What to do if the school doesn't resolve the bullying

Find out what your next steps are

Estimated read: 7 minutes 

It can be really distressing for families to find out that the bullying is still continuing even after involving the school. At this point, you may have sought assistance from the class teacher, onto the head teacher and the chair of governors. 

Key points: 

  • If you have complained to the head and you are not happy with their response, the next step is to contact the chair of governors. You can get their name and contact details from the school office
  • 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
  • We would encourage you to get in touch with your MP and ask them for some assistance and support if the bullying is still not resolved 
Picture of teenage boy on his bed upset

This article provides you with the next steps you can take if you have complained to the school and they have not been able to resolve the bullying. 

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 their name from the school office. Write to them 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 chair 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. 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 chair, 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.

This might also be the time that you become aware that other children are being targeted by this bully or bullies. Your child may not be the only target and you may find other families are willing to speak up too. 

Complaining to the Local Education Authority

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. Their aim is to foster good relations between families and schools and will help them work together to get things resolved. 

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.

You may want to ask the LEA if other complaints of bullying have been reported to them involving the same school. You can ask if the education welfare officer has been involved. They have to visit pupils whose parents have removed them and who are at home. This may prompt the LEA into asking if the school has a problem if there have been a series of complaints.

Taking matters further

Local Government Ombudsman - 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.

Your local Member of Parliament - We would encourage you to get in touch with your MP and ask them for some assistance and support. If you are unsure who your MP is, please click here and enter your details and it will let you know who your MP is. 

Secretary of State - Your final recourse is to the Secretary of State for Education at House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA or at the Department of Education at 20 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BT where your complaint may 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.

Red Balloon - 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 could be a last resort option to consider.



Sample letters

To the Director of Education (at county council/metropolitan HQ, address in phone book).

Dear <name>,

I enclose copies of correspondence with the head teacher and chair of governors of <school> where my child <full name> continues to be bullied. 

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 have requested access to my child's records and have noticed 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 about this school in the last 12 months? I am formally requesting the help of LEA staff to ensure the safety of my child at this school.

Yours truly,

<Your Name>

To The Secretary of State of Education

(House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or at the Department of Education at 20 Great Smith St, London SW1P 3BT)

Dear Secretary of State of Education,

I am writing to you to request you use your authority under sections 496 and 497 of the 1996 Education Act because I believe <LEA/Name of school> is acting unreasonably/illegally by (failing to investigate my complaint of bullying/ failing to supply a copy of my child'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).

I would be grateful if you investigate this matter and respond to me in a timely manner. 

Yours truly,

<Your Name>



This page was updated on September 2021


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