To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they have in place to safeguard against bullying and harassment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in schools and to prevent off-loading of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children when any such bullying and harassment occurs.
The government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying is unacceptable and should never be tolerated. All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying. The public sector Equality Duty means that schools must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation. Schools must also have regard to the need to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic, including race, and people who do not share it. Policies should reflect this where appropriate. We have issued guidance to schools about how to prevent and respond to bullying as part of their overall behaviour policy.
The department is providing over £2.8 million of funding between September 2016 and March 2020 to 4 anti-bullying organisations to support schools tackle bullying. This includes the Anne Frank Trust, who have developed the Free to Be debate programme, encouraging pupils to think about the importance of tackling prejudice, discrimination, and bullying.
The department’s preventing and tackling bullying guidance is clear that schools should do all they can to ensure bullied pupils continue to attend school. Removing bullied pupils from school, even for a short time, disrupts their education, and fails to address the causes of the problem.
In 2017, the department wrote to all secondary schools, reminding them of the rules surrounding exclusion. All schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register. The law is clear that a pupil’s name can only be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, as amended.
Ofsted already considers records of pupils taken off roll and has also recently consulted on proposals that will see a strengthened focus on this issue. From September 2019, where Ofsted inspectors find off-rolling, this will always be addressed in the inspection report, and where appropriate will lead to a school’s leadership being judged inadequate.