Which anti-bullying strategies are the most effective?
All schools experience cases of bullying and dealing with bullying behaviours is something that can overwhelm staff and become exhausting. This has led to many schools appointing anti-bullying members of staff within their teaching and support teams.
10 Ways To Improve Your School’s Anti-bullying Practice
I was given the anti-bullying team to lead in my NQT year and I got to work transforming our policies and practice. Here are some of the successful strategies we put in place.
Look over your schools anti-bullying policy and consider whether it has been shared with all staff and parents.
Get staff to annotate the policy and feedback what is working well and what needs to be improved then implement these changes and empower staff to follow the updated policy.
Allow the student council to lead a child-centred anti-bullying policy and have all students review it before it is published on your school website. Ensure the policy is written in child speak and be displayed in key areas across the school.
3. Appoint ambassadors
Sign up student anti-bullying ambassadors and make sure that this is a prominent role within the school separate from student council/peer mentors.
Their role will be to meet weekly with staff to look at decreasing bullying behaviours across the school and serve as bullying mentors for those who are victims of bullying behaviours and those who are displaying bullying behaviours.
4. Train up
Train your anti-bullying ambassadors to have a full knowledge of bullying and its effects. There are many high profile and accredited courses to take your anti-bullying ambassadors on – give them badges, allow them privileges outside of the curriculum like taking part in whole school events, open evenings, presentations etc.
Schools can have Diana Award trained anti-bullying ambassadors who provide 1 day training courses for students and staff and are recognised by Ofsted and the DfE.
Another award that schools can go for is the National Award for Excellence in Bullying Intervention.
5. Steering group
Have a staff anti-bullying steering group. This should include staff from all areas of the school structure and will ensure that the policies are not driven from the top down. Ideally, these should meet at least 6 times a year.
The school anti-bullying lead will then share elements of these meetings with the student anti-bullying ambassadors so that they can continue to make improvements across the school.
6. Define bullying
Train all staff in the definitions and effects of bullying and use the ambassadors to train all staff and signpost staff to online free CPD for learning about bullying.
Make it clear within your team that all staff are responsible for tackling bullying behaviours and that change can only be made with the support of the team not just the anti-bullying lead and ambassadors.
Schools can sign up to become an All Together School through the Anti-Bullying Alliance which offers auditing tools, student well being questionnaires, online CPD and regional training for staff.
Sanctions for bullying behaviour should be clear, fair and easy to follow.
These should be written by the anti-bullying staff and student team in liaison and then approved by SLT and the whole staff team. Once approved launch these as part of an assembly and display them in every classroom/communal area.
Reporting bullying behaviour should be an accessible process for both staff and students.
Students should be able to report bullying behaviour for themselves or others anonymously. Provide students with easy to complete slips which they can post to the anti-bullying team discreetly in the school.
Those students who wish to tell a member of staff or an anti-bullying ambassador should be able to do so and be taken seriously.
Use SIMS or online behaviour monitoring to pass these messages onto the anti-bullying team.
9. Make anti-bullying messages high-profile and regular
Ensure that anti-bullying messages are relayed throughout the academic year via the PSHE curriculum and assemblies.
Celebrate Anti-Bullying Week every November but don’t let the anti-bullying drive slip after this.
All classrooms could have a display or charter in relation to bullying. For example, the drama department could have a scheme of work of role playing bullying and ICT and computing can have modules on cyber bullying.
Keep driving home the anti-bullying messages and broadcasting the support structure available. You will soon see students who feel safe and secure in their learning environment who are able to identify clearly what bullying is and what they can do if they are concerned about bullying behaviour across the school.
Empower your staff and students to stand up to bullying and not let your school become one where the detrimental effects of bullying take over.
The outcomes of our anti-bullying work have been very encouraging. In our staff and student questionnaires (July 2016) we identified that:
- 100% of staff and students now understand the definition of bullying
- 84% of pupils identify as feeling safe at school, an increase from 34%
- 100% of staff feel that they now know how to report and respond to bullying
- 100% of students know how to report bullying and who can they speak to if they are concerned about bullying behaviours
Further information, support and resources
Information about Anti-Bullying Week can be found on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website here.
See the research on ‘undercover anti-bullying teams’ here.