Today Baroness Brinton will ask the Government in the Lords what money is available to get children who have pulled out of school because of bullying back into the classroom. With almost 16,500 not going to school because of the problem, she says, it’s time to heal them and get them back into education
Today in the Lords I am asking the Minister what support there is for children who have been so severely bullied that they have become schoolphobic, and refuse to go to school (the jargon describes them as “self-excluders”).
I want to know what funding support these children can access to get them back into mainstream schooling. Often what happens is that the school they are not attending hangs on to the money funding their place whilst the child is either stuck at home with very little access to education, or worse, is offered a place in a pupil referral unit, where excluded bullies are sent. This is a recipe for disaster.
We are talking about a large number of pupils. In 2011, the National Centre for Social Research published a report estimating that 16,493 11-15-year-olds can no longer attend school principally because of bullying. Many of these pupils also suffer from mental health problems because of the bullying, and some have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Inevitably the longer term impact on missing school is severe. They are much less likely to get qualifications, go on to college or university, or to find employment.
We need to find ways to help heal these children and get them back into education. Some may need specialist support , such as the Red Balloon Learner Centres (of which I am a patron), who provide intensive and therapeutic support for pupils with the specific aim of getting them back into mainstream education. But accessing funding for this help is almost impossible, whilst the bullies in pupil referral units get plenty of support and extra funding.
The model Jodie Marsh, who was herself a victim of severe bullying, has been leading a fantastic campaign to help set up anti-bullying champions in schools with Alex Holmes of Beat Bullying. And the Sun newspaper has recently launched a campaign for Ayden’s Law, asking for a new law of harassment and bullying by children. They highlight the shocking number of children who have committed suicide.
I want to help raise the profile of the educational support that these children need. At the moment they fall into a black hole, and many find it difficult to climb out of it.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.