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Problems in education and getting help

Problems at school and getting help

This page has information about some problems people might deal with during their education and how to deal with it and get help.

If you have a problem that isn’t included here and want advice, contact us at [email protected] and we will find out where you can get help or advice.

Health, Wellbeing and Safeguarding

Schools have responsibilities to support and protect your child’s physical health, mental health, and wellbeing while they are at school. The Government has guidance for schools about Health and Safety, Safeguarding and more.

If you want to know the government guidance or law around a particular issue related to health, wellbeing or safeguarding at school or college that isn’t explained here, you can contact us at [email protected] and we can see if we can find it for you.

On the Tower Hamlets Mental Health Page, you can find lots of useful information about how to promote your child’s mental health and wellbeing and how to get support for mental health problems. Schools often have support available for mental health. Mental health issues can be a kind of Special Educational Need and/or Disability (SEND) and schools need to provide a certain amount of support for SEND, you can find information about this in our ordinarily available provision section. Schools are often the ones who can refer your child for extra support with their mental health.

You can also find information about what schools need to do to support your child’s physical health in our Health Section. Health problems can sometimes be a kind of SEND, and schools need to provide a certain amount of support for SEND, you can find information about this in our ordinarily available provision section

If you feel that something is happening at school which is having a negative impact on your child’s health or wellbeing, you can speak to the school or college about your concerns. If you are having difficulty communicating with the school or college about a problem which is affecting your child’s wellbeing, you can contact the Transition Support Service for advice.

If you feel your child (or any other child or staff member) is unsafe at school for whatever reason, there may be a safeguarding problem. If your concern is about the actions of a member of staff, you can contact the Local Authority Designated Officer. If your concern is about the safety of a child for any other reason, you can contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub. In an emergency, always call 999.


It can be common for children and young people to have issues with their behaviour sometimes. However, ongoing and serious behaviour issues can have an impact on your child’s education, wellbeing, and other pupils and may sometimes lead to exclusion. You can find information about exclusion below.

By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place. This policy is decided by the school and must be available to all staff, pupils, and parents. You can usually find their behaviour policy on the school website.

The behaviour policy should explain:

  • The school rules and expected standard of behaviour
  • How staff should handle behaviour incidents
  • What any consequences will be for behaviour problems and how they decided
  • What rewards are issued to promote good behaviour
  • The powers staff have to discipline students, including how and when reasonable force might be used
  • How incidents involving students outside school premises are handled
  • Approaches to staff members accused of misconduct
  • Plans to work with other local agencies to assess pupils’ behaviour needs
  • How safeguarding and the welfare of children is into account, to keep pupils healthy, safe, and able to achieve their full potential in their learning

It can be helpful to understand the behaviour policy to help your child to improve their behaviour and communicate with the school.

The NHS has useful advice about dealing with child behaviour problems in toddlers and young children, coping with teenage behaviour, teen aggression and arguments and more . The Charity Young Minds have a Parent’s Guide To Support Challenging Behaviour aimed at parents of primary school children, which includes where to go for advice.

If your child is showing behaviour problems at school, it is important to communicate with the school. Remember that some children only show behaviour problems only at school, or only show behaviour problems at home. Raising Children has good advice about communicating with your child's teacher about problems at school.

If you think your child’s behaviour is due to SEND (including a mental health challenge) but you aren’t sure, go to our SEND Sectionto find out how to get help. If your child’s SEND affects their behaviour and you think they need more support to help with their behaviour issues, you can also find out how your child can get support with their SEND in the SEND Section. Look at the schools SEN Information Report to see what your child’s school offers in terms of support. If your child’s behaviour is due to their SEND, the school should support your child with their behaviour issues in line with their SEND offer.

The Attendance and Welfare Service speaks to parents and carers if there is concern about a pupil's attendance at school that has not been resolved by contact between home and school, and they can help with more complex cases of challenging behaviour. They also give advice to schools about managing behaviour. Here, you can find out more about what the Attendance and Welfare Service does.


If your child’s behaviour problems are becoming very serious (for example, it makes them or anyone else unsafe or they are committing a crime), the Children's Social Care Department may be involved in your child’s case. You can also contact them to help if your child has serious behaviour issues and you are struggling to manage.

If you don’t agree with how the school is dealing with any behaviour issue, you should try to speak with them about it. You may like to read the schools behaviour policy to see if they are following the procedures correctly. 

If your child has SEND which affects their behaviour, and you feel they are being unfairly treated, this may be considered disability discrimination. Go to our SEND Section to find out more about this.

The Transition Support Service offer impartial advice about dealing with schools, including communicating with them about behaviour issues and what to do if you aren’t happy with how they are dealing with behaviour issues. You can contact the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) if they have SEND.


Bullying is when one person or a group of people, deliberately hurt another person more than once. Usually there is an imbalance of power between the bully and the person being bullied, and it is hard for that person to defend themselves.

There are lots of different definitions of bullying, some people have different views about what bullying is. There is no legal definition of bullying. Bullying behaviour can be physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, online, and indirect. The Anti-Bullying Alliance also has information about what bullying is and what bullying can look like. Bullying is a common issue among children and young people, but there are ways to resolve the problems.

Bullying can happen at all stages of life, and not just in school, but also online, at extra-curricular activities, at work and in the community. This section has information for people at school and college only. If you have concerns around bullying as an adult or anywhere not described here, you can contact us at [email protected] and we can try and find somewhere that could give you advice.

Bullying affects everyone differently, but there can be a serious impact of bullying across someone’s life. The Anti-Bullying Alliance has further information about the short and long term impact of bullying.

Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. You can report this to the police, sometimes the school will. These include:

  • violence or assault
  • theft
  • repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
  • hate crimes


Children and young people who are being bullied may not want to tell anyone. No one sign will confirm that your child is being bullied, but some of these signs suggested by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the NSPCC might indicate if a child is being bullied including;

  • physical injuries, such as unexplained bruises
  • a reluctance to go to school, or being afraid to go to school (for example, being mysteriously ‘ill’ each morning)
  • unexplained stomach upsets or headaches
  • showing signs of distress on a Sunday night or at the end of school holidays
  • changes in attitude like becoming nervous, distressed, quiet or withdrawn, losing confidence or acting disruptively
  • belongings and clothes being lost or damaged
  • academic problems
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • asking for, or stealing money (to give to whoever is bullying them)
  • seeming upset after using their phone, tablets, computers etc
  • wanting to leave for school much earlier than necessary or returning home late.

If you think your child might be being bullied, explain to them what bullying is, and ask if anything like this has happened. Keep calm and listen carefully to them. They may feel scared, ashamed or worry about what will happen if they tell anyone. You can let them know who else to ask for help around bullying if they don’t want to talk to you. The NSPCC has some useful advice about talking about difficult topics with your children.

If you know your child is being bullied, there are ways you can support them, both emotionally and practically. Young Minds have a Parents Guide to Supporting a Child with Bullying. The NSPCC have advice about supporting your child with cyber bullying, which includes useful information about blocking accounts on social media and gaming platforms.

The National Deaf Children's Society has advice for parents who are concerned that their Deaf child might be experiencing bullying.

Schools have a responsibility to protect pupils from bullying (you can read the Department for Education’s Preventing and Tackling Bullying and Keeping Children Safe in Education Guidance for more information) so you can talk to the school to help try to resolve the bullying.

You can usually go on the school’s website to find their anti-bullying policy (sometimes this is a part of their behaviour policy), this can be helpful to ensure they are doing everything correctly. The NSPCC have advice about how to communicate with the school about bullying including arranging meetings, how to prepare for meetings and what to do next if you aren’t happy.

If your child is being bullied and you need further advice about dealing with the situation or help communicating with the school, you can also contact the Transition Support Service.

Bullying can have serious impacts on mental health and wellbeing. If your child is experiencing this, you can see the Tower Hamlets Mental Health Section for information about how you can get support.

Equality and Inclusion

It is important that children and young people are included and treated equally in education. There are laws and guidance which require schools and other education settings, to treat pupils equally and foster inclusive environment.

It is unlawful for a school to discriminate against a pupil or prospective pupil by treating them less favourably because of their:

· sex or gender

· race (which includes skin colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins)

· disability

· religion or belief

· sexual orientation

· gender reassignment

· pregnancy or maternity

It can also sometimes be unlawful for pupils to be treated less favourably if they are associated with one of these groups (for example if their parents are in one of these groups). More information about equality and inclusion for pupils with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), including the law, is in our SEND Section.

The Equality Act 2010 (and the Public Sector Equality Duty which is a part of the Act) is the main law which affects equality, but there are lots of other laws and Guidelines. On the government website you can read the guidance for schools about the Equality Act. This guidance has information about admissions, the curriculum, single sex schools, religious schools, uniforms, harassment, bullying and more. Child Law Advice also has useful information about the law and discrimination in education

If you think you or your child have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the Equality Advisory Support Service discrimination helpline. They can give you advice about your rights and how the situation can be resolved, they could also help you resolve the problem informally. They cannot give you legal advice but could explain what happens next and where to go for more help if you want to take legal action.

If you feel that you or your child have been treated unfairly, or not included, for another reason than the ones on this list, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. You can still try to resolve the situation informally or follow the school’s complaints procedure.

Transitions in Education

Sometimes, moving between stages of education (like the switch from primary school to secondary school) can create challenges for your child’s wellbeing. You can speak with your child’s current and next school to see if they can support the transition process.

If you are approaching the next stage of education and are having trouble identifying which school you like, visit our choosing a school guidance page for more advice.

In our supporting your child’s learning section, we have information about early years and the transition to nursery and from nursery into school.

The charity Young Minds have useful resources about secondary school transitions, and transitioning from school to further education.

The School Run also has some useful advice about transition between phases of education for children with SEND.

If your child has SEND and they are struggling with the journey to school, or you are struggling to take them there, you may want to consider Independent Travel Training.

The Transition Support Service run workshops annually to give parents advice about the transition to secondary school. Schools often run similar workshops. The Transition Support Service also offer advice about transitions in education by phone and email. There are workshops provided by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information and Advice Service (SENDIASS) which give more advice about transitions in education if your child has an EHCP.

Other than these services, there is not specific support offered around problems with transition. If transition has led to problems, you can go to the normal place you would go to, to deal with that problem. For example if transitions between stages of education have negatively impacted your child’s mental health or wellbeing, you can see the Tower Hamlets Mental Health Section for information about how you can get support.

If your child is having a problem associated with changing school, and the school could not help, contact the Family Information Service and we will try and find the most appropriate place for you to go.

Advice about Exclusions and Managed Moves (a kind of transition) is on the Local Offer.