19/11/2003

'Make the Difference' against bullies, communities urged

Schools, charities, parents and young people have been urged to 'Make the Difference' and join together to tackle bullying and intimidation in schools.

The 'Make the Difference' campaign brings together heads and school staff, pupils, local education authorities and voluntary organisations to support schools in developing communities.

The campaign is underpinned by a series of conferences being held around the country over the next year to highlight the importance of tackling bullying, celebrate effective practice, and to share anti-bullying best practice and develop support networks. The Department for Education and Skills has revealed that almost two-thirds of young people have witnessed some form of bullying in their schools in the last school term.

Heads and Governors will also be invited to adopt an anti-bullying 'Charter for Action' in which they commit the whole school community to a culture where bullying is not tolerated and actively tackled.

Drawn up with a wide range of professional and voluntary organisations, including the Secondary Heads Association, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the charter recommends a key set of actions for schools to take to prevent and deal with bullying.

Unveiling the anti-bullying charter at the inaugural 'Make the Difference' conference in London, Education Minister Ivan Lewis said: "Bullying is not a 'part of growing up.' Bullying is not 'character building'. Bullying is physical or emotional assault, and can lead to the most tragic consequences.

"No one can tackle bullying on their own, and no one will stop bullying overnight. But together, in a true partnership of schools, professional associations, voluntary organisations, parents and young people, we can make the difference."

David Hart, National Association of Head Teachers said: "The NAHT strongly supports the anti-bullying campaign. A charter by itself does not deliver results, but it can drive home the message that bullying needs to be identified and tackled relentlessly. If it does this, it can achieve a great deal."

Gill Frances of the Anti-Bullying Alliance said: "We welcome and support this new initiative. We will work with schools to engage staff, parents, and pupils in providing safe environments for children and young people to learn and play."

A £342 million Behaviour Improvement Programme is now giving 61 local education authorities targeted funding and advice on improving pupil behaviour. Over 17,000 pupils identified as being at risk of exclusion or truancy are now receiving support to tackle their behaviour and attendance problems.

(gmcg)

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