Primary schools across the Eastlondonlines boroughs joined the fight against bullying this week.
Anti-Bullying Week, running from November 13 to 17, was part of a wider campaign coordinated across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), estimated to have reached over three-quarters of schools and 7.5 million children in the UK.
This year’s theme was ‘Make a Noise’, reminding students and adults alike that staying silent is part of the problem.
Councillor Chris Barnham, Lewisham Cabinet Member for Children and Young People told Eastlondonlines: “There is absolutely no place for bullying in any school or workplace and it’s important to speak up and tell someone if you feel like you are getting bullied or can see that someone else is.”
Barnham added: “Initiatives such as Odd Socks Day from the Anti-Bullying Alliance help us to celebrate our differences and make sure that bullying gets noticed and talked about.”
Odd Socks Day, during which pupils come to school wearing colourful, mismatched socks to celebrate being different and unique, has celebrity support.
Children’s band Andy and the Odd Socks helped catapult the idea of odd socks as a celebration of differences and a symbol of solidarity against bullying or discrimination. This year, they launched a new song called ‘Make A Noise’.
CBeebies presenter Andy Day who leads the band, said in a press release: “… it’s cool to be different and stand up against bullying! Let’s rock our odd socks and make a noise about bullying!”
While Odd Socks Day is typically celebrated on the second Monday of November, ELL schools chose different days throughout the week.
Bonner Primary School in Bethnal Green and Mile End and Howard Primary School in Dering Place, Croydon, for instance, kicked off the week with Odd Socks Day on Monday, while St Paul’s Whitechapel celebrated it on Wednesday. Kelvin Grove School in Sydenham and Colvestone Primary School, in Hackney decided to have Odd Socks Day on Friday to close out the week.
Schools also featured an array of other activities designed to cultivate dialogue around bullying. Understanding the line between banter and bullying was a predominant concern.
Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said: “Banter is a fun part of communication, but too often bullying behaviours are dismissed as ‘just banter’.”
Over a quarter of teachers say face-to-face banter in schools is a serious problem, yet 84 per cent of them receive no training on how to deal with it, finds ABA.
“I’ve been at Twin Oaks Primary [School] this week for a visit and had a great morning talking to the pupils about the difference between banter and bullying, and what we can do about it,” said Barnham.
The primary schools’ efforts were part of wider measures to end bullying, with charities such as Croydon’s Legacy Youth Zone reiterating they are a bullying-free zone, Lewisham Health and Care Partnership signposting to anonymous mental wellbeing apps, or Tower Hamlets & City Special Educational Needs Disability Information Advice and Support Service linking to informative websites.
The donation drive continues, with ABA urging residents to contact their local MPs and ‘make a noise’ demanding teacher training and anti-bullying leads in every school as well as full documentation of bullying incidents.