The Department has taken a wide range of measures to tackle the causes of bullying and is providing around £1.7 million for anti-bullying programmes this year. Through the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme, we are developing skills in pupils including empathy, a sense of social responsibility and assertiveness which directly contribute to a school climate in which bullying cannot thrive.
Prevention is also a key theme of the guidance entitled “Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools” which we issued in September 2007. This includes specific advice on homophobic bullying and cyberbullying, and links to guidance on bullying around racism, religion and culture that we issued in 2006. We are currently preparing further advice on how to prevent and tackle the bullying of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
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 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.
We have issued 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 currently 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 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 are monitoring 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.
My Department has gone out to tender on research into the effectiveness of anti-bullying strategies. This should help inform any further development of Government policy in this area as well as helping schools decide which anti-bullying strategies are most effective in a range of circumstances. Our partners in the Anti-Bullying Alliance, and the National Strategies work at a local level to advise schools on their anti-bullying policies and monitor the implementation of the various anti-bullying strategies.