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This week we welcome Second Master, Peter Hardy, with a guest blog.
This week is anti-bullying week and our pupils have been looking at what bullying is, the impact it can have on people’s well-being and why it is always unacceptable.
Anti-bullying policies and procedures are a requirement for all schools and it is important that they are clearly communicated and understood by everyone; staff, pupils and parents. It is also important that we, as teachers and parents, lead by example.
Bullying can take a number of different forms and is not always obvious to spot, even for those close to the situation. It isn’t just physical bullying that can be harmful; victims can also suffer from verbal abuse, gossip, isolation from groups, theft and cyberbullying, a problem that continues to grow as new technology emerges. Bullying can often occur within (former) friendship groups, as these develop and change over time.
At Bryanston every pupil has weekly one-to-one meetings with their tutor and while the focus of these sessions is academic and extra-curricular development, it is also an opportunity for pupils to discuss any other issues, for example feeling bullied by others.
Communication between housemasters/housemistresses (hsms), tutors and parents is key to identifying and tackling instances of bullying. While many victims of bullying may not speak up, either through fear of making things worse or through embarrassment of being bullied, it can become evident in other ways, for example a dip in academic performance or an unexpected reluctance to take part in extra-curricular activities. At home parents may also identify a change in their child and have concerns: raising these concerns with hsms as soon as possible can help tackle any issues in their early stages.
School Prefects also have a role to play in tackling bullying. It can be easier for a pupil to approach one of their peers than a member of staff and so Prefects can bring issues to the attention of hsms if necessary. In addition they act as role models for the rest of the school in treating others with respect and tolerance.
It is not about monitoring every interaction pupils have with each other, but it is about noticing when behaviour and relationships change, identifying pupils who may be vulnerable.
Our aim is to ensure that each pupil feels they have someone they can trust, whether that is their hsm, their tutor, the School Chaplain, staff in the Medical Centre, a Prefect, one of the School Counsellors or the Independent Listener, giving them the confidence to speak up, whether they are a victim of bullying themselves or have witnessed it.
It is also about enabling pupils to help themselves, by giving them the self-confidence and tools to overcome bullies both now and in the future.