By Lotte Pegler
Primary school students compared mediating tips at a conference at Butlins.
More than 100 children from local primary schools came together for a day of peer mediation revision, role play and training.
Pupils from Rose Green Primary School and Edward Bryant School were among those involved.
Anthony Whitby, assistant headteacher at Edward Bryant School, said: “Peer mediation in our school helps the children develop their emotional intelligence and grow in confidence.
“They have fun learning how to deal with day to day disagreements and find great solutions that they can all agree with.
“The brilliant team of peer mediators we have in our school help make Edward Bryant a safe and happy place to be. It is at the core of what we do.
“On Monday, the conference was a great opportunity for the children to meet peer mediators from other schools from the SchoolsWorks Trust.
“They were able to discuss their experiences and understand that what they do is helping many other children.
“They are an amazing group and this was very evident in the workshops and activities.
“We had the opportunity to work with children from The Regis School this year, which the children really enjoyed.
“Butlin’s were fantastic hosts and helped make the day a memorable one for the children.”
The Schoolworks mediation initiative covers seven schools in the local area as well as reaching far wider with advice and lessons.
It focuses on conflict resolution techniques to train school children to work with their peers as mediators.
Peer mediators are set up in the schools to help resolve low level conflicts, address bullying, and prevent fights.
“The curriculum-based scheme is supported by school staff who also receive mediation skills training.
Chris Seaton, founder of the initiative, said: “This event fulfilled our aspirations in throwing the net wider for the children who act as peer mediators.
“Rather than just offering refresher training to ensure they are well equipped for dealing with playground and friendship issues, the children came away with a clear understanding of how their roles contributed to the important element of global citizenship.
“We are very proud of our peer mediation programmes and I look forward to continuing to champion this important element of developing the whole child across our schools.
“Our thanks to the whole Butlins team for their professionalism and generosity in hosting the use of their superb facilities for the benefit of West Sussex school children.
“We have been working in the schools of West Sussex since 2002 and since then we expanded to work in schools across the south east. We have reached over 20,000 children, 600 school teachers, and partnered with 70 schools with the skills and message of peer mediation.
“Our peer mediation in schools programme has proved to be a powerful, positive initiative because it offers effective life skills, conflict resolution tools and support to anti-bullying strategies.
“A key aspect of the schools programme is sustainability – we aim that all schools where we work for 18-30 months will be able sustain their peer mediation schemes with minimum support from us.
“We use a whole school approach – we have discovered that these simple, transferable skills need to be practised and lived by everyone in school if children are to catch their value.”
One of the peer mediators at the conference, Lucas Walsh, 10, from Edward Bryant School, said: “I wanted to help people that were having an argument and I didn’t want them to fall out like I did when I was younger.
“I used to have a lot of these arguments and I didn’t want others to experience them the same as I did. Plus, it gives the teachers a break!”
Fellow mediator, Lucy Carmichael, eight, from Rose Green said: “I think that it’s much nicer for everybody to be peaceful and have a nice break time. I wanted to do it because I wanted everybody to be happy and not have the arguments that were going on before.”
“There has definitely been an improvement, we hardly have to do anything anymore because everyone gets on!
“Another good thing is that if the person doesn’t want to talk to us, they don’t have to. Obviously a lot do because it can be nicer to talk to someone in class than a teacher, but if they would prefer a teacher then that’s fine!