HUNDREDS of Cheshire parents whose child has been bullied have slammed their school for failing to handle it well, according to a new survey.

Ofsted contacted 1,550 parents in Cheshire West, which includes Northwich and Winsford, and 2,178 parents in Cheshire East, including Middlewich, Knutsford and Wilmslow.

Out of 496 parents who said their child had been bullied in Cheshire West, 22 per cent either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the way the school handled it.

In Cheshire East, that rose to 29 per cent of 778 parents whose child had been bullied.

Linda James, founder of anti-bullying charity Bullies Out, said: "Bullying is an issue of strategic, as well as operational, importance. It is not ‘kids being kids’ or ‘part of growing up’.

"It can devastate lives and seriously affect a person’s academic, social, emotional and physical well-being.

"For a school to reduce bullying, the emphasis must be placed on creating a culture of acceptance, tolerance and respect."

Linda added that bullying can cause feelings of self-doubt, depression and even suicide, making it vital children and parents have confidence in schools to deal with the problem, and that no school can claim to have no bullying.

Five per cent of parents surveyed in Cheshire West said their child was not happy at school, along with seven per cent in Cheshire East.

Meanwhile, four per cent of parents in Cheshire West said their child did not feel safe at school, compared to six per cent in Cheshire East.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Schools should be safe places where children are taught to respect each other and staff.

“The Government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying, whether it is in the playground or online, is unacceptable. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, harm 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.”