Anti-bullying ideas

7th October 2005 at 01:00
* Involve students in planning events for Anti-Bullying Week. Part of this might involve them rewriting the school's anti-bullying policy in pupil-friendly language.

* Establish what students understand by bullying. The formal definition suggests it must be persistent, so occasional rough and tumble in the corridor doesn't really count. It is best to work out a clear definition of bullying in all its permutations before tackling any survey work, and also make it clear what timescale the survey refers to. As part of Anti-Bullying Week, the survey's results may be skewed - so make it a benchmark against which to measure subsequent pupil research.

* Incorporate anti-bullying messages across the curriculum. The ABA tips sheet suggests ways to incorporate these into poetry, dance, drama and citizenship. There is also a list of useful fiction that features bullying - go to www.anti-bullyingaliance.orgresources

* Get everyone to draw an outline of their hands on paper and label the fingers with the names of five people they could turn to if they were being bullied.

* Get students to map the playground and other parts of the school in terms of its safe, neutral and unsafe areas. The information derived from this can be used to bring about change.

Develop proper playground games and provide playground equipment - boredom is a prompt for the sort of behaviour which can develop into bullying.

Case study

"Anti-bullying measures must be part and parcel of a school, they cannot be just stapled on," says Vince Doherty, assistant headteacher at Langdon Secondary School in Tower Hamlets.

He catalogues some of the elements that build the school's inclusive and protective culture - in particular, the highly developed and well-staffed pastoral systems based on heads and deputy heads of year, supported by a team of learning mentors. Vince also celebrates the sophisticated peer mentoring scheme that has become completely embedded in the school structure over the past five years.

"Becoming a mentor is not automatic - it is a major achievement," says learning mentor Yasmin Patel. "We ask for volunteers and whittle them down to about 16. That whittling takes place during a five-day intensive training programme involving multi-agency sessions."

"We have to help people solve their problems themselves," explains Shuena Mohamed (15), "and there's no doubt Year 9s find it easier to talk to us than to older people - though we emphasise we can't keep things secret that may be endangering them."

"It is a very good thing," adds Arnaud Mpeke (15). "I am proud of helping other people. More peer mediators are needed in other schools."

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