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: Home, School and Community
Delwyn Tattum and Graham Herbert (eds), 1997
London, David Fulton Publishers
184pp paperback 13.99 ISBN 1-85346-445-7

Review by Derek Gillard
June 1998

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 been the focus of much attention for ten years or so and many books on the subject have been published. Delwyn Tattum himself has written several, including the booklet Bullying - A Positive Response (1990) which was a relatively early, and extremely valuable, contribution to the debate.

So the basic issues - raising awareness, assessing the extent of the problem, devising and implementing strategies to tackle bullying - have all been discussed at some length.

Any new book must, therefore, bring a new perspective to the matter. This is just such a book. It has two basic premises.

First, it makes the point that schools are only a part of the wider community, and that therefore any serious attempt to deal with bullying must involve that community. 'The complex nature of bullying cannot be divorced from the social interactions, the relationships and the patterns of behaviour of a whole community.' Of course schools are an important element - perhaps the single most important one, since they are where young people come together in large numbers for a sizeable proportion of their time. Schools are now expected to explain to parents how they tackle the problem - having a Bullying Policy is no longer seen as an admission of failure.

However, schools are finding it increasingly difficult to tackle social problems, because of the twin pressures of government interference in education and the lack of resources. 'This situation is further aggravated in schools by factors such as the increasingly centralised control of narrowly focussed curricula and assessments and tests conducted in a context of competitive league tables seemingly as much obsessed with failure as with anything else.'

So it cannot all be left to the schools. The home, the workplace, the armed forces, prisons etc are all places where bullying can - and does - take place. They must therefore be involved in any coherent attempt to tackle the problem. 'The behaviour of the individual cannot be taken out of the social context in which that behaviour takes place.'

The outcomes of inappropriate parenting are described. 'Aggressive pre-schoool children are often very hard to cope with at home and within the nursery. By the time they reach primary education they have already learned that aggressive acts such as pushing, shoving and snatching are ideal for satisfying their short-term needs and objectives.' The book provides invaluable material from projects which involved parents, and suggests that the importance of working with parents is still not sufficiently appreciated. Rather, there is a 'retrospective retribution' culture which results, for example, in politicians seeking to punish parents for the behaviour of their children. 'Parents should be advised to take an interest in the social life of their child in school - not just academic progress.'

The book's second premise is that preventative measures are more important than reactive crisis management. 'Approaches that focus on bullies and victims and that rely on extra policing by teachers and other adults are exacerbating the problem ... Schools can work with all children to create a community that is intolerant of bullying.'

So measures which promote self-esteem and empathy are important. 'Peer mediation should be included in the School Development Plan and in pastoral care, behaviour and bullying policies.' The necessary skills should be in the curriculum. 'When a pupil gets a Maths problem wrong, our first strategy is to teach. When it is the behaviour that is wrong, we tend to criticise or punish.' The result of this is that 'Some, perhaps many, bullies are well into adulthood before they make a link between their bullying activity and the painful feelings of their victims.'

The book is in three parts, dealing with Home, Home and school, and Home, school and community. Each has an introduction by Delwyn Tattum. The fourteen chapters, by twenty-four contributors, include interesting accounts of a wide range of projects run by schools, play groups, Family Service Units, the police and Young Offender Institutions. There is much valuable information here presented in a very readable style.

Bullying is cyclic in nature. Bad parenting produces the aggressive child, who becomes the bully, the criminal and the violent father, and so the cycle begins again. Yet no one is born a bully. 'Human beings are born with the natural capacity to be kind towards others.' Anything we can do to break the bullying cycle is worth doing. This book makes a valuable contribution to that work.

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 first published in Forum 40(3) Autumn 1998 118-119.