When a new student joins your school or class, it’s an exciting opportunity to make a new friend and learn from them.
However, starting out at a new school can be daunting for any young person, especially if this happens separate from a traditional school transition, like the one from primary to secondary school. As an Anti-bullying Ambassador, you play an integral role in supporting and settling new students into your school, so they can thrive in their new environment. A student may feel worried that they could be targeted by bullying behaviour, just because they’re new in school. You can support them by being an Upstander and helping them make new friends! Here are some of our top tips.
Prepare for the new student’s arrival:
Think back to when you started out at a new school:
- Was there anything you wish someone had done to make you feel welcome?
- Was there any equipment you should have had but didn’t?
- Was there any support you needed which you didn’t receive?
Your experiences may be similar to the new student's. By answering these questions, preparing resources and advice, you can make that new student feel ready to start at their new school.
You could even make them a welcome pack so they have everything they need for their first day! This could include stationary, workbooks and a map of your school, including where to find support.
Your team could do something creative to introduce yourselves to the new student. Try designing a poster or presentation about who you are and your school ethos, or a Q&A about what it’s like at your school.
Get to know the new student:
- Make an effort to connect with your new peer. You could spend some time in form or class learning more about them and their hobbies. Asking about their interests can help you to find things in common, which is a good place to start when it comes to meeting someone new!
- Communication is key to building friendships and relationships. If the new student speaks a different language to you, you could take the time to learn some simple phrases and help them communicate with other students too.
- You could also learn about each other’s personal boundaries. You could ask if they have a nickname or preferred name they would like you to use. You could ask them if they feel comfortable giving you a hug or greeting you with a cool handshake. Once you understand each other’s boundaries, make sure you respect these. Remember they may change once you have gotten to know each other better!
Why not invite them to join you and your friends during break times in school? A new student may feel nervous about making friends. By including them in group chats or games, you can help break the ice!
Make them aware of the support they have available to them:
You could offer to be their buddy or peer mentor, helping to answer any questions they may have and connecting them with new people.
Introduce yourself and your Anti-Bullying Ambassador team to the new student. Explain to them what your role is, what being an Ambassador means, and how you can support them if they need it. You could also encourage the rest of your Ambassador team to keep an eye out for any unkind behaviour toward this student during their transition.
Tell your new student about any safe spaces, buddy benches, reporting tools you use, or any other support services you have in your school. Include wellbeing support and who the school safeguarding staff are.
Encourage them to get involved with your school community:
Once you’ve gotten to know the new student a little better you could try and find opportunities for them to get involved in your school community and events. Perhaps invite them to join a school club based on their interests or let them know about school events they could come to, such as school fairs.
Spread positivity and encourage others to get to know them:
You could help spread kindness by sharing a compliment or something positive about that person with your peers. This could be recognising or congratulating them on an achievement or milestone.
If they need a partner in class, offer to pair up with them in lessons so they have someone who they know to work with. Why not offer to go through your homework together?
You could also encourage your friends and other students to take the time to get to know them. Once you’ve learnt more about their hobbies and areas of interest, connect them with other peers who share the same passions.
By doing this, you’re fostering an inclusive school environment where every student, nomatter how long they’ve been there, is supported and feels like they belong.
There are many organisations that offer further advice and support for young people on avariety of different topics.
https://www.youngminds.org.uk/professional/resources/supporting-school-transitions/ - Young Minds have resources for young people and staff on supporting someone through a school transition.
https://www.kidscape.org.uk/resources-and-campaigns/back-to-school/ - Kidscape have resources and activities focused on restoring confidence for young people who are going back to school. They also have advice and resources for staff, parents and carers.
https://www.place2be.org.uk/our-services/services-for-schools/mental-health-resources-for-schools/ - Place2Be have resources for young people and staff to encourage a positive mental health and wellbeing in school.
Remember if you or another young person you know needs some advice or support, they can contact The Diana Award Advice Messenger service, which provides *free, 24/7support across the UK. If you need advice, or just someone to talk to, 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 andTelecom Plus.