Educational Institutions: Bullying

Department for Education written question – answered on 17th June 2021.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to tackle (a) homophobic, (b) biphobic and (c) transphobic bullying in schools, colleges, and universities.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, colleges, and universities.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government has sent a clear message that bullying should never be tolerated, and we are committed to supporting schools to tackle it. Any form of harassment or violence is abhorrent and unacceptable anywhere in society, including in our universities which should be safe and inclusive environments. Since 2016, we have provided over £3.5 million of funding through our anti-bullying programme to support schools in their effort to tackle bullying. Following the success of these programmes we are currently running a procurement exercise to fund activity in financial year 2021-22, to make sure that schools have the right support in place to prevent bullying of all pupils, including those with protected characteristics.

All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying and have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies and monitoring approaches to best suit their environment. The department provides advice for schools, which outlines schools’ responsibilities. The advice makes clear that schools should make appropriate provision for a bullied child's social, emotional and mental health needs. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-and-tackling-bullying.

We have published a research report which details common strategies that specific schools have found to be effective for combating bullying, including case studies with examples about actions schools have taken to improve preventative practices and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pupils. It is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/approaches-to-preventing-and-tackling-bullying. We have also published ‘Respectful School Communities’, a self-review and signposting tool to support schools to develop a whole-school approach which promotes respect and discipline. This can combat bullying, harassment and prejudice of any kind, including hate-based bullying and can be found here: https://educateagainsthate.com/school-leaders/?filter=guidance-and-training-school-leaders.

We are also making sure that all children in England will learn about respectful relationships, in person and online, as part of new mandatory Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE). These subjects are designed to give pupils the knowledge they need to lead happy, safe, and healthy lives and to foster respect for other people and for difference. Through these subjects, children will be taught about the importance of respectful relationships and the different types of loving and healthy relationships that exist. The statutory guidance states that all pupils should receive teaching on LGBT relationships during their school years. Secondary schools should include LGBT content in their teaching. Primary schools are strongly encouraged and enabled, when teaching about different types of family, to include families with same sex parents.

Further and higher education providers have clear responsibilities, including under the Equality Act 2010, and should have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law, to investigate and swiftly address reports of harassment. Ofsted's inspection framework for further education providers looks at whether there is ‘an environment in which learners feel safe because staff and learners do not accept bullying, harassment or discrimination. Staff deal with any issues quickly, consistently and effectively’.

The Office for Students (OfS) statement of expectations on harassment and sexual misconduct was published on 19 April and is a useful tool for providers to ensure their policies and processes reflect the expectations set out within the statement. As part of its next steps on harassment and hate crime, the OfS will then be considering options for connecting the statement of expectations to its conditions of registration.

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