STANDING up for yourself without getting into trouble is one of the "cool in school" skills pupils at a Fife primary are rapidly learning as part of an innovative anti-violence strategy.
Council figures reflect a growing trend of violence against school staff but a pilot project at Lumphinnans community school is bringing home the need for more acceptable behaviour in class.
One P5 pupil says: "Cool means being calm, friendly, fair, kind and responsible." Another said: "We learnt that bullying is not cool."
The cool in school package was written by Kate Whiteley, a senior teacher, backed by Heather Hamilton, the headteacher. Four other schools will deploy the P6 to S1 unit-based package after Easter and the authors hope it may be a commercial winner.
Mrs Hamilton said that the idea grew out of the realisation that children who do not necessarily exhibit aggressive behaviour still need to learn how to deal with aggression. "We decided this should be a specific part of the curriculum in this school and we ran a pilot with primary 5," she said.
Through discussion and role play, and using character drawings, children identify behaviour that is aggressive, weak or cool and then practise cool responses.
As well as its mainstream provision, the school supports children with social, emotional and extreme behavioural difficulties who are referred from 30 other primary schools in West Fife. Staff support pupils in their own school or at Lumphinnans.
Mrs Hamilton said that parents and teachers had praised the approach. One parent described it as "brilliant" and said: "It's a child-friendly approach to helping children realise that they can be assertive without being aggressive."
The package complements the Scottish Executive's "dealing with disruption" CD-Rom.