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Talking to the School

School bullying can be an overwhelming issue to deal with, especially when your child is the one suffering from it. In addition from trying to help your child deal with the situation and overcome the pain, you are also faced with how to address the issue with the school.

Every school has a duty of care to ensure your child is happy and free from harm. By law, schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy in place and this will have an in-depth guide on how the school will deal with any bullying incidents.

While most teachers are very focused on what goes on in their classrooms, the majority of bullying occurs in locations like the dining hall, cloakrooms, the playground, the bathroom, the hallways, the bus and perhaps, most infamously, online. When classroom teachers tell concerned parents that they are not aware of bullying incidents taking place in their classroom, they are usually quite accurate.

Although many schools do not always realise when bullying occurs, once they are notified of any incident, they should do whatever they can to ensure that it stops immediately. If your child is being bullied, arrange a meeting with your child’s Teacher or Head of Year to discuss what has been happening to your child and to work with the school to ensure that your child is safe.

Before you go, think about what you want to say and what you would like to achieve from the meeting.

  • Even though you may be feeling angry and emotional, try and remain calm. Avoid doing anything irrational. Losing your temper will not achieve anything and will certainly not help your child
  • If you are nervous about attending the school, ask a friend/family member to go with you
  • Don’t blame the teacher – he or she may not be aware of the bullying
  • Give specific examples of how your child is being bullied
  • Ask to see the school’s anti-bullying policy and check that the schools anti-bullying procedures are being followed
  • Discuss what action the teacher will take and write down all that is said
  • Focus on feelings rather than trying to prove who did what. A child that is upset has to be put first and taken seriously
  • Ask that everyone involved join together in order to solve the problem
  • Results may not be instant. Take one step at a time and arrange to meet a few days later for a progress report
  • Talk to your child every day about what is happening
  • Find out if the school has Peer Mentors/Buddies, other children of your child’s age that they can talk to

If your child continues to be bullied and you are unhappy with the way the school is dealing with it and feel that the school is failing in its duty of care towards your child, you may want to take things further. Ensure that you follow the schools complaints procedure and keep copies of all correspondence.

If you are unhappy with the way your child’s teacher is dealing with the situation, either at the meeting or after the school has taken action, make an appointment to see your child’s Head of Year and go through the same process highlighted above.

If you are still not satisfied that the issue is being dealt with appropriately,

  • Write a letter of complaint to the school possibly with legal help. Send a copy of the letter to the school governors
  • Contact the director of education at your local authority.

If all else fails, write to the secretary of State for Education and Skills (England), The Education Minister for Lifelong Learning, Welsh Assembly Government (Wales). However, this is only as a last resort as this department will not respond to or investigate your complaint until you have exhausted all other ways.

Complaint letter to the Class Teacher/Head of Year

Download a template of a complaint letter to the Class Teacher/Head of Year

Download Document

Complaint letter to the Head Teacher

Download a template of a complaint letter to the Head Teacher

Download Document

Complaint letter to the Board of Governors of the School

Download a template of a complaint letter to the Board of Governors of the School

Download Document

Complaint letter to your LEA

Download a template of a complaint letter to your LEA

Download Document

Northern Ireland

If you are based in Northern Ireland, once you have used the letter to write to the Governors at your child’s school your next steps are as follows:

Scotland

If you are based in Scotland, schools do not have a Board of Governors so if you are dissatisfied with the school’s response after writing directly to the Head Teacher you should:

  • If you are not satisfied with the response of the Education Authority you should follow the appropriate grievance procedures, details of which can be obtained from the offices of your local authority’s Chief Executive

Private or Independent Schools

The Independent Schools Council is a non profit organisation that represents over 1200 schools in the UK’s independent education sector. The organisation comprises of consists of seven independent school associations and similar to those carried out by Ofsted, it undertakes detailed inspections on independent schools.

Academies

An academy is not accountable to a Local Education Authority. In academies, Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) and head-teacher boards replace local authorities in terms of oversight and accountability. RSCs are responsible for intervening in academies where governance is inadequate and have wide-ranging responsibilities to get involved when academies are underperforming. There are eight RSCs across eight regions in England; rather than intervening directly, RSCs commission teaching schools and other beacons of excellence in education to improve underperforming schools.

Bullying is widely regarded as an ‘epidemic problem’ and controlling bullying in schools is a complex challenge that can leave many educators feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

No family should find themselves alone when navigating the dangerous and destructive waters of bullying in school. We need all adults – parents, teachers, administrators, law enforcement, media and anyone else with a heart – to work together as champions for children and young people. Continue to contact other school personnel – preferably according to a chain of command – to make sure that your voice (and more importantly your child’s voice) is heard.

Reach out to other parents. Don’t ‘bash’ the school or the bully in a gossipy way that tarnishes your own integrity, but enlist the help of everyone and anyone that is in a position to address the situation and help bring the bullying to a stop (Signe Whitson).

Jacqui DiMarco, co-author of When Your Child is Being Bullied: Real Solutions for Parents, Educators and Other Professionals, advises parents to “be the most pleasant nuisance you possibly can be until you have resolution.”

Other Steps

If you have not received a satisfactory response from the Local Education Authority (LEA) you can escalate the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman. Details of how to complain to them are on their website as follows:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint

You can also contact your local Member of Parliament (MP) and ask for their intervention into the matter to try and achieve a resolution.

You can find out who your local MP is by searching with your postcode on the following website:

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

The final option available to you is to write to:

The Secretary of State
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
Westminster
London

 

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Need to talk?

If you are being bullied or are concerned about someone who is, you can receive help and support from one of our trained Mentors. We currently do not have the ability to provide support face to face or via the telephone and can only provide an e-mentoring service to those affected by bullying..

If you would like a Mentor to email you, please contact: mentorsonline@bulliesout.com

If you would rather speak to someone over the telephone, you can call Childline on: 0800 1111

For any community-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, we would suggest contacting your landlord, the local police or your local environmental health department (where applicable), as we are unable to deal with these types of complaints.