by Steve Beasant on 28 February, 2015
Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole Annette Brooke, led a debate on Wednesday (25th February) in Westminster Hall on the problem of bullying on dedicated school buses. The focus of the debate was to share the results of a survey Annette Brooke carried out last year and to press for more action to tackle the problem.
Annette Brooke has spoken in the House of Commons on a number of occasions about the tragic story of Ben Vodden, the 11 year old student who sadly took his own life after persistent bullying on a school bus. Annette Brooke went on to celebrate the effort and commitment of her constituent and Ben’s father, Paul, in commissioning two of his own surveys, to which Annette Brooke referred to throughout her speech.
Annette Brooke, who has campaigned on this issue since 2010, recognised the positive steps that have been taken by some local authorities, but made it very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. She highlighted the key findings of the survey of local authorities she had carried out, noting the fact that 18 councils still did not have a safe travel policy, nor any policy resembling one.
She said: “Potentially, the aspect of my survey to display the most worrying lack of progress or success was the finding concerning the provision of training for drivers on how to deal with bullying. Only 16 of the 109 local authorities responding answered yes when asked if that was included as a contractual requirement.”
The Minister praised the campaigning of Mr Vodden and the work done by Annette to raise the issue with the Government.
Mr Gibb confirmed that the “statutory guidance I referred to earlier on home-to-school transport, which was revised in July 2014, requires local authorities to ensure the safety of pupils on school buses”.
But, after Annette Brooke pressed him to look again at the problem, he said: “I will reflect on her comments and this debate to see whether we can do more to ensure specifically that bullying on buses is being tackled by local authorities.”
Annette Brooke said she was disappointed with the Minister’s reply, having shared the findings of her survey with him in advance. She had hoped that some local authorities would have been contacted by the department. She is now writing to the Minister to reinforce the request that she made in her debate that his Department checks that the guidance is actually being implemented.Leave a comment