Creating a fairer Britain
Consultation launch date: 4 April 2011
Response date: 27 May 2011
The Commission is broadly supportive of the need to streamline the guidance for schools on bullying and behaviour in order to remove any unnecessary repetition of messages that may currently occur across different documents.
We support the Government’s aims to raise standards of behaviour in schools and tackle all forms of bullying in order to improve educational outcomes for all pupils. We also understand the need to ensure teachers have the guidance they need to assist them in response and prevention of bullying and bad behaviour in the classroom so all pupils can learn and reach their full potential.
However, the Commission is concerned that the drastic reduction in guidance may result in schools not having access to key information, and that the lack of direction in the revised guidance will result in a post-code lottery for tackling bullying in schools, where good schools take action but other schools are left behind because they do not have access to the help and support they need.
A key area of contention is the Department failing to recommend that schools record and report incidents of prejudice-based bullying. This is one of the Commission’s main evidence-based policy recommendations, which is supported by a range of stakeholders across the education sector. We are concerned that there will in fact be a reduction in the number of schools collecting data as a result of the revised guidance. The Commission is also concerned that this will also fail to support schools in implementing the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) requirements under the Equality Act 2010.
The Department must also ensure that the new Ofsted inspection framework provides an adequate focus on prejudice-based bullying and ensure schools that do not prioritise action in this area are held accountable through inspection judgments that affect grades for overall school performance.
The Commission also expects to see the guidance provide some detail on how equality considerations should be taken into account when developing and reviewing behaviour and bullying policies, taking into account a school’s responsibilities under the PSED. This should include clearer signposting to equality resources including guidance on the different types of prejudice-based bullying and the Commission’s guidance for schools on the Equality Act 2010 and the equality duties.
In event of changes to existing legislation covered by this guidance, we would expect the Department to re-consult on the relevant pieces of guidance with stakeholders. This is particularly important due to the potential impact for human rights of proposals in the Education Bill in relation to search powers, detention and exclusions.
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