A project to understand why some schools and kura have low levels of bullying has found its not all about clamping down on bad behaviour, but on building school cultures that know and respect students and whānau.
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner and Ministry of Education collaborated recently on Tō Tātou Kura Atawhai; Our Kind of Schools to identify insights from kura and schools with low levels of bullying.
“All of us want our mokopuna to feel safe, respected and included at school, especially as Covid is creating extra layers of stress for whānau,” Assistant Maori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip Barbara says.
“Instead of asking how to solve bullying behaviour, our team flipped the question and sought to learn from schools how to build a welcoming, inclusive school for everyone.”
The project team spoke with hundreds of students, staff and whānau at a diverse group of schools and kura who had strong inclusive cultures.
“We found that schools and kura prevented bullying without using specific programmes,” Ms Philip- Barbara says.
“Instead, we learned that valuing the experiences of a diverse range of students and creating a culture of respect between staff and students was key. This included committing to tikanga and te reo Māori in the classroom, and welcoming whānau into everyday school life.”
The project team identified several key insights, which they hope will inspire other schools and kura to create welcoming, inclusive environments for their students and whānau.
Common to all schools and kura visited were six key characteristics:
1. Knowing, and meeting the needs of, each student.
2. Strong and respectful school/kura leadership, which lays the foundation for a positive school/kura culture.
3. Commitment to tikanga and te reo Māori in the classroom, culture, and community of the school/kura.
4. Connecting with and including whānau and wider community in school/kura life.
5. Valuing and celebrating staff and student diversity.
6. Quick and effective responses to bullying incidents.
The report and case studies can be read here:<https://www.occ.org.nz/publications/reports/our-kind-of-school>
Watch a video explanation<https://youtu.be/6AR9CBcKXWo> of the project and findings