As we are coming to the end of the summer holidays, we wanted to give you as much support and advice about going back to school as possible. To help with your transition, we asked members of The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Team for their advice and recommendations to some questions you might have, as well as highlighting some useful resources that can help you adjust and feel better about this change.
Starting a new school is an exciting but daunting idea. The best way to overcome our fear is by changing our thoughts around the situation, then it can be easier to handle.
Emily, Head of our Anti-Bullying Programme, notes how:
‘feeling nervous on your first day at a new school is very normal. So, just throw yourself into what’s left of your summer holidays. The more you enjoy your summer, the more rejuvenated and capable you’ll feel when you start at your new school. Secondly, remember that nerves use the same chemicals in the brain as excitement! Try to focus on the new adventure ahead. The goal here is to take the pressure off yourself. There’s so much to see, do and learn: you don’t want to miss it!’
Gemma, our Programme Officer, also suggests:
‘sharing your thoughts and feelings around moving schools with your family and friends, as this is a great way to challenge our negative thoughts If you’re unsure on how to bring up the topic of mental health with friends, check out our guide. Ultimately reframing our thinking is a personal process, and our resource exploring Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might provide you with some ideas on how you can begin to reframe your thoughts.’
No one should have to experience bullying, and they certainly shouldn’t have to face it alone. If you experience bullying when you return to school, it’s essential that you tell a trusted adult such as a parent or carer, or a member of staff at your school.
Lucy, our Programme Facilitator explains how vital it is for you to speak up.
‘This may feel daunting but it’s the first step towards finding the support you need.’
There is nothing wrong with flagging certain behaviour, and you shouldn’t feel as though you are telling on someone. You can find out more about the difference between snitching and reporting in our Reporting vs Snitching resource. Lucy also stresses the importance of finding your support network.
‘A support network consists of several people and organisations who you could go to if you experience bullying behaviour. They could include a parent/carer, a teacher, another adult you trust, or a friend. If you’re not sure where to start, check out The Diana Award’s Support Centre. You can also contact The Diana Award Advice Messenger by texting DA to 82582 – trained volunteers will listen and help you think through the next steps towards feeling better. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7.’
Being worried about exams and workload is very normal, but too much stress is bad for our health, and a lack of organisation can prevent us from reaching our full potential.
Our Programme Manager Kate explains how:
‘different strategies work for different people, so try a few things and see what works for you! You might enjoy creating a visual timetable with coloured blocks for different activities. Or you might prefer setting alarms on your phone for when it’s time to revise. You might track your progress in a planner or a wellbeing and habit-building app like Finch. You could set up a calming study space to help you get into the right headspace, or you might like to do study dates with friends. If you can, make studying fun! Visit our resource centre for more tips on Organisation and Time Management.’
While there can be a lot to think about when starting a new school, term, or year group, there’s a lot of fun to be had! Use our advice and resources to approach new challenges with a positive mindset, you’re sure to have a fantastic academic year!
If you can't speak to a trusted adult about what has been happening, there are lots of organisations who can offer support:
Childline have a dedicated section on their website, Deaf Zone, for anyone who is d/Deaf or hard of hearing in British Sign Language (BSL) and English. You can also use Sign Video– a service which allows you to contact a counsellor through a BSL interpreter. childline.org.uk
MENCAP’s Learning Disability helpline is free for those with a learning disability who are experiencing bullying behaviour. This helpline, which includes phone and email support, is also available to family and carers. mencap.org.uk
Join SCOPE’s online community, call or email their helpline free from UK landlines and mobiles for advice and support on issues related to disability and opportunities for community engagement. scope.org.uk
The NHS Website can help you find support services in your local area. nhs.uk
The REPORT HARMFUL CONTENT site offers advice and step-by-step guides to reporting bullying and other harmful behaviours to social media, gaming and online dating platforms. reportharmfulcontent.com
If in doubt, REPORT IT. For further info on what is a Disability Hate Crime (DHC), how to report a DHC online and advice on bullying and harassment visit report-it.org.uk
You can also contact THE DIANA AWARD ADVICE MESSENGER which provides *free, 24/7 support across the UK. If you are a young person in need of advice, you can text DA to 85258. Trained volunteers will listen to how you're feeling and help you find the next step towards feeling better.
*Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.