Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying to meet with Ministers and demand tougher action from schools

Parents who have lost children to suicide after they were bullied are heading to Parliament and demand government regulation over the way schools deal with bullying complaints.

The Safer Schools group is headed by Leeds teacher Jason Barnett, following his own experiences of violence while working in a West Yorkshire school.

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

Mr Barnett claims he has been punched, kicked and even had a piece of glass held to his throat amidst what he described as a 'crisis of escalating violence'.

He resigned from his position four years ago after passing on records of assaults perpetrated by pupils, which he said were not being dealt with, to the Department for Education.

In his time at the school, he said violence was 'rife' but that those who were affected had nowhere to turn if they felt the school was not taking their concerns seriously.

Since leaving the job, Mr Barnett has been liaising with parents in Yorkshire and across the rest of the country who have lost a child to suicide following incidents of bullying.

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

The Safer Schools group will meet with MPs in Parliament on February 25, calling for new laws to support victims of bullying.

Among the campaigners are the relatives of Asad Khan, a Bradford schoolboy who died by suicide aged 11 in 2016, and Leah Dobson from Hull, whose 18-year-old son Joshua died in 2015 following months of bullying.

"This is a system that affects every child in the country", Mr Barnett said.

"When we've got knife crime on the streets, the government is held accountable. But if it happens between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Boris Johnson doesn't have to spend a penny - it's not his problem.

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

"We are talking about saving children's lives - this should be a national priority.

Mr Barnett claims that he recorded 60 incidents in one year alone of violence in the school where he worked, and on one occasion had a piece of glass held to his throat by a student threatening him.

In another incident, he claims he was punched so hard by a pupil he lost his hearing for a week.

He added: "There were a lot of incidents at the school where I worked involving assaults. I documented all of them and after I complained I ended up resigning and taking all the documents with me.

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

Grieving parents of children lost to suicide following bullying are meeting with Ministers demanding tougher action from schools

"I took them to Ofsted, but they said they didn't have a remit to deal with bullying issues. So I took them to the Department for Education (DfE), but they wouldn't tell me what was being done about the issue. This went on for three years.

"The problem is, 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."

Safer Schools, which consists of Mr Barnett and 15 bereaved relatives, will consult MPs and members of the Education Select Committee asking for a national code of practice for schools dealing with bullying and violence complaints which must be followed by law.

The group also wants parents to be able to appeal schools' decisions over bullying allegations to authorities above the school and governors if they are unsatisfied.

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.”