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Bullying Awareness at Network International School

Bullying Awareness at Network International School

Following a focus on community and inclusion through International Week at the end of Term 1, a focus on Bullying seemed the most appropriate topic for the first Parents’ Coffee Morning of Term 2. Therefore, Tr Jon spoke to parents about what we mean by bullying, what we do about it and how parents can support.

Network International School Yangon - Anti Bullying Coffee Morning

What is Bullying?

While we strive to maintain a safe and respectful environment at Network International School, it is important to acknowledge that, like all educational institutions, we are not immune to occasional incidents of bullying. We firmly believe in being proactive and addressing these issues when they arise. It is our commitment to create a culture where bullying is not tolerated, and where students feel supported and empowered to speak up. We work diligently to foster an atmosphere of kindness, respect, and inclusion, and our aim is to continue building on this positive foundation to ensure the well-being of all our students.

Both parents and students can get a little confused over what is classed as bullying. There is a simple acronym to help with the definition: STOP - Several Times on Purpose. Bullying is when someone is targeted and it is when it happens repeatedly.

This can take many different forms. To highlight just a few:

  • Repeatedly calling someone names;
  • Spreading rumours about someone to others around the school;
  • Being overly physically aggressive with someone whenever playing football at snacktime;
  • Sending multiple targeted messages on Discord to an individual;
  • Regularly excluding someone from activities;
  • Multiple comments made about race or religion

In all these cases, an individual is being victimised; and it is not just one occurrence.

In contrast, the following examples are not bullying:

  • Calling someone a name;
  • Making a one-off joke about someone;
  • Not choosing to work in a group with someone;
  • Not liking someone;
  • Telling someone that they’re not invited to a party;
  • Arguing with someone over an issue.
Network International School Yangon - Secondary & Sixth Form

While these are examples of where a student is behaving inappropriately to another student, these are not bullying. We would still challenge them and help students to better understand why they are wrong, but they are not classed as bullying.

Who is involved in bullying?

There is no one profile of who gets bullied: it can be anyone.

Equally, there is no one profile of who is a bully. As much as we would like to think that our own children could never be a bully, children sometimes can make poor decisions and can end up bullying someone else, either consciously or subconsciously. 

There are many reasons why someone may bully someone else. It may well be that they are looking for attention and by targeting someone else, they are achieving that. Related to that, it may be that they are trying to fit in. It can often be down to a sense of insecurity where trying to have power over someone else gives an illusion of security, and it may be down to a need to have something or someone to control. This is often the case where someone is a victim of bullying themselves. This may not be obviously seen, as they may be bullied in a different environment to where they are doing the bullying in school. It may be at home from an older sibling, relative or driver; in a sports club outside school; or a tuition centre. A child also often bullies others because they lack empathy, so their defence is “I was only joking. It was funny.” and struggle to see the point of view of the victim.

What are the impacts of bullying?

Again, there is no one answer as to how someone will respond when they are the victim of bullying.

Those who are bullied are at increased risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and lower academic achievement. Typically, there is a change in behaviour, although not always, as the child may be trying to hide it.

What do we do about bullying?

Our approach can be split into prevention and response.

In every child’s Student Diary is the school’s Kindness Charter, which they should each sign. This sets our expectations for each and every student and that “we are committed to fostering a culture of kindness and respect”. It explains that “we believe in creating an environment where everyone feels safe, valued, and free from bullying” and that everyone should “treat every individual with respect, kindness, empathy.” Every student should have read this at the beginning of the year to understand our position. However, our Kindness Charter allows us to review it with any individuals who are not behaving according to our expectations and allows students to reflect on where they are and are not meeting the Kindness Charter.

Network International School Yangon - Secondary & Sixth Form

An important part of the Kindness Charter is also that it clearly states that everyone has “a responsibility to speak up against bullying”. No student should accept bullying when they see it. It is not acceptable to be a bystander when observing bullying in person and it is not acceptable to be a bystander when observing bullying on a Discord chat for example. We want all students to “stand up for those who are being treated unfairly or experiencing bullying”.

I reminded all students of this is Assembly at the beginning of Term 2 and Assemblies are another way that we can ensure students are educated about bullying and understand our position. Assemblies can provide this message through Whole School Assemblies or Key Stage Assemblies

In International Week, Tr Sophie delivered an Assembly to Key Stage 3 students about diversity and inclusion. In that, she talked about the UK Equality Act of 2010 and protected characteristics, focusing on why we should respect differences within our Network community, but also in preparing students for international readiness when they go to universities, wherever that may be. She also talked to students about being inclusive both in person and online, and how everyone should think before sending online messages: If they wouldn’t want Tr Carole to read it, then they shouldn’t send it.

Tutor time is an important time in the school day, as it provides the opportunity to discuss important topics. These might include bullying specifically, but also ideas around community, inclusion, kindness and respect.

Tutor time is also an important time in terms of our response to bullying. A child’s tutor is one of the most important people in their education: they will meet them every day and get to know their typical characteristics. This means that the tutor is the most likely person to notice if there is a change in a student’s behaviour and therefore identity if there is a potential problem.

Network International School Yangon - Secondary School

Tutors play a key role in our support network within the school and we hope that students feel that there are people that they can go to if they are worried or upset. This may be through older students, such as House Captains and Student Presidents, or through staff, particularly Tutors and Heads of House, but it could be any teacher.

As staff, we will communicate discreetly if there are concerns about a particular student. That way, these concerns are dealt with swiftly and with the aim of drawing minimal attention to all involved. Our Rewards and Attitudes to Learning Policy is a tool in our response to bullying, as we follow these procedures in tackling behaviour that does not meet our expectations, including bullying.

What can parents do?

We would ask that all parents model the behaviour that we expect from our students, so model kindness and inclusion. Parents should also talk to their children and develop a safe space where their child feels that they will be listened to. Responsibility should also be reinforced, especially when it comes to ensuring that our students are not bystanders.

If your child approaches you to say that they are being bullied, please encourage them to talk to a teacher, ideally their tutor. However, you can also speak to your child’s tutor directly to talk through your concerns. It is important to recognise that your child may only be telling one side of the story, so we will always investigate without jumping to conclusions. If your child is a victim of inappropriate online activity, please.

Network International School Yangon - Secondary Parent Meeting

Where your child has been involved in bullying, it is important to understand that their behaviour was wrong for yourself. Alongside our conversations with them, you should speak to them and reinforce why the behaviour was bullying and why that is unacceptable, highlighting how they should treat other people. In the event of cyberbullying, it is sensible to put restrictions in their online freedom.

No-one ever wants to think of their child as a bully. We do not want any of our students to be involved in bullying. However, despite all of our best efforts, it does happen. It is, therefore, important that we work together in tackling those issues and ensuring that it does not happen again for both the bully and the bullied. 

What next?

There are two more Coffee Mornings in Term 2. On 17th November, Tr Tracy will be joined by some students for a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths), following STEM Week. 

At a different day and time, Tr Jacob will be hosting the Coffee Morning on Thursday 30th November and talking about Post-16 Options: A Levels v IB v Foundation Course. This will precede the Options Fair for Years 9 and 11.

Jon Barker
Head of Secondary
Network International School

  • Secondary School
Network International School Yangon - Anti Bullying Coffee Morning

Following a focus on community and inclusion through International Week at the end of Term 1, a focus on Bullying seemed the most appropriate topic for the first Parents’ Coffee Morning of Term 2. Therefore, Tr Jon spoke to parents about what we mean by bullying, what we do about it and how parents can support.

Network International School Yangon - Coffee Morning

As we approach the end of the year, each year group will be looking at next year, when they move up through the school. It is a time of transition for all students in the school, so in the final Coffee Morning of the year, Tr Jon spoke to parents about the various student transitions that will be occurring across the school in the next couple of months.

Network International School Yangon - Teaching and Learning Coffee Morning

Over the last few months, the Secondary teachers at Network International School Yangon have been working on updating our approach to Teaching and Learning. With this exciting development, Tr Sophie launched the new Teaching and Learning Policy to Secondary parents at the most recent Parents’ Coffee Morning and explained how this would affect their children’s education from next year onwards. 

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As the end-of-year assessments approach at Network International School Yangon, Tr Sophie spoke to Secondary parents at the recent Parents’ Coffee Morning about how they could help support their children and complement what is being done in school.