13 June 2018
By Rebecca Avery

DfE publish new research and guidance regarding approaches to preventing and tackling bullying

On the 13th June 2018, the Department for Education published new research and guidance regarding preventing and tackling bullying in schools. Additionally, Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools standards has today confirmed that the government will be including internet safety as part of compulsory relationships and sex education classes in schools. 

The 'Approaches to preventing and tackling bullying' guidance includes findings from new DfE research into anti-bullying practices used by schools to prevent and tackle bullying, including 7 case studies.

The document is based on a piece of qualitative research undertaken by the DfE to explore and understand anti-bullying practices schools have found effective. This includes approaches to tackling bullying generally and more specific types of bullying, including:

  • cyberbullying
  • racial bullying
  • special educational needs and disability (SEND) bullying
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) bullying

The guidance is intended to be used as a resource by schools and other stakeholders looking for examples of anti-bullying practices. DSLs and school leaders may find it helpful to access this guidance and cascade key learning throughout their community.

Research Findings

The Department for Education interviewed 10,000 15- and 16-year-old pupils in 2015 about trends in bullying, and compared their answers to a cohort of pupils in 2006.

  • Between 2006 and 2015, there was an over all fall in reports of bullying, with the largest drop in violent forms of bullying. 
  • They found that girls are twice as likely to report name calling and social exclusion, while boys are more likely to report threats of and actual violence.
  • 10% of those interviewed reporting cyberbullying as a concern
  • Common features of good practice included adopting a whole school approach, implementing proactive preventative approaches, creating an inclusive ethos/environment, keeping a high profile for anti-bullying work throughout the year (not just for one off events), engaging and empowering pupils and implementing a rapid response to bullying concerns.
  • Frequent difficulties identified were engaging parents/carers, keeping up with changes in technology, dealing with incidents that occur outside of school and engaging staff (especially with regards to online safety in primary schools).

Practice examples to consider

  • Up-to-date anti-bullying policies which are created with staff, pupil and parent/carer input.
  • Parent and carer pages/zones on the school website, providing information and advice regarding bullying and online safety. It's also helpful to provide links to the school behaviour and anti-bullying policies as well as signposting to internal and external support sources.
  • Allocating responsibility for keeping up to date with online, gaming and social media trends to a senior member of staff or department.
  • Attending training courses about online safety and trends run by different organisations.
  • Regularly talking to pupils about what they are doing online to identify what new games, sites and apps are becoming popular.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating cyberbullying and online safety policies to ensure they contain the latest games, websites and apps, particularly for social media.
  • Challenging use of language, such as use of the term, 'banter'
  • Challenging staff attitudes, e.g. bullying isn't an issue or if it takes place off site, schools cannot take action.