New guidance on bullying in schools to be unveiled
Education Secretary Alan Johnson has revealed that the government is working on new guidelines for schools to protect children from bullying.
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk he said he hoped to be able to make an announcement at the Stonewall Education for All conference in July.
Mr Johnson, who is one of six candidates for Deputy Leader of the Labour party, also paid tribute to Stonewall’s campaigns for gay rights.
The Department for Education and Skills is looking at a select committee report into bullying in schools produced by MPs earlier this year.
The MPs attacked Roman Catholic church-run schools for refusing to implement government guidelines on setting up anti-homophobic bullying policies.
The investigation into all bullying in schools was instigated by Liberal Democrat MP and education spokesman Stephen Williams.
When asked when we could expect a response to the report, Mr Johnson said:
“I hope we can say something at the Stonewall conference. It is a priority within this department to tackle bullying.
“Where the problem could lie is if we try to chop this up into little bits, and try to publish a bit of guidance about homophobic bullying, a bit of guidance about bullying against disabled kids, a bit of guidance about ethnic minority bullying.
“You just give too much stuff to teachers in little bits and pieces. I want to bring all this together into one anti-bullying document.
“We worked with Stonewall as part of that integrated advice.”
Mr Johnson highlighted new powers for teachers he has introduced such as the right to confiscate mobile phones and use force to break up fights or restrain violent pupils.
The committee of MPs heard evidence from charity Anti-Bullying Alliance that between 30-50% of young people in secondary schools attracted to people of the same sex will have directly experienced homophobic bullying compared to the 10-20% of young people who have experienced general bullying.
Education for All has been a major national campaign undertaken by Stonewall to beat homophobic bullying in schools.
More from PinkNews
The gay equality organisation is holding a conference on July 5th to address the nature of the problem in schools, and explore practical solutions to deal with it at both primary and secondary level.
Mr Johnson paid tribute to Stonewall’s contribution to the new guidance on bullying:
“They are a class act. If you were going to pick one of the top five lobby groups for their effectiveness, their professionalism, their energy and their integrity, you would pick Stonewall.”
In his interview with PinkNews.co.uk, to be published later this week, Mr Johnson revealed that he has never been invited to the Prime Minister’s country home, Chequers.
He also talked about his time as a postman delivering letters to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Buckinghamshire mansion Dorneywood.
“It would be nice to go through the front door for once, rather than the tradesman’s entrance,” he said.