Book reviews

The Passing of a Country Grammar School
Peter Housden (2015)
Living on the Edge: rethinking poverty, class and schooling
John Smyth and Terry Wrigley (2013)
Education under Siege: why there is a better alternative
Peter Mortimore (2013)
New Labour and Secondary Education, 1994-2010
Clyde Chitty (2013)
Politics and the Primary Teacher
Peter Cunningham (2012)
School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education
Melissa Benn (2011)
Children, their World, their Education
Robin Alexander (ed) (2010)
Education Policy in Britain
Clyde Chitty (2nd ed. 2009)
School behaviour management
Lane, Kalberg and Menzies (2009) and Steege and Watson (2009)
Supporting the emotional work of school leaders
Belinda Harris (2007)
Faith Schools: consensus or conflict?
Roy Gardner, Jo Cairns and Denis Lawton (eds) (2005)
The Professionals: better teachers, better schools
Phil Revell (2005)
Education Policy in Britain
Clyde Chitty (2004)
Who Controls Teachers' Work?
Richard M Ingersoll (2003)
Faith-based Schools and the State
Harry Judge (2002)
The Best Policy? Honesty in education 1997-2001
Paul Francis (2001)
Love and Chalkdust
Paul Francis (2000)
State Schools - New Labour and the Conservative Legacy
Clyde Chitty and John Dunford (eds) (1999)
Experience and Education: Towards an Alternative National Curriculum
Gwyn Edwards and AV Kelly (eds) (1998)
Bullying: Home, School and Community
Delwyn Tattum and Graham Herbert (eds) (1997)
Bullying in Schools And what to do about it
Ken Rigby (1996)
A Community Approach to Bullying
Peter Randall (1996)
Teacher Education and Human Rights
Audrey Osler and Hugh Starkey (1996)
Troubled and Vulnerable Children: a practical guide for heads
Shelagh Webb (1994)
Supporting Schools against Bullying
Scottish Council for Research in Education (1994)
Bullying: a practical guide to coping for schools
Michele Elliott (1992)
Financial Delegation and Management of Schools: preparing for practice
Hywel Thomas with Gordon Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Nicholson (1989)
Reforming Religious Education: the religious clauses of the 1988 Education Reform Act
Edwin Cox and Josephine M Cairns (1989)
Re-thinking Active Learning 8-16
Norman Beswick (1987)
Two Cultures of Schooling: The case of middle schools
Andy Hargreaves (1986)


Bullying in Schools And what to do about it
Ken Rigby, 1996

Review by Derek Gillard
May 1997

London, Jessica Kingsley
295pp paperback 15.95 ISBN 1-85302-455-4

copyright Derek Gillard 2001
This book review is my copyright. You are welcome to download it and print it for your own personal use, or for use in a school or other educational establishment, provided my name as the author is attached. But you may not publish it, upload it onto any other website, or sell it, without my permission.



Bullying in schools has become an issue of great concern to all those involved in education. The pioneer in this field - back in the 1970s - was Dan Olweus of Norway and the success of his early work has informed the work of many others. In this country, Peter Smith, Helen Cowie and Sonia Sharp, among others, have led important projects.

Any new book on the subject must therefore present new information or suggest new ways of tackling the problem if it is to avoid simply regurgitating what others have already said.

This is just such a book. For a start, Ken Rigby's research is based on his work in Australian schools and this gives it a different perspective, though many of the problems have resonances in other cultures. Then there is the sheer quantity of his research - involving twenty thousand students - which gives the book an authority that inspires confidence. Thirdly, he seeks to do more than 'provide a list of things which might work: a manual or tool-kit optimistically designed to remove bullying from the school environment'. He attempts to understand what bullying is, why some children bully others, and why some children are bullied. And finally, his advice is very practical.

The book is divided into two main sections. In the first, 'Understanding Bullying', he discusses definitions and forms, explains what his research indicates about students' and teachers' perceptions of the problem and looks at the consequences of bullying. He poses the question 'Is bullying understandable?' and seeks to answer it by reference to the family, the culture and the school ethos.

The second part of the book is concerned with what to do about bullying. He stresses that there is no simple answer - each school must work out its own policy and devise strategies which will be owned by the students, staff and parents. Commonly, these strategies fall into three main categories: moralistic (stating the school's position and expecting students to conform), legalistic (e.g. School Bully Courts) and - his preferred option - humanistic. He describes the 'No Blame' Approach, the Method of 'Shared Concern' and Peer Counselling and considers their advantages and disadvantages.

Ken Rigby's book is different, interesting and readable. I recommend it to anyone concerned about the problem of bullying in schools.

Further reading

For an account of my own experience of dealing with bullying, see my article:

Gillard D (1992) Facing the Problem of Bullying in Schools

  • This review was published in Educational Review 50(1) February 1998 86-7.