Anti-Bullying Week and United Against Bullying: Resources and support

Written by: Martha Evans | Published:

Are we allowing pupils to ‘reach out’ about bullying? Ahead of this year’s Anti-Bullying Week 2022, Martha Evans looks at resources and funded support to ensure this work is embedded in your schools all year round

Bullying affects millions of young lives and can sometimes leave us feeling hopeless. Helping children to navigate relationships and arguments, and learning to empathise to avoid bullying, can sometimes feel like a relentless task. Each child needs to learn these skills which are as useful in life as many of the skills we teach in the curriculum.

Very often children don’t tell adults about the bullying they either witness or experience. This is one of the reasons that “Reach Out” has been chosen as the theme of Anti-Bullying Week 2022, which is taking place from November 14 to 18.

The theme came about following consultation with teachers and pupils by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), which coordinates Anti-Bullying Week every year in England and Wales. Teachers and children wanted a theme that empowered them to do something positive to counter the harm and hurt that bullying causes.

Following the success of the campaign in 2021 – when 80% of schools marked the week, reaching more than 7.5 million children and young people – I hope that Anti-Bullying Week will remind everyone, whether it is in school, at home, in the community or online, to reach out and give show each other the support we need.

As usual, schools will be able to download free teaching resources and themed assemblies. These will focus on the activities we can all take to reach out and stop bullying.

However, Anti-Bullying Week is not just a one-off event in the school calendar. We must continue to work hard all year round to ensure children feel safe at school.

When Anti-Bullying Week is marked in a “one-off” fashion, we hear that some children are just given a very basic assembly. With no strategic planning or involvement of young people, it can make children feel that bullying isn’t important to their school.

Evidence from the Early Intervention Foundation following a review of the effectiveness of school-based interventions on adolescent mental health shows that whole-school interventions are particularly effective in reducing bullying behaviour (EIF, 2021).

The report states: “A whole-school approach to intervention is particularly effective in reducing bullying behaviour and can have a long-term positive effect on traditional face-to-face bullying perpetration. There was also found to be promising evidence for whole-school approaches to improve bullying behaviour.”

Through a similar approach with our own programmes we have also seen significant reductions in bullying. Our previous whole-school anti-bullying programme, All Together, which had a particular focus on tackling the bullying of pupils with SEND, was independently reviewed and showed that:

  • Bullying reduced over the course of the programme, whether that was the experience of being bullied (victimisation) or pupils bullying others. The biggest reduction in bullying was reported by pupils with SEND.
  • Wellbeing improved for pupils involved in bullying (for both the child targeted and those who bully). The greatest improvement was for pupils who had reported being frequently victimised, then for those who frequently bullied others. The greatest improvement was for pupils with SEND and for those in receipt of free school meals.
  • Pupils reported feeling more positive about school after the programme compared to before. Feeling safer at school was particularly prominent for pupils with SEND.

One school that took part in the programme told us: “It enabled us to think critically about the journey our pastoral team has been on to embed anti-bullying strategies within our community, to evaluate meaningfully how effective those aspects had been and to use that detail to think about what our next steps needed to be. For example, we realised that we needed a more tailored approach for supporting students with SEND through bullying issues.”

So how can ABA help to give schools the skills to Reach Out to children about bullying all year round?

The ABA’s whole-school anti-bullying programme, United Against Bullying (UAB), funded by the Department for Education for the next two years, embeds practice to help to prevent and tackle bullying in schools.

It helps schools to take a whole-school approach to reduce and respond appropriately to bullying incidence and particularly focuses on reducing bullying of those most at risk, including those with protected characteristics. All schools in England can join for free and will be supported to become UAB Schools and UAB Leaders (see further information).

The programme will support you to take a strategic, consistent and effective whole-school anti-bullying approach throughout the year. It provides access to a United Against Bullying Hub, including:

  • A 360° audit and action planning tool.
  • An online pupil questionnaire to ascertain levels of bullying and wellbeing in your school.
  • Specialist tailored resources to support you to implement your action plan, including case studies.

ABA resources and also those of our programme partners and members will be available to support you to implement your whole-school approach, including:

  • Our free CPD online training, which includes information on how to tackle bullying of at-risk groups – such as our course on bullying and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller young people (see further information).
  • Our interactive anti-bullying information tool for parents and carers (see further information).
  • Advice, support and training from Kidscape.
  • Peer support programmes from the Diana Award.

So, we are asking schools to consider what they can do all year round to enable learners to reach out when they are worried about bullying.

Children and young people need to know there is help out there if they are being bullied. It starts by speaking openly to children about their experiences of bullying and encouraging children to reach out to someone they trust if they need to talk.

And it doesn’t stop with young people. From teachers to parents and influencers to politicians, we all have a responsibility to help each other reach out. Together, let’s be the change we want to see. Reflect on our own behaviour, set positive examples and create kinder communities.

The ABA is here to help you on your anti-bullying journey all year round and is looking forward to celebrating all your achievements in November during Anti-Bullying Week.

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