Many people know what it is like to be bullied. It is, sadly, all too common – in both the worlds of children and of adults. As a parent, a perennial concern is what a school does to minimise bullying in the first place and what it does when bullying takes place.

 

Any good school that seriously wants to tackle bullying will recognize that bullying itself falls on a wide spectrum of negative behaviours. The key is to tackle negative interactions between children generally and have effective measures in place to deal with anti-bullying specifically.

At Maadi British International School, the vision and values of the school enshrine positive relationships at all levels and at all times within the community. The touchstone to this is the school’s five Personal Learning

Goals (PLGs)– five mindsets and behaviours that are recognized by all as key in developing happiness and success in life.

 

What are the 5 Personal Learning Goals (PLGs)?

 

Relationships– ‘We cooperate well with others’

Respect We value others and the world in which we live’

Reflectiveness‘We think about what we say and do’

Resourcefulness-‘We think of other ways of doing things’

Resilience-‘We always work hard and don’t give up’

ThePLGs form a way of being for all‘way of being’ for all – with Respect, Relationships and Reflectiveness standing as the pillars of positive interaction.

 

What does MBIS do to promote positive behavior?

 

Further, a Positive Behaviour Policy captures all the school does to secure strong, harmonious relationships. In addition to the PLGs, the school actively works to promote positive behaviour through a range of embedded strategies:

 

Verbal praise

A key tool used by the staff and given to children whenever possible. Reinforcing language is used, this goes beyond the usual ‘Well done!’ or ‘Good Job!’ It is designed to tell the children what behaviour is working well and why. After teaching and modeling class expectations, teachers might say to the whole class, “I see many people walking in line with hands by their sides and voices quiet. That helps students in the other classes keep learning.” Or to an individual student, “Taylor, you waited until Axel finished speaking. That showed him respect and let him share his idea fully so we could all learn from it.” Reinforcing language is clear, direct, genuine, respectful and specific. It provides an ‘internal guidance system’ for children. Other strategies to promote positive interactions include

 

School reward systems

This includes an online system called Class Dojos – where children can tap their avatar on the classroom interactive whiteboard to register a dojo; and Praise Postcards – which are awarded ‘on the spot’ for particular examples of exemplary work, effort, attitudes, and behaviours. Comments are written on the postcard and sent home with the child to share with parents.

 

Weekly Assemblies 

for the whole school afford opportunities to illustrate, explore, expand and discuss the Personal Goals in meaningful, memorable ways.

 

Assemblies 

These celebrate the learning, attitudinal and behaviour successes of children from each class, through personal commendations from their teachers with certificates awarded on a rota basis to cover the entire curriculum across the year. All children have strengths, which will be recognized and celebrated during these assemblies. Teachers ensure that every child is given the opportunity to celebrate their success.

 

Circle Time/Learning for Life 

Sessions each week allow for structured class discussion of personal and social matters, with reference to desirable behaviours and best choices.

 

Home-School Communication 

This ensures that parents are informed about the successes of the school and their own child’s achievements (Weekly Information Letter; Home-School Book; Praise Postcards/e-mail from teacher).

 

Termly Reports 

These celebrate children’s positive attitude and behaviour.

 

Classroom Behaviour Displays 

This provides a visual reference point for the children: designed to encourage them to maintain good behaviour throughout the day. All children start each day with a green card next to their name. Instances of negative behaviour will cause the child to move through a school system for dealing with this.

 

The MBIS Head Boy and Head Girl 

They are appointed each year from Year 8 following an application/interview process. These students are selected for their personal qualities and their ability to serve as role models to the student community.

 

Playground Marshalls 

They are selected from the student body to be trained in leading playground activities, supporting children in need of a friend, dealing with minor disputes and acting on reports of more serious incidents.

 

The School Council and Annual Student Surveys 

These surveys allow all students direct input to the shaping of school activities and to development of the Positive Behaviour Policy.

 

MBIS House Colour Teams (Blue – Water, Red – Fire, Green – Earth, Yellow – Air) 

These teams foster a sense of team spirit, cooperation, and friendly competition. Each child is allocated a house upon entry to the school (by Admissions). Regular House events take place throughout the year, covering a wide range of the curriculum. Winners of any event will receive an award – displayed on the MBIS House Team board.

 

 

What does a good Anti-Bullying Policy entail?

Alongside the development of positive behaviour policy in school, it is essential that a distinct Anti-Bullying Policy is in place. Good schools have such a policy freely accessible on their website for all to see. A good policy is built on the central ideas that:

  • all children and adults understand what bullying behaviour is (and what it isn’t)
  • bullying is unacceptable in a caring, supportive school environment
  • everybody is responsible for recognizing bullying and taking the right actions
  • all bullying behaviours are dealt with consistently and effectively
  • all adults understand the school policy
  • children and parents have the assurance that they will be supported and a positive outcome reached

 

What happens if Bullying does happen at MBIS?

 

Bullying is not the odd occasion of falling out with friends, name-calling, or arguments. Bullying is done several times opurpose (think, STOP). When bullying does occur, everyone should be able to report this and know it will be dealt with. To this end, MBIS – like other good schools – is a TELLING school. Children know this and, in the rare instances that bullying behaviour happens, they tell a trusted adult. Following policy, the staff will listen, evaluate and act. A set of clear procedures ensure that the bullied child is heard and made to feel safe and secure. Witnesses are called and accounts are taken. The alleged bully is then dealt with according to a set of defined steps. Essentially, the bully is made to understand that such behaviour is unacceptable, the effects it has on the bullied child and those around him/her and that the behaviour must stop immediately.

Appropriate ‘Next Steps/Sanctions’ are applied, with the parents of the bullied and the bully informed and involved. An apology is secured and wherever possible, reconciliation. A behaviour support programme may be initiated – where the bully is helped to modify their actions over a timed period. In cases of severe bullying, a good school will always be resolute in suspending the bully for a defined time period, with expulsion an option.

A robust anti-bullying policy will include whole school initiatives and proactive teaching strategies to support a positive learning environment with the aim of reducing/preventing the opportunities for bullying to occur. These include:

 

  • Regular class assemblies on the theme of anti-bullying
  • Regular meaningful class discussion of the MBIS Golden Rules in relation to anti-bullying
  • Ensuring an ‘anti-bullying’ day as a high profile event each school year
  • Awareness raising through regular anti-bullying assemblies
  • A PHSE (Personal, Health & Social Education) scheme of work from Reception to Year 8 used to support this policy
  • Using curriculum opportunities to explore bullying (eg. history, literature, current affairs, etc)
  • Class ‘Circle Time’ on bullying issues
  • Developing children’s emotional literacy by teaching them a wide vocabulary of words to describe their emotions. This enables them to express their feelings, helping them to resist attempts at bullying. Being able to understand and express emotions reduces conflict between children and makes them less inclined to misinterpret others’ actions, which can be a factor in bullying.
  • A ‘Friendship Bench’ in the playground for children who need a friend/someone to talk with
  • Children being read stories about bullying
  • Using drama activities and role-play to help children be more assertive and teach them strategies to help them deal with bullying situations
  • Proactive break time duty by adults
  • Organizing regular anti-bullying training for all staff.
  • Undertaking annual questionnaires and surveys to monitor the extent of bullying in the school and the effectiveness of the anti-bullying policy

 

A school should be a safe, friendly, happy and nurturing learning environment – where all children can flourish academically, personally, socially. When a school fully achieves a positive behaviour culture, it becomes something ‘real’ – a tangible atmosphere. Any parent looking to choose a school who is anxious about bullying should visit the school in person, walk the corridors, talk with the children, the teachers, and the school leaders. If a school has a truly positive behaviour culture, you will feel it for yourself and everyone will certainly be proud to talk about it!

 

MBIS is extremely proud of the ethos that charactersises our school: it is a true oasis where children from 52 nationalities learn and play happily together every single day. A recent report from a UK school inspection team stated that ‘The behaviour is excellent’, a finding fully supported by parent and student questionnaires, but most importantly – by the smiling, happy faces of all of our children!

 

‘At MBIS, you are not just part of a school, you are part of a family – you are part of something special’   Year 8 Student

 

Check out our Anti-Bullying video

– Made by the children for the children of MBIS!

 

 

 

Richard is Head Teacher at Maadi British International School. MBIS promotes a child-centred, learning-focused approach through a dynamic creative curriculum