Press release: Bullying in school plummets

Bullying and violence in English schools has plummeted in the last decade, a major new study has revealed.

The landmark study involving more than 10,000 secondary school pupils shows that:

  • 30,000 fewer children in England now face the fear of bullying compared to 2005
  • robbery between pupils has halved – last year just 1% of children reported being robbed

The new figures come as part of the government’s continued drive to deliver an excellent education for every child – and make sure teachers have the tools they need to tackle bullying and violence in schools.

A range of tough new powers have been introduced since 2010 to enable heads and teachers to retake control of their classrooms. On top of this, the government has pledged to train every teacher in not just how to tackle serious behaviour issues, but how to deal with low-level disruption that stops children from learning properly.

Strengthened measures already in use in our classrooms include:

  • stronger powers to search pupils
  • removing the requirement to give parents 24 hours’ written notice of after-school detentions
  • clarifying teachers’ power to use reasonable force to control unruly pupils

Teachers also now have greater powers to tackle cyberbullying by searching for and deleting inappropriate images on mobile phones and tablets. In addition, £3.3 million is being made available this year to charitable organisations to help tackle bullying and provide support for those who are bullied. This is on top of the £4 million provided in 2013 to 2015.

Speaking before the launch of Anti-Bullying Week, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan hailed the new figures, suggesting that getting tough on discipline, creating a climate of tolerance and supporting bullied children can change lives for the better. She said:

As part of our commitment to delivering social justice we are helping teachers and charities end the scourge of bullying in our schools. We are determined to tackle any barriers which stop pupils attending school and learning so they can fulfil their potential.

Thanks to our reforms and their efforts, bullying is plummeting. While there is still more to do, today’s news confirms that strong discipline coupled with the right support allows children to flourish, and can transform lives by reducing bullying.

A 2014 report by Stonewall also showed that homophobic bullying has fallen, with the number of secondary school teachers who say their pupils are often or very often the victim of homophobic bullying has almost halved since 2009. To further tackle this, the government has announced a £2 million fund for projects to address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

The government has a package of measures to help schools tackle bullying and encourage good behaviour so that children can learn in a safe environment, free from fear and harm. This includes:

  • placing a greater focus on behaviour and bullying in school inspections
  • appointing behaviour expert Tom Bennett to lead a review to ensure new teachers are fully trained in dealing with disruptive children and consider all of the challenges of managing behaviour in 21st-century schools
  • strengthening teachers’ powers to tackle bullying – this includes the power to investigate allegations beyond the school gates, delete inappropriate images from phones and give out same-day detention
  • launching a £2 million fund for projects to build schools’ knowledge and capacity to prevent and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools
  • awarding around £1.3 million over 12 months from April 2015 to 3 anti-bullying organisations, including the Diana Award, Kidscape and the National Children’s Bureau, to extend their work supporting schools to combat bullying
  • providing £4 million in 2013 to 2015 to anti-bullying charities to help schools develop strategies to tackle bullying, including £1.5 million for the National Children’s Bureau consortium to focus on children and young people with special educational needs who are bullied
  • ensuring that children are better educated about the dangers of the internet – children are now learning about internet safety as part of the new national curriculum, and Safer Internet Day is widely promoted each year

Notes to editors

  1. These findings come from the second ‘Longitudinal study of young people in England’ (LSYPE2). It is following 13,100 13-year-olds from 2013 to 2019 and aims to learn about their experiences and life through secondary education and beyond. The findings also show that violence in schools has dropped by a third – from 15% of children facing violent bullying in 2005 to 10% last year.
  2. The 2005 findings come from the first ‘Longitudinal study of young people in England’ (LSYPE1), which followed 15,500 13-year-olds from 2004 to 2010. The Institute of Education is responsible for this study, which is also known as ‘Next Steps’. They are holding an eighth wave of interviews in 2015.
  3. The numbers from the new study that are quoted above are estimates of how many fewer young people in the cohort would be victims of the kinds of bullying described. They are based on the percentage-point reduction in the rate of each type of bullying between LSYPE1 (2005) and LSYPE2 (2014) applied to the year 10 pupil population in 2014. See the comparison estimates of bullying of year 10 pupils in England.

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