Hackney elementary school puts an end to bullying by banning football during recess

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Hackney comprehensive school eliminates bullying by banning football during recess and introducing chess clubs, poetry recitals and quizzes instead

  • Hackney New School in London has banned games like football during breaks
  • Instead, high school students participate in quizzes and poetry readings
  • Director says there have been only five reports of bullying in the past year
  • The Ofsted report had warned the school that the bullying levels were “unacceptable.”

A school community in Hackney has almost completely eliminated bullying by banning football during recess and introducing chess clubs, poetry recitals and quizzes instead.

Hackney New School in East London claims to have had only five reports of bullying in the past year – including cyberbullying, as many students will have been at home during several Covid lockdowns.

The introduction came within months of an Ofsted inspection, which found ‘unacceptable’ levels of bullying in July 2019.

Charlotte Whelan, head teacher at Hackney New School, says there have been only five reports of high school bullying after banning football and other games during recess in favor of structured activities such as poetry recitals and quizzes

Charlotte Whelan, head teacher at Hackney New School, says there have been only five reports of high school bullying after banning football and other games during recess in favor of structured activities such as poetry recitals and quizzes

Director Charlotte Whelan was hired after the damning report was published.

She said the BBC: ‘The school has been completely transformed and the students are doing really well

‘For a long time I was convinced that we could do more for students during their breaks, so often you see them wandering aimlessly in the playground. We want every second to count at school.

‘We started introducing the poetry recitals during recess and lunch and the students were very responsive. It evolved from there. ‘

Students aged 11 to 16 still practice during breaks and PE classes, but teachers are taking a more structured approach.

Chess and choir clubs have also been established to give students more choice about what to do during their breaks in class.

The transformation comes within two years of the Ofsted inspectors branding of the school ‘inadequate’ – the lowest possible rating.

Bullying was identified as the number one problem in school, with a report from July 2019: ‘Across the school, students told inspectors that they feel bullied and intimidated by others.

Hackney New School was labeled 'inadequate' when Ofsted inspectors visited in July.  A report warned of 'unacceptable' levels of 'racist, homophobic, sexist or other discriminatory behavior'

Hackney New School was labeled 'inadequate' when Ofsted inspectors visited in July.  A report warned of 'unacceptable' levels of 'racist, homophobic, sexist or other discriminatory behavior'

Hackney New School was labeled ‘inadequate’ when Ofsted inspectors visited in July. A report warned of ‘unacceptable’ levels of ‘racist, homophobic, sexist or other discriminatory behavior’

These concerns are confirmed by parents. Examples are racist bullying and name calling.

‘Many cases of racist, homophobic, sexist or other discriminatory behavior are recorded in the school’s behavioral records. This is completely unacceptable. ‘

Efforts to promote student well-being were rated as “insufficient,” as inspectors discovered “extremist, sexualized and homophobic graffiti” on the premises, the report said.

In 2019, images surfaced of teachers appearing to be drinking and dancing in a school locker room after allegedly sending students home early for mid-November.

A former student who shared footage with MailOnline said at the time, “I remember seeing a teacher carrying wine into the school in a Tesco bag, and the next day this video was released.”

Today, students have memorized poems such as Ozymandias by Percy Shelley and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson, and can hear the lines recited as they queue up for classes at Dalston School.

Images obtained exclusively by MailOnline in 2019 appeared to have teachers at Hackney New School dancing after allegedly sending students home in early 2017.

Images obtained exclusively by MailOnline in 2019 appeared to have teachers at Hackney New School dancing after allegedly sending students home in early 2017.

Images obtained exclusively by MailOnline in 2019 appeared to have teachers at Hackney New School dancing after allegedly sending students home in early 2017.

One of the teachers appeared to be holding a bottle as they sang and danced provocatively to the music, in images shared with MailOnline in 2019

One of the teachers appeared to be holding a bottle as they sang and danced provocatively to the music, in images shared with MailOnline in 2019

One of the teachers appeared to be holding a bottle as they sang and danced provocatively to the music, in images shared with MailOnline in 2019

Linda James, founder of Bullies Out, told MailOnline: “We were very happy with Hackney New School’s plan to reduce bullying.

Schools employing such effective strategies can really make a difference to the whole ethos of their school environment.

‘Bullying thrives on unsupervised breaks and lunch times, so introducing safe spaces for children with supervised activities can help them feel included and supported while at the same time eliminating the bullying behavior that can take place.’

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