Nearly half of all pupils have suffered from some form of bullying at school, according to Ofsted.
A study of 1,350 pupils by the education standards watchdog showed 58 per cent of those in primary schools and 41 per cent in secondaries said they had been "picked on" or bullied.
The most common forms of bullying related to aspects of the victims' physical appearance, including hair colour, weight and the wearing of spectacles.
A handful of pupils said they had been bullied because of their sexuality. A greater number replied it was for "being different" or perceived as "weird". One pupil wrote "because people thought I was something that I was not". The report says pupils often dismiss offensive language – such as the word "gay" to mean rubbish" as "banter" despite the fact its usage could be prohibited in school rules.
"What is clear is that these pupils had experienced an upsetting interaction with another pupil that they felt was important enough to write down for inspectors," the report says.
The report calls for better training for teachers in tackling bullying.
"Schools must develop a positive culture so all pupils learn in a happy and safe environment," said Susan Gregory, director of education and care at Ofsted.
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