It can be difficult seeing your child upset or not knowing what to do if they are experiencing bullying. This can be particularly difficult if your child has additional support needs, as they may not understand the bullying behaviour or feel able to tell a teacher what is happening.

This page explains some of the steps that you can take if your child is experiencing bullying at school. The national anti-bullying organisation RespectMe also have a lot of information and advice that may be useful for you.

What should the school do about bullying?

All schools should do what they can to prevent bullying happening, and to quickly and effectively deal with any incidents that arise. They should also provide support to pupils who are struggling with bullying to deal with the impact this is having on their learning and wellbeing.

Schools should also keep a record of bullying incidents and keep this under review.

It’s expected that schools will have their own anti-bullying policies that set out how they’ll do this. These policies should be based on the national guidance, Respect for All: The national approach to anti-bullying.

It’s also expected that schools specifically commit to challenge all types of ‘prejudice-based’ bullying and language, which is bullying that relates to actual or perceived differences. This can include bullying because of a child’s disability, race, religion, sexuality or gender identity, or other characteristics of a child’s identity or circumstances. This would include bullying a child because of their additional support needs.

The school must also take your child’s additional support needs into account in the way they handle any bullying-related issues. For example, in how they interpret what has happened, the impact this may have on your child, and in what steps they take to address it.

My child is being bullied, what should I do?

Firstly, don’t panic. Children and young people often do not tell adults because they are scared they will over-react and make the situation worse. Remain calm and listen, without judgement or interrupting, while your child explains what is going on. This will reassure your child that you are taking them seriously.

Whatever next steps you take, it is important to involve your child. Exploring options together can help your child feel valued, and listening to them will help you to understand what support they need.

Remember, there is never one answer when it comes to bullying. It may be that your child does not want to do anything – sometimes, it helps just to have told someone. If you do feel that you need to inform your child’s school, make sure to talk with your child and explain why.

Bullying is affecting my child’s learning. What should I do?

You should start by talking with your child’s school about your concerns. You could ask for a meeting with the additional support for learning lead at your child’s school, or your child’s head of year.

At the meeting, you could share with them your concerns about how bullying is affecting your child’s learning. You could share your child’s views about the situation, too. You can ask the school what support is in place to help manage and resolve the bullying and ask whether different or additional support is needed to help your child feel safe at school.

Hopefully, this will help your child to get the support they need, but there are further steps you can take if you need to. These are explained in our factsheet Avoiding and solving problems.

  • Avoiding and solving problems

    This factsheet explains the steps you can take if you are worried or unhappy about your child’s support, and some of the further steps you can take if you are in a disagreement with a local authority.

What steps should I take with my child’s school?

It can feel daunting to approach your child’s school, but remember, it is in everyone’s best interests to try and resolve the situation. It’s also important to talk to your child about what steps you are going to take and to keep them informed about what is happening.

We would recommend taking the following steps:

  • Read the school’s anti-bullying policy – this should be available on their website.
  • Ask for a meeting with your child’s class or guidance teacher.
  • At the meeting, explain what has been happening and the impact that the bullying is having on your child. Discuss what steps you and your child would like to happen next and agree a plan of action with the school. Set a date to meet again and review the situation.

Remember, not all bullying situations will be able to be resolved at a first meeting. Sometimes, it might take time for the school to investigate what’s happening, or to put in place strategies to respond to the bullying. While this is happening, make sure to focus on your child and what you can do to support their wellbeing in the meantime.

I’m not happy with how my child’s school are dealing with bullying

It can be difficult and frustrating if you feel that your child’s school are not doing enough to deal with bullying. It is important to know that there are steps that you can take.

First, it may help to have another meeting with your child’s class or guidance teacher. You could share the reasons why you are still concerned and ask what further steps or support can be put in place to help your child. Remember to focus on the impact that the bullying is having on your child’s wellbeing. You might also find it helpful to read our infographic, I’m not happy with how my child’s school is responding to bullying.

Following this, if you continue to have concerns, your next step would be to ask to speak with the head teacher. You could ask for a meeting with them to discuss what strategies are in place to support your child, and share your understanding and concerns about the steps that have been taken (or not taken) so far.

Beyond this, there are further steps that you can take. You can escalate your concerns beyond your child’s school to your local authority. These steps are explained in our factsheet Avoiding and solving problems. However, it is important to remember that escalation in this way may not immediately bring support to your child. Sometimes, it can be better to focus on building relationships and working with your child’s school to reach a way forward.

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