Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok… just keeping up with the different social media apps is exhausting, let alone dealing with the potential for unkind behaviour and bullying that they invite.

Couple that with judges’ comments on the numerous TV talent shows, very public spats between our beloved celebrities, or even the behaviour of our world leaders, and our children are exposed to some pretty poor examples of how to treat others and deal with any sort of conflict that arises in their lives.

Social media bullying

One of the drawbacks of social media is that everyone’s thoughts and opinions are readily available to anyone and there is a growing divide between viewpoints, ranging from our footballers’ stance on ending racism to what people should be eating with their Sunday roast!

There are examples everywhere of people attacking others for not sharing the view point that they hold. The sort of arguments that were once the preserve of an English sit-com’s brandy-fuelled Christmas dinner are now played out in full view of others, propelled by the safety of the keyboard and not even the consequence of being denied any trifle if they don’t pack it in!

Curriculum design

As part of the recent re-design of our curriculum, we asked every member of the school community to identify the characteristics and outcomes they felt were most important for children to develop during their time with us.

Empathy, diversity, preparation for a successful life, and kindness were identified and became key drivers behind our new curriculum. 

We based our curriculum around the UN’s Global Goals, which, alongside the #changemaker projects we undertake to help achieve these goals, empower our children to make a difference to their own lives, their community and their world, both now and in the future.

While the Global Goals are fantastic drivers, we also felt the children would benefit from support in developing stronger relationships with one another and knowing how to deal with conflict independently outside of the classroom.

To achieve this, we decided to introduce Anti-Bullying Ambassadors (ABAs). 

Diana Award anti-bullying programme

Ambassador training – part of the Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign – has built the resilience and character of our children by providing guidance in decision making, active citizenship, life and career skills.

The applicants also experience a real-world process, as in order to be appointed, pupils must write a letter of application and are then shortlisted to interview by a panel of members of staff.

At breaktimes, ABAs are easily recognisable by their green caps. They work across the play areas, taking responsibility for engaging with each year group and leading on games and activities, modelling how to be a great friend and how to organise games so that everyone is included, is clear on the rules and that everyone has fun!

The ABAs are also there to support children who might be feeling down or a bit lonely. They keep a watchful eye on our friendship bench where pupils can sit if they feel they need a friend or some help; and are a sympathetic ear for those that might need it – only for the children currently but we may extend this to SLT support in the future!

Finally, of course, they are available to support with conflicts that might arise. They model how children need to listen to one another, appriciate their point of view, acknowledge one another’s feelings and come up with a solution that resolves the problem – although the preventative work they do has had a remarkable impact on the frequency of these incidents.

Ambassadors also organise regular special events on the importance of friendship, tolerance, anti-bullying and simple acts of kindness.

They deliver lessons to all year groups, educating their peers about friendship, bullying behaviour and how to promote a culture that celebrates difference.

They also take the lead on anti-bullying and online safety campaigns and help to keep their peers safe. They are currently working to organise activities annually to celebrate National Anti-Bullying Week.

Anti-bullying ambassador Amelia (image above) says of her role: “It means the world to me to be an Anti-Bullying Ambassador. It is an important job in our school and I feel very proud to have been chosen.

You get to meet lots of new children and make a lot more new friends but you also have a lot of responsibility.”

Jamie Brewis is deputy headteacher at Stopsley Community Primary School and Nursery. Learn more about the school at stopsleyprimary.co.uk and follow them on Twitter @StopsleyPrimary.