Talking shuts school bullies up

9th January 2004 at 00:00
Circle time at Blackwell primary in Alfreton, Derbyshire, helps children learn to get along and practise their speaking and listening skills.

All pupils, except the nursery class, take part in up to three circle time sessions each fortnight.

The 191-pupil school, in a former mining village, has seen a dramatic turnaround over the past five years. It was the school with the highest year-on-year improvement in 2002.

The school's Office for Standards in Education report last year praised its use of structured discussion sessions which have "helped to almost eliminate bullying and conflict".

Nick Hague, who became headteacher in September, continued Blackwell's use of weekly class sessions and insisted every class holds a circle time session every other Friday as part of the personal and social education timetable.

Mr Hague said: "Like everything else, to be effective, circle time has to include some teaching. It is not just a case of sitting down and talking with children."

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