At first you might wonder what an article about bullying behaviour in school has to do with national politics. The answer, of course, is everything.

Mike Stuchbery’s article about the response he received from pupils and adults can tell us a great deal about the way people behave in their political lives; it’s about open-mindedness and flexibility running up against an attitude that is hidebound, rigid and – well – bullying.

He writes: On the fifth of November, after a particular fractious day at school, I sat down and wrote a post about how I wished to ‘ban’ the use of the word ‘banter’ as an excuse for bullying.

Seeing the fuss that … erupted across Britain, I was a little apprehensive about turning up to school the next day.

I soldiered on anyway and was surprised to find that the staffroom, full of people that would have otherwise greeted me, was eerily quiet. It was like I wasn’t there at all. I made a crack about how I’d made the papers while someone else who proposed dropping English as a subject hadn’t had any response. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I could have brought down Ofsted on the school (they’d been there the previous week) and that the kids might think I thought they were poorly behaved – that might be why I was getting the reception I was getting.

The kids, bless ‘em, were a lot louder. Everywhere I went I was greeted with shouts of ‘BANTER!’. I decided to laugh with them, turning around in mock horror when somebody shouted it. The tone changed from a cautious hostility to something a lot warmer. A couple of kids  came up to me and asked why I’d made my comments. I told them that I wasn’t opposed to banter – just using it as an excuse for giving others a hard time. Once we had the conversation, the kids were fine and the majority agreed with me. I repeated the conversation with each of my classes and got much the same response. We had some good dialogue and it helped my classroom practice as a result.

The above is only a series of excerpts from the full piece, but you can see where this is going. Please visit Mr Stuchbery’s blog for the full article, including his own conclusions. Do you think he was treated fairly by his colleagues? Or did the pupils give him a more reasonable – indeed, wiser – hearing?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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