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