The government announced today that schools will be required to record all incidents of homophobic, racist and sexist bullying.
Schools minister Vernon Coaker said that all schools will be legally required to comply with the new rules from September.
He said: “Bullying can make children’s lives a misery. It can have a lasting impact on young people’s future happiness, self-confidence and development and parents are right to be concerned about how it might be affecting their children.
“I am absolutely clear that bullying of any kind should not be tolerated in or outside of our schools.
“That’s why the government is today announcing new measures to make sure that schools are doing all they can to tackle this issue head on.”
The government believes that keeping records will allow schools to tackle the issue faster and will give teachers instant access to incidents when dealing with parents.
Recording will allow experts to study trends and serious cases with be logged with local councils.
Incidents of bullying suffered by teachers and other school staff will also be reported to councils.
A 12-week consultation period with schools, parents and education experts will begin today.
Gay charity Stonewall said it was confident that the new duty would help address homophobic bullying.
A spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “Stonewall welcomes the proposed duty for schools to record and report all incidents of homophobic bullying. When 65 per cent of young lesbian and gay people experience homophobic bullying but those same young people think only 50 per cent of teachers respond to it, recording incidents is the only way forward.
“Schools will need support, confidence and training to identify and tackle homophobic bullying, as well as prevent it from happening, and we look forward to working through our Education Champions programme to help provide this.”
The news was also praised by Schools Out but co-chair Sue Sanders questioned what would happen after incidents were recorded.
She said: “We welcome the consultation but we would expect that we get a recognition of not only the recording aspect but also the reporting aspect.
“There needs to be some sort of action that goes with it to help teachers tackle homophobic bullying.
“We need to skill-up teachers to be confident to prevent it happening in the first place. Training in equality and diversity to deal with it is crucial.
“We welcome the idea of recording and reporting but we need clarity about what will happen [next]. Something needs to kick into place to help staff and pupils.”
A report released this year by Stonewall found that teachers reported homophobia to be the most prevalent form of bullying after bullying because of weight. It was found to be more prevalent than racist bullying.
Pupils suspected to be gay and boys perceived to act or dress in a feminine way were most likely to suffer abuse, followed by pupils who are openly gay.
Nine in ten secondary school teachers and two in five primary school teachers reported hearing homophobic bullying of children, while Stonewall estimated that 150,000 pupils are affected by the issue.