As well as this project seeking to prevent bullying taking place at the school, it also sought to integrate new pupils into the school community.
Through various pupil voice groups, surveys and consultations, it was identified that there was a need to address bullying in school, out of school and more work needed focusing on integration in school for new arrivals. The ‘Young Evaluators’ was a task group originally set up to research into pupil’s and staff’s thoughts and feelings about bullying in school.
They were trained as mentors by a consultant agency before carrying out any research. They produced a 25 page document of their findings to senior management at the school. Lauren Davies told the Community Education Awards: “For their work they have received two awards; Diana Award and a Cardiff Against Bullying Award.” They can now add the Cooper Tire Action Against Bullying Award to their list of honours.
From their report to senior management an action plan was then drawn up which involved older pupils becoming peer mentors. These are pupils that have been trained to talk to younger pupils about their problems during time outside of the classroom. A peer mentor room was set up in the school which provided a ‘safe place’ for younger pupils to speak to a mentor. Additionally, with the help of BeatBullying UK, ‘Cyber Mentors’ were trained. This saw two ICT rooms opened in the school, one for Cyber Mentors and another where children could access a monitored chat room where they could speak to mentors over the internet if they didn’t feel comfortable talking to someone face to face.
‘Guiders’ were also trained and these were KS3 and KS4 pupils who could help new arrivals into the school. Lauren said: “Here at Cathays High School 76% of our pupils come from ethnic communities with 65% of our pupils having a home language other than English. There are over 50 nationalities represented in the school and many of our pupils not only arrive new to the school but new to the country. There are now two Guiders per form group”
Explaining how the project has gone above and beyond the expectations set, Lauren explained: “Pupils have been given opportunities to lead on projects and present in school and in the community. Incidents of bullying have decreased and the attendance of new arrivals has increased from this time last year.”
Staff at the school are now believed to be more aware of pupils thoughts and feelings about bullying in the school. This has resulted in a better relationship between staff and pupils. Those involved in the Pupil Voice project have been able to gain new skills and new arrivals to the school are able to feel more comfortable in their first weeks of school.