Harnessing pupil voice to build effective anti-bullying strategies

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Staff and pupils at Hendy County Primary School overhauled their anti-bullying policies, achieving a zero-tolerance environment in which all pupils feel safe and heard.

Number of learners: 164
Age range: 3-11
Date of inspection: December 2017

Information about the school

Hendy C.P. School is in the village of Hendy near Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, and serves the village and the immediate area.

There are 164 pupils aged between 3 and 11 years of age on the school register, including five nursery pupils.

Around 10% of the pupils are eligible to receive free school meals, which is below the national average.  Around 16% of pupils have additional learning needs, which is lower than the national average.  Very few pupils have statements of educational needs.

Around 29% of pupils come from Welsh speaking homes.  The school provides education through the medium of Welsh or English in two separate streams.  There are four classes in the Welsh stream and three in the English stream.  Pupils in the English stream learn Welsh as a second language.  Very few pupils are learning English as an additional language.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Following a difficult period where the school had been removed from the category, ‘in need of significant improvement’, a new headteacher started in September 2014.

An initial focus meeting with parents and pupils highlighted the need to tackle unresolved bullying incidents.  The behaviour of a few pupils was also a cause for concern and there were several fixed term exclusions. 

The school has established and maintained a wide range of innovative arrangements, which promote anti-bullying across the whole school.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The focus meetings led to a complete overhaul of the anti-bullying policy, systems and strategies across the school at all levels.  The process involved all stakeholders.  This incudes facilitating clear opportunities for pupil voice, for example to create and review the pupil version of the anti-bullying policy every year.

An initial anti-bullying task force was set up in the school.  This group comprised of the headteacher, a teacher and pupils.  The group was carefully chosen and included one pupil who had been bullied and one whose behaviour was a cause for concern and was at risk of being excluded.

Pupils on the taskforce decided to create a video policy, as they felt that this would be inclusive and understood by all children in the school.  They worked with the IT co-ordinator and created a child‑friendly video version of the anti-bullying policy that included every pupil in the school.  The group presented the policy to the whole school and to the governors and parents in an open evening.  The policy has clear guidelines of what is bullying and what pupils can and should do if they are being bullied.  This led to the school motto, ‘gyda’n gilydd cymaint mwy’- ‘together so much more’.

The video policy is revised and adapted every year and now includes guidance for cyber bullying and on-line safety.  It involves members of the the school council and ‘grwp.com’ (the digital champions group) and the participation of every single pupil in the school.  The adaptations reflect any additional support, advice or systems available in the school.  Members of the production team share the policy with the whole school in assemblies, for parents and governors through the website, and in governor meetings and open evenings for parents.

The statutory school anti-bullying policy (adult version) was reviewed at the same time and involved all stakeholders in the process.  A draft policy was uploaded to the school website for consultation so that staff, parents and governors could respond.

If any bullying incidences arise, the revised policy and procedures includes a satisfaction survey for parents and pupils, so that school is aware of any areas it needs to improve on when dealing with issues.  All instances of bullying are recorded and monitored.  School leaders and teachers follow up any issues and ‘check-ins’ take place with pupils and parents to ensure that issues are resolved.  Open lines of communication are valued and maintained.

A whole school approach is strongly evident through the school with a wide range of systems in place that promote positive behaviour, the development of pupils’ wellbeing and a zero tolerance to bullying.

Targeted training for staff has increased the school’s capacity and expertise for dealing with issues such as bullying and wellbeing.  All staff attended restorative justice training and this has a positive impact on staff confidence in conflict resolution and for dealing with issues on the school yard and in class.  The headteacher and several members of staff attended training in emotion coaching and attachment awareness.  This has led to a whole school focus on modeling language and implementing consistent strategies that encourages empathy, healthy brain development and guidance.  Nearly all pupils understand boundaries and take responsibility for their actions.

All staff are actively involved in a range of playground games at break times and model how to play and how to resolve incidents.  Pupil ‘Playground Peacemakers’ are trained in mediation and run playground games at break times.  Training updates take place every term following the initial training programme to maintain the momentum and make changes as necessary.

In response to pupil voice in key stage 2, where many pupils felt uncomfortable recording their worries in a worry box, a computer app was introduced.  This allows pupils to record their feelings and send messages to a trusted adult within the school.  The app is available for use by the pupils at all times in school.  This extra ‘private’ line of communication is valued very highly by all pupils in key stage 2.

Super Ambassadors introduce and lead the ‘hawl y mis’ special whole school assembly.  These focus on a variety of different human rights and the rights of the child.  Each right is always linked back to the right to be safe and free from harm.  Sensitive issues such as homophobic and racist language and bullying are tackled safely through personal and social education (PSE) and ‘circle time’, where pupils interact and discuss issues in a safe and supportive environment.  Pupils in Years 5 and 6 attend workshops run by ‘Show Racism the Red Card’.  

The school is aware that bullying can always occur.  However, an ethos of ‘zero tolerance’ is clearly established in the school and as one pupil said ‘in our school anti-bullying is not for one week but is for every day’.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

All pupils have a clear understanding that they have the right to be safe and free from harm.

In a recent confidential pupil satisfaction survey :

  • all pupils are confident that feel safe and valued in school
  • all pupils are confident that they would be happy to tell someone if they are being bullied
  • all pupils are confident that they would be listened to if they are being bullied, and the school would deal with the matter.  

Pupil participation and building positive relationships are an integral part of the school.  Visitors comment on the special ethos of happiness, manners and care within the school.  Pupils’ behaviour in the school is outstanding.

Nearly all pupils understand they have a voice.  Nearly all pupils have a very positive attitude to their learning.  Pupil voice is very strong through out the school and this has had a positive impact on pupil confidence and engagement. 

How have you shared your good practice?

Pupils have presented their pupil friendly anti-bullying policy in a county anti-bullying youth conference.  The conference comprised of secondary schools and youth groups across the county. The school was the first primary school to be invited to the annual conference.

The school and pupils have shared the pupil policy and strategies with schools in the county Healthy Schools network.

The school’s strategies and pupil anti-bullying policy have been shared through the ERW regional consortium ‘areas of excellence’ programme.

Links: http://www.hendy.amdro.org.uk/