After my bullying blog ……………………….   4 comments

…………………………… it appears I not only have lots of friends who are ‘standing beside me’ on this issue – but that also many colleagues from across the early years sector are supporting my stand on this.

Messages have been flooding in – some on this blog, some on Facebook and Twitter – but many more via email and private messages

I would like to personally thank all of those who have agreed that BULLYING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE – under any circumstances.


Some of the message both public ones and private ones have been about bullying that the writers have experienced in the past and the impact that this has had on their lives – often they have reduced me to tears.

Some of the messages were about practice of some early years based forums and Facebook groups – where the practice is not inclusive – where some views are not allowed, where those in charge decide what views are allowed and what views are not.

We are not talking about views that should not be allowed in any early years medium – such as spammers, or views that based on race or gender,etc,  or that break confidentiality of families and children …..

…… we are talking about information sharing such as links to blogs or petitions, or updates. We are talking about excluding individuals who try to share such information. It appears that unless those in charge personally agree with the views being expressed or the people expressing them – that quite simply, active discrimination takes places.

Of course some groups do have ‘rules’, do set things like geographical area that members can come from and so on – but is it right that anything that is connected to early years settings / practice,  can discriminated against perfectly legal and acceptable views of others – just because those in charge say so?

It has to be asked  – do those who set these rules and those who remain associated with such groups with such views – implement this practice in their early years setting or in their business that involves families and/ or childcare related services? (not saying they do – just asking the question) Do they think it is acceptable to discriminate against others?

Surely all views should be allowed? Surely no one has the right to say ‘Well I don’t like that view – so I am not going to allow anyone to express that view or provide information about links to information ( even in closed group that non members can’t access the information)  – just because I don’t like that view?

Is this not against the inclusive practice that is specifically mentioned in EYFS 12 – in case people are not familiar with it – pg 26 3.66 – where it mentions challenging inappropriate attitudes and practices – and valuing and respecting the views of others?

Therefore – I, Penny Webb will challenge the idea that any social media group that has members from the early years sector – that claims to be professionally representing early years practitioners should act in this way – or should allow their members to do so.

And furthermore that any member of such groups who do not challenge this practice and continue to challenge it – should question if they should associate with the group.

To be clear – I am not saying for one second that everyone who is a member of such groups should just leave, after all – peer support is very important, as is sharing of ideas and information  – but to stay a member and say nothing is in my opinion breaking the statutory requirements of EYFS.  Can you imagine what would happen if Nursery World or EYE or any of the other childcare publications only allowed the views that they personally agreed with?

I must make it clear that although I am challenging this practice and I am posing questions for others to consider – I am not trying to impose my view or put pressure on others to change their views – we are all entitled to our own views. We are all adults and if we are all professional early years practitioners / settings – we all need to reflect on our professional associations with other early years practitioners – including those groups and forums on social media.

Some of the messages have been about the writers own children and bullying in schools – and both positive and negative actions by their schools. I hope those who are going through this at the moment will have to strength to challenge schools that have a ‘we don’t have bullying in this school attitude’ or a ‘ your child is not being bullied response’

AND – rather worryingly – some of the messages are from people working in early years settings who have in the past experienced bullying from managers and other senior staff.

This alarmed me because it goes against the principles of good practice, of effective supervision – and it has to be said against policies and procedures of the setting – including the safeguarding one.

People are telling me they are threatened with losing their job if the dare to say anything

People are telling me that their work is made so difficult if they have complained, that they have left the setting – but felt so guilty that they were ‘letting the children down’

People are telling me that during inspections they have to pretend that what is seen on inspection day, is everyday practice, that the ratios seen on inspection day are always maintained, that staff brought in from other settings in the chain, always work in the setting being inspected.

Which is all shocking and very worrying

But there is more

People are telling me that they have tried to use the Ofsted whistle blowing line – and nothing has been done – they felt that no one was listening

People are telling me that they have tried to raise concerns at supervision meetings or by asking to speak to the highest manager or staff member  – but have at best not been listened to and told nothing to worry about – and at worse told in no uncertain terms that if they say something / report it they will be dismissed.

I have been surprised, horrified and extremely worried about all the things that I am being told – and although I know that it is in only a minority of situations that this is happening – even once is too often – and  as a person, as a early years professional,  I felt I had to do something.

So I have spoken to my colleagues,  who like me are organising the Ofsted Big Conversation Meetings – and we have agreed to set another question to cover  this issue at the meetings, to try and enable people to ‘tell their story’ without their names being used – and to make suggestions to try and resolve the difficulties in whistle blowing – and in ensuring that children are protected from practice that does not maintain the statutory framework and does not ensure that safeguarding is paramount at all times.

In addition – I have of course written this blog – to try and raise awareness.

In fact I wrote it last night (3rd Sept) but was not brave enough to publish it because I fear I may be the victim of more bullying from those who conclude that I am talking about them.

After a sleepless night, and a couple of cups of coffee – I have come to the conclusion that really I don’t have a choice because to keep quiet means that I am not upholding my own values and principles.

And to be blunt – if anyone thinks I am talking about them – and the cap fits – for goodness sake reflect on what you are doing and why you feel you have to do it.

As with most things it is better to work together – managers and staff – all those who wish to share information – all those who want to promote professional high quality early years care and education – than to find ways not to work together by discriminating or by threatening

Posted September 4, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

4 responses to “After my bullying blog ……………………….

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  1. Penny..once again you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    These ‘bullies’ should be worrying that what they’ve done and threatened to do previously will come out as the ‘victims’ are getting to know how the bullies are working. In my mind these bullies are pathetic and shallow and they need karma to bite them on the behind.

    Penny, you have proven that people are standing behind you.

    Please keep up the fight as we are right with you x

  2. Spot on Penny,
    I have raised concerns about practices in a local outstanding primary school in the past academic year, I was asked to have a meeting with the deputy head and put firmly in my place and told to stop causing trouble or I would not be permitted onto school premises. The parents were outraged at the way I was treated, I was raising justified concerns from parents who were too intimidated or scared to do so themselves. One of the parents even contacted Ofsted and nothing happened because it was an outstanding school, whistle blowing does not work.

  3. as you say Penny. If the cap fits..

  4. Penny I don’t know you or the situation your in or anyone involved in your case, but, I have a friend who has been through severe bulling in our industry, to the point she no longer wanted to be in our world! Whisle blowing policies didn’t work! My self I had to support my son after severe bulling at a school “that has no bullying”. He too wanted to end his life. Life is so short, so precious, why can’t people just value differences in every way. .hope you are ok.:)

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