Skip to main content

Pupils: Intimidation

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to tackle bullying in schools. (146395)

The Government believe that all bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated in schools, and all our guidance makes this clear.

This year the Department will provide around £1.7 million for anti-bullying programmes, which covers the costs of grants to external organisations, as well as anti-bullying resources, the publication of guidance and support for local authorities and schools, and directly funded external events.

We provide comprehensive advice for schools setting out a range of proven strategies for tackling bullying. We are currently revising our over-arching anti-bullying advice to schools, which we propose to issue on-line in September under the title ‘Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools’. This will include specific guidance on prejudice-driven bullying, with links to the guidance on racist bullying we first issued last year, and homophobic bullying guidance specifically prepared for us by Stonewall and Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH). There will also be specific guidance on how to prevent and tackle cyberbullying. To complete this suite of guidance, we will also prepare specific advice on how to tackle the bullying of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Education and Skills Select Committee recently examined bullying in schools, and their report welcomed key aspects of the Government's programme of work, including our main guidance and our guidance on prejudice-driven bullying. The Government's response was issued very recently.

We work with and fund a number of partners, including the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) who arrange the annual anti-bullying week, and provide a range of advice and support to local authorities; ParentLine Plus, who run a helpline for parents whose children are being bullied; and ChildLine in Partnership with Schools (CHIPS) who run peer mentoring schemes for the Department; and we also fund awards for anti-bullying work as part of the Princess Diana Memorial Awards scheme. We issue the anti-bullying charter to schools and have placed a duty on head teachers to determine measures to prevent all forms of bullying as part of their overall behaviour policy. More recently, we convened a taskforce to look at all aspects of cyber-bullying, made up of internet service providers, mobile phone companies, education professionals and those working in the youth justice system.

We are now shifting the focus of our anti-bullying work from campaigning to embedding effective practice in schools. To do this we are working with the national strategies to identify schools with weak and ineffective anti-bullying policies and provide targeted support to those schools; and with BeatBullying, a respected anti-bullying charity, to run a project on tackling inter-faith bullying, including Islamaphobia.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding has been allocated to the North East of England to tackle bullying in schools in the last 12 months for which figures are available; what progress has been made in reducing bullying; and if he will make a statement. (147154)

Ring-fenced funding for anti-bullying campaigns is not made available on either a local authority or school by school basis. Rather it is a matter for schools and local authorities to decide how much of their budget they devote to this important work.

The Government believe that all bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated in schools, and all our guidance makes this clear. This year the Department will provide around £1.7 million for anti-bullying programmes, which covers the costs of grants to external organisations, as well as anti-bullying resources, the publication of guidance and support for local authorities and schools, and directly funded external events.

We provide comprehensive advice for schools setting out a range of proven strategies for tackling bullying. We are currently revising our over-arching anti-bullying advice to schools, which we propose to issue on-line in September under the title ‘Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools’. This will include specific guidance on prejudice-driven bullying, with links to the guidance on racist bullying we first issued last year, and homophobic bullying guidance prepared for us by Stonewall and Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH). There will also be specific guidance on how to prevent and tackle cyberbullying. To complete this suite of guidance, we will also prepare specific advice on how to tackle the bullying of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Education and Skills Select Committee recently examined bullying in schools, and their report welcomed key aspects of the Government's programme of work, including our main guidance and our guidance on prejudice-driven bullying. The Government's response was issued very recently.

We work with and fund a number of partners, including the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) who arrange the annual anti-bullying week, and provide a range of advice and support to local authorities; ParentLine Plus, who run a helpline for parents whose children are being bullied; and ChildLine in Partnership with Schools (CHIPS) who run peer mentoring schemes for the Department; and we also fund awards for anti-bullying work as part of the Princess Diana Memorial Awards scheme. We have issued the Anti-Bullying Charter to schools and have placed a duty on head teachers to determine measures to prevent all forms of bullying as part of their overall behaviour policy. More recently, we convened a Taskforce to look at all aspects of cyberbullying, made up of internet service providers, mobile phone companies, education professionals and those working in the youth justice system.

We are now shifting the focus of our anti-bullying work from campaigning to embedding effective practice in schools. To do this we are working with the National Strategies to identify schools with weak and ineffective anti-bullying policies and provide targeted support to those schools; and with BeatBullying, to run a project on tackling inter-faith bullying, including Islamaphobia.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2007, Official Report, column 797W, on pupils: intimidation, (1) on what date his Department’s work to tackle cyber-bullying began; (147165)

(2) how many staff worked on the anti-bullying strand of this programme in each financial year given, broken down by payband;

(3) whether reduced funding for anti-bullying work in 2005-06 was a result of decisions taken in the 2004 Spending Review process;

(4) how much funding his Department has given to each organisation listed since it started working with them;

(5) how many schools’ anti-bullying policies have been classified as weak and ineffective; and how many such schools have received targeted support.

Further to research published by Goldsmiths University on behalf of the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), the Department first published interim guidelines on cyberbullying in July 2006. Around the same time, we formed the Department’s Cyberbullying Taskforce, consisting of industry leaders, particularly Internet Service Providers and mobile phone operators, as well as education practitioners, the professional associations and law enforcement agencies (such as the Youth Justice Board) to develop a range of initiatives to combat cyberbullying in schools, and to ensure parents are provided with the information they need to keep their children safe online.

The team within the Department with responsibility for anti-bullying had, in 2003/04, the earliest year for which authoritative figures are available, one Grade 7, two Higher Executive Officers (HEOs), three Executive Officers (EOs) and one Administrative Officer (AO). Some of these officers also had other duties besides anti-bullying work. By 2005/06 the team consisted of one Grade 7, one Senior Executive Officer (SEO), one HEO and 60 per cent. of one EO, all working on anti-bullying work. By the following year this had changed to one Grade 7, two HEOs and 60 per cent. of one EO.

This decrease in funding was not a result of decisions made in the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review. The increased funding in 2004-2005 can be accounted for by the launch of the Department’s “Make the Difference” nationwide conference series on bullying, a high-profile series of events attended by over 5,000 heads and school staff.

Our records show funding as represented on the following table:

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

Childline

75,000

258,000

166,800

200,000

200,000

Parentline Plus

188,928

285,324

193,000

200,470

200,000

Anti-Bullying Alliance

480,064

600,628

632,943

Diana Awards

50,000

50,000

50,000

Beatbullying

80,000

Stonewall/EACH

45,000

Childnet International

35,200

All figures are exclusive of VAT.

The programme of work to identify schools with weak and ineffective anti-bullying policies is carried out for the Department by the National Strategies Behaviour and Attendance team and they hold the relevant data. In order to maximise the participation of Local Authorities (LAs) and schools on this programme, the National Strategies have given an undertaking that they will not pass this information on to the Department. Bullying can often be covert and difficult to identify so we think it is important to ensure the problem is not driven underground by “naming and shaming” schools which are deemed to have weak and ineffective anti-bullying policies.

The National Strategies use a number of monitoring prompts to assess whether a school needs additional support with its anti-bullying work. One such prompt relates to the use of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Charter for Schools. According to recent figures from the National Strategies nearly 75 per cent. of secondary and over 50 per cent. of primary schools use the principles of the Charter to draw up effective anti-bullying policies.