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Stronger Together is a module for primary age students and at its core it focuses on understanding and building and keeping positive relationships. The prevalence of bullying is complex and difficult to accurately measure. ACER reported in February of 2015 that over one third of Australian Year 4 students reported being bullied at school about monthly, and a quarter told of it happening weekly. One thing is absolutely certain, we all agree bullying is a serious issue in schools, even if we disagree on the approach taken to tackle it.
It also goes without saying that all children need to feel safe. Feeling safe enables students to become better connected to their peers and in all situations at school. Their capacity to learn can also increase – children who are anxious about social situations find focusing and engaging within the classroom challenging. Remove or reduce that risk, children will potentially experience an increase in their engagement and enjoyment of school.
The Peer Support, Stronger Together, approach allows for a peer led dialogue about positive behaviours that work well for everyone. While at the same time seeing there are different approaches. And that’s okay. Because difference assists in building a positive and proactive approach to negative behaviours like bullying.
Student led discussions on building positive school relationships benefit and work alongside current whole school and classroom teacher based initiatives. These conversations allow for powerful reflection. Through the module’s eight sessions student leaders help develop the strengths and problem solving skills of their younger peers, which allows them to take action and responsibility for themselves and on behalf of other students.
Of course any peer led approach benefits from strong school policy and sector guidelines. It requires a whole school commitment and resource allocation that can be sustainably managed. Established school structures provide the fundamental foundation by which to build on.
Student led sessions are not without the vital support of school leadership, staff, and parent understanding and backing. Therefore, when all commit to building an inclusive school with the assistance of Stronger Together the opportunity to create a positive and safe school is only enriched.