November brought National Anti-Bullying Week into focus at the Friary as staff and students took part in a variety of activities to underline the importance of ‘Choosing Respect’, which was this year’s theme.

Assemblies throughout the week were student-led, with 10D2, 9G1, 9J2 & 10S1 each doing a brilliant job in highlighting the cost of bullying and what we can all do to stamp it out.

A key message is to be an ‘Upstander not a Bystander’ – that ignoring bullying can be just as harmful as actively joining in. An ‘Upstander’ is someone who steps in to help the person who may be being bullied. This might be by reporting it to an adult, asking if they’re alright after the incident or, if it’s safe and won’t escalate the situation, saying they don’t think it should be happening.

This also applies online, and ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ – a national approach to tackle cyberbulling – was launched and discussed with students as part of form time activities ongoing throughout the week.

There are a group of students at the Friary especially dedicated to being ‘Upstanders’ on bullying. Student Peer Mentors (pictured) are there to help, advise, listen and encourage people to do the right thing, whilst also being excellent role models themselves.

The Peer Mentors ran an Upstander v Bystander House Quiz Competition, and promoted the Wicked Young Writer Awards, which is a national competition. They also raised money in aid of the Anti-Bullying Foundation by selling wristbands at lunchtimes.

The school joined in ‘Wear Odd Socks Day’, a countrywide event which celebrates diversity, and involved local primaries by launching a ‘Choose Respect’ poster competition for Year 5 and 6 students. The House Debating competition also saw Year 10 debate whether social media is the worst type of bullying.

Mark Drury, Assistant Headteacher, said: “No matter how rare bullying may be, no-one can be complacent. It was fantastic to see so many students directly involved in Anti-Bullying Week. Over a hundred students were actively involved in assemblies, and the Peer Mentors have really raised the profile of their excellent work by running a variety of activities throughout the week.”