This week is Anti-bullying Week, which places a really important focus on the prevalence of bullying and the damaging effects it has on children. At Southwold Primary & Nursery School, we dedicate a wealth of time and resources every year to preventing and eradicating bullying.
Anti-bullying Week is organised annually by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), a unique coalition of organisations and individuals united against bullying. Their vision is to “stop bullying and create safer environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play, and learn.” This is a vision that is shared by our school and The White Horse Federation.
Currently, our school has a comprehensive framework in place to prevent, counteract, and punish bullying. Throughout this week, children across the country will be taking part in lessons and activities that raise awareness of bullying, discuss how to identify it, and advise how to deal with it.
Last week, our school hosted anti-bullying ambassador training, which was attended by children and their supervising adults from four other Oxfordshire schools. Those in attendance had been nominated and selected to take a pupil leadership role in promoting a culture of kindness throughout their settings, with an emphasis on filling the role of anti-bullying ambassador.
The training was led by Claire Pike and covered how bullying is characterised (STOP: several times on purpose), what the law says about bullying, and our right to be safe at school. The training also resulted in each school having a child-friendly policy and action plan.
At Southwold, our children planned a variety of activities taking place this week as part of their campaign against bullying. Our slogan for this week is 'Man in the Mirror', as we are focusing on this year's Anti-bullying Week theme 'Change Starts with Us'. The first activities began last week, as children made a 'positive reflections' display which featured a mirror at its centre. The display is placed in the school entrance hall with the intention of encouraging children and parents to say something positive to themselves to boost their self-esteem and then pass on compliments to others.
This week, our school's nominated anti-bullying ambassadors will be known as 'kindness catchers', and they will be on the look out for natural displays of kindness happening among children and staff at the school. When a display of kindness is spotted, the child involved will be awarded a kindness sticker and their act of kindness will be posted on a 'good deed news feed' board for others to read. We are also asking children to sign a pledge this week, showing their commitment to being an active bystander - or, more appropriately, an 'upstander' - in school and online to stamp out the 'no snitching' culture that often prevents people from speaking out against bullying.
Our other activities include kindness lucky dips, taking part in Odd Socks Day yesterday to celebrate diversity, and giving the children access to a suggestions jar, called 'the jar of hearts', so they can make suggestions on how to promote an atmosphere of kindness in our school.
Mrs Izzo, SEND learning mentor, said: "We are so proud of our young people taking this courageous stand against such an important issue. We feel it is incredibly important to set our focus on prevention rather than fix in regards to bullying. From the youngest to the eldest pupil, all are encouraged to show kindness and other value-based themes in all we do at school, at home, and in the wider community. We want to create an atmosphere of kindness, and we recognise that change begins with each and every one of us."
Although this week is an opportunity for us to focus and address the issue of bullying, we would like to reassure parents, pupils, and staff that every effort is being made throughout the year to make our school a safe, enjoyable, and bullying-free environment.