This is National Anti-Bullying Week (17 to 21st November) and Newcastle High School for Girls, an independent day school based in Jesmond, is trying a novel way to deliver the messages about online safety and cyberbullying that the pupils are given regularly in school.
Instead of a presentation by a teacher, Nottingham pop and rock group ‘In Hindsight’ had been invited to visit the School.
They performed some of their latest singles to over 450 girls, aged 11 to 16 years, and music echoed throughout the building. The delighted girls joined in with clapping and cheering, but as well as all the fun and music, the band delivered important messages about cyberbullying and how to stay safe on-line.
The visit, which was a surprise for the girls, had been organised by Mr Michael Tippett, Deputy Head with particular responsibility for Wellbeing and Development: “We always do some specific work with all the girls in Anti-Bullying week, and in the past this has typically involved an assembly or presentation led by myself or some of the pupils. One of the main challenges is getting teenagers to listen and engage with these messages, so when we were given the opportunity to present this material in a totally novel format we thought this would be an exciting opportunity.
“It seems to have been extremely successful, the messages the group gave about on-line safety and the dangers of cyberbullying were spot on and it was a great advantage that it was delivered in a different voice, and by young musicians not teachers. I hope that this might encourage the girls to take on board the content of these important messages more strongly.”
Afterwards, the girls were buzzing with excitement about the visit and very positive about the whole experience, including getting signatures from the band members. They clearly found it fun to be involved and sing along, but they were also very clear that this was an effective way to communicate these important messages.
Neave Page, aged 12 years said “I think that we are all going to remember it because it was loud, fun and energetic and there was stuff which we didn’t know about cyberbullying and how to handle it, it was really helpful. Some people just start it as a joke but it can get out of hand really quickly, and some people don’t realise that.”
Emma Carrie, 14 years said “They are not much older than us, and they have clearly been through everything which we are going through, whereas teachers didn’t grow up with social media so they don’t necessarily understand what it’s like.”
Emily Harrison, who is 14 years old, explained: “It’s so much better because if you have a teacher giving a presentation, you have so many presentations you tend to switch off and you don’t pay so much attention to it. But having someone really fun come in, it was much easier to relate to what they were saying and learn from them.”
Michael Newcombe, aged 17 years, Lead Vocalist and one of two brothers in Hindsight said: “Most of our fans are teenagers so they are much more likely to listen to us, we are more like an older brother and we can talk to them in their language.
“Everyone will be under pressure from online bullying at some time and it’s really helpful if you have had some training to know what to and what not to do.”
In Hindsight are a three-piece pop rock group from Nottingham, UK, made up of brothers Michael and Daniel Newcombe and close friend Isaac Anderson. They have played all over the UK, including two full UK tours since forming in 2011. They will perform at the O2 Arena, Newcastle in April 2015 and recently performed on ITV’s This Morning.