Anti-Bullying Quality Mark

At Deansfield we are very proud of the wonderful community we have established.  Our children are very responsive to work with and the vast majority of behaviour in school is consistently outstanding, with children feeling secure and safe.  However, we are always looking to improve our practice and we are currently working on developing even more comprehensive and extensive processes and procedures for the prevention of bullying, which our staff and pupils have jointly defined as:

“The persistent and continued intimidation and abuse, either verbal, physical or via social media, carried out deliberately by an individual or group with the intended purpose of harming another individual.”

As a result, we are currently working towards achieving the Anti-Bullying Quality Mark at Deansfield, a long process which takes most schools between eighteen months to two years to achieve. The process has been an invaluable opportunity to analyse and reflect deeply on current practice and the good progress we are making towards this is already having an impact in school.

The Anti-Bullying Steering Group meets regularly to oversee developments, whilst the Pupil Representatives meet additionally with Mrs Blyth and are actively involved in putting new initiatives in place.

Major developments so far include the following:

Policy

One of our key priorities as we work towards achieving the Anti-Bullying Quality Mark has been to review and re-design our Anti-Bullying Policy to ensure it is fit for purpose and effective, with a clear impact on safety and well-being in school.  Following a long period of consultation with all school stakeholders, including staff, parents and governors as well as pupils, a new Policy was finally published at the beginning of Summer Term 2015.  This Policy is based on the conviction that we need to make the prevention of bullying our core priority, outlining the key procedures in place in school to ensure this happens.  At the same time, it also provides clarity about procedures in place to deal with any bullying concerns that may arise and the support available to pupils and parents involved in these instances.

After consultation with the Pupil Representatives on the Steering Group, it was felt that it was important to provide a children’s version of the Policy which would be more accessible for pupils in school.  As a result, we have also published a “Children’s Charter, with slight variations for EYFS and Key Stage One pupils, outlining our key commitments and procedures for keeping children safe in school.  Teachers have introduced these to their pupils and they are displayed in classes and around the school to ensure they remain high profile for children.

The school Anti-Bullying Policy is available for parents to read in the Policies section on our school website.

Curriculum Development

Our curriculum overview now includes clear PSHCE programmes of study which promote the development of children’s social skills across the school.  Our PSHCE Subject Leader has produced a specific anti bullying strand,  called “Developing Positive Relationships”, which will provide a whole school focus during one term in each school year.  Our Computing Curriculum has also been revised to include a major focus on e Safety, an issue which is also followed up in school assemblies.

Improvements to Playground Provision

We continually strive to ensure that playtimes provide the best opportunities possible for purposeful play and forming positive relationships and friendships within a culture of mutual respect.  To this end, we have increased the range of playground equipment available to the children to play with.  We have also increased the range of lunchtime clubs on offer which now ensures that Key Stage 2 children have access to indoor provision as well as our younger children.  In addition to this, School Council were involved in a project looking at the School Garden area and investigating ways to ensure it provides a space for children wanting peace and quiet or an opportunity to sit and read with friends.  Their work was presented to the rest of the school in an assembly and it is encouraging to see the children responding to their input.

Pupil Involvement:

Regular pupil surveys provide us with an invaluable source of information and a chance to get children’s viewpoints on safety in school and any issues they may have.  It is encouraging that the overwhelming majority of pupils tell us that they feel safe and happy at school.  However any issues which arise (such as use of the garden) are then followed up so that improvements can be made. 

In Summer Term 2015 we introduced our Peer Mentors to provide an additional layer of support at playtimes for any vulnerable children.  The Peer Mentors are a group of Year 6 pupils who share the responsibility on a rota basis for being available at playtimes in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 to offer support for any child who needs it.  This could, for example, be because they are experiencing friendship issues, having difficulty playing successfully with other children or may have more significant concerns about inappropriate behaviour or even bullying from another child but would prefer to communicate this initially to a peer rather than an adult.  Peer Mentors are distinguishable by the lanyards they wear and in Key Stage 2, two of the Mentors remain in the garden area so that children know where to find them should they need help.

Of course, the Peer Mentors do not replace the need for adult support for children, particularly where more significant issues may be identified.  To this end, all the Mentors have received training so that they know when to refer concerns to an adult and when to seek further support for any children they speak to.  Peer Mentors will also have regular feedback meetings with senior members of staff to support them and to ensure they feel confident in their role.  The initial response of pupils in school to the Peer Mentors has been overwhelmingly positive.  They really appreciate their presence and acknowledge the difference this makes to their feelings of safety and well-being in school and we look forward to continuing this initiative in the academic year 2015 – 2016 when we will appoint and train a new group of Mentors.

Restorative Approaches

Consistency in the way behaviour incidents are dealt with is essential to their effectiveness.  Adam Wilson, a member of teaching staff, attended comprehensive training in restorative approaches to behaviour management, a process which directly supports children to take responsibility for their own behaviour and seeks to repair relationships where necessary and change behaviour for the future.  This training was shared with all members of staff, including members of support staff and Midday Meals Supervisors.  It has enabled us to build on practice already in place and really tighten up our procedures for dealing with issues and has already proved to be very effective in practice.

Parent Involvement

Our Steering Group Parent Representatives receive regular updates and have a chance to share views at our meetings.  However, of course it is important that we continue to update all parents on our work by letter and information on the Friday Flyer and the School Website.  Earlier this year, we published a document for parents indicating clear channels of communication which can be used for any kind of parental concern.  We have also been able to offer parent workshops to inform parents about the procedures we have in place for dealing with behaviour issues and have most recently offered a meeting to introduce our work on restorative approaches.  We will hold meetings termly in the future to keep you updated on this initiative. 

We would of course welcome any views and comments you may wish to share with us as we continue to make progress towards achieving the Anti-Bullying Quality Mark and we will continue to keep you informed of future developments.

The Anti-Bullying Steering Group:

Samantha Steeden: Parent Representative
Jennifer Smith: Parent Representative
Jane Ashfield: Parent Representative
Tina Shaw: Support Staff, Midday Meals Supervisor
Anna Kamau: Teacher, PSHCE Subject Leader
Nicola Wilkes: Governor
Janis Blyth: Deputy Head Teacher
Pupil Representatives from Years 3, 4, 5, 6

Anti-bullying launch assembly