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Pupils: Bullying

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) when he expects the requirement for schools to record all bullying incidents to be implemented; and what steps he will take to monitor those records; (243127)

(2) what definitions have been provided to schools for the purposes of recording incidents of bullying;

(3) whether he has plans for the inspection of the records kept by schools of incidents of bullying.

We are planning to launch our public consultation on the proposed new duty to record incidents of bullying early in 2009 and we aim to implement it in September 2009. The new duty will require schools to record incidents of bullying at school level; they will not be required to report their records to the local authority or central Government. We currently recommend that schools record incidents of bullying and share these records with the local authority as a means of developing cross-area anti-bullying strategies, and we will continue to encourage this.

As part of the Ofsted inspection process, schools are expected to demonstrate, through the self evaluation form, the steps they have taken to minimise bullying, and the effectiveness of these steps. Evidence is provided covering issues such as what anti-bullying policies the school has implemented, how incidents of bullying are recorded, how the data collected are analysed and followed up, and with what success. We expect school bullying records will be used when completing this form.

Ofsted inspectors also gather evidence through discussions with children and young people about whether they feel safe in school, and how well they feel the school deals with bullying. School records of bullying incidents would only be checked if there was a disparity between the information provided on the self evaluation form and the information gathered from discussions with pupils.

“Bullying—Don’t Suffer in Silence: An anti-bullying pack for schools (DfEE 0064/2000, updated September 2002)” defines bullying as:

“Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated overtime, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally.”

Our suite of guidance “Safe to Learn”, published in 2007, reiterates this definition, and expands upon it, giving examples of what behaviours could count as bullying:

“Bullying includes: name-calling; taunting; mocking; making offensive comments; kicking; hitting; pushing; taking belongings; inappropriate text messaging and emailing; sending offensive or degrading images by phone or via the internet; producing offensive graffiti; gossiping; excluding people from groups; and spreading hurtful and untruthful rumours.” (Safe to Learn 1.6-1.7)

As part of our consultation process, we will ask for views on how bullying should be defined for the purposes of the new duty to record. Using the responses we receive, we will establish a clear definition of what the threshold for recording an incident of bullying will be, and communicate this to all practitioners.