Equal Opportunity Policy

Policy and procedure for students on reporting allegations of bullying and harassment

1. Introduction

The Centre is committed to providing a fair, equitable and supportive learning and teaching environment for its students where individuals are equally valued and respected. The Company will not tolerate bullying, harassment or victimisation of any individual on any account and will take allegations seriously, investigating them carefully and dealing with them appropriately.

If you are alleged to have behaved inappropriately against a fellow student or member of staff you may be investigated under the student disciplinary rules and regulations and any action against you will be taken under these regulations.

2. Responsibilities

Every student has a personal responsibility to comply with this policy, to behave appropriately and to treat fellow students and staff with dignity and respect and to comply with Centre regulations on equal opportunities, discrimination, bullying and harassment.

The Centre is responsible for complying with discrimination law in relation to the treatment of students, and is also legally bound to promote equality of opportunity.

3. Definitions

Bullying may be defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. The behaviour experienced will be unsolicited and unwanted and may involve actions, words or physical gestures which seek to humiliate, patronise, threaten, intimidate, or undermine. While a single incidence of such behaviour may not be significant, the cumulative effect of the behaviour being repeated can make it bullying.

Harassment is defined as unwanted or unwarranted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating the other’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient.

Bullying and harassment do not have to take place face-to-face; they may take the form of written communications, telephone calls, e-mails, postings on social networking sites, or text messages.

Bullying and/or harassment is any behaviour that is viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient and may relate to a person’s

  • age
  • disability
  • gender or gender identity
  • mental health
  • nationality, race or culture
  • personal characteristics
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • socio-economic status

The context of the interaction is obviously a factor when assessing whether there has been bullying or harassment but the following non-exhaustive list of what may be construed as bullying or harassment may help:

  • intimidation, making aggressive gestures or verbal threats
  • making inappropriate comments/personal insults/derogatory remarks or ridiculing based on any of the matters listed in the previous paragraph
  • isolating or deliberately ignoring or socially excluding someone
  • displaying offensive material or graffiti relating to an individual
  • bullying by text messaging, email or internet or other technologies
  • making threats or promises in return for sexual favours
  • innuendo or spreading gossip based on sexual orientation
  • inciting others to harass or bully
  • inappropriate initiation ceremonies

It is the centre responsibilities to identify differences in students and staff and to make the necessary and reasonable adjustment to support any differences identified. The centre have a responsibility to make record of those and to disclose those to the teaching and learning staff to ensure that teaching, learning and assessment resources, equipment and environment are diverse and show inclusivity of all those identified needs.

If you believe that you are being bullied or harassed, you are advised to keep a written record of incidents, to include time, date, location, a description of events, the names of the individual(s) involved, and the names of any witnesses.

5. Making an allegation of bullying or harassment against a fellow student

If you are experiencing behaviour by a fellow student that upsets you or causes you offence, that you believe to be bullying or harassment you are encouraged to attempt to resolve the matter informally at the earliest opportunity with the individual concerned as it is often the case that the alleged harasser is not aware of the impact of his or her behaviour. Having a direct conversation when you can make this clear will give them the opportunity to change their behaviour towards you.

If this informal approach fails or you feel unable to approach the individual directly, then you should raise the issue with an appropriate member of staff. This may be your personal tutor or Head of Subject.

If the matter cannot be resolved by the intermediary you approach, you should seek the advice of a senior staff member.

If finally you are dissatisfied with the manner in which the college has dealt with your concerns, you can raise a complaint by following the Student Complaints

Procedure and should contact the Student Complaints Officer for further information.

Where a student is alleged to have behaved inappropriately towards a member of staff, the member of staff may raise a complaint using the Staff Policy and Procedure on Bullying and Harassment. In cases where students are alleged to have harassed an external examiner, a member of staff within the student’s school may raise a complaint on the examiner’s behalf and with their involvement. Any action taken against the student will be taken under the relevant student procedures.

6. Making an allegation of bullying or harassment against a member of staff

If your allegation relates to a member of staff, this should be raised in the first instance with your personal tutor or a senior manager so that all attempts can be made to resolve the matter locally. If you are dissatisfied with how your allegations have been investigated locally, you can contact the Student Complaints Officer for advice on how to proceed.

Where it is deemed appropriate, the Registrar will instigate an investigation under the procedures as set out in the Staff Policy and Procedure on Bullying and Harassment.

7. Malicious accusation or unfounded complaints

The Centre recognises that false accusations could have serious effects on individuals and therefore malicious accusations will be treated very seriously.

Anyone who is found to have made a deliberately malicious complaint or allegation against another person (staff or student) will be subject to formal disciplinary action under the appropriate Centre procedure. Such action will not be taken where a genuinely held belief that there has been bullying or harassment is deemed unfounded, for whatever reason.

Should a member of staff or student be accused of, and investigated in connection with, alleged harassment, but the complaint is not upheld, the Centre will make every effort to ensure that the individual complained against receives appropriate support in relation to their continued employment or education.

8. Confidentiality

If you wish the discussion to remain confidential, you must make this clear to the person you approach for help. However you must accept that the demand for confidentiality may make it difficult for the person you approach to assist you.

Notwithstanding a confidentiality request, the Centre may disclose information:

  • to those who need to know in order to discharge their responsibilities
  • where disclosure is necessary in the interests of health and safety at work or the welfare of other staff, students or the public
  • where disclosure is required by law

The Centre can provide additional advice on such disclosures where necessary