Portree High Pupils help drive anti-bullying message

Portree pupils Julia Coe, Shadri Nel and Katrina Martin with Councillors Gordon, Finlayson and MacDonald.

Three Portree High School pupils were congratulated by Skye councillors this week for their role in changing Highland Council’s anti-bullying policy for schools.

Deputy head girl Shadri Nel and prefects Katrina Martin and Julia Coe were on hand at Monday’s Skye and Raasay area committee meeting in Tigh na Sgire to explain how they came to drive the change, which became the official anti-bullying policy across the Highlands last summer. As members of the Misty Isle Youth Forum, Shadri said the trio had noticed instances of bullying in the school and so enlisted other pupils to help.

“In the old policy there was nothing about the bully, but it is important to find out what is going on in their lives to see if it explains why they are behaving in that way,” she said. “There are fewer cases of bullying in school now and a decrease in the tension.”

In response to a question from Councillor Ronald Macdonald, Shadri said it was impossible for her to say whether bullying was worse in Portree than anywhere else. However, one of the issues in a small place like Skye was that “everyone knows everyone else’s parents” so discussing bullying without appearing to be a “snitch” was difficult.

Julia said the issue was first raised with Bernadette Cairns, the council’s head of additional support needs, at last year’s youth parliament in Inverness. She then agreed that the policy should be changed. Katrina said pupils were now able to discuss the issue with the teachers. Councillor John Gordon congratulated the girls on having “taken the taboo out of the subject”. He added: “There was no dialogue with the teachers when I was at school.”