Gareth Thomas | Prospero Teaching ‘Balls to bullying’ Campaign

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As apprehensive 11-year-olds get ready for their first term at ‘big school’, new research suggests that most teachers have had no training on the risk of bullying children face as they begin their secondary school careers.

A survey by Prospero Teaching, who recruit and place teachers in roles in thousands of schools across the UK, reveals that a massive 73 per cent of teachers have received no specific training on bullying among children transitioning from primary to secondary school. And nearly one third of secondary school teachers surveyed had had no experience of preparing children for the transition from primary to secondary. Some 32 percent of the teachers surveyed believe this lack of expertise is an issue that parents should be concerned about as they prepare their children for one of the biggest days in their school careers. 

Prospero Teaching is today launching a national campaign, Balls to Bullying, led by Welsh rugby great Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas who represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. Gareth captained Wales in 2005 to their first Grand Slam victory since 1978. The same year he captained the British Lions tour of New Zealand. In 2011, Gareth was one of the most high-profile sportsmen to come out as gay. He said: ‘People might not believe it to look at me – because I’m a big lad – but bullying has a lot to do with my life story, who I am and where I come from.

‘I’m taking the Balls to Bullying campaign into schools because I hope my reputation as a sportsman in a tough game is a way of connecting with children who may be vulnerable to bullies. I can help to remove the stigma some children feel and overcome their reluctance to speak out. My experience shows that being bullied is nothing to do with being weak. ‘For me bullying can be about negativity – anyone who stands in your way and says you can’t achieve what you want to. There have been doubters in my life. People who wanted to take me in a downward spiral.’

He adds: I think the time when kids move up to big school is a really serious fault line in the system. You’re in a new environment. You don’t walk as confident, you don’t talk as confident. You’re vulnerable.

‘Bullying is such a complex topic, and there are so many types and causes. Of course, the bullies themselves have often been victims of bullying, and I want to reach them, too, to break the cycle.’

Prospero Teaching Managing Director Rob Grays said: ‘We place thousands of teachers in schools all over the country every year, and we’re shocked to find that so many of them feel ill-prepared to recognise the bullying risks children face on their move to secondary school. I think this will concern mums and dads all over the country.

‘Gareth will be visiting schools up and down Britain in the coming months to support teachers in helping youngsters to settle into secondary school, build their resilience and cut the risk of them becoming victims of bullying.’

Gareth says: ‘Every story I hear from a kid who has been bullied is heartbreaking in its own way. It’s like a movie. Some affect you, some don’t. You hope and pray every night when you go to bed that you’re going to help these kids’ life and their future. With this campaign, we’re trying to do stuff that changes a lifetime.’


Notes: Prospero Teaching is one of Britain’s largest and most successful teaching recruitment agencies, with office in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelmsford and Cardiff.

For further information, email or phone 07739 364899

Gareth Thomas and Rob Grays are available for interview.

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