Anti-Bullying Week and workshops to challenge bullying
Anti-Bullying Week takes place on 11th November to 15th November this year, and 2019’s theme is ‘change starts with us’.
Led by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Anti-Bullying Week exists to challenge bullying. The purpose is to inform schools, children, parents and carers as well as other organisations about how bullying can be stopped. With 80% of schools celebrating Anti-Bullying Week in 2018, the mission clearly has a lot of support. But it is still up to each of us to do what we can to help.
At West End in Schools we have been running Anti-bullying drama workshops for the past two years, but we are constantly developing and improving the workshops based on feedback from teachers.
The workshops use a combination of drama techniques, activities and games to address bullying and encourage kindness. Sessions are differentiated for KS1 and KS2, but both of them encourage children to recognise different types of bullying and think about what they can do to prevent it from happening.
Drama is an especially powerful tool for this, because it creates an openness among the children taking part, while encouraging inclusivity and acceptance. (In fact, improvisation classes have even been found to help social anxiety among adults!).
From the first warm up, the workshop sessions encourage children to accept that everyone has ideas and nothing is a bad idea. Additionally, getting children to work in lots of different groups throughout a session emphasises that everyone can work with everyone. It’s about creating team players in a way that can extend beyond the session itself.
As the session continues, the focus shifts to bullying more specifically. The exercise ‘Where Do You Stand’ is used as a kind of debate corner, but in a way that opens up discussion points relating to bullying. KS2 might be asked to agree or disagree with ‘it’s best to keep it a secret if you’re bullied’, while KS1 examples might be ‘I only like playing with my best friends’.
This year we’ve also introduced a story-led element to the sessions. Both KS1 and KS2 look at situations in stories where a character might be left out, or is experiencing bullying, and the children imagine how it feels to be the different characters. In KS2 children look at quotes from stories including The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman, and The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf. What looking at stories achieves is it removes the element of blame and asks children to look at situations afresh.
Alternatively, for schools looking for something that can address bullying in a less direct way, this year we have also introduced two new book options to our Story Explorer drama workshop range:
Something Else by Katherine Cave - EYFS and KS1
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf - KS2
Both workshops look at anti-bulllying through a literacy lens, as the children explore the characters, themes and stories of these books which portray bullying and exclusion but ultimately encourage acceptance.
If you’re interested in booking either of these workshops for your school do get in touch. Either way, we will be celebrating Anti-Bullying Week with all our might this November .