It’s Anti-Bullying Week (15-19 November), an annual event created with the intention of reducing bullying in schools and raising awareness of the impact it can have on young people.

To help raise awareness, figures have been released detailing the number of pupils who have been excluded from Lancashire - and Blackburn with Darwen specifically.

Department for Education figures show Lancashire schools excluded students 57 times for bullying in the 2019-20 academic year – one permanently and 56 temporarily.

This was an increase on the year before, when there were 48 exclusions.

In Blackburn with Darwen, dozens of pupils have been excluded for bullying over a 14-year period.

Department for Education figures show Blackburn with Darwen schools excluded students 83 times for bullying between September 2006 and July 2020 – all of which were temporary exclusions.

Of these, four occurred in the 2019-20 academic year – the latest available figures.

Of the exclusions in Blackburn with Darwen since 2006-07, the majority (62) occurred in state-funded secondary schools, eight in special schools and 13 in primary schools.

Across England, 2,438 permanent or temporary suspensions for bullying were recorded in 2019-20.

This was 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 every year, said the number of exclusions fell dramatically in 2020 as schools shut during the pandemic.

However, Martha Evans, director of the organisation, said this doesn't mean bullying disappeared from schools, with a survey it carried out this year indicating a rise in cyberbullying.

She added: “Sadly, we estimate that 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 that bullying is never okay, and they want positive and respectful relationships with their friends and classmates."

The vast majority of temporary and permanent exclusions in England occur in secondary schools.

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, added: “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 Department for Education said permanent exclusions should only be used as a last resort, and should not mean an exclusion from education.

A spokeswoman added: “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.

“We are supporting schools to tackle all forms of bullying, including through providing funding to anti-bullying charities and ongoing work to improve behaviour."

What is Anti-Bullying Week and how is it being celebrated this year?

The official organisers of Anti-Bullying Week, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), have released the theme of this year’s event and are encouraging schools across the nation to take part.

Following the success of the campaign in 2020 – when a jaw-dropping 80% of schools marked the week reaching over 7.5 million children and young people - the Anti-Bullying Alliance (which coordinates the campaign each year in England and Wales) asked over 400 young people, teachers, and parents, what they wanted from this year’s Anti-Bullying Week.

Again and again, the young and not-so-young told us they wanted anti-bullying work to be about hope and the positive and kind things we can do to halt hurtful behaviour in its tracks.

This year, the theme is One Kind Word where people are encouraged to spread kindness through their conversations.

Find out more about ABA’s Anti-Bullying Week and how to get involved by visiting their website: