Bullying in schools

Being bullied is a horrible and distressing experience. The important thing is not to put up with it, but to ask for help and advice.


Each school should have an anti-bullying policy. Pupils and/or parents should discuss any bullying with the school to see what strategies can be put in place to stop it happening. The school may decide to make a referral to another agency.

The Department for Education website gives useful advice on what to do about bullying

 The message to young people is don't suffer in silence.

What you can do

The first thing to do is to contact the school. They will discuss the situation with you and decide how best to tackle it.  If it continues then make an appointment to see the head teacher, explain why you want the appointment so he/she can investigate before the meeting, At the meeting ask that the school record what has been agreed and a date when you can meet the headteacher again if the bullying has not stopped. After the meeting, give the headteacher time to deal with the situation.

If you are still not satisfied with the response, make a formal written complaint to the chair of governors. In your letter of complaint – explain what has happened and tell the chair what you would feel to be a satisfactory outcome.

If you are still concerned you can contact agencies such as the ones below and ask for their help:

Useful information about tackling bullying

What are signs of bullying?

Children or young people may:

  • be frightened of the journey to school
  • refuse to attend school
  • arrive home very hungry
  • come home with possessions destroyed
  • ask for extra money
  • have unexplained cuts and bruises
  • have difficulty coping with schoolwork
  • have nightmares and cry in their sleep
  • seem unhappy but refuse to say what is wrong
  • be upset or secretive about email, text or phone messages.

What can parents do to help their child?

 If your child is bullied:

  • listen calmly to your child and take what he/she says seriously
  • reassure your child that it is not his/her fault, make a note of what happened when and who was involved
  • tell your child that you will find ways to ensure his/her safety, make an appointment to see your child’s teacher, find out what action the teacher plans to take and when
  • keep in touch with school
  • let school staff know if things improve or if there are further incidents, do not confront the child or parents yourself
  • work together with school staff
  • ask to see copy of the schools anti-bullying policy

School anti-bullying policies

All schools are required by law to have a written anti-bullying policy and effective procedures in place.

Schools are under a legal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all students (s.175 Education Act 2002).

The anti-bullying policy should represent the school’s "promise" as to how it will address bullying problems.

As a parent you should always request a copy of the policy if your child is being bullied so you are aware of the school’s procedures.

Schools can only help if they know what is happening. 


Head teachers are responsible for

  • maintaining acceptable standards of discipline and behaviour in schools
  • regulating the conduct of their pupils
  • acting in accordance with policies written by the governing body

Schools have the power to impose a range of sanctions against pupils who are involved in bullying incidents outside of school.  

Governors are responsible for:

  • formulating a whole school discipline policy, producing an effective complaints procedure
  • making sure that the National Curriculum is delivered; this includes personal and social education
  • formulating an anti-bullying policy based on national and local guidance, procedures being in place to ensure that risks of harm to children’s welfare are minimised
  • ensuring that all appropriate action is taken to address concerns about the welfare of a child.

Schools have a duty to work with other agencies to safeguard and promote the well being of pupils.

Local Authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children under s.175 Education Act 2002. This means that LAs have a monitoring role to ensure that an anti-bullying policy is in place and that effective procedures, based on national and local guidance, are followed.

Help to prevent bullying

  • talk to your children about how they treat others who are younger or less able or different from themselves
  • encourage your children to think about how others feel, tell them that they can help stop bullying by befriending and supporting children who are less able to cope with teasing
  • bullying behaviour can happen at any age.