Select Committee on Education and Skills Third Special Report

Appendix 2

Further to my oral evidence to the Education and Skills Select Committee investigation into bullying earlier this year, we were recently pleased to submit a written response to the Committee's recommendations and to inform the Committee of the latest developments within anti-bullying policy.

In the interest of clarity we are keen to update the Committee on a further development which they will wish to consider alongside our formal reply.

The Committee will have noted in our response, that reference is made to a "suite of materials on prejudice-driven bullying", as well as to guidance on cyberbullying. This is particularly the case with regards our responses to recommendations 1, 8, and 21.

We have reconsidered our approach to issuing a suite of guidance in this way, shaped in part by ongoing discussion with the main professional associations, and we will now proceed with one overarching piece of anti-bullying guidance.

It is in response to schools' need to have the most practical and accessible advice at their disposal, that we will be issuing this consolidated, user-friendly guidance. This will prevent schools from becoming over-burdened with a range of materials and advice on bullying, and will provide an authoritative reference on all bullying issues. We also believe that it will increase the number of school staff who will actively use and implement this guidance. It will be issued under the title Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-Bullying Work in Schools.

We remain totally committed to ensuring that schools have the advice and resources they require to support them in tackling all forms of bullying, including prejudice-driven bullying and emerging forms of bullying such as cyberbullying, and these topics will be addressed within the consolidated guidance and online materials. They will still be given the specialist attention which they require, since the overarching guidance will include messages about homophobic bullying, bullying related to race, religion and culture, and bullying related to pupils' special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities, as well as cyberbullying.

However, in producing one piece of guidance we will ensure that approaches to bullying are not fragmented, that no "hierarchy" seems to exist, and that certain types of bullying do not become ghettoised. Rather, schools will be able to make the appropriate links between all kinds of bullying and feel confident that they have the tools to deal with each. We will continue to actively engage with anti-bullying experts, practitioners and the relevant groups in shaping this material further, with a view to launching in July, with subsequent sections added to the overall piece in September and early 2008.

Please can I ask that this is taken into consideration when the full response is formally reviewed at your meeting on Monday 4 June. We look forward to publication of the full response and to receiving any additional comments which you may wish to share.

Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Education and Skills

June 2007

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