questions asked by the Melksham News,
“As with every case our school has worked to address every incident raised, swiftly and effectively: each one was dealt with appropriately in accordance with our zero-tolerance stance on bullying. Our Governing Body has independently investigated this case and were satisfied with our support and response.
“It has now been alleged that further incidents, out of school and on social media, have taken place during the summer holiday. Without any of these alleged incidents having taken place in school, and as individual responsibility is unclear, we are not in a position to take further action.
“Our recent Ofsted report states ‘Pupils reporting bullying is rare and they are confident that staff deal with any issues effectively.’”