15 students from Northgate descended on Ormiston Venture Academy on 2nd May to be part of an Anti-Bullying training session run by the Diana Award an sponsored by Facebook.

There were students from 7 schools in attendance, including Thetford Academy, Ormiston Denes, Iceni Academy and Ormiston Venture Academy.

We had students from Year 7 to 9 attend, some had even experienced bullying themselves in the past. They all had one common aim, to make a difference and help those who are being bullied.

When they arrived, our students sat together and mixed themselves up in the year groups. They all gained a goody pack which included an Anti-Bullying Ambassador badge, pen, pencil, notebook, wristband and training booklet. Paddy and Paul from the Diana Award ran the session. To begin with they were shown a couple of videos about the Diana Award, what they do and also snapshots of pupils talking about their experiences of bullying.

It was then time for some ice-breakers including one where as a group they had to decide if the answer was A, B or C. One question was related to the percentage increase in cyber bullying incidents reported over the last year and another about how much screen time young people have on a day to day basis. A lot of the training included elements of cyber bullying as this is one of the more prominent forms of bullying with high school children at the moment. There were discussions about whether social media is a good thing or bad thing too.

The participants were then split in two, with half staying inside to take part in a true or false quiz about social media and cyber bullying and the other half going outside to do some parachute games. It was a chance for students to let others know how people tend to perceive them but also the qualities they felt they had as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors. Northgate students came up with qualities such as a good listener, kind, thoughtful, someone who puts others first and many more.

It was then time for a break before the teachers went off for their own training session and students continued with theirs. Next up was a self-esteem boosting activity. Students were encouraged to write nice things about each other on post it notes and stick them to each other’s backs. They weren’t allowed to look at them until the end of the activity, but then they discussed how the comments made them feel. On the flip-side, they then talked about how comments of a negative nature that some people put on social media make them feel.

Some students in the session then shared their personal stories of being bullied. One of Northgate’s students felt brave enough to do so. He said that he joined a group chat on WhatsApp, he was invited by a friend from other school. There were some people from his old school on the group chat and others he didn’t know. He mentioned that some people were making comments about each other, some of them hurtful. One got his number and started sending unpleasant messages. He said he didn’t feel safe and therefore removed himself and blocked people.

The student session gave our team the chance to work through the training booklet, discuss what an ambassador is and what they want to achieve as ambassadors. They also started to think about ideas to put in place once back at school. Alanna, who was elected as Lead Ambassador after pitching to the group, said that they want to do workshops with students, staff and parents. Working with the Year 7s in particular to look at staying safe online, cyber bullying and the effects of bullying.

Well done to all the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors who took part in the training. They had to take in a lot of information but have certainly come back with a spring in their step, ready to start putting some of their ideas into action. Thanks to Dr Gollop and Mr Darlow for taking everyone and to Mrs Holt who will also be working with the team of Ambassadors. If anyone else wants to be part of the Anti-Bullying Ambassador team, please speak to Mrs Holt or Dr Gollop.

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