Bullying at school

Schools have a legal duty to prevent bullying and keep children safe, but how you approach the school about a bullying situation can make a big difference. Stay calm and remember the goal is for the bullying behaviour to stop.

Contacting the school about a bullying situation

Understand school policy

Read up on the school’s complaints procedure, and behavioural and anti-bullying policies. Schools are legally required to let parents see these policies. If it’s not on the school’s website, ask the administrator for copies. This will help you understand the school policy on bullying and what you should do next.

Be clear on your child’s rights

All schools have a legal duty to keep your child safe from harm. This includes all types of bullying: physical, verbal, social, emotional and online. This duty is outlined in the Department for Education’s Preventing and Tackling Bullying and Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance. Refer to these to show you know about your child’s rights. There are also additional protections under the Equality Act for any kind of bullying or harassment related to race, faith, gender, sexuality, age and disability.

Have the details ready

Make sure you are able to give an account of what has happened and the impact it has had on your child. Use the Kidscape log and school contact record to keep records of what’s happened. Be ready to name the problem: our Facts about bullying page gives you the vocabulary you need.

Will the school deal with cyberbullying?

Headteachers have powers to discipline behaviour that has happened outside of school hours and most schools will take cyberbullying very seriously - particularly if you can show the impact it is having on your child both during the school day, and at home.

Meeting with the school

Be calm and assertive

Start the meeting by being clear that you need their help for the bullying to stop. It’s okay to be sad, but try not to raise your voice or get angry.

Set your expectations

Explain to the school what you need from them for the bullying to stop, and for your child to get the help they need.

Agree an action plan

With the school, set an action plan on how they’ll respond to the situation and when you’ll next be in touch.

Be clear on what’s been discussed

The Kidscape log and school contact record includes how to document your interactions with the school. Fill it out together at your meeting.

Keep your child in the loop

If your child is not in the meeting, make sure you share their views and hopes and tell your child about agreed next steps. This will reassure them, and they can let you know if your action plan isn’t being followed through.

What if the school doesn’t take action?

Don’t panic

This is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the road. There are things you can do next.

Keep communication with the school open

Be clear that you need to work together until the bullying situation stops.

Escalate your complaint

Know who to speak to next. Schools have a hierarchy of people you can contact, so if a meeting with your child’s tutor or head of year wasn’t helpful, speak to their headteacher next, and so on. Our school reporting structure guide gives you information about this chain.

When to contact the police and/or children’s services

Some forms of bullying behaviour may be criminal and can be reported to the police. This includes physical or sexual assault; threats of harm or inciting others to self harm; theft or intentional property damage; harassment or threats online; and hate crimes targeting ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or special educational needs and disabilities. Keeping Children Safe in Education is clear that bullying is a safeguarding issue, and you are also within your rights to contact your local children’s services team (social services) if you do not believe your child is safe in the school.

Who else can help?

Remember you can contact the Kidscape Parent Advice Line if you need advice and guidance.

Parent Advice Line

Guidance and support for parents and carers of children facing a bullying situation. Call 020 7823 5430 (Mon-Weds from 9:30am to 2:30pm, calls charged at local rate) or alternatively you can email our adviser.

Find out more

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Kidscape log and school contact record

The Kidscape log and school contact record is a simple way to promote open communication with the school and ensure that each bullying incident is recorded.

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