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Aurora Boveridge College has earned Silver School recognition through the United Against Bullying program

Aurora Boveridge College in Dorset has been awarded Silver Status in the United Against Bullying (UAB) Programme for its steps to reduce bullying and improve the wellbeing of its students. 

David Bird-Hawkins, Pastoral Lead at Boveridge College learned about the programme in May 2023. He took it as an opportunity to look at the college's current practices and work towards an accreditation for ongoing efforts to improve wellbeing and combat bullying. 

The six-month programme initially involved a collaboration between staff members at Boveridge College and Aurora Beeches School.

Later, everyone in the college got involved. Students filled out questionnaires and shared their thoughts in feedback sessions that provided valuable insights into the current levels of bullying and wellbeing. Parents and staff members were invited to review anti-bullying policies and offer suggestions for improvement. 

The college had good systems to manage bullying, including the ‘concern cube’ where students could report concerns and bullying anonymously, and a dedicated email address where students could write if they felt they couldn’t speak in person with the team. Staff organised events like 'Odd Socks Day' to promote anti-bullying initiatives. 

The UAB programme encouraged the creation of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors within the student community. These ambassadors now help as an additional channel for students to report bullying and give peer support. 

David Bird-Hawkins said: “I felt that recruiting and training two ambassadors would give the college an additional support network, and it would mean we have trained students to become upstanders to bullying.

“The ambassadors also help the team to keep on top of up-to-date trends, such as social media or slang that students are using. We can ask ambassadors to support with initiatives, raise awareness, review policies, and create student-friendly policies.”

The college's approach to addressing bullying has evolved to focus on behaviour rather than labels, as recommended by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Instead of using terms like 'bully' and 'victim', the focus is placed on understanding the wider roles involved in bullying, such as 'reinforcers' and 'assistants', 'bystanders' and 'defenders'. 

By taking part in the UAB initiative, the students now have an extra channel to report bullying as well as a wider support system. The ambassadors are having calm, assertive and safe conversations with their peers and their roles have given them extra confidence and self-esteem. 

The college's achievement of Silver Status in the UAB Programme is a recognition of its dedication to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

David said: "I'm so proud that we have achieved this award. It's great to be recognised by an established programme for our approach to bullying." 

Aurora Boverdige College joins a group of schools across the UK that have taken part in the program, with 11% achieving Gold, 24% Silver, and 55% Bronze status. 

Special thanks also go to Lydia Roberts, Pastoral and Outreach Lead from Aurora Beeches School and Hannah Webster, Education Learning Support Worker at Boveridge College.