An official report yesterday slammed a school for nurturing a ‘bullying culture’ where older boys are allowed to punish younger pupils.
Teachers at Brymore School of Technology near Bridgwater, Somerset, accepted bullying as part of the ”rough and tumble” of school life, according to inspectors.
The report highlighted a ”natural pecking order” which left Year 9 students ”genuinely frightened” of Year 11 boys.
An anonymous survey of pupils at the boys’ boarding school found that pupils feared for their own safety and did not trust teachers.
It completes a tumultuous year for the school that saw headteacher Malcolm Lloyd suspended for failure to safeguard children’s safety.
The report by Somerset County Council stated: ”Students appear to be hit by other older pupils and this is accepted as part of the ‘rough and tumble’ of school life. It is, however, not appropriate.
”There still remains a culture of bullying behaviour, sometimes being accepted and condoned by some groups of students and staff.”
Brymore trains boys for the farming and rural professions and states it has a ‘hands-on experience for learning’.
The report found instances of a morning bell being rung in boys’ ears, and others were forced to endure long runs up a hill or face a punishment.
Any concerns voiced to staff would be passed on to older pupils, who would then single out the complainant for further bullying, the report claims.
According to the survey of pupils, 37 per cent did not think all students were treated fairly and 28 per cent did not think they could trust most adults in the school.
Food given to pupils by their parents was often taken by house staff or stolen by other students.
There are several references to an incident that saw a member of staff open the results of one of the questionnaires and shout at a pupil because of what they had written.
In response to the report, the school’s chair of governors Barbara Drakeford said it was impossible to keep everyone happy.
She said: ”We accept the findings in the report but I do challenge how serious the bullying is.
”There’s always bullying in schools where you’ve got a group boys, but it’s not a school where bullying is a major problem.”
She pointed to a separate survey that spoke to pupils, staff and parents found only four per cent of students did not think the school was a ”happy and caring” place.
Parent Mark Saunders, whose son attends the school, said the problems were being taken out of context.
He said: ”Every school has its problems. There’s going to be an element of bullying wherever you go.
”I wouldn’t send my son to the school if I felt there was a problem.”
The boarding school says staff have received extra training this year and a new acting head, Mark Thomas, has been appointed.