Renfrewshire Council

MEDIA RELEASE: Renfrewshire's anti-bullying policy informed by parents and pupils

Arkleston play champs  Parents, head teachers and pupils have all been consulted on Renfrewshire's new anti-bullying policy.

The updated document, which was approved by councillors at the Education and Children's Services Policy Board, has been revised by Renfrewshire Council in line with new national guidance.

The new policy restates how bullying behaviour in schools must always be challenged and outlines the aim of creating learning environments where bullying can't thrive.

Each school will have a member of staff acting as the anti-bullying lead.

It also outlines the importance of offering children and young people friendly, safe and confidential ways to raise concerns about themselves or others and be supported to ensure there is little or no long-term impact. This includes support for those who have shown bullying behaviour.

Head and Depute Heads across Renfrewshire will attend workshops to discuss the new policy, while there will be additional anti bullying training days for other school staff, delivered by Scotland's anti-bullying Service, Respect Me. It has delivered eight training days for the council since 2016.

Consultation on the policy, led by anti-bullying expert Brian Donnelly, a former director of Respect Me, revealed that more than 90 per cent of parents surveyed said that along with carers and schools, they shared equal responsibility to talk to their children about bullying.

Teachers across 14 primary schools held discussions with pupils from primary two to primary seven as part of the consultation process, while pupils from a further four schools took part in focus groups to give their views on bullying. 

Pupils could also give their views anonymously and a survey was sent to all parent council chairs.

All pupils mentioned having good teachers who made them feel safe and who they knew would help them, while some younger pupils were concerned at being seen as 'telling tales' if they reported bullying.

Some children said they didn't think being told to hit back was good advice and a number of senior pupils said they worried about parents overreacting.

Education and Children's Services Convener Councillor Jim Paterson said: "The safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in our schools is paramount, and the policy was updated after consultation with parents, schools and pupils.

"Bullying is never acceptable, but unfortunately it does happen and we are determined to tackle it through measures such as staff training and actions to prevent bullying behaviour from taking place, as well as supporting any pupils affected by it.

"If any child, young person or parent has a concern about bullying then they should speak to someone at school, whether it be the head or class teacher, a classroom assistant, or in some schools, a buddy or playground friend that is an older pupil.



'Play Champs' scheme at Renfrewshire school provides another listening ear for pupils

Meanwhile, one Renfrewshire school set up a Play Champs scheme in the playground three years ago for children.

The Play Champs Arkleston Primary School in Renfrew, who receive training, move around the playground and are accessible to any children who have a worry or concern and may feel uncomfortable telling an adult.

Head teacher Carolyn Crawford says the scheme has given pupils increased confidence, knowing somebody is there to listen to them.

She said: "The scheme evolved out of our buddy system where primary sevens support new primary ones in the playground. Buddies were required for the first couple of weeks to support the younger children, but as the weeks went on, the level of support required dwindled. There were, however  always one or two kids who wanted to regularly check in with their buddies,.

"We realised that this relationship between children was powerful, and decided to find a way to use it for the benefit of all children."

The champs report back to teachers Serena Kajla and Louise Farrell with any concerns raised by children and also any recurring issues.

The head teacher added: "While there are also lots of adults in the playground who are there to listen, the play champs provide another set of kind and caring ears.

"Approaching an adult when already you are feeling vulnerable can be quite scary for some children. "Play champs help to breaks down any barriers in communication and ensures everyone has options when expressing their thoughts and feelings."

 "It's not about going out and initiating play, it's about health and wellbeing and just being there for each other when things are difficult."

The head teacher said the initiative has been positively received by the children and when the play champs committee themselves did an audit, they reported that any arguments were resolved quickly, with children feeling safe.

Carolyn Crawford added: "One pupil said that being a play champ had really helped her feel more confident so it's helping the children who are the champs as much as those who are using the facility."


Articles published 3 September, 2018

Picture caption: Play champs at Arkleston Primary in Renfrew