Special Needs Student Reports Bullying, Teacher Responds by Having Classmates Tell Him All His Faults

A 10-year-old boy with special needs was allegedly told to make a list of his own shortcomings by a teacher after he reported bullying from his classmates.

The incident reportedly happened last November at the Allenton Community Primary School in Derby, England, though the boy's parents just recently learned about the encounter between their son and his instructors when he brought home a poster and recounted it to them, The Guardian reports.

"[My son] approached his behavior mentor and said he was being bullied and was upset the other children didn't like him. So, to try to tackle this, his [behavior mentor's] idea was apparently to find out why the other children didn't like him. So he sat [my son] down, asked the other children why they didn't like him, and tried to tell [my son] to change those things," the 10-year-old's father Damian Lightoller told the newspaper.

The inquiry resulted in the child — who is on the autism spectrum and has elements of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder — being told by his classmates that he needs to "stop annoying us," "be happy, not sad," and to "stop shouting" in order for the 10-year-old to get along better with them. Afterward, the boy was instructed to write those messages on a hand-drawn poster that the newspaper said was later taped to the classroom wall.
"My son sought help from a teacher, and rather than discipline the other children for bullying, [the mentor] blamed the victim and said, 'Well you need to not do this, this, this and this'," Lightroller told The Guardian.
Empty classroom
Empty chairs and desks in a high school classroom James Leynse/Getty
Lightroller added that when he spoke to Jon Fordham, the school's principal, Fordham described the incident as "restorative justice" and asked why the family had an issue with the exercise and was not bothered to ask any questions about it or object to it.
According to The Derby Telegraph, Fordham has been credited with dramatically improving the school's scoring, going from "inadequate" when he took over as principal in 2013 to "good" in 2017. Lightroller told The Guardian that the family previously had a good relationship with the principal, but left the meeting where they discussed the poster feeling "furious, upset and hurt."
However, Lightroller said that a friend who works at another primary school in Derby told him that she is "familiar" with the exercise used with his son. According to Lightroller, she said the activity involves sitting the child down ask asking "peers to list positive things about the child, and you try to get the child to focus on those positive things. [Instead they] focused on the negative."
Lightroller said that are concerned that the exercise might have contributed to an increase in bullying of his son as the family has seen "a few more incidents of bullying this year than in the past." Those encounters included one where the 10-year-old was hit in the head by a bottle, requiring a visit to the emergency room to have a portion of his eyelid glued shut.
Lightroller also told The Guardian that his son told them he disliked things about himself that were written on the poster after the incident.
"We had no idea, obviously, that he was getting reminders every day when he went to school about the things children dislike about him. We had no idea where it was coming from — we just thought it was a child that was having a few issues," Lightroller told the newspaper.
It is unknown if the teacher who initiated the exercise will be disciplined.