The Government believe that all bullying is wrong and should never be tolerated in schools, and our guidance makes this clear.
Since 1997 we have introduced an extensive range of measures to tackle bullying in schools. We have issued guidance for schools and the Anti-Bullying Charter which includes a detailed list of questions for the school community to consider when formulating its anti-bullying policy. We have worked with and funded 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 provide other resources through their ‘Be Someone to Tell’ campaign; and ChildLine in Partnership with Schools (CHIPS) who run peer mentoring schemes for the Department. We also fund awards for anti-bullying work as part of the Princess Diana Memorial Awards scheme.
We have placed a legal duty on head teachers to determine measures to promote good behaviour, respect for others and to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils as part of their overall behaviour policy. The Education and Inspections Act (2006) Act also provides head teachers with the power, to such extent as is reasonable, to regulate the conduct of pupils when they are off-site or not under the control or charge of a member of staff. This is of particular significance to cyberbullying, which is often likely to take place out of school but which can impact very strongly on the school life of those pupils involved.
We recently launched comprehensive new guidance for schools which replaces “Don’t Suffer in Silence”. This was issued under the new title “Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools” on 21 September 2007. It includes specific advice on homophobic bullying and cyberbullying, and links to pre-existing guidance on bullying around racism, religion and culture that was issued last year. To complete this suite of guidance, we have begun preparing advice on how to tackle the bullying of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities will publish this next spring.
We have asked the National Strategies and anti-Bullying Alliance to work with schools and local authorities to ensure the guidance is effectively implemented on the ground and we will monitor this very closely. We have also asked the National Strategies to provide challenge and support to those schools which have been identified as weak or ineffective in their approach to dealing with bullying.
This year the Department will provide around £1.7 million for anti-bullying programmes, and funding levels are set to rise in future years. This 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.