Aylsham High School’s anti-bullying team to meet celebrities at Facebook’s London headquarters
- Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC
Pupils from a north Norfolk school with a national reputation for the way it tackles bullying will be mixing with celebrities at an event in London on Monday.
Model, body builder and anti-bullying campaigner Jodie Marsh, and Fame Academy vocal coach Carrie Grant will be among stars at the Diana Award anti-bullying ambassadors' showcase afternoon. Both women were bullied at school.
A group of four Aylsham high pupils will be travelling to the event, at the London headquarters of Facebook, to represent their school's anti-bullying Friendly Faces team.
Aylsham, which has more than 1,000 pupils, is one of 10 schools involved in the event and the audience will watch a film following 14-to-16-year-old members of Friendly Faces during a typical day of helping to solve any problems which might arise.
As well as playground patrols in high-vis jackets, the team also offers daily drop-in sessions for any pupils with concerns and they visit local primary schools talking to older children about moving up to Aylsham high.
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As a result of their work, since 2007 they have annually been given the Diana Award - named in honour of the late Princess of Wales - under the category of anti-bullying champion.
Last October Aylsham high hosted the Norfolk and Suffolk region anti-bullying conference and plans another this October.
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Examples of best practice by award holders, such as Aylsham, highlighted at the London event, will be rolled out to 10,000 pupils across the country.
Teacher Kirsty Connor, head of Friendly Faces, said: 'We are immensely proud of the team who are a shining example of how student leadership can be used to tackle bullying head on and make school a happy and safe place for all. It just makes the school a lot calmer and we don't really have huge bullying issues. Pupils look after each other.'
Friendly Faces was launched in 2001 and each year pupils were invited to apply for 40 vacancies on the 60-strong team for the next academic year, said Ms Connor.
As usual, entries for September were heavily over-subscribed with 100 applicants who would each be interviewed to take on roles.
Pupil Jamie Spooner, one of the four who will be at Monday's event, said he felt privileged to be taking part.
'Seeing myself and the other Friendly Faces on film will be a great experience for me as we have worked extremely hard within the school to try and crack down on bullying. It will be nice to see what kind of difference it makes at other schools as well,' he said.
'Friendly Faces is one of the most admired schemes that has ever been at Aylsham High School in the whole four years I have been there.
'Being able to help various different students with problems inside and outside of school is a great experience I'll never forget. Knowing that someone's life is going to change for the better because of our work is an astonishing feeling. Also the security and stability that the students in the lower years gain from Friendly Faces is invaluable as they are able to feel safe, and therefore able to live school life to the best possible degree.'