Head’s praise as Hemel Hempstead pupils tackle bullying head on

Shail Wright and Muhammad Hussnain of Longdean School
Shail Wright and Muhammad Hussnain of Longdean School

A headteacher has praised his students for coming up with an ‘innovative’ anti-bullying campaign which is aimed at reaching out not only the victims, but the bullies themselves.

Year 11 students at Longdean School in Bennetts End were set the task of identifying, researching and running a campaign as part of their GCSE in citizenship.

Many opted for topics such as road safety and uniform, but a group of five teens – led by Shail Wright and Muhammad Hussnain – decided to tackle the sensitive subject of bullying in a different way.

With the help of their classmates, the pair devised a questionnaire which was sent out to parents in the school’s newsletter, the Longdean Link. The questions asked parents what they would do and how they would feel if their child was a bully, while highlighting the school’s zero-tolerance policy on bullying behaviour.

Graham Cunningham, the head at the Rumballs Road school, said: “Shail and Muhammad have taken a really interesting slant on this, as they’ve thought about the bullies themselves as well as those who are being bullied. They have realised that it’s a national issue.

“They’ve interviewed me and members of staff and asked for feedback.

“It’s one of the most innovative campaigns we’ve had at Longdean, and we’ve had some well-thought out campaigns in previous years. Their hard work and achievement should be recognised.”

Shail, 16, said: “We’ve created a message that comes up on screen when you turn on the school computers, which tells people the definition of bullying and where they can go for help if they’re being bullied, or are bullies themselves. We want people to know they’re not alone.”

Muhammad, also 16, said: “The people that are doing the bullying may have something going on at home or in their family, or they may have even been bullied themselves in the past. That’s why we sent the questionnaire home to parents, because we think they should know.”

Mr Cunningham admitted that the nature of bullying has changed over recent years thanks to immediacy and availability of technology such as mobile phones and social media sites.

He said: “We have very few bullying cases within our school, but those we do have often start outside and spill over into the school day.”

But instead of banning his students from using the gadgets entirely, he and staff instead promote responsible usage.

He said: “If I were to ban them, it would just cause a bigger headache. We encourage students to use them for learning, by surfing specific websites and so on. The responsible usage is reinforced by a strong pastoral care and e-safety programme.

“I believe it’s the right approach, because that technology is part of the world we live in.

“That said, if they do get it wrong, we take a very hard line. We want to prepare our students for life after Longdean.”

The boys will gather the results of the questionnaire and discuss the results with Mr Cunningham before making a decision on the next steps.

Shail said: “We want to stamp out bullying.”