Milton Keynes parents accuse schools of not doing enough to deal with bullying

As schools across MK plan to welcome back more pupils, a survey has shown bullying was a major issue before lockdown.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 12:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 12:48 pm

More than a third of parents whose child was bullied in Milton Keynes say their school did not deal with it well, the survey shows..

Ofsted asked 1,258 parents in Milton Keynes if they agreed that their school had dealt with bullying quickly and effectively, between the start of the 2019-20 school year and this April.

Of them, 540 said the question applied to them, of whom 36 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed that the school had acted in this way.

Bullying can cause feelings of self-doubt, depression and even suicide, warn experts
Bullying can cause feelings of self-doubt, depression and even suicide, warn experts

​More than four in ten (45 per cent) agreed with the statement, while the remaining 19 per cent said they did not know.

Some 18 per cent of MK parents also said their child was not happy at their school, and 16 per cent said their child did not feel safe.

Anti-bullying charity Bullies Out says no school can claim not to have any bullying.

It estimates it affects half of all young people, but said that schools can help by dealing with incidents quickly and effectively.

More than 200,000 parents across England completed the survey, and 37% said the question applied to them. Of them, 28% said that their children's school had not quickly or effectively dealt with bullying.

Linda James, the founder of Bullies Out, said: "Bullying is an issue of strategic, as well as operational, importance. It is not ‘kids being kids’ or ‘part of growing up’.

"It can devastate lives and seriously affect a person’s academic, social, emotional and physical well-being.

"For a school to reduce bullying, the emphasis must be placed on creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and respect."

She added that bullying can cause feelings of self-doubt, depression and even suicide, making it vital children and parents have confidence in schools to deal with the problem.

Kidscape, an organisation that helps children cope with bullying, said this "extremely varied" response is a result of an increasingly independent school system, with parents struggling to hold schools to account for not taking action.

Chief executive Lauren Seager-Smith said: "As an anti-bullying charity that supports children and families impacted by bullying, we are regularly in contact with children who do not feel safe in school, and parents who are frustrated by the lack of school action to address bullying."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Schools should be safe places where children are taught to respect each other and staff.

“The Government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying, whether it is in the playground or online, is unacceptable. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, harm their education and have serious and lasting consequences for their mental health.

“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.”