#LifeSchool: Parking Fines, Speeding Tickets and How To Pay Nothing

It’s this week’s #LifeSchool, and after helping out a mate with a query on these most irritating of niggles life wise, I thought we’d cover driving related stuff.

I don’t drive myself- I feel that my eye sight is such that I would be a danger to myself and other’s if I was to be in charge of anything other than a bike- but after Elder has enlightened me to how daft you can be about parking, knocks and other such car related fun, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

CIVIL OR POLICE MATTER?

There are different types of parking fine or traffic infringement that will make all the difference to what or even whether you’ll have to pay up.

If the contravention is a Speed Camera fine, then you’re pretty much stuffed should you have been speeding.

You can ask though to see the offence via a PCN number, and, should you have been forced to go against the speed limit- for example due to another motorist putting you at risk of accident, or because the road has a variable speed limit that isn’t made clear- you can appeal.

First thing you need to do is try and recall what happened on the day the offence took place. Is this a road where others have been caught by an unfair speed camera? The easiest way to find out is ask online. Many areas in the UK now have “Gossip” or “Residents” groups on Facebook, and these are great for asking locals opinions on all manner of local issues. Perhaps the road markings aren’t clear? Does the speed decrease suddenly and without warning? Are signs obscured due to street furniture or over grown trees?

If another resident has had a speeding fine overturned, then you have a great point to start with. You will have to answer the notice given by the Police and let them know you wish to go to court.

Yep, court. If you’re not 100% sure you aren’t fully to blame, then it’s probably not worth wasting the courts. Its probably easier to take the fine on the chin, or see if you can take part in a £90 Speed Awareness Course.

Speed Awareness Courses take place all over the country, and you are eligible if you haven’t been to a previous course within a year, and haven’t exceeded the speed limit by more than 9mph. It does offer you the chance to not get any points on your licence, which, in some industries where a clean licence is part of your job description, is worth the £90 and the telling off nature of the course.

NOT THE POLICE? WHAT CAN YOU DO?

One big con these days is car parking.

Now, we’re not talking your usual, but equally irritating, council appointed Traffic Warden. We’re talking those private firms who have set up in Hospitals, Supermarkets and Fast Food Car parks.

These guys are cowboys. Simple as that. However, unlike the council Traffic Wardens, these are working on the assumption that us road users are gullible and will pay up for fear of bailiffs and Police knocking to seize our cars.

Not so.

It’s this fear that you need to swallow when dealing with these firms.

Just recently, I was speaking to a resident who had parked, fairly, in Asda’s parent and child parking with his 9 and 12 year old. These companies love Parent and Child Parking, and no doubt the “rules” they make up to suit them are a steady revenue stream. In most cases, the supermarket will specify children as anyone 12 and under, but when this Dad had innocently asked the “Warden” why he was ticketed when he parked with children he was told the rule was under 5s.

He felt there was nothing he could do, he had appealed it, Asda didn’t offer help, so he was on the verge through fear and fake threats of losing his vehicle of paying it.

However, that changed when I explained that, actually, these fines are barely enforceable as they are a “civil” matter. Civil matters means it’s a disagreement between two unofficial parties with opposing views. In the case of the bogus fine- or even fines for over staying parking times, or for not using the store the car park is in- if it’s a company rather than a council issuing the fine, there is very little this company can do.

Sure, they could chose to take you to court, but for every 100 tickets they give out, most will be paid by people who just don’t wish to have the hassle of appealing or who aren’t aware of their rights, so the few who refuse to pay for any reason will be more than these cowboys can be bothered with. They hate the intelligent, they have no rights to find you via the DVLA, so they can only hope to gain your details via you contacting them to pay.

No contact means no contract, ignore them, or at most email them with no details other than your christian name, and tell them you have no intention of paying and they can take this (add your own reason) as your appeal against their ticket. No doubt you will get a couple of emails trying to get you to give in and pay, ignore them and they will soon give up.

APPEALING FINES, TICKETS AND EVERYTHING ELSE

Another example from Elder is one which could have proved costly.

When we first moved, we barely knew Reading, and, within days, Elder had driven through a Bus Lane.

Now, despite this happening in 2014, we never heard anything about it until late 2015. Despite Elder letting the DVLA know of our address change, when the local council asked them for his address to send a PCN notice to, they gave our address at the time of the contravention. 14 miles away.

In the mean time, the council sold the fine debt to a Private debt agency. These jokers never contacted him until months and months later, by which point they had made the fine a whopping £405!

How much did Elder have to pay due to my savvy use of laws on civil matters? £0.

There were a few points to use on this case.

For starters, the minute they bought this “debt” from our council, it became a civil matter, and thus, enforceable by fear alone.

For another point, these Debt Collectors had our telephone number for the entire time they had the debt- between August 2014 and July 2015. However, it was only after near on a year had passed that they contacted his phone about the debt.

The worst point to my mind though was that, when they did finally call, I answered, and was told they wished to speak to Elder, and on asking who they were, I was told they were “from the council” regards “non payment of council taxes”. Now, I know we owed not a penny, so found that both worrying and annoying, but of course, I handed the phone straight to Elder to deal with as they wanted to speak to the named person on our bill. This is completely against the law. You may not, at any point, impersonate another body to gain access to someone, it is just not acceptable, and, had she said she was a debt collector, I would have asked where her proof was and what it was regarding before giving my email address for her to send details to.

Never admit you are at fault unless you know all the facts. No company can demand money when you are without full facts, so give an email address and never give your own home address.

After he spoke to this awful, lying woman, he put me back on the phone, and I said I would not be paying until we had seen a PCN, and full details of why they had lied about who they were, why they hadn’t contacted us in a year, and why she felt the need to be rude.

I waited for the email, and waited. It took 5 days until she sent it, by which time I had researched this company online and had contacted them myself regards the behavior and practises employed by their call staff.

In the end, they sent it, and it turned out if the council had of been given our correct details, the bus lane is one which constantly has people snapped but which 99% of those who appeal win as the point the normal lane becomes a bus lane is negligible, and the markings on the road are non existent.

Still, this company demanded my address and their £455 (it went up £50 per email). It reached £555 by the time I got rid of them, and it wasn’t too hard to do so.

I simply emailed them an attached letter- it looked very official although I didn’t make up any solicitor names I used lawyer speak and said I was “handling the alleged contravention on behalf of Elder.” I quoted various points of where they had failed in their duty of care. I also pointed out as a Civil Matter, Elder was in his right to take them to court for their demanding money via false representation. I said I considered the matter closed, but would not hesitate to come to court and present the facts to the court if they wished to pursue us further.

All very scary to them and suffice to say we’ve heard nothing since!

Sometimes, all you need is to keep calm, do research, and you can usually wave goodbye to these types of fine.

DEALING WITH PROPER PEOPLE

Of course, even the official folk who can screw you for your car in the longterm can be avoided and dealt with if you use sense.

If you did commit the offence and are bang to rights, then pay- it makes sense to do so as fines will only increase.

If you feel you aren’t at fault- such as with Elder and the Bus Lane markings, or you’ve been ticketed when you didn’t flout rules, then appeal.

Its simple to do, you will be asked to pop into your council building in most cases, and you will be given the chance to put your point across of why you feel you aren’t at fault. If it’s over staying on a public highway when you can prove you didn’t, bring evidence, such as receipts of when you were in a shop, or the original ticket to show how long you paid for compared to when the ticket was issued. If there was no signage or it was unclear that you couldn’t park in a space- or there was a time limit- bring photographic evidence of the area showing the lack of signage.

The independent adjudicator will then ask you to leave the room whilst they decide whether you are at fault or not. If you win, you leave with no costs to pay, and if not, you will have to pay the full fine.

DRIVE SAFE, LOOK FOR SIGNS AND YOU CAN BE FINE FREE!

Of course, the best thing to do is always be aware of your speed as speed kills even at 10mph over 30. So, if you keep your speed in check you shouldn’t have any fines to pay.

If parking, check for signs saying if you can park and for how long, and keep an eye on the time. Don’t park in bays you aren’t entitled to, and keep your tickets in case you don’t face a parking charge notice.

Happy motoring everyone!

Advertisements

#LifeSchool: Dealing with All Things Health Related

Its that time again, and next on the agenda for shit they don’t teach you at school is all things health. From knowing your rights regards appointments, to getting the best treatment, #LifeSchool will give you the tips your Teacher never did.

HEALTH IS IMPORTANT! STAND UP FOR IT!

Looking after the health of you and your family is so important, and to be honest that’s the biggest thing you ever need to remember when trying to get things sorted out.

Even if your ailment is minor, your GP should be respectful- if it’s something that’s a cause for concern to you, it should be a cause for concern for them too.

Of course, we all hope that we will get the best care out there, and that we will have a long and friendly acquaintance with our chosen GP.

GP NEEDING A CHECK ON THEIR BEDSIDE MANNER? WHAT CAN YOU DO?

With Doctors- be they your common and garden GP, to your surgeon and Consultant, no matter how many letters they have after their names, its never a foregone conclusion that you will gel with them.

The same can be said for Midwives, Health Visitors, and Nurses too.

In life you will always find someone that you just cannot work with positively for whatever reason, and, of course, in that situation you would do your best to avoid them. With a Healthcare professional, that’s not so simple.

If you do find you are missing out on healthcare and relying on the oh so available, but not ever so reliable, Doctor Google, then you need to take action as soon as possible.

Be polite, but contact your surgery or the Hospital and explain that, despite being respectful of the opinion and experience of the person you have currently, you feel that perhaps you are not best suited to their style of practicing medicine. Explain that whilst you understand moving people around the lists is not always easy but you have been ignoring symptoms such is your want to not seek an appointment.

Don’t be scared, people ask for second opinions all the time, so don’t be made to feel guilty for doing the same.

I found that a Midwife who looked after (although I say that loosely) my care when I was pregnant with Littlest was appalling. When I had Mini, I had a wonderful Midwife called Pat, I could phone her over the slightest niggle and she’d be happy to talk and sort me out.

This was not the case with Midwife 1 of 3 during my 28 week pregnancy.

For starters, she told me she would see me in the early days once a fortnight, but she would call me for an appointment. Then, she promptly forgot about me for over a month.

I started to get quite concerned at the month later stage and phoned the surgery myself, who booked me in.

I turned up, and the Midwife asked me if I was a new booking. I explained we’d met and I had my notes book she’d given me. She had no shame in admitting she had forgotten me, even asking if I was sure I’d had her.

Undaunted- after all, NHS Staff are under paid and overworked- I asked her to sort out an appointment with a Consultant as I had had complications with Mini. I also asked if she had my notes from that pregnancy, which she said they didn’t need.

Weeks went by, and no appointments arrived, so I called her direct. She had no idea once again who I was, denied ever having seen me, saying she had a list of current ladies and I wasn’t on it.

That day, I contacted the Midwife team and explained that I really had no faith in someone who couldn’t recall me, and they happily let me swap.

It took another go again before I got a nice lady, by which time of course I went into early labour and then had to start all over again before I got someone who I felt confidence in.

However, it shows no matter how many times I called to change, as I was polite and put my points against across, I was given someone new.

APPOINTMENTS- DON’T JUST WAIT FOR THEM TO APPEAR

Appointments systems are an utter farce at most hospitals now, not due to staff for the most part but due to Hospitals being huge and taking in patients from far and wide. As a result of this, it can be simple for a referral to go awry.

All hospitals have a certain length of time they suggest you will need to wait for an appointment to be sent out, so when your GP is making the referral, ask if they know the wait time.

Make a note on your phone diary or calendar when this referral was made, and who by, and then a reminder for this wait time.

If the time passes, contact the GP first.

Now, GP receptionists are notorious, and I have had run ins with a fair few miserable old cows in my time. I like to think that they do this on purpose, as then no one will ring and query their work.

Be polite, as is the golden rule, and just ask them to confirm when the referral was made. If this hasn’t been done, ask them to get the GP to contact you, and, when they do, explain that their Secretary has yet to send the referral. Ask them to send it as urgent as a result.

If it has been sent, then again, phone the Appointments line for the specific hospital and, if possible, department that you are due to see. They will ask your name and a few other details and should be able to let you know the status of your referral.

If, of course, they’ve never heard of you, phone the GP again, ask to speak to them by telephone and explain what the hospital has said.

The annoying thing is, if we could only make the damn referrals ourselves, it would be a simpler world. Unfortunately, simple is something the NHS Managers don’t quite believe in, so whilst it’s frustrating to you, its actually pretty frustrating to both the GP and Hospital Appointments staff and Consultant’s Secretaries who have to bear the brunt of angry folk on their telephone lines.

IF IT ALL GOES SERIOUSLY WRONG, GO TO THE TOP

In a Hospital, you have PALS, the Patient Advice Liaison Service, who are independent and who are there to give you help and advice if something, however big or small, goes wrong.

You can find them online or in the Hospital itself, and they can act on your behalf with Consultants if you have a query, or handle a complaint through a complaints procedure, if you feel that’s necessary too.

If that doesn’t work, you can also go direct to the Hospital Managers and make a complaint directly.

All complaints take time to process though so it may not provide a quick, or even a satisfactory conclusion. I waited nearly 18 months for a complaint I made regards the standard of treatment I received whilst pregnant with Littlest, and then his treatment beyond birth to receive a response, and to be honest, all they did was say “lessons had been learned”, “policy would be addressed” but ultimately concluded I was at fault and not the poor Consultants no sirree.

Yes, I could quite possibly have taken the Hospital to court, but be careful with litigation. It can prove costly, time consuming and may just add to stress and make your health worsen. It can also be easy to fall into the trap of No Win, No Fee companies who will rip you off whether you win or not, especially now that Legal Aid has been all but abolished in Medical Negligence litigation.

If you really have suffered a great deal of suffering down to shockingly poor healthcare which leaves you without work, or living a poor quality of life, then without a doubt the litigation route is right for you.

However, if it’s just a case of an appointment being at 2.15pm and you not being called until 3pm, its best just to grin and bear it.

If it’s a lack of respect that has you cross, take this up with the Ward Sister or Practice Manager- all patients, if they are showing respect and decency to staff deserve the same back, so don’t be spoken to rudely.

ALL IN ALL, WE’RE LUCKY TO HAVE THE NHS

Crisis of funding and staff or not, we are lucky to have folk like my sis in law in our country who, no matter whether it’s a cough or a coma, will care for us, for free, whatever time of day it is.

This gang of trained superheroes is seriously under appreciated, get all forms of bodily fluid and abuse every day, and still turns up to work no matter how many hours they worked the day (and night) before.

So, always try and be nice, appreciate them, and give them a word of thanks when things are going right.

If you do, you’ll find you get the same courtesy back.

Not all staff are arseholes, so don’t immediately assume they will be and act like an arse yourself.

And that way, the road to good health should be an easy, bump free experience.

 

 

 

#LifeSchool: Dealing with Bills, Fair or Otherwise

I hope all who come here to my little slice of the interwebs are enjoying #LifeSchool, my series on dealing with all crap that life chucks our way which we don’t learn about in school.

This weeks School topic is dealing with bills, be they energy, TV licence or otherwise.

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS

A rather shitty fact of life which will instantly make you feel like a fully signed up member of the Adult majority comes in the form of Bills.

These little quarterly or monthly letters or joy (not) are an inescapable part of life which may fill us with dread. But with the right budgeting, and the know how on loop holes or otherwise, they don’t always need to be.

Unless you wish to go off grid and self sufficient (and if so, good luck to you my eco-friendly little chum), you will receive bills for electricity and gas.

While there’s no real way to get away with it, you can find a great deal online using the many well known comparison websites available. Be aware though, that sometimes getting a good deal can be as simple as phoning your supplier and asking for one.

No, really.

All companies want our ongoing business. It’s now so simple to switch supplier for any utilities, as well as things such as phone lines or broadband, that simply asking to speak to someone in cancellations, or if that’s not available asking to discuss your current deal, can get you money off.

With utilities, if you currently have a dual fuel account- whereby you are powered for both gas and electric from the same provider, you can ask about cheaper deals, such as economy 7.  Its always a good idea to take the time to contact your provider and discuss your needs, they will know what deal is right for you so never be afraid to ask.

Research is always a good idea- does a competitor have a deal running currently which is better than your deal? Make a point of quoting this deal, and ask your provider to match, or even better it. You may be surprised by what you get offered.

NO DEAL ON OFFER? SWITCH!

Most companies now offer very good deals for new customers for a fixed amount of time, and switching may at first seem like a faff, but actually can be quite simple.

With utilities, providing you don’t owe money on your accounts, most companies when you switch handle this for you, and you can carry on paying as before.

As for direct debits, the Switch Guarantee scheme now makes it far simpler than ever before when you need to switch bank accounts on the High Street or online, and, with a simple form, will switch these across for you.

ASKING FOR A DEAL: TIPS FOR GETTING CASH OFF

When speaking to a company and asking for a deal, be polite. If you sound off with them, they wont care if you do leave!

A few months back, my lovely new deal with Sky for TV and broadband was coming to an end. We had been paying a flat, before phone line calls, rate of £27.84 a month, due to Elder having a friend who works for them (there’s a tip- make friends with a Sky fitter!).

We were sent a letter telling us, with a few weeks notice, that our bill would shoot up to just under £60 a month. Eek!

Now, we don’t watch much TV in our house, the kids watch it on weekends in the winter, but Elder and I generally aren’t fussed. Hence, there was no bloody way I was paying that a month.

I rang, and, politely, asked could I speak to someone in cancellations. I was put through, and, explained I was unhappy with the sharp rise, especially with very little notice.

First off, they apologised for the short notice, and then, they began asking me what it would take for me to stay.

Now, be clever, don’t immediately say, well, I’d like X,Y,Z and a small holiday please. Make sure they think you’re off. A lot of call centre folk on these cancellation lines are given feedback, and bonuses for those they get to stay, make them work for it, and get kudos from their boss for bringing you back in.

I said I had seen a much better deal with a competitor, and was happy to switch. At which point I was given an idea of what Sky would offer for me to stay.

They asked me what channels or services we liked, and what we didn’t, and from that, we discussed various options. At first this came to £45 a month, so again, I told them I was off, and then, the magic words were spoken by the lovely guy on the phone- “What do you want to pay?”

In the end, I got a great deal at £30 a month, and only lost the kids channels- which I had locked most of them out or else my pair get lazy and wont do homework, or go and play.I can still record, I can still pause, I still have net (in fact, I got that upgraded) and my phone line was reduced too.

All by being polite and making them believe I would leave.

LOPPHOLES FOR SAVING MONEY

If you aren’t at the end of a contract, there are still ways to save.

Do you claim any form of benefit such as DLA or PIP? If so, you can apply each year for the Warm Home Discount, which gives you an automatic £140 a year off your electric or gas. Its easy to apply, you can find the forms online, or ask your supplier to send you one.

If you still have paper bills, most companies now charge you a fee for this service, so if you can, switch to online bill management services, and that’s money off. The same can be said if you still pay your bills at the Post Office- switching to Direct Debit if possible is cheaper, as the company will charge you what they get charged for handling money at the Post Office.

If you use Pre-Payment meters, these are a nightmare, but if you struggle to pay bills, they may feel like your only option. Not so. If you call your provider, you can ask about pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly schemes, where you pay a fixed amount which is manageable for you towards your bills. This can be done on a card at most Pay Points or Post Office counters, or by Direct Debit.

My biggest bug bear is the TV Licence, but again, this can be paid monthly too in installments. Or, if you don’t watch Live TV, at the moment you don’t actually have to pay for the licence at all, and can simply go to their website and register that you don’t need a licence- although they will, in some cases, check.

BILL INCORRECT? DON’T IGNORE IT!

Like everything, mistakes do happen, and you can and should get these errors, big or small, dealt with.

Start off at the company level, be polite, show why you feel your bill is incorrect, and hopefully, this will be credited to your account.

If it’s not dealt with, and you reach a stalemate, then it’s back to our old friend the Ombudsman Service.

They will ask to see your evidence, what you have done to try and resolve the issue, and why you feel they need to look at the situation again. They can- and have- fined companies previously for cock ups, so its good to know they are on your side, and are free to approach and use.

BUDGET, AND KEEP A RECORD OF WHAT NEEDS PAYING, WHEN

The easiest way to slip into debt is to lose track of what needs to be paid when.

Use your phone calendar and reminder, or a note book, and make sure you know that your outgoings match your incoming. If it doesn’t, don’t ignore it.

The best thing you can do is contact the companies involved and explain your financial situation. Most companies now have a dedicated team to deal with those in Fuel Poverty, or having issues with bills, and may give you an extension or allow you to pay installments.

Its all about deciding what you actually need and what is a luxury- do you really need lots of channels you don’t watch or packages you didn’t use? If not, ring and cancel them asap, although most companies require 30 days notice it will be one less cost to your budget.

Do you really need a store card, or Bright House? These, to me are the biggest rip off going. Its much more cost effective to forego the latest phone or TV if you can’t afford to heat your home. Try signing up for schemes like Freecycle.org, Freegle, or Freely Wheely, where local people will advertise their unwanted items for free.

If all else fails, visit your local Citizens Advice for more.

 

#LifeSchool: School Stuff Part 2: Bullying, And How to Deal With It

It’s Part 2 of our school related #LifeSchool (Part 1 is here, and Renting #LifeSchool is here for housing issues), and this time I’ll tackle tips on dealing with every parent’s worst nightmare- bullying.

IS IT BULLYING OR JUST A LITTLE TEASING?

All school’s now have Bullying policies in place- gone are the days of being picked on day in and day out and being told to toughen up by a disinterested teacher- but sometimes we can be too quick to worry that what our child is experiencing is at the worst end of the school spectrum.

We’ve all done it- the minute we have tears at home regards a school incident, bullying is such a buzzword that we immediately worry that a gang of tiny terrors are scaring our cherub to distraction.

However, sometimes it can be a simple case of teasing which has been taken the wrong way by our child. I should know, if Mini gets tagged during “it” and can’t catch someone, she immediately feels victimised. Don’t let your child’s anxiety cause anxiety to you.

First things first, sit them down, ask them exactly what has happened, and what situation they were in at the time. Then, reassure them that everyone finds school hard sometimes, and perhaps what they feel is a massive upset is worth taking a deep breath over and not worrying too much about. Use positives from their everyday, their friendship groups, clubs, or good work they have been praised for recently.

To a child, any form of slight can seem like the end of the world, as they are growing and learning who they are and what their place is in the world. Our job is not to get upset with them, but to always be positive.

APPROACHING THE SCHOOL- BE POLITE, BUT FIRM

If it turns out to be more serious than a simple case of falling out at lunchtime over a game, and it is more of an ongoing, targeted situation, it’s time to get smart.

Make a note of names, times and incidents. Has your child come home with a physical mark? Log it, and photograph it.

It seems extreme, but in the current climate, school’s hands are tied with regards removing problem children. The more evidence you can bring them of the effects this child or children’s behavior is having, the better it will be.

Speak with other parents in the class, don’t be OTT but just calmly ask as to how their child is getting on and had they mentioned any problems in class or at lunchtime. Some parent’s can be nervous of speaking out about bullying, hoping it will resolve itself, or their child may not have mentioned it due to being upset by it. By asking after their child’s well being, you may expose a wider issue within a year group or school.

This happened recently to Mini with a boy and his sister, who it turned out were well known to other parent’s for being a little too fond of pushing, shoving and punching. Knowing that it was far from just Mini experiencing issues certainly helped me when speaking to the school.

If you can see a pattern emerging, for instance, is this bullying happening at Lunchtime, or during a certain class, and if so, who over sees the children at that time, make sure to point this out to the school. In our case, we found most of the incidents happened at Lunchtime, so we were able to mention that in class, Mini’s teacher is great, but the lunch time staff were falling short. That way, you can compliment where the school are doing well, whilst pointing out where they are weak.

It may be the case that you are approached by a fellow parent who is experiencing a troubling amount of worry over bullying. A great idea in this case is to support each other and encourage them to keep the same incidents log as you, and then go together to the school- if they can see that more than one of you has a specific concern about a child’s behavior, it’s harder to fob you off!

FOBBED OFF BY THE SCHOOL? THERE’S OTHER’S YOU CAN CONTACT

Just like any other situation where you feel your first point of contact has fallen short, when faced with a disinterested or slow to act school you can always go to someone higher up.

Do you know who your Parent Governors are? Parent Governors are there to represent the interests of the parents at the school and can, where possible, attend a meeting with you regards school issues. If you can, speak with them first, and they may be happy to bring up your concern at their next meeting.

If this doesn’t work, the Local Authority are available just by calling up the local council that controls your school.

They will ask if you have made a complaint to the school, and, if you have followed my advice above and the school has done little or nothing, will raise this issue for you. They will want to know why the school has ignored your concerns, or what action they have taken, whether it’s successful or not.

They have the power to over ride the school, so this is another place where detailed logs of incidents, photos of marks and names of who you have reported them to are handy to have.

Or, before this, do you know the pupil’s parents? Its not the 70s, so don’t go pulling hair and recreating a boxing match on the jungle gym, perhaps, calmly, speak with them about the issue. Some parent’s will be mortified and deal with their child’s behavior at home, simply by taking them aside and making them aware of it.

REMEMBER- BULLIES HAVE NEEDS TOO

It can be hard to, when your child is coming home bruised emotionally and even physically, but do avoid talking to the child who is at fault.

Understand though, that there are reasons why this child behaves how they do. Are they victimised at home so come to school angry and resentful? Yes, they shouldn’t take it out on your child, but imagine how hard it must be to feel small at home.

One bully at our last school, when asked why he was so rotten to his entire class to the point of having no friends, told his Headteacher it was due to him never having a nice coat, or parent’s who came to watch him in the class assembly. A simple case of jealousy brought on by his surroundings meant his year group were routinely terrorised.

Of course, some children are just inclined to be the bossy boots and have no reason to be nasty, but remember, just like your child is finding their feet, so is this child, and hopefully, with time and the intervention of the school, they can find a way of standing out that doesn’t entail punching, kicking and generally being mean to everyone in their eye line.

Try and reinforce positiveness at home, and let them know that it will pass. Teach them to be more proactive in standing up for themselves and advise them to try and avoid the child involved where possible. I have always taught Mini and Littlest that you should never hit someone back, but that rather they should walk away, calmly and not show fear, as usually this is exactly what the bully will want to achieve.

Always tell them to tell a teacher or adult straight away, again, in a calm measured way, as it may not seem like it to your child but school’s do log incidents and do, when necessary, speak to the parent’s involved.

CHILD ACCUSED OF BULLYING? WHAT TO DO NEXT

Of course, you can be told your child is bullying, and that creates problems of it’s own.

Its not nice to hear, but you’re not with them all day at school so there may be issues you aren’t aware of.

Set aside some quiet time with the child, and ask them how school is. Keep calm, it can be tempting to get cross due to embarrassment, but this is exactly the opposite of what the child needs.

Get their side- are they fairly being called a bully, or is it a case of a misunderstanding? Are they being pressured to misbehave by other children?

Ask them why they feel their behavior is fine, and make them aware of the upset they have caused the other child. They may not even be aware that they have caused upset.

Be supportive if there is something worrying them which is at the heart of them acting out. Ask the school for support where possible, and, if they have been falsely accused, stand up for them.

Understand that children lack self awareness, but with guidance, even the most naughty of children can improve- after all, bullies are seldom the happiest child and miss out on activities as a result of their unpopularity.

IT GETS BETTER IN TIME!

I like to think school is preparation for life, and not just in an academic sense. I was bullied at a time when the word was seldom used, and, if anything, my years of school based hell has made me determined never to be treated that way again. I have grown from it and your child can too, with the right intervention from you as their parent.

If they are having a tough time at school, don’t dwell on it at home, and don’t use it as an excuse for bad behavior at home. Don’t let them miss school as that will only put them at a disadvantage educationally.

Try and make them more positive and happy- invite friends for tea, or make time for lots of hugs after school.