Bullying and Ofsted
Preventing and responding appropriately to bullying is a key component of school inspections.
The Education Inspection Framework sets out how Ofsted will inspect state schools, further education and skills providers, non-association independent schools and registered early years settings in England.
In early 2019, Ofsted conducted a consultation on its new Inspect Framework. ABA fed into this and Ofsted responded with the following statements:
The Anti-Bullying Alliance, facilitated by the NCB, suggested that some of the grade descriptors in the draft handbooks about the absence of bullying could simply encourage providers to hide or fail to report it...
…It was not our intention that some of the grade descriptors included in the draft handbooks about the absence of bullying may simply encourage providers to hide or fail to report it. We have reviewed the relevant criteria carefully and now believe that the concern raised about this may be justified. We have therefore amended the criteria relating to bullying.
The updated criteria place the emphasis on whether or not providers tolerate bullying, harassment, violence, derogatory language and discriminatory behaviour and, crucially, how swiftly and effectively they take action if these issues occur.
In reply to ABA's consultation response
As a result they have changed the framework and handbooks to reflect this. It is important that schools can evidence their anti-bullying policies and interventions. Along with the new Framework, Ofsted also published its individual handbooks for:
maintained schools and academies
further education and skills
non-association independent schools
registered early years settings
ABA Advisory Group member Mark Holliday from Wandsworth Borough Council has compiled a breakdown of all the elements of the updated 2021 Inspection Handbook for maintained schools and academies that reference bullying so schools are able to prepare for these elements:
Information that schools must provide by 8am on the day of inspection
79. The inspection support administrator will also send the school a note requesting that the following information is available to inspectors by 8am the next day, at the formal start of the inspection:
- records and analysis of bullying, discriminatory and prejudiced behaviour, either directly or indirectly, including racist, sexist, disability and homophobic/biphobic/transphobic bullying, use of derogatory language and racist incidents.
Pupil and staff questionnaires
105. Inspectors have a duty to pass on disclosures that raise child protection or safeguarding issues and/or when there are concerns about serious misconduct, bullying of staff or criminal activity.
Talking to and observing pupils outside lessons
132. During informal conversations with pupils, inspectors must ask them about their experiences of teaching, learning and behaviour in the school, including the prevention of bullying and how the school deals with any form of harassment and violence, discrimination and prejudiced behaviour, if they happen.
Behaviour and attitudes
228. The judgement focuses on the factors that research and inspection evidence indicate contribute most strongly to pupils’ positive behaviour and attitudes (see HMCI’s commentary on curriculum and the education inspection framework (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmci-commentarycurriculum-and-the-new-education-inspection-framework)), thereby giving them the greatest possible opportunity to achieve positive outcomes. These factors (include):
- an environment in which pupils feel safe, and in which bullying, discrimination and peer-on-peer abuse – online or offline – are not accepted and are dealt with quickly, consistently and effectively whenever they occur.
Sources of evidence specific to behaviour and attitudes
238. The pupil and staff surveys used in inspection contain questions about safeguarding, behaviour and discipline, bullying, how respondents feel about the school and how well supported and respected they feel they are in the school. Inspectors will meet school leaders to account for the results of the interviews and surveys of pupils and staff.
Grade descriptors for behaviour and attitudes
240. In order for behaviour and attitudes to be judged outstanding, it must meet all of the good criteria securely and consistently and it must also meet the additional outstanding criteria (including):
- Pupils behave with consistently high levels of respect for others. They play a highly positive role in creating a school environment in which commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured, and bullying, harassment and violence are never tolerated.
241. In order to judge whether a school is good or requires improvement, inspectors will use a ‘best fit’ approach, relying on the professional judgement of the inspection team (including):
- Leaders, staff and pupils create a positive environment in which bullying is not tolerated. If bullying, aggression, discrimination and derogatory language occur, they are dealt with quickly and effectively and are not allowed to spread.
Behaviour and attitudes are likely to be inadequate if any one of the following applies (including):
- Incidents of bullying or prejudiced and discriminatory behaviour, both direct and indirect, are frequent. Pupils have little confidence in the school’s ability to tackle harassment, bullying, violence and/or discriminatory behaviour successfully.
301. The following are examples of what ineffective safeguarding might include:
- Incidents of bullying or prejudiced and discriminatory behaviour are common.
- Leaders protect staff from bullying and harassment.
Grade descriptors for leadership and management
315. In order to judge whether a school is good or requires improvement, inspectors will use a ‘best fit’ approach, relying on the professional judgement of the inspection team (including that):
- Leaders protect staff from bullying and harassment.