Peer Support Scheme
A rather exciting development in September at Thomas Peacocke Community College was the introduction of our Peer Support Scheme. At the beginning of the term, some senior students were selected to provide a whole school listening service. These senior students are receiving on going training in listening, counselling and mediation skills and will gain the Duke of Edinburgh Silver sectional certificates in Community Service and Skills for their efforts at the end of the year.
It is an initiative which has been set up successfully in other parts of the country, but not in this area. Other schools in East Sussex may follow our model, if it is successful over time. The scheme has been set up with the assistance of Connexions Sussex and with the support of Sussex Police. It is co-ordinated by the school’s Connexions Personal Adviser, Heather Robinson, who is employed by ESCC Youth Development Service to work at TPCC. Schools are finding that such schemes empower students by offering them the opportunity to take more responsibility for their own and others’ well being -this leads to a healthy school atmosphere, improved behaviour and academic performance. New year 7s also reap the benefits when they transfer from primary school as they can access this additional support when settling into their new school. The Peer Supporters wear bright yellow badges and are easily accessed during all break times in specific locations around the school site.
The Peer Supporters are able to deal with some of the most common everyday type difficulties experienced by students. They are also able to support victims of bullying, and contribute towards its prevention. This is part of a wider pro-active approach the school have taken towards dealing with this national problem. All incidents of bullying are being carefully monitored to ensure that they are dealt with swiftly, effectively and consistently. We are hoping that we will be able to sort out problems before they escalate as students may prefer reporting incidents to their peers rather than to staff. The procedure for reporting bullying enables an individual to record all the specific details about what happened and to have a say about the type of support they would like.
The staff and students involved are working within a confidentiality policy, which has been widely publicised around the school. Every time a peer supporter works with a student they remind them of this policy and of the types of problem where they will need to refer to a member of staff and give out the student’s name – in all other cases their anonymity is guaranteed. The peer supporters are all allocated to specific members of staff who give them regular supervision to ensure that the confidentiality policy is being adhered to and that appropriate referrals to staff are being made. Supervision also ensures that the peer supporters are not taking on too much.
We are planning to let all students evaluate the scheme regularly so that they have the opportunity to feedback their ideas on how it can be improved and become increasingly student driven. One senior student who is a peer supporter emailed this message to his supervisor. ‘I did my first case today it felt fantastic for me to help that child feel better about herself and to stop the bullying she gets’. This year our peer supporters are: Martha Newson, Beth Ambridge, Olivia Wardroper, Joanne Gale, Nathalie Skittlethorpe, Julie Bryant, Jazzy Bowyer, Tim Hambridge, Sam Darby, Barry Turner, David Eagles Larke and Aaron Masters.
“Rye’s Own” November 2004
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