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THE Sandhurst School in Owlsmoor is the first comprehensive school in the borough to pilot a new initiative designed to tackle bullying.

Students at the Owlsmoor Road school will be taking responsibility for their own conflicts and setting an example when they become peer mediators next term.

The scheme has already been implemented at eight Bracknell Forest primary schools.

Peer mediation was launched as a pilot scheme at Crown Wood Primary School in 2000 and proved so successful that other primaries became part of the programme.

The aim of the scheme is to encourage students to take responsibility for resolving disagreements among themselves.

A group of between 20 and 24 students are chosen by their peers to undertake mediation training.

The training is intensive and involves six two-hour sessions, which focus on listening skills, communication, cooperation and conflict resolution.

The rules of confidentiality and impartiality are observed by all participants involved.

After the training, students go on duty as mediators in the playground at lunchtimes, wearing either coloured tabards or caps so that other students can easily identify them.

When disagreement or conflict between students occurs, they attend a special mediation room where two of the nominated mediators help them to resolve the issue. The process is supervised from a distance by the school staff.

Headteacher Andrew Fletcher said: "This project is about taking responsibility and helping students to resolve conflicts themselves. It will help them to develop valuable life skills and take control of situations."

Jenny Inglis, specialist teacher at Bracknell Forest Borough Council's education department, said: "The skills these young people will learn during the mediation process will be invaluable to them throughout their lives.

"They are developing the key skills of listening to different points of view, negotiating and resolving problems."


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