Armley teacher takes pupil anti-bullying campaign to Parliament

11 February 2020

A former Armley teacher will lead parents who have lost bullied children to suicide to have their say in Parliament later this month.

The Safer Schools group is headed by Jason Barnett, who is calling for new government regulation over the way schools deal with bullying.

Mr Barnett is leading the campaign, launched at a public meeting in Leeds Town Hall last year, following his own experiences of violence while working in a West Yorkshire school.

The meeting will take place in the Palace of Westminster on 25 February, where the group will present a case to the Government for changes to be made to laws and policies to ensure bullying and violence complaints can no longer be ignored.  

Mr Barnett, who left his job four years ago, said:

“The meeting in Parliament gives another opportunity for Ministers and MPs to hear the case in an open and transparent environment, where everyone can be held accountable for their actions by the group and other politicians.

“The response so far has been encouraging with a number of confirmations already.

“Currently we have in place laws and policies to protect all adults from bullying and violence in every workplace, the group believes that all children across the UK should be afforded the same protections in schools and that politicians should do everything in their power to put those in place without delay. “

Mr Barnett added:

“Even if a headteacher at one school excludes a child for bullying, there may be nine other schools in that area who don’t. That would mean the school taking action would look like the troubled school.

“We want regulations to be in place across the board for all schools to comply with.”

The campaign group currently includes more than 100 families from across the UK with more than 15 of those families having lost children to suicide.

All of the families claim in each case that the loss of their child or the harm caused was as a consequence of unresolved bullying complaints in schools.  

As part of the campaign, a number of Ministers and MPs have been invited to meet with the group, to hear their case. They will be asked to consider the campaign’s appeal for changes to legislation, policies and procedures to prevent this from happening to any other children and families in the future.  

This latest event comes after 20 Ministers and MPs, including Boris Johnson, The Education Minister Gavin Williamson and Schools Minister Nick Gibb were invited to meet with some of the grieving families at a meeting at Leeds Town Hall last October.

Mr Barnett said all either declined the invitation or failed to reply. 

The proposed changes to laws and policies that the group are calling for include:

  • Schools must all follow a National Code of Conduct/Practice for dealing with bullying and violence complaints.
  • Schools must follow their written bullying policies by law
  • Schools must record all incidents of bullying and violence brought to their attention.
  • All decisions in relation to bullying and violence complaints must be appealable to at least one other independent body above the school and Governors.
  • Details of outcomes of any bullying and violence complaints must be made available to the complainant from schools, Local Authorities, School Inspection bodies and Government Education Departments.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department for Education said:

“All bullying, whether it is in the playground or online, is unacceptable. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, blight their education and have serious and lasting consequences for their mental health.

“All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying, and have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies and monitoring approaches to best suit their environment.”

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Amanda Carr says:

I wish Jason Barnett every success with this bullying campaign. I’m so pleased someone is doing something about this. I too have had my daughter subjected to bullying and assault within the school with two different pupils. Theses school need to do more!! Because I got no where I moved my daughter into another school.