Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the National Union of Teachers (NUT)


  1.  Bullying wrecks the lives of young people and staff. It wrecks the lives of young people and their future self confidence.

  2.  The NUT welcomes this Inquiry by the Education and Skills Select Committee.

  3.  Bullying not only affects young people personally but is a whole school issue. A culture of bullying undermines the overall achievement profile of schools. Ignoring bullying has serious consequences not only for the personal lives of young people but for the overall performance profile of the school.

  4.  The school which condones bullying of pupils will almost always have a similar culture amongst its staff. A bullying culture pervades a school ethos and colours the experiences of staff and pupils.

  5.  The NUT has supported the DfES anti-bullying initiative, and the accompanying DfES guidance Don't Suffer in Silence. The NUT endorsed the Anti-Bullying Charter which has been sent to schools and is participating in the reference group which the Department for Education and Skills has reconstituted to advise on the re-write of Don't Suffer in Silence.

  6.  The announcement of this Inquiry is timely. It provides an opportunity to evaluate the Government's anti-bullying initiative at a time when the DfES is to revise its anti- bullying guidance.

  7.  The NUT made a contribution earlier this year to ChildLine's appeal for funding to continue its 24 hour helpline. The NUT believes this helpline is essential and should receive funding from the Government, so that, in particular, the vital night time helpline is sustainable.

  8.  The NUT believes the following proposals would contribute to the reduction of bullying in schools.

    (i)     Each school should appoint at least one school counsellor with the Direct Schools' Grant enlarged to cover the average cost.

    (ii)    School counsellors should be responsible for developing peer counselling under the oversight of each school's pastoral arrangements. Qualified teachers should remain at the heart of school pastoral structures.

    (iii)   Teachers need increased time and space for personal reflection, discussing with each other and with support staff colleagues incidents of bullying, sharing ideas and following up incidents of bullying.

    (iv)   The existing DfES guidance Don't Suffer in Silence should be promoted to schools through local authorities, lead behaviour specialists and through the national strategies. The DfES Anti Bullying Charter should also be promoted.

    (v)    The development of school councils should be encouraged further. The Union recognises the essential role of the student voice in ensuring a happy and positive school environment. The NUT welcomes the establishment of the role of the Children's Commissioner in England and in Wales.

    (vi)   The Government should commit further resources to continue the ring fenced funding for behaviour and educations support teams.

    (vii)  Schools should be encouraged to carry out audits of pupil perceptions of their safety as part of their self evaluation arrangements. The views and perceptions of children and young people themselves should be sought in conjunction with all anti bullying strategies.

    (viii)  The DfES should provide a further year's earmarked funding for the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) Programme from the Primary Strategy Standards Fund so that SEAL can be properly embedded.

    (ix)  Citizenship and Personal, Social and Health Education are "Cinderella" subjects of the National Curriculum; a situation confirmed by Ofsted's recent evaluation of the introduction of citizenship in schools. Specific and sufficient funding should be provided through the National Strategies in order to provide a comprehensive professional development programme and cover arrangements for teachers taking part in professional development.

    (x)   The capacity of schools to reduce and challenge sexist, racist, disablist and homophobic bullying will only increase through proactive equal opportunities strategies to promote race, disability and gender equality across the whole and to promote positive images of LGBT young people, adults (including teachers) and same sex couples. Model examples of such strategies should be available to schools.

    (xi)  The Government's Personalisation Agenda will be undermined if it does not include specific strategies on bullying such as those above.


  9.  Reducing bullying and harassment of pupils and teachers goes hand in hand with improving behaviour and attendance generally. It is therefore necessary and vital to evaluate what has worked in schools in the area of improving behaviour more generally over recent years.

  10.  The DfES Behaviour Improvement Programme, which started as a series of projects in the mid 1990s which had the reduction of indiscipline and exclusion as their principle aim, has been successful. The BIP programme has recently been evaluated. [14]The evaluation confirmed that BIP enabled some direct interventions to tackle absence and truancy (eg, use by schools of computer programmes to monitor attendance and the use of truancy sweeps).

  11.  The report, however, provides support for the view that positive pupil attendance and pupil interaction is best promoted by tackling the causes not the symptoms of poor behaviour. The report concluded that developing a range of alternative provision and curricula to re-engage disaffected pupils and having whole school policies to improve pupil behaviour are vital to better attendance and achievement. Such an approach to whole school strategies is key to reducing bullying.

  12.  The evaluation of the BIP programme highlighted the benefits of schools developing a more holistic approach to behaviour issues and better access to specialist services. The evidence suggests that the Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs) set up with BIP funding have pioneered effective multi-agency ways of working.

  13.  The NUT believes that local authorities and senior management teams in schools need to build on and disseminate these approaches as part of their work on anti-bullying within the Every Child Matters agenda. The funding for BESTs is to be continued until 2008. It is no longer ring-fenced, however, so planning at authority level is needed to ensure that these multi agency teams or their ways of working are continued for this in turn to lead to positive outcomes in terms of bullying and attainment.

  14.  Most schools in the BIP programme used some of their BIP funding to undertake behaviour audits and these have been valued and viewed as working well, although time consuming to complete. [15]The audits provided information to stimulate self-analysis, in particular providing data to support the development of behaviour improvement plans, a baseline for monitoring progress and a means of making comparisons with other schools. Schools found that the audits helped them focus their resources.

  15.  The NUT has supported the development of "key workers", such as Lead Behaviour Professionals, to co-ordinate support as part of the Behaviour Improvement Programme and behaviour and education support teams (BESTs) This role is viewed positively by schools and BIP co-ordinators. [16]

  16.  In the primary sector, LBPs are sometimes head teachers, or members of BESTs. The BIP evaluation report concluded that in secondary schools it is important that the LBP was a member of the senior management team and able to influence whole school policy. A lack of leadership by the LBP or their being overloaded was detrimental to successful implementation of BIP. The NUT believes that schools need Lead Behaviour Professionals who have the capacity to focus on arranging and co-ordinating whole school strategies to reduce bullying and support individual pupils or groups of pupils. They should be members of the senior management teams for the reasons found in the evaluation report.

  17.  The "key workers" within Behaviour and Education support teams were funded by the Children's Fund. This funding is to be discontinued after 2008. Both schools and children's services authorities will need further ring fenced funding on a continuing basis to maintain these lead behaviour professional posts. If lead professionals are based at school level there will need to be ring fenced additional resources at school level.

  18.  Such posts can provide capacity to introduce peer mentoring schemes, restorative justice programmes, counselling initiatives and other pastoral measures.


  19.  The NUT was represented on this group, which came to be known as the Steer Group. The Government established this advisory group to seek advice on improving pupil behaviour.

  20.  The NUT provided evidence to the Steer Group in the form of a Charter. [17]In this Charter, the NUT asserted the entitlement of children and young people to learn free from bullying and discrimination. The Charter highlighted also the responsibility of teachers to prevent all forms of bullying.

  21.  In its Charter, the Union argued that all members of the school community including teachers should be fully consulted on the behaviour policies of their schools. Government guidance emphasises the importance of such consultation. Behaviour and anti bullying policies should be linked to other school policies. Those that do not reflect the views of teaching staff and the wider school community are doomed to failure.

  22.  The NUT believes that teachers should be entitled also to a strong lead from head teachers and those with management responsibilities. Teachers have an entitlement to work in conditions that enable teaching to be at its most effective. Those conditions should include appropriate class and group sizes, with counselling and personalised tuition available to young people if they are being bullied.

  23.  The NUT endorses many of the recommendations contained in the Steer report. The NUT believes the Government should implement the following Steer recommendations in order to reduce levels of bullying of staff and pupils.

    —  All schools should make regular use of self evaluation tools for behaviour and bullying, such as those provided by the National Strategies.

    —  The DfES should provide a further year's earmarked funding for the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) Programme from the Primary Strategy Standards Fund so that SEAL can be properly embedded.

    —  The DfES should work with the professional associations and other partners to promote the Anti Bullying Charter for Action, by promoting it at regional events and re-issuing it every two years.

  24.  The Union recognises the essential role of the student voice in ensuring a happy and positive school environment. The NUT welcomes the establishment of the role of the Children's Commissioner in England and in Wales.


  25.  The NUT believes that having an effective pastoral structure in each school, which is fully responsive to young people's personal and social needs, is vital to preventing bullying and to dealing with its effects.

  26.  The Elton Committee of Inquiry had no doubt that schools "should base pastoral systems on the strengths of the traditional integrated academic, welfare and disciplinary role of the teacher". It considered that "personal and social education should be a cross-curricular theme in the National Curriculum". The NUT is firmly committed to that view. Effective pastoral structures, which can prevent bullying, and practical personalised learning are integral to each other. Qualified teachers are essential to such an approach as is the support of trained support staff.

  27.  The school meals agreement remains important because it leaves the space for teachers to be able to have a mid-day break away from the responsibility of teaching. At the core of the personal and social element of the schools day, however, the NUT believes that there should be a space for teachers and support staff and pupils to sit down, to eat and to talk together. In this context, personal and social and health education needs to be at the centre of the curriculum.


  28.  School self-evaluation has a role to play in preventing and reacting to bullying. Evaluation is at its most effective when school communities understand its purposes and relevance. Overwhelming evidence from research and practice demonstrates that evaluation by schools themselves must be at the centre of school inspection and support. To quote the Scottish HMCI "Unless schools know themselves, they cannot benefit from inspection."

  29.  The NUT believes that current statutory inspection arrangements fail to encourage teachers and school communities to "own" the processes of evaluation. Current arrangements do not place teachers at the centre of school improvement.

  30.  The NUT believes that schools should be encouraged to adopt and develop school self-evaluation criteria to meet their own needs and local context. Schools are effective in a variety of different ways, rather than simply at meeting narrow performance measures. A self-evaluative school is a school which knows itself.

  31.  The NUT has developed a framework for self-evaluation with John MacBeath and the University of Strathclyde. [18]

  32.  In developing this framework, the NUT worked with a number of schools. The most striking finding was the different standpoints different groups within these schools took: in other words, the school was a different place for different people.

  33.  Pupils put a great deal of emphasis on the material aspects of the school, such as the school buildings and resources and their use of and access to them. Most important to pupils, however, was how they were helped to learn, given feedback and encouraged by teachers and how their individual needs and abilities were recognised. [19]The highest priority for young people is to be safe. The word "safety" should be interpreted literally for young people. "Safety" means that they can achieve a just solution to their grievances. It is vital, therefore, that teachers have the time and space to pursue and resolve perceived injustice.

  34.  Classroom climate, a safe pleasant and orderly environment, was also highly valued. Pupils' levels of awareness, ability to analyse situations and willingness to discuss in depth showed the value of listening to pupils and their potential as a rich resource for school self-evaluation. Clearly self-evaluation has a key role to play in enabling schools to develop cultures which do not tolerate or generate bullying. The NUT research on self-evaluation shows that the top priority for young people is the need to feel safe.

  35.  Another interesting finding from the NUT's work on self-evaluation was that parents tended to be more informed than school management or teachers about some aspects of school life, particularly the "underlife" of the school, such as bullying. Parents have a unique perspective on aspects of school life such as the quality of welcome to the school, its use of language and staff/pupil relationships.

  36.  As a result of this work, the NUT firmly believes that a school which takes time to think though its own priorities and values and which tests the fulfilment of these in practice will, as a consequence, be a better school in terms of reducing bullying and enabling staff and pupils to feel safe. This is only likely to happen, though, if there is alignment between this kind of bottom-up process and the way in which schools are evaluated by external agencies and valued in terms of national performance criteria.

  37.  Since the publication of John MacBeath's work, the NUT has consistently put forward constructive proposals to Ofsted and to the Government for alternative inspection arrangements, which would achieve a balance between external inspection and internal self-evaluation and which would restore ownership of the process of evaluation to teachers.

  38.  Self-evaluation should be at the heart of school review, inspection, school development planning and the provision of external support. Successful external evaluation is contingent on successful self-evaluation. A positive consequence of self-evaluation is high motivation and, consequently, morale. Another is the ability to identify the existence of bullying and to create cultures of safety. School councils can play a vital role in helping schools "know themselves". The NUT is convinced of the value of school councils developed and aided by guidance from organisations such as School Councils UK.

  39.  For teachers, self-evaluation reveals that support for teaching is particularly valued—things such as opportunities for collaboration, the feeling of being valued, adequate resourcing and access to professional development. Although their starting point was supporting teaching, their ultimate concern was with pupil learning and the relationship between the two. Teachers reaffirmed, sometimes apologetically, the importance of the "caring" school, but they also endorsed the achieving school, casting their definition more broadly than test or examination attainment. Teachers want to challenge bullying and develop caring schools. [20]


  40.  The NUT is aware that camera mobile phones and the Internet can be misused in schools. Both can become an instrument of bullying or harassment directed against pupils and teachers. The NUT advises that schools should amend or revise their behaviour policies to set out how schools will respond to incidents where a mobile phone or the Internet are being used to intimidate, threaten or bully staff or pupils.


  41.  Effective personalised learning must include a social element; social spaces in schools need managing. School lunchtimes are often terrifying times for children and need re-conceptualising. Positive thought needs to be given to teaching children the value of cooking, eating and talking together.

  42.  The NUT believes that an outcome of personalised learning should be a guaranteed entitlement for all pupils to a range of experiences and activities outside school. These should include a minimum number of visits to museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and study in outdoor centres and visits abroad.


  43.  The recent Ofsted review of the introduction of citizenship in schools should come as no surprise. The Achilles heel of the review is that it fails to understand that the introduction of citizenship and PSHE was not accompanied by the necessary resources for professional development. Teachers do not automatically know or understand the nature of the constitution, Government or public services, for example. Neither should they be expected to bolt on these two new subjects to an already crowded curriculum.

  44.  Citizenship has the capacity alongside the development of school councils to reach the heart of a bullying culture; but only if teachers feel confident with and own the subject. The same possibilities apply to PSHE. The NUT believes that the funding for the National Strategies must be increased to include funding lines for citizenship and PSHE sufficient to meet the professional development needs of schools, including the funding of sufficient cover arrangements for teachers attending professional development programmes on citizenship.


  45.  The extent to which bullying is reported is still unknown. There are no firm national statistics of reported and proven cases of bullying in schools, largely due to the fact that definitions of bullying and perceptions of its severity vary among individuals and communities. As the Ofsted survey has shown, distinctions between degrees of oppressive behaviour are hard to fix. What some schools might categorise and record as simply aggressive or unpleasant behaviour, other schools would record as evidence of bullying. [21]

  46.  The NUT believes that it is imperative that all bullying is recorded and reported. Encouraging all pupils and staff to report bullying remains a challenge. The NUT welcomed the encouragement given in the DfES guidance, Don't Suffer in Silence to the need to come forward to report bullying. The emphasis on not suffering alone and in silence is an important one. Many schools have asked pupils to report bullying anonymously in various places around the school. There is a role for Lead Behaviour Professionals in schools to monitor whether bullying is being reported and recorded, and whether follow up action is visible.

  47.  The perpetrators of bullying and the bystanders are damaged by bullying.

  48.  Schools which are inclusive in their approach and which welcome and support every one irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability are likely to witness and experience much less bullying than those which do not. It is essential that schools use celebratory events such as Black History Month, LGBT History Month and International Women's Day to challenge the invisibility of certain groups and the low levels of awareness of the discriminatory barriers that exist. Teachers are increasingly concerned by sexist messages in the press and media.


  49.  Women teachers make up over 75% of the NUT's membership. Given that women predominate in the teaching workforce and form 69% of the teachers in the maintained sector, the fact that sexist bullying in schools occurs is often forgotten and ignored. Sexist bullying is frequently ignored and minimised. The NUT regrets that this inquiry makes explicit reference to racist and homophobic bullying but not to sexist bullying.

  50.  Preliminary findings of a recent survey conducted by the NUT suggest that young female teachers, in particular, are frequently confronted with sexist language and instances of sexual harassment in their workplace. The predominance does not protect women teachers from sexual harassment by pupils and staff and, in fact, many women teachers report isolation and frustration at how hard it is to challenge sexist language and bullying by pupils. Schools do not receive clear guidance from DfES or from local authorities as to how to challenge and reduce sexist bullying of pupils by each other or the sexist and sexual content of language and behaviour directed at staff.

  51.  The preliminary findings from a NUT survey of teachers' experiences of sexism, indicate that younger male and female teachers, in particular, "seem to be seen as `fair game' to some pupils to touch, in some cases, and to make sexual innuendo towards". Furthermore, there appears to be a trend for sexist language, as a foundation for sexist bullying, to be entering the mainstream with girls and women beginning to accept sexist language as a norm. The NUT will submit the findings of the survey to the Select Committee when it has been completed.

  52.  Sexist language and bullying are often the foundation for violence against women and can not therefore be ignored in the classroom or in the playground. The NUT has published guidance[22] on violence against women which was launched on International Women's Day 2005. Some local authorities have produced excellent resources to support PSHE and citizenship modules on violence against women, sexist peer bullying or date violence.

  53.  A recent Amnesty International survey on public perceptions and attitudes towards rape highlighted why schools need to explicitly challenge sexist attitudes and derogatory views about women. The survey found a very limited awareness among the public about the actual incidence of rape in the UK. It also revealed that one in three people thought that women who behave flirtatiously, failed to say "no" clearly, or were drunk were at least partially responsible if they are raped. [23]

  54.  The NUT believes that instances of sexist bullying are consistently normalised and ignored in schools. The predominance of women within the teaching profession is not reflected in women's representation in senior management positions. Only 31% of secondary head teachers are female. Women teachers are expected to "put up with" a high degree of sexist behaviour and harassment. The DfES, however, provides no guidance or resources on its website, although it does provide comprehensive and lengthy guidance about racist bullying and homophobic bullying.

  55.  Research also shows that black women teachers in particular feel that they constantly need to prove themselves and work harder than their white peers to achieve the same degree of recognition. Only 4% of black teachers are head teachers or deputy heads, as a recent study commissioned by the Mayor of London has established. [24]Meanwhile, an NUT survey on Black and Minority Ethnic Teachers in Senior Management has shown that despite over two thirds of the respondents to this survey being female, only 58% of them applied for promotion as compared to 85% of all male respondents. [25]


  56.  Racist bullying remains endemic in all aspects of education and is closely linked with widespread discrimination. Following the Mayor of London's report, the Evening Standard reports that trainee teachers are now to be given special coaching in racial awareness in a move to tackle racist bullying and discrimination. 26[26] The NUT believes not only that such measures are long overdue, but also that they must be complemented with relevant initiatives at school management and local authority level.

  57.  Initial findings of a recent NUT survey of local authorities' data on the allocation of Teaching and Learning Responsibility Payments (TLRs) disaggregated by ethnic group indicate serious shortcomings of public bodies in meeting their duty under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. Under this duty, local authorities are inter alia required to conduct a race equality impact assessment of their policies and procedures, publish the results of any assessments, ensure public access to information and services, provide staff training, make provisions for ethnic monitoring, as well as to help and actively support schools in implementing the latter's race equality work. From the sample in the NUT's survey, it appears that a number of local authorities have been failing on all these accounts.

  58.  The NUT is also concerned over the increasing level of racism and racist bullying directed against Muslim pupils and staff. This trend is further encouraged by remarks and speeches by some of our politicians implying that Muslims in Britain are less committed than others to democracy and the rule of law, widespread and routine negative stereotypes of Muslims in the media, and the application of Government legislation curtailing civil liberties that disproportionately affect Muslims.

  59.  But it is not only Muslims who have increasingly suffered in the context of the ongoing instability in the Middle East and its repercussions on community cohesion in the UK. Whilst the number of anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated in Britain have been found to fluctuate in response to events in the Middle East, overall, attacks on Jewish people have increased by 260% over a period of only two years. According to the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism, the report of which was launched by the Prime Minister last week, the number of anti-Semitic incidents that took place in July, which came in the middle of escalating violence in the Middle East, was the third highest on record.

  60.  The NUT believes that attempts to determine the extent and nature of racist bullying, therefore, must be sensitive to the problem's diverse aspects, including any overlaps of different manifestations of oppressive behaviour on the basis of the bullies' perception of vulnerability and the "fault" of difference in others.


  61.  A survey commissioned by the Disability Rights Commission also shows that many young disabled pupils report that they were bullied at their school, and that they felt left out and isolated because of their impairments. [27]Without disabled teachers as role models within the education system, the NUT is concerned that disabled pupils will continue to experience bullying and feelings of isolation.

  62.  Without disabled teachers as role models within schools, disabled teachers will continue to experience bullying.

  63.  DfEE Circular 4/99 on fitness to teach sums up the importance of employing and retaining disabled teachers in schools.

    "Disabled staff can make an important contribution to the overall school curriculum, both as effective employees and in raising the aspirations of disabled pupils and educating non-disabled people about the reality of disability."

  64.  A school that views its teachers as individuals with a range of strengths and unique needs, and does not make discriminatory assumptions about them because of their disabilities, is more likely to do the same for its pupils.

  65.  It is positive that legislative changes will soon require schools to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people and to eliminate bullying and harassment.

  66.  Although the DfES website does address issues of disablist bullying, the strategies it recommends for tackling such bullying do not include the employment of disabled teachers and other staff members as role models to all pupils. Consultation with pupils will assist schools in reducing incidents of bullying; such whole school strategies should be led by the head teacher, senior staff and governing body.

  67.  A key factor in promoting an accessible school environment is putting into place appropriate and effective reasonable adjustments for staff and pupils who require such adjustments. If, for example, appropriate toileting facilities are in place for a pupil with a mobility impairment this will maintain dignity and reduce opportunities for bullying.


  68.  Research shows that homophobic bullying is a significant element in anti-social behaviour in schools in England and Wales. [28]Stonewall estimates that there are 450,000 gay and lesbian pupils in schools and that up to 60,000 of these are the victims of homophobic bullying. [29]

  69.  Homophobic bullying involves the targeting of individuals on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. Young people and teachers are singled out for abuse if they do not conform to a stereotypical masculine or feminine identity of if their perceived or actual sexual identity or sexual orientation does not conform to such images.

  70.  Where people are and feel themselves to be "secure", they have no need to attempt to feel better about themselves by belittling or otherwise bullying others. One way that those who are questioning their own sexuality (or gender identity) can seek to demonstrate that they are not LGB(T) is by bullying those who are perceived to be LGB(T). In this sense, homophobic and transphobic bullying has different features to racist or sexist bullying.

  71.  For that reason, establishing an atmosphere where those young people who choose to come out are supported in doing so, is likely to reduce the incidence of homophobic and transphobic bullying because those who bully are more likely to receive a robust response and fail in their aims.

  72.  The NUT believes that the most difficult aspect of tackling homophobic bullying consists in addressing the conspiracy of silence around LGBT issues. For example, there is a reluctance to report homophobic bullying, with teachers and young people who are LGB or who are assumed to be LGB preferring to suffer in silence by resigning or leaving school early with qualifications well below their abilities and academic potential. There is a perception that some LGB staff who have received promotion to senior posts and have chosen not to come out can feel threatened by the change that happens when more junior staff "come out".

  73.  Lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers tend to fear being open about their sexuality, despite their legal right to do so, in order not to damage their personal and professional lives. Teachers who "come out" in schools are often met with prejudice and harassment. Although there is some evidence that being open about one's sexuality could help raise the self-esteem and morale of young people in schools who are questioning their own sexual orientation, the experiences of LGB teachers confirm that being open or out can hinder teachers' career prospects and threaten other teachers who were not open about their sexuality. [30]

  74.  The NUT is concerned that head teachers and governing bodies have not yet assimilated and digested the implications of the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003. This legislation protects LGB teachers, or teachers assumed to be LGB, from discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. Legally, therefore, teachers are permitted to be open to parents, pupils, colleagues and head teachers about their sexual orientation and should be protected from any adverse reaction, bullying or consequent victimisation. In reality, however, LGB staff who are "out" or who are "outed" by colleagues or pupils commonly experience negative consequences which can include severe forms of bullying and threats of dismissal.

  75.  It is essential, therefore, that the DfES uses the opportunity provided by its revised guidance on homophobic bullying to raise awareness among head teachers of their statutory duties. If LGBT teachers and parents are not treated with respect by colleagues and senior management, then it is impossible to challenge the homophobia and homophobic language experienced daily by pupils in schools. The DfES needs to make head teachers aware that they have responsibilities to parents, teachers and governors who may be LGBT as well as educate pupils against homophobia. It must be made clear that this legal protection covers faith schools.

  76.  The NUT welcomed the DfES publication Stand Up For Us. Few schools, however, are aware of the existence of this excellent resource on tackling homophobic bullying.

  77.  The NUT is also concerned about the right of parents to take their children out of sex education classes which have the potential, in many ways, to be an important initial forum to challenge homophobic attitudes and to counteract bigoted information pupils might receive from other sources. This is compounded by the fact that only 6% of schools refer explicitly to homophobic bullying in their anti-bullying policies. [31]As a consequence, much of the abuse and intimidation of children and staff who are perceived to be or are lesbian, gay or bisexual is effectively overlooked. The failure to challenge homophobia perpetuates the common use of homophobic language and the homophobic targeting of staff who are or are rumoured to be LGB.

  78.  Research has not only shown that those who are perceived as weak or different in society are more prone to being bullied, it has also been suggested that the existence of homophobia is significantly linked to the culture of masculinity. Young men tend to develop homophobic attitudes as an integral part of their achieving a masculine identity. [32]This is reflected in statistics recording much higher incidences of homophobic bullying in boys' single-sex and co-educational schools than in girls' single-sex schools. [33]

  79.  Evidence of the restriction of the ability and potential of boys and girls through gender stereotyping can be found in the gender segregation of the workforce in Britain which is directly linked to the gender pay gap. Studies by the Equal Opportunities Commission have shown, for example, that only 1% of all employees in engineering are women, that 8% of all employees in construction are women, and that almost all nursery nurses and child minders are female.

  80.  Pay for apprentices in childcare, the only female-dominated sector, was generally half or less, of that in construction, engineering, plumbing or communications technology (ICT). Overall, women are still working predominantly in lower paid areas, such as cleaning, catering, caring, cashiering and clerical work, which is one of the reasons why their full-time pay on average remains 18% less per hour than that of full-time men, or 40% less if they work part-time. [34]


  81.  The NUT believes that the Government needs to develop a joined-up approach to tackling sexist, racist, homophobic and disablist bullying. At present, guidance for schools on different forms of bullying is still, where applicable, issued separately.

  82.  Where guidance on different forms of bullying is issued by the Government, the proposed strategies for tackling such bullying are not always comprehensive. In the case of disablist bullying, for example, the DfES does not include the employment of disabled teachers and other staff members as role models for all pupils as an effective strategy to tackle disablist bullying in schools.

  83.  The NUT believes that the Government should facilitate and ensure widespread awareness of current equality legislation and its implications for schools. Teachers should also be made aware of any grievance procedures as well as informal networks of support.

  84.  Schools are already covered by a duty to promote race equality and to eliminate racial harassment. From December 2006, schools will be covered by a similar duty in respect of disability, and from spring 2007, schools will be required to promote gender equality. These legal obligations should provide a trigger to encourage schools to consider ways to discourage racist, disablist, and sexist bullying.

  85.  The NUT further believes that the DfES should consider how equality can be made a priority within schools' self-evaluation forms. Support and advice provided to schools through behaviour advisory programmes such as BIP at local authority level should focus on the positive promotion of equality and respect in order to prevent bullying and discrimination.

  86.  The NUT advises that all school behaviour policies should make clear that racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic incidents, and harassment against pupils or staff on the grounds of disability or religion or belief will not be tolerated. They should explicitly refer to strategies to prevent homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist and disablist bullying, as well as bullying on the grounds of religion or belief, and to eliminate the homophobic and sexist content of commonly used terms of verbal abuse. The NUT further advises that school policies on equal opportunities and on harassment and bullying should state that the school will take action to protect all pupils and staff from all forms of harassment and bullying.

  87.  Schools should ensure that their behaviour and equal opportunities policies are internally consistent. Bullying and harassment may be triggered by hostility towards the faith; religious identity; real or perceived sexual orientation; or gender or gender identity of pupils or teachers. Schools should be aware of such causes.

  88.  The NUT also advises that schools should record and act on all incidents of bullying, including all racist, sexist, disablist, transphobic and homophobic incidents. Parents and governors should be informed of such incidents and the action taken to deal with them. Governing bodies should inform their local authority regularly of the pattern and frequency of any incidents and the strategies developed to reduce them. Teachers who experience racist, sexist, disablist or homophobic harassment, are entitled to support from their schools and may also exercise their right to involve the police.

  89.  Tackling various forms of bullying should also be supplemented with positive measures to celebrate the lives and achievements of people who are at the receiving end of this behaviour due to the "fault" of difference. For example, LGBT History Month, which is usually held in February, provides a real opportunity to start focusing on positive portrayal of LGBT individuals. Similarly, Black History Month, held in October, is a unique event in our calendar that could significantly contribute towards reducing and eliminating all aspects of racist bullying. It is unfortunate that, only two years after its inception, the DfES has recently decided to cease funding LGBT History Month.

  90.  The NUT believes that there should be a concerted effort by the Government to facilitate events and opportunities to celebrate the achievements and worth of women, disabled people and older people, combined with concerted efforts to raise awareness of our equality in diversity both legally, socially and economically.

  91.  A school that views its teachers as individuals with a range of strengths and attributes and does not make discriminatory assumptions about them, is likely to do the same for its pupils. [35]


  92.  Pastoral structures integrated with teaching and learning are vital. Pastoral structures need to be led by qualified teachers. These need to be complemented by the appointment of school counsellors for each school.

  93.  Teachers are not to blame for bullying. All the evidence received by the NUT suggests that teachers want to track down injustices felt by pupils but do not have time.

  94.  A study commissioned by the NUT[36] to assess the impact of government initiatives on the professional lives in secondary school teachers confirmed the frustration caused by this lack of time. One of the key themes which emerged from the interviews with teachers, head teachers and pupils was that the capacity of teachers to juggle their pastoral responsibilities was undermined by pressure of workload:

    "Lack of time for reflection and lack of professional space for observing, talking with and learning from colleagues was a consequence of an over loaded and inappropriate curriculum together with a constant pressure to maintain control and keep abreast of new initiatives".

October 2006

14   Research and Evaluation of the Behaviour Improvement Programme, Institute of Education, University of London, Professor Susan Hallam, F Castle, L Rogers, A Creech, J Rhamie, D Khotsaki. Back

15   Ibid 1. Back

16   Ibid 1. Back

17   NUT Charter, Learning to Behave, 2005. Back

18   Schools speak for themselves, University of Strathclyde, J MacBeath, B Boyd, J Rand, S Bell. Back

19   Ibid 5. Back

20   Ibid 5. Back

21   Ofsted, Bullying: Effective Action in Secondary Schools, London, (2003), p 5. Back

22   Silence is Not Always Golden, NUT guidelines on domestic violence, 2003. Back

23   Amnesty International, ICM Sexual Assault Research, 12 October 2005. Back

24   The Guardian, "Black Teachers Face Bullying and Racism", 8 September 2006. Back

25   NUT, Black and Minority Ethnic Teachers in Senior Management, (2004). Back

26   Evening Standard, "Extra Lessons for Trainee Teachers to Beat Racism", 9 September 2006. Back

27   The Disability Rights Commission commissioned an NOP survey that interviewed 305 disabled people aged 16-24 across England and ales between October and November 2002. Back

28   Cf. I Warwick, Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools-A Review and Implications for Action, Institute of Education, London, (2004). Back

29   The Independent, "Anti-Gay Bullying Forces Thousands of Pupils to Leave School after GCSEs", 30 January 2005. Back

30   I. Warwick, Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools-A Review and Implications for Action, Institute of Education, (2004). Back

31   The Guardian, "Lessons in Loneliness", 1 October 2005. Back

32   Cf. J Norman, A Survey of Teachers on Homophobic Bullying in Irish Second-Level Schools, Dublin City University, (2004). Back

33   Ibid. Back

34   EOC, Free To Choose: Tackling Gender Barriers to Better Jobs, final report, March (2005). Back

35   National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, Employing Disabled Teachers, (1999). Back

36   A Life in Secondary Teaching: Finding Time for Learning, University of Cambridge, 2004, J MacBeath, M Galton. Back

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Prepared 27 March 2007