For some time Learning Space had wanted to pilot a peer support scheme and after attending an anti-bullying conference where year 3 children were identified as being particularly vulnerable to a drop in self-esteem we arranged to work with a small group at one of our schools in order to try out ideas and evaluate best practice.
We chose year 6 pupils to work with the year 3’s as it would give them positive role within the school. We asked the older students to think back to what it was like to be a year 3 – they painted a very frightening picture of vulnerable children and this helped them to identify with the younger ones.
Throughout the sessions the year 6 and year 3 children worked collaboratively on a creative project (making books). As the sessions progressed we saw the relationships between the different age groups grow and friendships form. The books did an excellent job of encouraging conversations and promoting creativity. Some very quiet and shy individuals started to come out of their shells and the year 3 pupils with poor behaviour at the start began to follow the positive role models provided by the older pupils.
At the end of the pilot we found that the self-esteem of both year groups had improved and most of the children said they had really enjoyed the experience. The teachers who helped with the project said they hoped eventually to involve all the age groups in the scheme.