KATY HILL - TV & RADIO PRESENTER, WRITER & LIFESTYLE BLOGGER
1) What was your school like?
I went to three different schools - two primary and one secondary - all of them Church of England. I changed primary school in year 4 and it was the making of me, my parents always used to say! But it was a way better school than my first one and those 3 years really shaped my future school life. I remember being terrified starting somewhere new when everyone else already knew each other, and I remember crying on day 1 when I heard about the annual swimming gala that happened every summer (I didn’t have a competitive bone in my body at that point so such things were beyond daunting. I enjoyed most of my school life though and was lucky that I had some great friends. I was never in the cool-gang - I kind of moved about between all the gangs and soon realised that the cool-gang could often be mean. I have no time in my life for mean! I’m all about the KIND!
2) What is your favourite school memory?
Probably the school residential trip we did in year 6 of primary school. We went to York for a week, staying at the St John’s College of Rippon and York and I loved the independence of it. I also vividly remember a class assembly at secondary school when the performing class sat on chairs, reading magazines of rite entire 20 minutes of the assembly. At the end, one of them stood up and said “the point of this assembly is to prove that, if you don’t put anything into life, you don’t get anything out of it’! Thought it was totally random at the time but it’s the only assembly from my entire school life I remember! And I’ve tried to live by that motto!
3) What was your favourite subject at school?
At secondary it was all about biology. I had a phenomenal teacher - Miss Fox - who totally brought lessons to life. That’s the dream as a parent - it’s ALL about inspirational teachers and they generally enthuse you for that particular subject. I also loved English - again, because the teacher made the classes fun.
4) Have you experienced bullying?
Not personally. Aside from on the first few days at secondary school when the school had the not-so-inspired idea of giving all newbies a white badge - theoretically so the older kids could help in those early days. Not so much! They spent the whole time coming up to us all, telling us our white badges were upside down (they were plain white!) and we’d duly turn them over! We soon learnt to take the ridiculous badges off but I guess it was a subtle kind of bullying. I witnessed bullying over the years and always stood up for the person being bullied. I hate injustice. I remember the moments when adults weren’t really around being the worst - like on the busses or around the “hidden” parts of school. I always tended to befriend the person being bullied. Now, as a parent, I’m constantly helping my kids to understand the cowardice of bullies and doing everything I can to equip and empower them for school days without me around. As the Ambassador for the Trutex BTru2U Campaign, with The Diana Award, I’ve been horrified at the realisation that, with social media, iPhones and the general connectivity around today, bullying can now be 24/7, with things often amping up when you get home as the bully can hide behind their laptop. When I was at school, home was your safe place - now, it’s potentially when the bullying REALLY starts and that’s terrifying. That’s why campaigns like this are crucial - education is imperative.
5) Was there anything you worried about when you went back to school after the holidays?
Going back after the holidays was always a bit weird and slightly worrying, with new classrooms and different challenges that each year brought. I was always a bit of a worrier anyway. But it was nice seeing mates again and getting new shoes! That was always the best bit! But, aside from that first week back when I’d rather still be on holiday - as would everyone - I never dreaded school. I realise I was really fortunate and want to do everything I can to help those who aren’t. Talking about it is ALWAYS the best first step - trusting a teacher or someone in authority is the first step to getting help. Trust me - the mean kids never stop being mean! They just grow up - so learning to deal with them now will empower you for your entire future. And remember that bullies often have massive issues happening in their OWN life - maybe parents in crisis, or getting bullied at home, or some kind of sadness in their home life. So if you can feel sorry for THEM, you’ll feel so much better about the situation. Bullying is all about insecurity - THEY feel insecure so they take it out on you.
6) What advice would you give to someone who is worried about going back to school because of bullying?
First of all, you need to realise that the bully is a coward. With many issues of their own. Secondly, feel empowered that you are different in some way - being non-conformist is all kinds of awesome! The thing that gets you bullied is often the thing someone else is envious of. It sets you apart from the field and, in the future, you’ll learn to embrace your difference as almost like your super power! But it’s tough when you’re being bullied. So be your own best friend! Value your own skills and everything that makes you, YOU! Make sure you have friends outside of school that get you and adore everything about you. Above all, SPEAK UP. Don’t suffer in silence. Bullying is often not something you can cope with alone - so don’t think you can. Asking for help ia a brave thing to do and the right thing to do and, ultimately, should get the situation resolved. But try to look on the situation as positive - I know that’s super hard but bullying doesn’t stop the day you leave school. I got bullied in the workplace just last year - so if you can learn to cope with the cowards now - you’re already WINNING AT LIFE!
7) How would an Anti-Bullying Ambassador have helped you at school?
It would have been amazing to have that go-to person at school, who knew what to do. It’s amazing how much you learn as you get older. I wish I’d known so much of it at school. Like hang out with people who lift you HIGHER! The people who make you SMILE. The people who GET YOU. The people who are fun to be around and who make you feel good about life. THEY’RE your tribe! These days, I don’t spend time with anyone who leaves me feeling less than wonderful - life is WAY too short. There’s absolutely nothing cool about putting people down to make yourself feel better. So choose your tribe wisely! And TALK TALK TALK if you have an issue. Even as an adult, I’m ALWAYS asking people for help and advice. It’s what gets us through when we don’t know exactly what to do!
KATY HILL - TV & RADIO PRESENTER, WRITER & LIFESTYLE BLOGGER