School introduces ‘buddy benches’ to help develop friendship

Children at Stakeford Primary School are taking a stance against loneliness and bullying -  by sitting down!
To mark the start of national Anti-Bullying Week, the  school has unveiled three ‘buddy benches’ which are designed to eliminate loneliness and promote friendship in the  playground. 
A simple idea which is catching on throughout the world, buddy benches aim to spread the message of inclusion and kindness.
The idea is that if a child is upset or has no one to play with, or wishes to talk to someone about a concern, by sitting  on the bench, someone will come and join them or ask them to play.

The school introduced the benches, which were bought through PTA fundraising,  as part of its positive behaviour policy and to ensure that no pupil should have to spend their break-time alone.   Jacqueline Rowell, chair of governors at the school explains:  “ If  a pupil is  feeling alone or unhappy,  they take a seat on the bench and either a teacher or a fellow pupil will come to them and ask what is wrong.

“ We have taught the children about the ethos of the buddy benches and how they will work so that they all understand and buy into the concept. The pupils have greeted the idea with enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility to reach out to their lonelier peers. ”
Headteacher Mrs Hall said “We’re not just teaching academic subjects here at the school. We’re teaching kindness and compassion too. Although bullying isn’t really an issue for us,  we have talked at length with the children to help them understand how their actions or words can impact on and upset others. ”
“ We have discussed ways to spot the signs of bullying and what action they should take if they spot bullying or become a victim themselves. As part of national Anti-Bullying Week  the children have produced art work based on what they have learnt.”

Northumberland County Councillor  Dave  Ledger has a close association with the school and was invited for the unveiling of the new buddy benches. He said:
“ Bullying can have a serious affect on children. What may start as a bit of harmless teasing or playground banter can quickly develop into something much nastier, affecting a child’s self-esteem and their general mental health and well-being, which is an issue that they may take with them into adulthood.

“We are committed to providing every young person in Northumberland  with the best possible start in life  and I am delighted that the school has introduced  this initiative, ensuring it is a  happy place for children to be so they can concentrate fully on their learning.”
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