Small Acres School
Date: 26th May, 2013
Updated: 12th October, 2015
Coordinator: Virginia Carrington
At Small Acres School, we believe that empathy and sense of community is vital to the wellbeing of all students, staff and parents. With this in mind, we are working to build a school that supports each person’s right to learn, play and to be happy.
The definition of bullying as referred to here is unwanted, aggressive behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
We believe that bullying behaviours can be mitigated through discussion, expression of feelings and acceptance of others and acknowledgement of the rights of others. By supporting the development of empathy and respect for all, bullying behaviour can usually be avoided or eliminated.
It is our policy at Small Acres to discuss all problems and issues as they arise with those involved. We support all people in meeting their needs and solving their own problems, with support and facilitation. Our goal is to aid children as well as adults to develop effective communication and conflict resolution skills, to manage anger, express themselves clearly, and learn the skills needed to get along well with others in a cooperative and empathetic manner. Once children have developed these skills they are then able to resolve most conflicts quickly with minimal input from adults, and this leaves more time for learning. Bullying behaviours are then prevented from developing or escalating.
One of the main purposes of the morning meeting is to discuss problems as they arise. Anyone, child or adult, can bring up a problem at the meeting. All present at the meeting then discuss the problem with the goal of resolving it to the satisfaction of those involved. If the problem is not one that can be resolved in this setting, the people involved in the conflict will have a separate meeting with support as needed.
The Role of the Adult:
The adults who are trained to be in the space, act as mediators and offer support in dealing with conflicts and disagreements arising between children. Adults are the facilitators in conflict resolution. The adults feed back what is said and heard and clarify with questions. It is not the role of the adult to solve the problem for the children but rather to facilitate the solving of the problem to the satisfaction of those involved.
Expression of Feelings and Needs in a Meeting to deal with Conflict or Bullying:
It is important that each child expresses his or her version of what happened and then states how he/she feels about the situation. Resolution needs to be reached by those involved in the conflict, to the satisfaction of those involved in the conflict. The goal for adults is to refrain from interfering in this process as well as refrain from directing the conversation. The adults are merely facilitators and children will do most of the talking. In a conflict that involves issues of power, the younger or more vulnerable will often receive support from an adult or another child.
If the conflict arises between two children or a small group of children during the day, the children will have a separate discussion with one or more adults present at the time of the conflict or shortly thereafter, as soon as all parties are able to bring themselves to a meeting. We recognise that sometimes it is necessary to take some time away to calm down or sort out feelings before coming to a meeting, but we do require that all who attend Small Acres are willing to engage in the meeting process when conflicts arise.
Negotiating and Resolving Conflict:
Children discuss and negotiate problems among themselves in order to come up with a solution that is agreeable to all. Dealing with problems as they arise is an effective means of preventing bullying behaviour. Both (all) children involved in the problem state the problem as they see it and discuss how they feel about what has happened. When a conflict arises, it is the policy of Small Acres to support all involved in the conflict through meetings. One or more adults are usually present to act as support or facilitate if needed.
Steps taken in dealing with behaviour that is negatively impacting on the freedom of others:
At Small Acres we recognise that there are some behaviours which are more difficult to manage within the school setting. We know that all behaviours can be modified and changed. We recognise that changing behaviours that negatively impact others can take time. If behaviours are severely impacting or limiting the rights and freedoms of others at the school, the following actions may be taken:
The children and adults will hold a meeting to brainstorm solutions and ways to help the child(ren) involved to deal with the problem. In this situation, all those attending school that day will be asked to attend an extra meeting.
Remain at Home:
A child whose behaviours are negatively impacting on the freedom of others at Small Acres, may be asked to remain home for a given number of days. This action is not taken lightly. We believe that a person who is “stuck” in a negative behaviour, may need space and time to regroup before returning to address the issues that have arisen due to the behaviours . This step is only taken when there is no other foreseeable way to resolve the issue, and when safety becomes an issue. Of course children will have disagreements and arguments, this is not ever the reason a child would be asked to remain away from school
asking a parent to keep a child home is not done as a form of punishment. We need to have very clear guidelines in place to keep the playground safe, so all the children have equal freedom to use the space without direct supervision in a mixed age group.
When there is a question of power being used to threaten a younger or more vulnerable child intentionally and if that younger child feels threatened, The one doing the threatening will be expected to come to a facilitated meeting with the other children involved in the situation. If the child is unable to come to a meeting and remains aggressive or threatening or continues to use his or her power to control the play of others, causing an unsafe situation, that child may be asked to stay home, take a break and return for a meeting. We feel that if in the instance, a child really can't handle the freedom and remain respectful of others at the same time then the child may need to step away for a bit, to allow the space to be safe for everyone. Respect for the rights of the group to play and work free from threat, coercion or aggression is paramount in the healthy functioning of Small Acres
If the problem is not resolved; or if there is a problem that keeps recurring, then the school will require a meeting with the family of the child or children involved to discuss the issues. The school may ask the parents to attend as many as 4 meetings in an attempt to resolve the issues when the behaviours are significantly impacting on the rights of others. The school may request that the child be present in these meetings
The school may request that the family seek professional support if the behaviour is continuing to impact the life of the school. The ideas put forth by the professional will be taken into account when determining what actions will be taken next.
Withdrawal from School:
If the problem cannot be resolved, if bullying behaviour persists, the family may be asked to withdraw their child from the school on either a temporary or permanent basis. This action is never taken lightly and will only be taken if all other options have failed. We would only request withdrawal if the others attending Small Acres are being impacted in such a way that they are unable to enjoy the time they spend at school and are having their own freedom curtailed frequently by the behaviours, causing them anxiety, or if there persists an ongoing fear for the safety of others.
If the family is requested to withdraw their child from Small Acres, unused fees for the current term would be refunded. In this situation, the family would not be expected to give notice. Fees refunded would be from the date when the school has determined that the situation is unresolvable, not from the date when the child was asked to remain home. We will have been working toward bringing the child back to the group and the time and effort put into this must be taken into account.