The government has announced further support and training for schools to help pupils combat bullying, learn to value each other’s differences, and improve wellbeing for staff.
To mark Anti-Bullying Week, the Department for Education has confirmed £1m funding for five leading organisations to support schools and colleges in championing tolerance and respect as part of their responsibility to tackle all forms of bullying.
The government has already provided more than £3.5 million to charities and organisations to prevent bullying, and the latest funding boost is going towards projects and programmes that tackle bullying including LGBT, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and victims of hate-related bullying.
Children and Families Minister Will Quince said: “Bullying in any form is unacceptable and can have a devastating effect on children, young people and their families. It is so important that we all take a stand against bullying so we can help create safe and inclusive places for young people both in schools and online.
“It’s crucial that our children and young people know how to treat one another with respect and celebrate one another’s differences. That’s why we are supporting organisations leading the way with providing schools with specialist support and training for thousands of teachers to help respond to any concerns and to make sure bullying never prevents any young person from fulfilling their potential,” added Mr Quince.
A new support scheme for school leaders, backed by £760,000, has also been launched to promote good wellbeing across pupils, teachers and school and college staff. The scheme will provide one-to-one counselling and peer support to around 2,000 school leaders, helping those at deputy head level and above with their mental wellbeing.
The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter will also be updated and published this week, outlining commitments from the government, Ofsted, education unions and charities, to promote and protect the mental health of the education workforce.
Minister for Equalities, Mike Freer, said: “Bullying, especially when it targets an innate characteristic like being LGBT, is particularly damaging and distressing to children. It is vital we stamp it out and equip our brilliant teachers to do so effectively.
“Every child has the right to be themselves and thrive at school. I look forward to meeting some of these organisations to hear more about their work,” he added.
The move comes after the children’s commissioner for England’s Big Ask survey highlighted how deeply this generation of children care about issues of equality and fair treatment in their friendships, and within their communities.
In the survey, 1 in 5 children selected ‘everyone being treated fairly’ as one of their most important priorities to help them to have a good life when they grow up. Children described how bullying can impact their daily lives, and told us that they feel bullying – whether it be on social media or in the playground – can be a barrier to future wellbeing and achievement.
Responding to the survey, one 11-year-old girl said: “I think it is important to stop bullying before it starts to progress and get worse because it starts affecting children’s physical and mental health. As I have experienced this I know how it feels to be worried to go to school, because you fear that you will be bullied again.”
The children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza outlined that mental health leads are being trained in some schools to help develop a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health. This means mental health is embedded across all policies, training, curriculum and staff practice, so that schools promote well-being across the board. So far £9.5million has been made available to train up 7,800 senior mental health leads in schools. These support structures can provide important relief to children.
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