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 our school bullying log 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. Our school bullying log 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’s 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.
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.
Parent Advice Line
Guidance and support for parents and carers of children facing a bullying situation. Call 020 7823 5430 (Mon-Thurs, 9am-1pm, calls charged at local rate) or email the Parent Support Adviser.