The following policy recommendations have been developed by the Anti-Bullying Alliance through our Advisory Group, which consists of NSPCC, Ditch the Label, NASUWT Teacher’s Union, Red Balloon, the National Children’s Bureau, Nottingham Trent University, Childnet, Kidscape, Mencap and Wandsworth Borough Council. The have also been agreed upon among our core members.
Please note: This document related to policy in England. These recommendations can be found as a PDF document at the bottom of this page.
Our agreed policy recommendations
Children who are especially at risk of bullying
- There are groups that are significantly more likely to experience bullying in their childhoods than other young people.
- Recommendation 1: We would like to see the government funding anti-bullying activity and focusing on those most at risk including those with SEN/D, looked after children, young carers, those who are or are perceived to be LGBT, those in receipt of Free School Meals, sexist and sexual bullying, appearance targeted bullying, and racist and faith targeted bullying.
- There is growing evidence that children on free school meals are more likely to experience bullying.
- Recommendation 2: The government should conduct research into levels of bullying of children in receipt of Free School Meals.
- Our literature review showed a real lack of recent research about racist and faith targeted (R&FT) bullying. It also showed that we acknowledge that what research there is shows significant variations in experience of different ethnicities and faiths.
- Recommendation 3: The government should commission research relating to bullying levels by ethnicity and faith, particularly exploring bullying experiences of mixed-race CYP, immigrant and refugee CYP, and children who have English as an additional language – who the available research show may be particularly at risk.
- Recommendation 4: Introduction of duties for social media companies to safeguard children and young people from harmful content cyberbullying and better-quality reporting.
Mental health and wellbeing
- The government has expressed a desire to train Designated Mental Health Leads in every school in England by 2025. Evidence shows there are strong links between mental health and experiencing bullying
- Recommendation 5: Designated leads for mental health in schools and mental health teams should have bullying within their remit and available training.
- GPs and Accident and Emergency Departments are often the first professionals to hear from children about bullying. GPs and Accident and Emergency Departments should have a good understanding of bullying, their safeguarding duties and school’s responsibilities so they are better able to support victims of bullying.
- Recommendation 6: GPs and other health professionals should be provided with up-to-date and accurate information and training relating to how to deal with children and young people who disclose experiencing bullying to them.
- Recommendation 7: Ensure that all parts of the school system (including independent schools, Academies and free schools) are bound by the same core legislative framework around bullying.
- Currently the legislation states:
- Maintained schools (S89 School and Inspections Act 2006) says schools
- Must have measures to prevent all forms of bullying set out within their behaviour policy – some schools do this in a stand-alone anti-bullying policy
- These measures must be communicated to pupils, staff and parents at least once a year
- Young people should be involved in writing this
- Academies, free schools and independent schools (Independent School Standards (England) Regulations 2012) says proprietors are required to have an effective anti-bullying strategy drawn up and implemented.
- Maintained schools (S89 School and Inspections Act 2006) says schools
- Recommendation 8: Ofsted inspectors should receive anti-bullying training and as a minimum understand what bullying is.
- It is estimated that 12,000 children are moved to different schools due to the bullying they experience. We estimate that 16,000 children are off school at any one time due to the bullying they experienced. Absence data collected termly by the Department for Education contains a large number of ‘other unauthorised absence’. ABA believes that a number of these reasons may be for bullying. There is very little accountability within school absence data reporting and when a child is removed from school role taking into account how the school has dealt with the bullying that has taken place.
- Recommendation 9: We believe that each time a child is removed from a school role due to experiencing bullying, this should trigger an investigation into what has happened.
- Recommendation 10: School absence records should record bullying as a reason for children being absent from school. Ofsted inspections should be triggered when these absences are high.
Whole school approach
- Teachers are not currently required to undertake any anti-bullying training as part of their Initial Teacher Training.
- Recommendation 11: Initial Teacher Training should include how to prevent and respond to bullying as a core element.
- Schools are not required to have lead members of staff or governors responsible for their anti-bullying strategies.
- Recommendation 12: There should be a senior member of school staff (perhaps through the designated mental health in schools lead) who is responsible for a whole-school approach to promoting preventing and responding to bullying, in a similar manner to a SENCo.
- Recommendation 13: There should be an appointed school governor who is responsible for a whole-school approach to bullying.
- We welcome the new RSHE curriculum including elements of bullying, online bullying, e-safety, LGBT inclusion and support about relationships.
- Recommendation 14: We would like to see teachers and schools adequately supported to meet requirements of curriculum in a manner that is to a high standard and inclusive. Government should ensure implementation of RSHE remains high on their agenda.
Evidence and data
- There has not been a national data collection of levels of bullying in England in a number of years.
- Recommendation 15: The government should undertake a national anti-bullying survey, conducted annually, which would give an annual view of the wellbeing of pupils, including the prevalence of bullying in English schools. This national survey should give a view of bullying under the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and other characteristics about pupils such as free school meals, young carers and looked after children to give us a national picture of identity targeted bullying.
- Schools do not have a duty to record levels of bullying (there are such duties being implemented in Northern Ireland)
- Recommendation 16: The Government should consider a duty on all schools and Academies to record, monitor and review all bullying and harassment issues including assessing the impact of the effectiveness of responses. This should be reported on annually at least at school level to governors and Ofsted should review this data.
- There is a significant lack of research relating to the most effective strategies for preventing and responding to bullying in England.
- Recommendation 17: The government should conduct research into the most effective strategies for preventing and responding to bullying.
 16,000 pupils aged 11-15 absent from school each day where the primary reason for them missing school is bullying – NATCEN 2011 http://www.natcen.ac.uk/media/22457/estimating-prevalence-young-people.pdf