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West Norfolk secondary school receives award for work to prevent bullying

A West Norfolk secondary school has received an award recognising its efforts to prevent and respond to bullying.

Downham Market Academy has achieved the highest level possible in the Anti-Bullying Alliance's All Together Programme.

Deputy headteacher Mark Eastwood said they identified that staff perceptions of bullying "did not match those of students", prompting them to work on their anti-bullying processes, which has resulted in the award, of which they are "extremely proud".

Downham Market Academy.. (33635769)
Downham Market Academy.. (33635769)

To achieve the Gold status, they evaluated existing systems and approaches towards anti-bullying, and collected feedback from students before creating an action plan to address any areas needing to be improved.

Their action plan included an online form for students, parents and teachers to report bullying, the appointment of an 'Anti-Bullying Champion' and the development of a more comprehensive bullying log to identify trends or patterns.

Training staff has also been key, allowing them to recognise bullying, support victims and challenge perpetrators, as well as learning restorative approaches to reconcile victims and bullies.

Downham Market Academy's anti-bullying award (33633995)
Downham Market Academy's anti-bullying award (33633995)

A bullying response file has also been developed for each incident so responses can be monitored and reflected upon.

Mr Eastwood said: "We are all extremely proud at being recognised by the Anti Bullying Alliance with this award, particularly at the top level.

"We identified that staff perceptions of bullying did not match those of students so completing the self-evaluation and seeking opinions of our young people allowed us to realign our processes to better meet the needs of our students.

"Feedback from students and parents has been very positive already but we are determined to not become complacent and continue to make improvements."

In a letter to parents, confirming the new award, Mr Eastwood said they recently conducted a second audit and surveyed students again, who were "very positive" about the new systems.

These were then submitted to a panel of educators who reviewed their evidence and award the school the All Together status at Gold level.

"This is a fantastic achievement and far more than we hoped for when we started this process," the letter adds.

"The award is as a result of the collective responsibility that we all now take for creating a culture of safeguarding at the Academy where bullying is rare and students feel safe and confident to talk about their problems with staff."

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