English head teachers report highest level of cyber bullying in global survey

School heads in England have reported the highest level of cyber bullying among students in an international survey of more than a quarter of a million teachers.

More than one fifth (21%) of heads said intimidation or bullying among their students occurred regularly, compared to an OECD average of 14%.

The proportion of school leaders reporting physical and non-physical bullying doubled from 14.5% in 2013 to 29% in the 2018 teacher and learning international survey (Talis).

Published on Wednesday, the report revealed 13.9% of secondary principals have received reports from a student or parent/guardian about hurtful posts on the internet or social media about students.

Twenty-seven per cent received reports of unwanted electronic contact among students in their school,

These were the highest figures across the OECD, which had an average of 2.5% and 3.4% respectively.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD director for education and skills, said: “Cyber bullying in terms of unwanted contact or students being exposed on the internet is the dark side of the modern age.

“But it is something that schools really need to get to grips with.”

He added: “I don’t think English schools and the schools system have yet the policy. There are some school systems that make this a priority, establish a policy.

“They are sometimes controversial, like in France they have banned mobile phones.

“But I do think we can no longer ignore it, or leave it for individual schools to sort out, this is probably something that school systems need to look at systemically.”

Almost all (97%) of the teachers questioned agreed that teachers and students usually get on well with each other.

The survey also looked at the workforce and found teachers in England work more hours than anywhere else in Europe.

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Their responses indicate they work 47 hours a week on average, the fourth highest of the OECD, with teachers in Japan, Kazakhstan and Alberta, Canada, putting in more hours.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The findings should act as a wake-up call for any future prime minister.

“The Government must end teachers’ unsustainable workload by tackling the high-stakes school accountability system, which is fuelling the long hours culture and driving teachers out of the profession.”

Other findings were that the average age of a teacher was 39 years old, and that head teachers are, on average, 50 years old.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “These findings reflect many of the frustrations that I heard from teachers and heads when I first took on the role of Education Secretary and underlines the importance of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, that I launched in January of this year.

“We know that too many teachers are having to work too many hours each week on unnecessary tasks, which is why I have taken on a battle to reduce teachers’ workload so that they can focus on spending their time in the classroom doing what they do best – teaching.”

The report surveyed 260,000 teachers and school leaders in 15,000 schools across 48 countries and economies.

In England 2,376 teachers of children aged 11-14, and 157 heads completed the Talis questionnaires.