This week our whole school has been using ‘Anti-Bullying Week’ as a theme to look out for those around us and stand up for the wellbeing of others.
In the Pre-Prep, this year’s theme is ‘Harmony Week’, with PSHEE sessions, assemblies and daily circle times to work on cooperation, empathy and celebrating acts of kindness. Children across the school were spurred on to offer kind gestures to each other throughout the week – be it helping to tidy the classroom, writing kind notes to friends, comforting someone if they are upset or allowing a peer to go first in a game.
In the Junior School, assemblies took place on Monday morning led by Senior School pupils who talked about kindness, building community and looking out for others. Later in the week, Y6 pupils led an assembly about cyberbullying. Next week, Y5 pupils will embark on the school’s annual trip to the Royal Courts of Justice, where they will be assigned roles in a mock trial for a case concerning cyberbullying.
In PSHEE lessons during the week, Junior School pupils shared their own experiences and looked at strategies and scenarios that children might encounter and respond to, understanding why people bully, the concept of bystanders and power struggles.
All pupils in the Senior School have received assemblies encouraging self-awareness and empathy, being mindful of harmful ‘jokes’, considering what drives people to say or do hurtful things, what we can all do to minimise bullying, and learning from our mistakes.
Following the introduction of our award-winning Bystander Intervention course for sixth formers three years ago, the concept of being an active bystander – someone who steps in safely to challenge problematic behaviour – has influenced our PSHE work across the school, looking at friendships, healthy relationships and challenging micro-aggressions.
“Although the context of the course originated in anti-sexism, the messages are widening each year to involve younger pupils in an age-appropriate way – using the same language but differentiating the examples we use,” explains Sara Sheldon, Head of PSHE in the Senior School.
Read more about Highgate’s Bystander Intervention course in our Voices blog series here.