In May, Stockport Academy was selected by the Diana Trust to be one of its Anti-Bullying Showcase Schools of 2015.
The recognition of being a national leader for preventing and tackling bullying in schools is a highlight of a year that has seen the school continue its strong – and at times innovative - stance on the issue.
“The fundamental principles of making a school successful is making it safe and secure, and that means you’ve got to try your very best to eliminate bullying. However, taking a stance on bullying doesn’t just happen; it takes a lot of hard work from staff and students,” says Principal Frank McCarron.
Indeed, during the school’s recent Ofsted inspection in March, inspectors noted that students are “unanimous in the view they are completely safe in school”. Furthermore, they “have total confidence that they are well cared for and that if they ever need support they will receive it”.
That support is available from a number of outlets and Stockport Academy’s Anti-Bullying Ambassadors form a key part of the structure that is in place to ensure nobody has to feel alone.
On a day-to-day basis, students who have been appointed Anti-Bullying Ambassadors carry out a number of roles, including the mentoring of Year 7 students and simply being there if younger members of the school need someone to talk to.
Stockport Academy opens up an ‘Equality Room’ every lunchtime for Year 7s to speak to their mentors, or to just play games and be with their friends. It’s an opportunity for the Ambassadors to interact with potentially vulnerable students and identify possible issues that may need referring to members of teaching staff.
That said, it is understandable that not everyone will feel comfortable talking about problems they are having with another human being. With that in mind, there are post boxes on every floor of the building where students can write anonymous reports about concerns they have that they or someone else is being bullied. Similarly, the Academy’s website links to the SHARP (School Help Advice Reporting Page) system, which enables users to submit reports online that will then be followed up.
Anti-Bullying Ambassadors are also responsible for organising school-wide events to raise awareness of the issues around bullying. Anti-Bullying Week in November and Anti-Homophobia Week in May are two examples of this, with students organising a variety of activities from bake sales and balloon releases to dance performances and fun runs to promote a message of inclusivity and positivity.
It is an approach that has not gone unrecognised outside of the Academy’s immediate community. The Ambassadors were invited to Facebook’s London headquarters in July to celebrate their efforts with celebrities including Diversity and Ronan Keating, while the group has also received an Anti-Bullying Champion Diana Award.
During Stockport Academy’s ‘Kindness Day’ – another event recently organised by the Ambassadors – a film crew followed them around for the day to find out exactly how they made a difference around the school.
Plans are already in place for more and increasingly ambitious anti-bullying events to take place throughout the new school year. Despite such a successful year, everyone at Stockport Academy is aware they can’t afford to rest on their laurels – and that perhaps is the most telling sign that this is a school dedicated to completely eradicating bullying.