THE LAW AND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
In today’s ever-changing society, parents and guardians can begin to feel increased pressure in terms of their responsibilities to their children in attending school and enjoying safe and happy lives. A survey of pupils in England conducted by the NSPCC estimates that 4.4% of 11-15 year olds are frequently absent from school because of bullying.
The Diana Award feel that the points listed below are some key facts that will hopefully help you in understanding the law surrounding bullying and the schools responsibility to address it as well as what schools can do to tackle it. It is also important to understand what your rights and responsibilities are as a parent or guardian.
Bullying is Illegal
Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include: violence or assault, theft, repeated harassment or intimidation, (e.g. name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages), hate crimes.
By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.
Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school. This applies to all schools in England and Wales, and most schools in Scotland.
Behaviour Outside of School
Head teachers have the legal power to make sure pupils behave outside of school premises (state schools only). This includes bullying that happens anywhere off the school premises, e.g. on public transport or in a town centre. School staff can also choose to report bullying to the police or local council.
(Source: www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/the-law )
Publicised Behaviour Policy
You have a right to see the school’s Behaviour Policy and be consulted on it.
The behaviour policy must include measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. Headteachers must publicise the school behaviour policy, in writing, to staff, parents and pupils at least once a year.
Your Right to Approach
You have a right to approach the school about any bullying that may have been disclosed by your child or you may suspect be happening to your child. You can make an appointment with the class teacher or Head of Year to address this. The school can issue a warning, seeing the bully’s parents and detention to internal exclusion within the school, fixed term exclusion and permanent exclusion.
Schools are legally required to have an anti-bullying policy – you have a right to see this.
Not Satisfied with the Way the School is Tackling Bullying?
If you’re not satisfied with the school’s response, you can approach The Advisory Centre for Education who offer step-by-step advice on how to deal with the school, from how to write a letter to your options if you need to take things further. Their advice line is 0300 0115 142. If you are dissatisfied with the resolution, and as a last resort, you can write to the Head, Governors or Education Dept to take the matter further.
Schools are required to have, and to ask parents to sign, a home-school agreement that outlines the responsibilities of the parent and the school; including those around behaviour and attendance.
Parents have a clear role in making sure their child is well behaved at school. If they do not, the school or local authority may ask them to sign a parenting contract or may apply for a court-imposed parenting order.
Ages 5-16 Must Get Education
Parents are under a legal duty to ensure that their child (aged 5-16) receives a suitable full-time education either at a school or by making other suitable arrangements.
Parents are expected to attend a reintegration interview following any fixed-period exclusion from primary school and any fixed-period exclusion of more than five days from secondary school. Failure to attend may make it more likely that the court will impose a parenting order if the school or local authority apply for one.