Pupil Voice Week: 25th - 29th September

Pupil Voice Week 2017 will be celebrated by schools both nationally and internationally with the theme ‘It’s Your Voice’.


What is Pupil Voice Week?
Coordinated by tootoot, Pupil Voice Week is designed to encourage primary and secondary schools to raise awareness of key issues, such as bullying, cyberbullying, racism, mental health and e-safety issues, that children and young people may face on a daily basis.

This year the theme is ‘It’s Your Voice’. We aim to celebrate the diversity and individuality of The Pupil Voice, encouraging pupils to use their voice be themselves and create positivity for those around them.

Pupil Voice Week will also have a focus on pupils' mental health, ensuring that they are encouraged to use their voice to speak-up about their mental health and wellbeing.

Pupil Voice Week calls upon pupils, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, councils, companies and policy makers, to join together and explore ways that they can empower pupils, giving them the knowledge and tools they need to feel confident to use their voice.

Why is it important?
Within the past year 1.5 million children and young people have been bullied.

Children and young people can be bullied for all manner of reasons from appearance and accents to gender and race. And although not their fault, it can still have a huge impact on their self-confidence, mental health and wellbeing.

As much as 36% of children and young people who have been bullied said it made them feel depressed and at least half of suicides amongst young people are related to bullying,

This is why we want to celebrate the pupil voice, the fact that’s it’s good to be different, and that a pupil’s voice is the most important part of them.

When is Pupil Voice Week?
Pupil Voice Week is the 25th – 29th September 2017 with activities running throughout the week in schools, organisations and online.

Celebrating Your Voice – Our Call to Action!
We want Pupil Voice Week 2017 to empower pupils, helping them to understand that their differences are to be celebrated.

With this in mind we’re challenging our staff, partners (and their staff!), and schools to share with us what makes them unique! All you need to do is print-out the speech-bubble task and tell us what makes your voice unique. Is it your Confidence? Kindness? Friendliness? We can’t wait to see. Take a picture, boomerang or video of you and your speech-bubble and share with us on social media by using #PupilVoiceWeek and tagging @tootootofficial. You can download a blank speech bubble here

How else can we get involved?
There are a range of ways you can support with Pupil Voice Week:

  • Use the resources on pupilvoiceweek.co.uk to help inspire and shape your own campaign.
  • Speak to your schools and partner organisations, let them know about Pupil Voice Week and the ways that they can get involved.
  • Write a blog raising awareness of the importance for pupils to know it’s their voice and it’s good to be unique! – make sure you send it to us so we can share it too!
  • Send a newsletter to your key audience groups, encouraging them to participate in Pupil Voice Week.
  • Contact local press and key decision makers, speak to them about the importance of raising awareness with pupils nationally, and ask them to help promote the week.
  • Join the conversation on social media during the lead-up to, and throughout the week, using the hashtag #PupilVoiceWeek and tag @tootootofficial.
  • Send us pictures or videos of what you get up to, to pupilvoiceweek@tootoot.co.uk, and we’ll feature them across our social media – you might even make it into next year’s video!
  • Speak to your schools and partner organisations, let them know about Pupil Voice Week and the ways that they can get involved.

    Need some help getting started?
    We have a range of free resources to help you kick-start your campaign, you can find them at pupilvoiceweek.co.uk. As well as those, feel free to use any of the facts and figures below to help shape your Pupil Voice Week campaign, both on and offline.

  • Within the past year 1.5 million children and young people have experienced bullying (Ditch the Label).
  • 83% of young people say that bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem (Ditch the Label).
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds (World Health Organisation)
  • 64% of children who were bullied did not report it (Petrosina et al, 2010)
  • 3 in 5 young people say that homophobic bullying has a direct impact on their school work and it made straight A students want to leave education entirely (Stonewall).

    For more information visit pupilvoiceweek.co.uk

  • Written by Michael Brennan on September 21, 2017 11:00

    Cyber bullying – it’s time to bring things into the open

    Whilst it feels as if we’ve come a long way when it comes to tackling cyber bullying, events of previous weeks show there is still much to be done.


    Bullying sketchOnly days ago, another victim took their own life as a result of being persecuted on the Internet. Yorkshire teenager, George Hessay had just turned 15 on May 10th when he was found to have hung himself after receiving insulting comments online. Surprisingly, the comments were not posted on one of the mainstream social media sites but on Sayat.me, an Estonian site created as an anonymous feedback tool for business users seeking “constructive, honest feedback” from colleagues and clients. The site clearly states that it is for use by people over 18, yet amongst its 30 million users, many are believed to be teenagers.

    The Sayat.me site apologised with a statement that it deplores bullying of any kind and was taken offline by its administrators, however removing the site fails to address the crux of the problem. For every site that is removed, there are always hundreds of other ‘anonymous’ sites that can be willingly accessed by teenagers. These are often unmoderated and lack the adequate tools to report and block offensive comments.

    The problem of anonymity
    Anonymous sites pose particular dangers for young people. Whilst they state their purpose is to give people the freedom to express themselves without fear or prejudice, giving irresponsible people a virtual curtain to hide behind often means giving them the means to torment others without the fear of reproach. Strong opinions that wouldn’t normally be vented in the real world can easily be typed in just a few seconds, online arguments can escalate and people quickly become victims of insult or abuse. For younger people, their bullies are often people they know in the real world; frustrated or jealous school mates who reveal a nastier side when they have the opportunity to conceal their identities. Bullied adolescents and teenagers are left hurt and agonised, not knowing which of their ‘friends’ has turned against them.

    One of the ways online bullying differs so much from personal bullying is that the perpetrator is able to psychologically disconnect themselves from the damage they are causing. Whilst bullying once took place in the playground, the ownership of digital devices by young people means that bullying can take place on a 24 hour basis. For the victim there is no escape, even when they’re at home. Younger people who have experienced online bullying suffer from lower self-esteem, fear, frustration, anger and depression and increased suicidal ideation, with the psychological damage of online bullying often taking years to heal. The impact is long lasting.

    Let’s start talking
    With no real way to enforce an over 18s restriction on anonymous websites (most young people will falsify information to sign up anyway) the only way to prevent online bullying is to encourage victims to speak out and raise awareness of the damage they’ve suffered at the hands of other young people. Whilst technology has evolved at a tremendous pace, some of the social aspects of bullying remain the same. Young people still experience tremendous pressure to be accepted. Action for Children reported that one in seven (15%) children has bullied others online, with nearly 60% of children responding that they bullied to fit in with a certain social group.

    The need for proper education, openness and discussion of the matter has been supported by the NSPCC who, in the wake of George Hessay’s death stated that “Children and teenagers must be reassured that it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that either make themselves or other people upset, hurt and scared and that parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd.”

    Having these types of conversations can be difficult, but opening up the subject carries huge benefits. Those who are being bullied find it incredibly isolating and fear discussing the types of comments they’ve been receiving, particularly with their parents. Making it clear to them that it’s ok to bring things into the open without creating anger, criticism or upset means that the problem can explored, options discussed and any further bullying eliminated, giving the child a much happier outcome.

    How parents can get involved
    With half term almost upon us, Internet Matters has taken the perfect opportunity to drive these conversations through its #Pledge2Talk campaign. Working alongside the Anti-Bullying Alliance, they have created guides for parents, providing advice on how to discuss the subject of cyber bullying with their children and the steps they can take if they feel they are being threatened online. The week-long holiday means that parents are more likely to be with their children at home, with many children using their mobile devices and social media, giving a natural situation in which the topic can be raised and discussed.

    Talking about cyber bullying in the school environment
    Education about the cyber bullying shouldn’t just stop at home, and 'Stop Cyberbullying Day' on 16th June gives schools a chance to create a themed day around the topic. This could include assemblies, lessons and workshops about why young people are drawn into online bullying, how to say ‘no’ when encouraged by peers to bully others and how young people can reduce the risk of attracting online bullies, such as not using anonymous forums and websites. Most importantly, it’s a perfect time to discuss the responsible use of the Internet, meaning adolescents understand how their online behaviour impacts others and how it can leave behind lasting and harmful consequences.

    Free cyber bullying webinar
    To learn more about teaching children about cyber bullying, why not join us for one of our three seminars taking place throughout Thursday 8th June?

    Presented by Tim Pinto, e-safety consultant and member of the Educational Advisory Board for CEOP, each webinar will give you a 20 minute refresher on the topic, quickly updating you on all you need to know about this increasingly worrying trend of behaviour amongst young people.

    The webinars will address the following:

  • Definitions of cyber bullying - different names e.g. trash talk
  • Research - how many young people are being affected?
  • The signs to look out for and the consequences of cyber bullying
  • Ways to counter cyber bullying
  • There will also be a section on tips for teaching cyber bullying awareness and prevention.

    To register for the 10am cyber bullying webinar, click here
    To register for the 2pm cyber bullying webinar, click here
    To register for the 4pm cyber bullying webinar, click here

    All E-safety Support members can also download a cyber bullying assembly plan to use on 'Stop Cyberbullying Day'. To download the assembly, log into your E-safety Support dashboard or register for free membership

    Further webinars taking place include 'Digital Reputation' and 'Public WiFi' - find out more

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 25, 2017 11:00

    The 3 Rules Of How To Criticise Your Child’s Teacher Online

    If you’re reading this post, the chances are you’re a parent, with a child or children who attend school and if you’re not, then you probably know someone who is. If you are a teacher, you may wonder why we are publishing this article - please read on


    Online BullyingRarely, these days, does a week go by, when we don’t hear coverage on the news about cases of online bullying. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this phenomenon, tagged as ‘cyberbullying’, is mainly aimed at children, such as the tragic story of 14 year old Megan Evans, from Millford Haven, who, in February 2017, was driven to take her own life, following a consistent campaign of cyber-bullying on the social media site Snapchat.

    Such stories are particularly heart breaking when they involve children. Equally concerning though is the increase with which teachers are on the receiving end of similar bullying and abuse and often from the parents of the children they teach.

    The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) receives hundreds of calls every week from teachers who are being ‘cyberbullied’ The majority of such complaints are about parents using websites and social media, in particular, to attack those they entrust with their childrens’ education.

    This week, the media has emphasised the problem of inappropriate online posts by singling out some of the top web and social media sites for failing to do enough to prevent illegal and hateful content being shared online.

    Criticising Online Has Become Too Easy
    We live in a world where anyone can instantly vent their emotions, positive or negative, to an ever-attentive online audience and it seems that the louder we shout the bigger the audience that can be reached. An angry tweet or Facebook post, from a disgruntled parent, aimed at a teacher, could potentially go viral within minutes of being shared, without that teacher being aware that their reputation is being dismantled online while they sleep.

    Remember the days of pre-social media and even before email, when you had to write a letter? If you had a complaint, you would invariably put it in writing or visit the school in question, sitting down face-to-face with your son or daughter’s teacher and thrash out your concerns in a reasonably civilised manner. Only the most abrupt and confident of disgruntled parents would resort to name calling or verbal abuse, when sitting in the same room as the person they had issue with. Much of what is posted on social media today would rarely be said if that person was face-to-face with their intended target.

    Criticising Teachers Online Affects Your Children
    As long ago as 2009, research from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) showed that 63% of teachers who had suffered cyberbullying personally said they had received unwelcome emails. Over a quarter had had offensive messages posted about them on social networking sites such as Facebook and 28% described being sent unwelcome text messages.

    Online Teacher BullyingIn 2016 More than half of the 1,188 head teachers who replied to a survey by schools management service, The Key, said that parents' online behaviour was a problem. 15% of the heads themselves, mentioned that they had suffered from negative behaviour from parents. More than half of heads surveyed said that parents’ online behaviour was a concern.

    The NASUWT teacher’s union has described the online bullying of teachers by parents and pupils as a ‘growing trend’. It’s important to understand how the result of this behaviour can affect the children of those parents who are taking to social media to vent their frustrations. Teachers are experiencing anxiety and depression, paranoia, often having to take anti-depressants. The result of these measures means that teachers are becoming worn down and in some cases, unable to do their jobs to the best of their ability. This of course has a negative impact on the children they teach. The more the parents persist with their online attacks, the less effective an education their children receive. In short, such online abuse is self-defeating in the long run.

    How To Criticise A Teacher Online
    There is one over-riding rule, when it comes to criticising a teacher online and especially in public and that is DON’T! Hold your horses, count to 10, whatever you do but resist the all too easy temptation to fire off a tweet or a Facebook post. Let’s face it, when you use social media in such a way you are hiding behind your very own Facebook wall. The person your criticism is aimed at cannot defend themselves, at least not adequately. This approach is itself a form of bullying - is that how you want to come across?

    The 3 Rules Of How To Criticise Your Child’s Teacher Online

    Rule 1. Stop and consider what you want to achieve from your criticism.
    Are you angry and your criticism is simply a way to vent your frustration? Aside from momentarily getting the anger off your chest and most likely upsetting the person the criticism is aimed at, what will your comment achieve? Will it improve the situation you’re unhappy with? Most forms of criticism, unless constructive, can be categorised as aggressive behaviour. The definition of aggressive behaviour is a personal attack, verbal or physical on another person. This type of behaviour rarely gains the support of others, directly involved or those who observe the attack (other online viewers).

    Rule 2. Consider the impact your criticism may have on your victim.
    That late night, emotional tweet or post-beer Facebook post takes only seconds to construct then share but its impact on the person it’s intended for can last a lifetime. One of the earliest and probably most famous ‘victims’ of online abuse, goes back to the administration of former US president Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinski, who Clinton finally admitted to having relations with, talked about the severe suicidal tendencies she experienced in the aftermath of her affair and the torrent of online abuse she received; her mother would stand in the bathroom whilst Lewinski showered, to make sure she didn’t act on her feelings. Why does online humiliation have such an impact though?

    Shame and guilt (perceived or real) are 2 of our core emotions, which we’ll do almost anything to avoid experiencing. These emotions mean that we have failed to live up to our own moral standards. One outcome, when we’re criticised publicly, is that we become concerned that others will think we’re a bad person, this can have a devastating impact on some people, creating a spiralling down of their own self-worth. Social media and its potential reach, simply exacerbates this feeling of poor self-worth. Is your criticism worth the potential consequences that it may cause?

    Rule 3. Criticise the action not the person
    Chances are that it’s rarely the person that you’re unhappy with. More likely, it’s a behaviour or an action you believe they have taken that is the cause of your anger – focus on that action or behaviour only. Teachers are people, sometimes they get things wrong, it’s human nature. To criticise someone’s character (“you are stupid, an idiot, an imbecile) implies that you know this person well enough to suggest these are this person’s permanent character traits. If this were true then it’s unlikely that this person would ever have become qualified as a teacher. Identify the specific behaviour or action you’re unhappy with and if you must criticise online, stick to that issue. When you complain about an action or a behaviour then facts can be assessed to determine whether the criticism is warranted or not. When you attack someone’s character, then it is far more difficult for you or anyone else to justify your actions. It is unsurprising therefore, that people who display regular patterns of aggressive behaviour, have few real friends or supporters.

    The University of Oxford’s ‘Practical Ethics’ publication, which draws on research from students and researchers, based at the Philosophy Faculty, also explains an irony in the behaviour of people who attack others online. ‘The people who feel the most insecure about a certain character attribute (e.g., being honest) are also the ones prone to call out other people on it, this is known as self-completion theory. Such public criticism is a symbolic act that achieves self-completion and makes people feel secure about themselves.

    There will obviously be occasions when you have legitimate causes for complaint about the quality of the teaching your child is receiving. Teaching is no more a perfect science than any other form of vocation – people make mistakes, they make poor decisions, they are fallible. How about you, can you boast a blemish free life, personally or occupationally?

    It is your right to criticise your child’s educators, when you feel the quality of teaching or care falls short of the expected standards. You should do so however, with the intention of improving that quality of education and care. If you criticise simply to put someone else down, then you lower yourself to the level of the playground bully.



    We would like to thank Steve Phillip of Linked2Success for this article. Steve will be hosting our Digital Reputation webinar in July - to find out more and register, click here.

    If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences with other teachers, please use the comments section below

    Written by Steve Phillip on May 04, 2017 12:29


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