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WI gets pupil out of jam

From stripping off for a nude calendar to decrying global warming alongside rock band Razorlight, the Women's Institute is enjoying something of a renaissance.

So it is no surprise to find that 10 members have teamed up with a Bradford on Avon secondary school to become foot-soldiers in the battle against bullying.

The pilot is based on the Quality Circle Time initiative, pioneered by educationist Jenny Moseley. The 10 women joined Year 7s at St Laurence school to discuss how to combat arguments and teasing.

Beginning with a surreal warm-up in which 11-year-olds and the over-60s pretended to be runner beans, the sessions progressed to an honest debate of classroom wrangles. "It was amazing how quickly they were bearing their souls," said Michelle Evans, form tutor.

The group discussed when they had felt bullied. One boy complained about name-calling and a WI member described how her "heart raced" as crowds from the local secondary school swarmed past her house.

"She said to me after the session that from now on she would look at young people in a new way," said Ms Mosely, adding that helping the older generation boosted pupils' self-esteem too.

Dawn Bennett, 70-year-old president for Bradford on Avon WI, said: "They spoke to us more casually than we would have done as children, but they were lovely."

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