Colac schools are using new strategies and statistics to help beat bullying in the yard, despite an increase in reported bullying across the region.
The Department of Education’s latest data indicates that one in four students at government schools were bullied in Colac Otway Shire last year, with more than 26 per cent of students in Year Seven to Year Nine reporting the behaviour, a jump of 1.6 percentage points from 2017 and above the Victorian average of 17.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, 25 per cent of Grade Fives and Sixes were bullied last year, up from 23.5 per cent in 2017 and above the 15.9-per-cent state-wide figure.
The data excluded Catholic and independent schools.
Colac Primary School assistant principal Jill Newcombe said the school’s regular student bullying audit was helping teachers tackle bullying behaviour and identify trends and problem areas.
“We do the audit weekly as a whole school, when students get the chance to write down if they are bullied, and they can also identify if other students are being bullied as well,” she said.
“We have got a new format involving pictures, so that it is easier for the kids to express. It goes right down to Grade Prep, and there are images that depict things that are happening and they can tick the box or they can write something.”
Teachers then follow up bullying behaviour, and also use the statistics from the audit to identify any bullying patterns, while a wellbeing officer and school chaplain work with students involved.
“We use the statistics, so if we notice that a particular area in the yard is where it’s happening, we will put someone extra on yard duty to be mindful of the trouble spots,” Ms Newcombe said.
She said offering extra programs at lunchtimes was an effective way to curb bullying by keeping more students engaged, and that school also participated in whole-school anti-bullying days.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.