How do you implement a whole-school anti-bullying policy? Headteacher Mark Vickers describes how Manhood Community College in West Sussex got everybody involved in the shaping of theirs during a campaign to stop bullying

In November 2004, Manhood Community College in Selsey, West Sussex, was placed in special measures following an Ofsted inspection which stated that bullying was commonplace throughout the school. The report concluded that action had to be taken immediately to tackle the problem and improve behaviour.

Just 13 months later, in February 2006, Ofsted wrote that: Behaviour has improved significantly. Pupils are proud of their college and a real sense of community exists that goes beyond lessons. Pupils are increasingly involved in the local community. The college council has developed into an active forum where pupils can contribute significantly to college life. The recent success in winning the county ‘Safer Place’ competition is recognition of the collaboration between staff and pupils that produced innovative ideas for dealing with bullying.

What had happened to bring about this transformation?

Student support services

In the autumn of 2005, I took over as headteacher and launched the Manhood Community College (MCC) student support service. I wanted to focus on the quality of relationships within the school, and engaged the children in devising and developing strategies to support each other.

Developed with input from students from the student council and under guidance from the senior leadership team, the MCC student support service – now called Your Voice Matters – consists of five key areas of support that pupils can utilise to address their concerns, so that they are put in direct contact with someone who can help them:

Pastoral managers
Two members of staff were appointed to take responsibility for the wellbeing of the pupils, one for Key Stage 3 and the other for Key Stage 4.

Dealing solely with student welfare and not restricted by a teaching timetable or workload, the pastoral managers are in a unique position to build relationships within the school so that pupils feel they can confide in them.

Students know their concerns will be treated confidentially and that the pastoral managers will work between pupils, staff and parents if necessary to ensure any matter is dealt with quickly and effectively.

Together, they promote the principle that, through talking and opening up to each other, we can solve our problems and make our lives easier.

Mentors

A mentoring scheme has been established, whereby a number of Year 11 volunteers mentor other pupils within the school.

Mentors offer a range of support services to pupils who might otherwise experience difficulties fitting in with their peers.

The mentors also:

  • help run the common rooms
  • support clubs after school
  • befriend vulnerable youngsters
  • sit with students during lunch and break times.

MCC support websiteA website was developed with input from the school council and partly written by the students themselves. The aim was to ensure that students perceived the website to be something that was created by and for them, so that they would feel comfortable using it.

Anti-bullying text number   

With the majority of young people now owning mobile phones, it is quite common for bullies to target their victims by sending nasty text or picture messages. We have set up a special mobile number to which pupils can forward any intimidating or nasty messages. These are then dealt with by one of the pastoral managers.

Message box

A post box has been set up outside the main office where students can place letters, anonymously or otherwise, about any concerns or issues they have. These messages will be picked up and dealt with by the pastoral managers.

Lessons

The range of services on offer mean that students who might not have been comfortable going to adults directly are now able to get help and advice. As a result we are seeing real progress in the school, which will become a specialist science college in September.

The main lesson from our work is that, for an anti-bullying scheme to work successfully, everyone – students, staff, parents and carers – must be proactive in shaping school policy around an anti-bullying message.

Your Voice Matters is offered to other schools as a comprehensive package consisting of:

  • training and recruitment of  pastoral staff
  • training and recruitment of mentors
  • technical and practical support in setting up a Your Voice Matters website
  • promotion and publicity.

www.manhood.w-sussex.sch.uk

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