The importance of anti-cyberbullying

Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy

Bullying via social media is an issue that many teenagers have to contend with, so a group of Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy students addressed this by working alongside a local film maker. They began by gathering anecdotal reports of instances of cyberbullying and spoke to victims about the impact this activity had had on their live within and beyond school.

Isobel Higgins, a Year 10 student was one of the group involved: "The most shocking thing is that this can take over peoples’ lives, it doesn’t stop when people go home, they can be bullied and picked on 24-7."

The students felt so strongly about the topic that they approached Walsall Council and the Police to raise funding towards the production of a new resource/film aimed at their peers to show just how quickly things can spin out of control.

As an enrichment programme linked to their Duke of Edinburgh award, the group met weekly to develop ideas. A script was drafted and shared with advisory staff and teachers and professional actors were recruited to take adult roles. Around thirty students were involved in three days of intensive filming in and around the academy working with a broadcast crew alongside ex-Shelfield students who are now undergraduates in media at Birmingham University.

Locations included local streets and houses to add authenticity and give the film a genuine local identity; the students even approached McDonald’s head office in London to gain permission to film scenes in the Rushall branch where a group of girls gather after school.

The completed film was launched with copies being made available to other academies across the Ormiston network and through the advisory services in Walsall Council. To view a behind the scenes version of the film click here.

Curriculum Enrichment Leader and PSHE co-ordinator at the academy Carmel Tatlock is now developing a scheme of work for the whole of Year 8, using the film as a starting point for discussion, she said: "To have a home grown resource of this quality is fantastic, I am sure this will have a positive impact on students across the academy."

Lauren Westwood who plays the victim in the story is really proud of her achievement and said: "The impact of cyberbullying is underestimated by teachers and adults in general, only our generation understand how social media can become really threatening and even control someone’s life."

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