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Please enjoy the Thought for the Term from Mrs Tottman

Posted on: 18/11/2022

Leadership first and foremost means leading oneself. Our moral compass and sense of personal responsibility guide us in the choices we make and ultimately dictate who we are. This week is anti-bullying week and both St Birinus and Didcot Girls’ Schools have made time to recognise and reflect on the culture and ethos within both schools. I have experienced bullying.

I was bullied at both primary and secondary school. I can still remember the names of the students who bullied me in year 3 of primary school and I am nearly 40 years old…

As a pastoral leader I am often supporting young people in the most challenging moments of their educational experience or through upset or crisis and there is a strong pattern that exists within rare and infrequent bullying incidents where my expertise and experience is required.

The victim is able to articulate with precision the who and what and when. They are able to articulate with absolute clarity what has happened and why it is hurtful. The same cannot be said for the aggressor. Frequently they are left baffled and unable to recall an event or comment. They did not take personal responsibility for their actions in the moment, something was mentioned impulsively and they moved on quickly, not paying it much attention, because to them it was not a big deal. However, to the individual on the receiving end it was significant. The students from my first primary school are unlikely to remember my name over 30 years later…

I would ask all students within our Trust to consider this. Take personal responsibility. Lead yourself. Think before you speak. Is the comment you are about to make kind? If it isn’t should you be saying it? Is it helpful? Does the person on the receiving end need to hear this in this moment? Is it welcome? Are you speaking with a friend or someone you don’t know very well? How will your words be received and perceived?

Lead yourself. Be kind. In a world where you can be anything. Be kind.

Mrs Tottman
Assistant Headteacher St Birinus School

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