Unfortunately many parents find that bullying continues after they have asked the class teacher, head of year or head teacher to sort it out.
Contact the governors about bullying
After a written complaint to the head, the next step is to contact the chair of governors. You can get his/her name from the school office. Write to him/her at the school address. Explain the background and enclose any letters between you and the head. Ask for an immediate investigation. It's unlikely that all governors will be made aware of your complaint.
This is because many issues are dealt with as 'Chair's Action' and the chairman may hope to get the matter resolved with the head teacher quickly. The other reason not all governors will be made aware of the complaint is because the matter may escalate into an exclusion of the bully and if that happens the bullied child's parents will have a right of appeal and there need to be some governors without prior knowledge of the case.
When you complain to the chairman, send a copy of your complaint to your local councillor and ask for a meeting with him/her. Political parties have representatives on school governing bodies and if your local councillor is not one of them, he/she will have contacts who are.
Ask for a copy of your child's school record
Ask for a copy of your child's school record. The governors have a legal obligation to provide this within 15 school days, excluding weekends and holidays, but you will be asked to pay for photocopying. (There is further advice on getting a copy of the record in the section on that topic). This is also the time to start asking questions of other parents. Your child may not be the only bullying target and you may find other parents are keen to back you up in your complaint.
Complain to the LEA
If this doesn't work, the next step is for you to make a formal complaint to the Local Education Authority (LEA) and ask for an investigation to be carried out and a report issued. In fairness to LEAs, it should be said that where pupils are removed from one school to another due to bullying the LEA would not necessarily know about the problem unless parents tell them. They do not need to be involved in a school transfer unless there is an appeal for a place.
Ask the LEA how many other complaints of bullying have been reported to them involving the same school. Ask if the education welfare officer (education social worker) has been involved. She has to visit pupils whose parents have removed them and who are at home. This may prompt LEA officials into asking if the school has a problem if there have been a series of complaints.
Taking matters further
If you do not feel that your concerns have been properly investigated you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman - who cannot investigate the internal workings of schools but can look at the LEA's role in investigating your complaint. Also make sure you contact your MP.
Your final recourse is to the Secretary of State, at Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, Westminster, London or at the DFE, Castle View House, East Lane, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 2GJ where your complaint will be dealt with by the Pupils and Parents branch. Officials can only order action to be taken if your child is still a pupil at the school, so if he/she has been removed, there is unlikely to be anything the Secretary of State will do.
If you feel your child has suffered the trauma of bullying and may find it difficult to return to mainstream school, you may want to find out more about Red Balloon. They provide an 'intensive care' full-time education for children aged between 9 and 18 who are unable to go to school because they have been severely bullied or who have suffered trauma. Moving schools because of bullying may be another last resort option to consider.
To the Director of Education - [only likely to get involved if there is a whole school issue of bullying]
(at county council/metropolitan HQ, address in phone book).
Dear Mrs White,
I enclose copies of correspondence with the head teacher and chairman of governors of Park High School where my daughter Mary continues to be bullied by Jane Brown.
I have asked what measures the school intends to introduce to deal with bullying. The response has been unsatisfactory because (the bullying has not stopped/ I have not been told what the school is doing about the problem).
Please make a formal investigation into my complaint and issue a report. I note from Mary's records that (bullying incidents have been recorded/ bullying incidents have not been recorded/ the file fails to reveal what action was taken/ the file reveals action was taken but it has not been successful).
Can you please tell me how many other complaints of bullying there have been to the LEA about this school in the last 12 months? I'd like the help of LEA staff to ensure the safety of my daughter at this school.
To The Secretary of State
(DFE, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3BT, or Department for Education, Castle View House, East Lane, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 2GJ)
Dear Secretary of State,
Please use your powers under sections 496 and 497 of the 1996 Education Act because I believe Wessex County Council/ Park High School is acting unreasonably/illegally by (failing to investigate my complaint of bullying/ failing to supply a copy of my daughter's school records/ failing to halt bullying).
I enclose copies of my correspondence with the head teacher, chairman of governors and LEA. (Detail specific bullying incidents).