Northumberland kids booted out of school for bullying

Schools in Northumberland excluded pupils for bullying on nine occasions in just one year, new figures reveal.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 2:04 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 2:14 pm
Bullying remains an issue in Northumberland schools.

Ahead of Anti-Bullying Week, which starts on Monday, children's charities have warned that although the number of exclusions fell across England during the pandemic, the issue remains "stubbornly persistent".

Department for Education figures show Northumberland schools excluded students nine times for bullying in the 2019-20 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions.

This was a decrease compared to the year before, when there were 16.

Across England, 2,438 permanent or temporary suspensions for bullying were recorded in 2019-20.

This was down from 3,510 the year before and the lowest number since comparable records began in 2005-06.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance, which coordinates Anti-Bullying Week every year, said the number of exclusions fell dramatically in 2020 as schools shut during the pandemic.

However, Martha Evans, director of the organisation, said this did not mean bullying had disappeared from schools, as a survey it carried out this year indicated a rise in cyberbullying.

She added: “Sadly, we estimate that at least one child in every classroom is experiencing frequent bullying behaviour from others.

"We know this experience can affect children’s mental health and have a lingering effect well into adulthood.

“But we must also remember that the majority of children know that bullying is never okay, and they want positive and respectful relationships with their friends and classmates."

The vast majority of temporary and permanent exclusions in England occur in secondary schools.

Of the exclusions in Northumberland in 2019-20, seven occurred in state-funded secondary schools, one in a special school and one in a primary school.

Childline said the pandemic had changed the "landscape of bullying," with much of it now occurring online.

Alex Gray, head of volunteer operations at the charity, added: “We know bullying can have a profound impact on children and for some it can cause them to develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

“For others it can hinder their friendships as they don’t feel accepted by their peers, it can make them wary and suspicious of others and for some it can affect their performance at school."