Helping young people to create a positive atmosphere at all times

Kindness balloon
Kindness balloon

Odd socks and kindness balloons have provided students at a Chichester school with a chance to learn and reflect.

Westbourne House School invited children and staff to wear odd socks to mark the first day of Anti-Bullying Week, which ran from November 12 to 16.

This year, CBeebies star and Anti-Bullying Alliance patron Andy Day and his band Andy and the Odd Socks launched a new song in support of Anti-Bullying Week 2018.

Andy encouraged students to wear odd socks to school during the campaign to show their support and raise money for a good cause.

In addition to taking up the sock challenge, Westbourne House School held special assemblies and events all week across the whole school to highlight the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s theme for the week ‘Choose Respect’.

According to spokesperson Lainey Franks, the school also used this event to encourage children to learn ‘how to think for oneself’ and celebrate respectful behaviour and kindness.

With this in mind, pupils aged two to seven not only enjoyed singing the ‘Odd Socks’ song, but also celebrated what makes each child unique, as well as discussing how all children need to feel valued and included.

In the prep school, Year 4 pupils planned an assembly exploring the difference between unkindness and bullying by role playing various scenarios. Dressed as superheroes, they ‘saved the day’ by making ‘bullies’ understand the negative repercussions of their behaviour. Lainey said their assembly concluded with the message ‘choose to be kind’.

Meanwhile, Years 7 and 8 created and distributed kindness balloons containing ‘kindness challenges’ ranging from ‘design a playground game for the Y3 pupils to play’ to brightening up the day for various members of teaching staff and thanking kitchen staff.

Troop leader Daisy Doherty said: “It was a lovely scene under the blue sky, with huge numbers of juniors jumping up and down on a whole sea of brightly coloured balloons to get their kindness challenge.”

Sam Pollock, head of pastoral care at Westbourne House, said: “Respect and kindness are important components in the school’s moral code ... and the Anti-Bullying Week is a fantastic opportunity to focus and remind our children that these principles are a key part of the way our school community interacts and thrives.”

‘We can all show respect’

This year, Anti-Bullying Week has highlighted interactions not only between children and young people but also amongst adults.

A spokesman for the Anti-Bullying Alliance, a coalition of organisations and individuals which work together to reduce bullying and create safer environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn, said children continue to suffer on the receiving end of hurtful behaviour, including that by grown-ups.

According to a survey carried out for the alliance this October, the vast majority want adults to be kind.

The poll of 1,001 11 to 16 year-olds indicated 98 per cent would like adults to show more respect for each other, even when they disagree. Forty one percent said they had seen adults bullying each other in the last six months, while nearly half said they had been bullied face to face and 34 per cent online at least once during the last six months.

Meanwhile, the equivalent of one child in every classroom said they were being bullied daily, face to face or online.

Alliance director Martha Evans said: “The feedback from children and teachers on the theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2018 told us that older children wanted an anti-bullying message that worked for them.”

Martha said secondary school children are all too aware there are differences of opinion, personality clashes and rivalries that can mean they do not always get on with each other.

“In this context, it is important that older children realise that, despite their differences, it is possible to show each other respect and that bullying is a behaviour choice that can always be avoided. It has been really encouraging to see how children and young people have taken this message to heart. They want to send the message loud and clear that, even when we disagree with others, we can create a positive atmosphere where we can all grow, play and learn.”

The alliance encouraged children to ‘Choose Respect’ during Anti-Bullying Week. On Thursday it teamed up with The Royal Foundation and the Duke of Cambridge to support their Royal Cyberbullying Taskforce to shine a spotlight on cyberbullying by holding ‘Stop Speak Support Day’, which encouraged young people to become upstanders when they encountered bullying online.

For more, see www.antibullyingalliance.org.uk