All councils should have an independent mediation service for bullying disputes in schools, the children’s commissioner has recommended.
Criticising the current system as limited and unsatisfactory, Al Aynsley-Green said parents who were unhappy with the way schools dealt with bullying needed a more robust system to resolve disputes, and that independent mediation should be available at all stages of this process.
His recommendations follow a review of existing procedures relating to bullying in schools, carried out on behalf of the education secretary and in response to requests from children and young people to take action on bullying.
Aynsley-Green found that there were currently limited options for parents to take a complaint about a school’s handling of a bullying allegation further than the school governors.
He recommended that any parent who was dissatisfied with the outcome of a governors’ committee hearing should be able to seek a further hearing before a new local Independent Complaints Panel. If they were still unhappy, they should also have the option of taking their case to the Local Government Ombudsman.
A report highlighting the prevalence of bullying among children and young people, also published by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner this week, makes further recommendations, including better training for the children’s workforce on tackling bullying, the development of more peer support programmes, and the inclusion of personal, social and health education as a statutory foundation subject.
“Bullying can have a serious and detrimental impact on children’s lives,” Aynsley-Green said. “Only through working together can we develop a society based on rights and respect, not bullying or the selfish abuse of power.”
Contact the author: Lauren Revans