Making waves to prevent bullying 

Issue: Volume 100, Number 7

Posted: 1 June 2021
Reference #: 1HALP3

Tamariki at Konini Primary School did yoga, learned about kindness and focused on the definition of bullying during Bullying-free NZ Week in May. 

Ginny Anderson, MP for Hutt South (left) and Jan Tinetti, Associate Minister of Education talking to tamariki at Konini Primary School.

Ginny Anderson, MP for Hutt South (left) and Jan Tinetti, Associate Minister of Education talking to tamariki at Konini Primary School.

Konini Primary School in Wainuiomata school hosted Jan Tinetti, Associate Minister of Education, Ginny Anderson, MP for Hutt South, and Roy Sye, director of Education Central South, during Bullying-free NZ Week (BFNZ Week) recently. 

“This is a week which we always devote some focus and time to, because it’s an important part of our bigger picture and plan around student safety and wellbeing at school,” says principal Andrea Scanlan.  

“The Minister talked with our peer mediators about the role they play in the school. They talked about how they support students when there’s conflict or problems and how they help students work through a process to resolve the conflict,” she says. 

Data helps bullying prevention 

Konini Primary School has had a particular focus on preventing and responding to bullying for several years 

“A few years ago, data from the Wellbeing@school self-review toolkit strongly showed that a cohort of older boys was displaying increased aggressive behaviour. This prompted us to work with that year group around managing themselves and conflict and responding to conflict in less aggressive ways. 

“The next year we did the Wellbeing@schools survey again. The change we saw with that group of students was remarkable. Aggressive responses had dropped incredibly, so it demonstrated to us the power of noticing what’s in the data; and that doing something quite specific to address it can have positive outcomes,” says Andrea. 

Focus on data 

As a Positive Behaviour for Learning School-Wide (PB4L-SW) school that uses restorative practices, data gathered as part of PB4L-Schoolwide implementation and the Wellbeing@schools survey helps staff to plan and focus on activities that will make a difference at the school. 

“The PB4L work is based around the data that is collected in the school. With PB4L, you have a positive process and strategy and a way in which you are responding to students’ behaviour: recording, noticing and looking at the data.  

“Alongside that there are the social skills that teachers are teaching – being deliberate about what it is that children need to learn, in how to get along with one another. 

“Once we realised that those things helped to make a difference, we kept incorporating them into our professional learning, constant review and evaluation, team meetings and discussions. They are approaches that we have incorporated into what we do all the time now,” explains Andrea. 

Strategies taught 

Combining the data from PB4L and the Wellbeing@schools survey, which is free for schools to use, helps Konini School respond to the children’s needs. Tamariki are taught to notice and recognise bullying, have strategies for responding and for getting help if they can’t address something themselves. 

“With the restorative approach, when things do go wrong, we first ask ‘what happened?’ making no judgements on what’s taken place and allowing children the opportunity to explain what has happened. When there are difficulties between students, listening to one another, having the opportunity to talk about how they felt, who’s been impacted, or hurt here, what can we do to fix this and how can the adults help? 

“Working through that restorative approach makes a difference for our students because they are now noticeably more able to talk about what is going on – and resolve conflict,” says Andrea. 

Professional learning 

Andrea says staff from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) supported her team to unpack and make sense of the data and information from the Wellbeing self-review toolkit. 

“The tool provides rich and useful information from the students around how they’re experiencing their school life. The data also helps inform where we have to focus our attention on making change in the school, or working with the students around what needs to happen differently to have less aggression in the playground or learn how to support others when we notice something going wrong. 

“It all fits together. We’ve undertaken professional learning with staff around a wellbeing framework: ‘Seven dimensions of social and emotional wellbeing’ Positively Psychology. Psychologist Dr Jean Annan’s work has really helped us to think about how to support the wellbeing of students at school,” concludes Andrea. 

Students and Principal Andrea Scanlan enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their Bullying-free NZ Week activities, and their peer mediation programme with MP Ginny Anderson and Minister Tinetti.

Students and Principal Andrea Scanlan enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their Bullying-free NZ Week activities, and their peer mediation programme with MP Ginny Anderson and Minister Tinetti.

Words matter 

The language used to talk to children needs to be specific and nuanced and there are plenty of resources to help schools. Andrea says there’s a rich resource of material and activities available from  sources, including the Bullying-Free New Zealand Week website, Sparklers, Sticks ’n Stones, Pink Shirt Day and Cool Schools (a Peace Foundation programme). 

When the school’s PB4L data showed that, older students’ understanding of the definition of bullying needed to be revisited, they were able to use a resource that explored the words used. 

“There’s a YouTube clip that talks about ‘rude, mean and bullying’, which the older children watched and then they discussed what each word means. They learned about being upstanders when they noticed that someone was being rude or mean – so they could identify that. 

“We know that the word bullying is used a lot in our society, and it’s important that we all understand that while someone being mean is not a nice thing to happen, it is different to when someone is being bullied. So, we try to talk about using the correct language for situations and understanding different situations so the response is the right response,” says Andrea. 

Age-appropriate activities 

As well as joining in to a regular yoga session run by Seedling Yoga, the visitors during BFNZ Week visited classrooms where older children were working on a range of activities with younger children that focused on kindness and talking about the people who help them. 

“Every BFNZ Week activity the children do is always age-appropriate. The ways in which the different ages experience the week is different. For example, the new entrants were focusing on what kindness looks like, so our new entrants probably haven’t even said the word bullying. 

“The children enjoy the BFNZ Week activities – there's always something to be learnt. It’s engaging – they watch YouTube clips, talk with one another, respond in ways that help them understand better the focus of this week,” says Andrea. 


Minister Tinetti joined tamariki in a yoga session at Konini Primary School.

Minister Tinetti joined tamariki in a yoga session at Konini Primary School.

Tamariki kōrero 

Tamariki from Konini Primary School talk about preventing bullying at their school.  

What did you like most about Bullying-free New Zealand Week? 

I liked when we sorted out the differences between the types of bullying – social, verbal and so on. We put them in categories. There were different situations to categorise and it took a bit of thinking to solve which category they went in. Some situations can have more than one type of bullying in it, like it could have been online and then escalated to physical. Ava (Year 6)  

I enjoyed doing yoga during bullying-free week. When we stretch our bones, we’re actually stretching our muscles too and it can help us get more flexible. Jacqui (Year 5)  

What have you learned from the activities you did during Bullying-free New Zealand Week?

I can be kind and let people play. Sofia (new entrant)  

When people fall over and hurt their knees you can take them to the medical room. On the way you can give them a hug. In the ‘Kindness Boomerang’ clip, when the boy fell over off his skateboard, the building man helped him. I can help people too. Like when they feel sad, we can go play with them. Athena (new entrant)  

I learnt the three Ps of bullying – purpose, power, and pattern. When someone does something to you on purpose, when it is repeated, when they have power in the situation –that’s big versus small! Ishek, peer mediator (Year 5)  

I learned how to not be a bystander but to help people. I learned how to upstand more and help people who are getting bullied. I would maybe ask them what happened or how can we help resolve it. Or get a teacher. Rukua (Year 6)  

We think that boys and girls have certain colours of clothes, but it is never right to bully someone that is wearing a boy or girl’s colour. Jacqui (Year 5)  

What do you like about being a peer mediator? 

I like peer mediation because I get to help people in the playground and make our school safer and other people like to join our school. Ishek  

Being a peer mediator is important and it helps people solve problems, so they are not fighting. Jacqui 

As a Peer Mediator it is good to know if it is bullying or being mean in general. I liked meeting the Minister – she asked us questions about being a Peer Mediator and we explained what we do and what it’s like to be a Peer Mediator and help people solve problems. Ava  

Small ripples, big waves  

Bullying-Free NZ Week (BFNZ Week) took place between 17 –21 May this year with the theme ‘He kōtuinga mahi iti, he hua pai-ā rau: Small ripples create big waves’.  

This year’s BFNZ Week was supported by Sticks ’n Stones, a youth-led bullying prevention organisation that has worked with students to create action packs for the week, among other initiatives. 

BFNZ Week culminates in the Mental Health Foundation’s Pink Shirt Day, which was held on Friday 21 May. 

Teachers can download a Teacher’s Pack. Student activity pack and resources(external link) 

More information is available on the Bullying-Free NZ website(external link).

More resources 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 2:32 PM, 1 June 2021

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