Parents say they are worried about reprisals on the playground after a survey circulated at a Canberra school at the centre of serious violence concerns asked students to "name names" on bullying.
The 'Safe and Supportive Schools Survey' handed out to some students at Theodore Primary this week asked children whether they felt safe in specific areas of the school, if they felt supported by their teachers and whether they had experienced bullying or violence.
But it also asked them to record both their own name and the names of their alleged bullies, sparking privacy concerns among some families.
"My son's already been bashed this year, as if he's going to fill it out, he's terrified," one mother, who did not wish to be named, said.
"How are kids supposed to feel being asked to name names? It'll just make things worse."
Other parents said they were disappointed they had not been warned about the survey, as many of their children now suffered from severe anxiety from being repeatedly punched, kicked, choked or otherwise attacked on the playground.
"Did anyone sit with them and support them through filling it in?" one parent asked.
While text at the top of the double-page survey said it was delivered annually to Year 3-6 students, along with some from the junior school, the ACT education directorate confirmed on Thursday it was not an official survey and it was now looking into its use at the school.
"The school adapted an existing data collection tool from the Victorian government," a spokesman said.
"The directorate is following up with the school on the modifications made to this form."
He said it was not uncommon for schools to gather information from their communities to support their planning and strategies, as part of a focus on student agency and voice.
"All schools are expected to keep personal data collected safe and secure," he said.
The government has ramped up its presence at Theodore Primary in recent weeks after The Canberra Times revealed complaints about the handling of violence at the school stretched back more than a year, with at least two children left in hospital and many more seeking outside psychological support following physical attacks and sexual aggression.
In November, as families began leaving the school due to safety concerns, parents sent a petition to ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry calling for government intervention but then directorate only began reviewing specific incidents at the school this month.
Though some students had still experienced violence this year, a number of parents - including a man whose son was strangled and bashed by three other students in 2018 - said things appeared to be improving.
A second deputy principal, focussing on student wellbeing, is now being recruited and an occupational therapist has assessed playground supervision.
On Thursday, Ms Berry rejected calls from the Canberra Liberals for a joint visit to the school with herself, shadow spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, saying Theodore Primary needed time to recover and implement new behavioural management strategies.
"Schools are not places ... for a bunch of politicians to go in there and ogle at them like it's some weird science experiment," Ms Berry told the ACT assembly.
The minister sent her advisor along to a parent meeting at the school last week, though she has not attended Theodore personally.
On Wednesday, the Canberra Liberals told the assembly harrowing stories of students "crushed by fear" due to repeat attacks at four different ACT schools, including Theodore, some of which a distressed Ms Berry said she had not heard before.
Liberal Mark Parton asked why such incidents had not been brought to the minister's attention earlier, given many of them were either reported in The Canberra Times or communicated directly to her office by the families affected.
"I have been briefed properly by the directorate," Ms Berry said on Thursday.
"But I have asked the directorate to pay further careful attention to ensuring that I am briefed more regularly and in more detail."
All ACT public schools are required to report incidents causing serious harm or risk to the directorate but Ms Berry did not answer questions on what procedures were in place to hold schools accountable.
Dozens of families have since contacted The Canberra Times to raise concerns about the handling of violence at other ACT schools, both public and private.
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