SCHOOLS have united in a bid to rid classrooms of bullying and stop children suffering in silence.

Scores of Oxfordshire schools have signed up to a new anti-bullying charter, committing to 10 pledges including to listen to pupils and challenge discrimination.

The charter was drawn up by Oxfordshire County Council and backed by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, with schools invited to claim a framed copy to put up on site.

Hilary Hibbert-Biles, the council’s cabinet member for education, said: “Bullying of all descriptions remains a big problem for many children, in Oxfordshire like everywhere else.

“By formally signing up to a countywide set of values, schools can focus on ensuring those are embedded in every aspect of school life.

“It sends out a very clear message to their pupils and families that bullying will not be allowed to go unchallenged, and no one should ever feel the need to suffer in silence.”

Chipping Norton School and neighbouring primary schools St Mary’s and Holy Trinity were the first to officially sign up last week.

Yvonne Stallwood-Barnes, head of St Mary’s, said: “We were really keen to sign up.

"All schools should provide a safe and secure environment for learning to take place.

“This charter has all the key points that all anti-bullying policies should have, and it summarises the way we are all working to make sure schools are safe and happy places to be.”

Seven-year-old Darcy Portman, a pupil at St Mary’s, said: “Bullying should stop because we don’t want everyone getting hurt.

“We don’t want our schools to be full of bullying, because bullying is an unkind thing to do.”

Chipping Norton School pupil Will Porter, 12, added: “Knowing you’re going to a school that doesn’t tolerate bullying, and will care for you, will help deal with effects of bullying.

“It can help you feel cared about and a lot more comfortable.”

Almost 40 schools had already signed up to the charter by Thursday, just days after it was first circulated by the council.

Speaking at an education scrutiny meeting that day, a council officer working on the project said: “We’ve had an excellent response

“Schools have been very keen to sign up and felt it sends out a strong message to children and parents.”

Councillors praised the scheme, including Ian Jones who said the charter would ‘cause people to stop and think’.

Mrs Hibbert-Biles said: “All schools have a responsibility to tackle bullying. We know the majority do a good job in supporting their pupils and families.”

Part of the charter states: "Difference is actively and visibly celebrated and welcomed.

"It is acknowledged that the school community includes disabled people, people of different races, ages, faiths, backgrounds and people who will be LGBT."

Schools can ask to sign up to the charter by emailing