Anti-Bullying Week 2021

Kindness is more important today than it has ever been. The isolation of the last year has underlined how little acts of consideration can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us. ‘One Kind Word’ was the chosen theme for Anti-Bullying Week. Whilst anti-bullying is a constant theme throughout the year – a point made very eloquently in Monday morning’s Middle and Upper School assembly – it was an opportunity for the pupils in class 4O to open up the discussion and pave the way for the many activities which have taken place this week. The theme of odd socks to demonstrate and remind us of the importance of diversity, respect and kindness was well received by pupils. The assembly began with asking questions relating to a rather stunning vase of flowers adorning the table at the front of assembly helping the boys to understand how the different colours, scents, shapes and beauty of each individual flower contributes so importantly to the whole.

On Thursday and Friday, all of our Form Teachers in Main School led sessions with their pupils on the key message of defining and then tackling the issue of bullying and the part we all must play within the Durston community in our anti-bullying work. We are following the national anti-bullying theme of ‘One Kind Word’ this year, along with ‘Kicking Around Kindness’. The boys have been engaging in circle time activities, discussing resources and presentations, as well as engaging in practical activities such as producing a class version of the One Kind Word trailer video, found here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYS-liGv2IY, and making One Kind Word Flags to display in the classrooms.

In Pre-Prep we all became ‘Kindness Knights’, where we took the Kindness Knights Oath and were inducted into the Knighthood of Kindness. We completed a selection of fun activities during our Enrichment and PSHME lessons – decorating and designing our own badges and book marks, constructing a castle, writing stories, reading and discussing the morality and meaning of books and quotes. On Thursday we had our ‘Kindness Knights’ assembly. We shared all the wonderful photos submitted on the VLE of Pre-Prep boys dressed as knights and/or performing acts of kindness within the home and in the community. On Friday we each received a certificate to celebrate the week and to reiterate that kindness can be shown in so many beautiful ways – through words and actions, however big or small. We encouraged the boys to “remember to throw kindness around like confetti!” and that kindness is a choice and that you can choose to be kind each day.

The themes of diversity, inclusivity, respect and kindness as well as equality of opportunity are themes which run as a thread through all the activities. As adults, we talk often about the importance of being outstanding role models to the boys in class and around the school. I have said before that my first impression of the culture of Durston was not just the brilliant work ethic of the boys and staff here, but also the quality of the relationships between them and their teachers.

As is right and proper, Durston House has zero tolerance of abusive behaviour under whichever guise it occurs, whether between pupils, between adults and pupils or between adults themselves. With so much now in the news and the public consciousness regarding Everyone’s Invited and Black Lives Matter, our role at school is to focus continuously on the role of educating our pupils on the critical importance of respect, consent, kindness, tolerance, understanding and appreciation of those around us irrespective of gender, race, age, disability, religion or belief. This is included throughout the curriculum at Durston and especially through delivery of the PSHME and RSE (Relationship and Sex Education) classes, and RE (Relationship Education) in the younger years.

As parents and adults of course, we all carry that same responsibility in modelling the types of behaviours we expect of the boys, whether that be on the side lines of a football or rugby pitch or at the school gates. An encouraging and kind word of support or empathy has ten times the power of an angry exchange or an unkind comment.