Bullying in Schools

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 1st May 2014.

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Photo of Simon Wright Simon Wright Liberal Democrat, Norwich South 9:30 am, 1st May 2014

What steps he is taking to reduce homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

This Government are committed to tackling all forms of bullying in schools, and have provided advice to schools on how to tackle this harmful behaviour. However, we know that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying persists and we have therefore recently awarded the contract for a new project to identify the best ways to help drive out this type of bullying.

Photo of Simon Wright Simon Wright Liberal Democrat, Norwich South

I am pleased that the Government have this week announced the contract for the review of evidence of what works in tackling such bullying. Can the Minister explain how she expects the outcome of this work to be taken forward and how the findings will be made available to schools in a way that will easily and practically help to inform their approach?

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I welcome my hon. Friend’s support for this important project. This type of bullying is completely unacceptable. It must be addressed and we must learn the best way to do that. NatCen Social Research, to whom the contract has been awarded, has already started looking at the evidence for the most effective measures to tackle such bullying. It will report in the summer and we will use its report to develop and pilot interventions in schools. The learning from those pilots will be consolidated into a single package of guidance on what works, so that we can share that experience widely across all schools. That will help to ensure that the outcomes of the project live beyond the funding that is available and that they are embedded in future support for schools.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

What message does it send to those tackling homophobic bullying in this country that this country has a garrison in Brunei, which has just introduced the death penalty—stoning—for homosexuals?

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

That is clearly a worrying issue, which I am happy to raise with my colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, as appropriate.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Clearly, any kind of homophobic bullying is completely unacceptable in schools or anywhere else. I just wonder whether the Department has a hierarchy of bullying—whether it considers homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying to be more serious than other forms of bullying, or whether it considers all forms of bullying to be equally important.

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Clearly, bullying is bullying, regardless of the intent behind it. All forms of bullying need to be tackled in schools and stamped out. It has a hugely detrimental impact on the ability of children to enjoy school and on their achievements and their grades at the end of it. In 2012 this Government introduced the requirement that when inspecting schools, Ofsted should consider how the school tackles bullying. That is now considered part of Ofsted’s inspection, to make sure that schools are tackling all forms of bullying, regardless of the intent behind it.