Children’s charities have warned bullying is ‘stubbornly persistent’ despite the number of exclusions falling across England during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of Anti-Bullying Week, which begins on Monday, November 15, Department for Education figures show Nottinghamshire schools excluded students 12 times for bullying in the 2019-20 academic year – all of which were temporary exclusions – and down on 34 in the year before.
Across England, 2,438 permanent or temporary suspensions for bullying were recorded in 2019-20, down from 3,510 the year before and the lowest number since comparable records began in 2005-06.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance, which coordinates Anti-Bullying Week, said the number of exclusions fell dramatically in 2020 as schools shut during the pandemic.
However, Martha Evans, director of the organisation, said this does not mean bullying disappeared from schools, with a survey it carried out this year indicating a rise in cyberbullying.
She said: “Sadly, we estimate at least one child in every classroom is experiencing frequent bullying behaviour from others.
“We know this experience can affect children’s mental health and have a lingering effect well into adulthood, but we must also remember that the majority of children know bullying is never okay and want positive and respectful relationships with their friends and classmates.”
Of the exclusions in Nottinghamshire in 2019-20, 10 occurred in secondary schools, one in a special school and one in a primary school.
Childline said the pandemic changed the ‘landscape of bullying’ with much of it now occurring online.
Alex Gray, head of volunteer operations at the charity, said: “We know bullying can have a profound impact on children and for some it can cause them to develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
“For others it can hinder their friendships as they don’t feel accepted by their peers, it can make them wary and suspicious of others and for some it can affect their performance at school."
The DfE said permanent exclusions should only be used as a last resort and not mean an exclusion from education.
A spokeswoman said: “Bullying is never acceptable in any form and we must all take a stand against bullying to create a safe place for all children in the classroom and online.”