Newell, S, Britt, W & Graham, A 2011, Evaluating Interrelate's School Education Programs: Raising Awareness of Bullying, report prepared for Interrelate Family Centres, Sydney, NSW.
Raising Awareness of Bullying (RAB) is one of six relationship and sexuality education programs delivered by Interrelate Family Centres. It involves a single 60-90 minute class-based session, designed to assist schools with concerns about harassment and/or physical abuse amongst pupils. Sessions are tailored for students in each of Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, with each session identifying the nature of bullying (including cyber bullying for older groups) and presenting strategies for dealing with bullies from both victim and bystander perspectives. The RAB program involves a variety of creative activities and teaching methods, is facilitated by specially trained Educators and has a clearly articulated structure, content and objectives, which have been correlated against the NSW Board of Studies’ PD/H/PE syllabus. This evaluation report is based on data collected from 26 RAB groups using surveys developed by the authors, in collaboration with Interrelate team members.
Both students and teachers reported high levels of satisfaction with the RAB program. Both male and female students found the program particularly enjoyable, good to have discussed in a group, interesting and fun, although some students did find it a little upsetting and/or hard to understand (particularly younger students). Similarly, teachers found the RAB program particularly engaging and appropriate for their students, enjoyable, interesting, good to have discussed in a group and good value. Students’ and teachers’ written comments reinforced these positive satisfaction ratings, with only a few suggestions for improvement. More than half the students also nominated bullying issues they wanted to learn more about.
Both students and teachers also reported having found the RAB program a very useful learning experience. Students reported moderate-high levels of learning across all topic areas, particularly in relation to things they could do if they saw someone else being bullied or if they were bullied themselves, about how to keep themselves safe and how bullying affects everyone. Female students reported higher levels of learning than male students, overall and across many of the topics covered. Students also demonstrated awareness of a wide range of forms of bullying and three-quarters felt they would discuss what they had learned with their families. Teachers reported a refreshed understanding and increased comfort, confidence and capacity to discuss bullying issues with their students. Again, both students’ and teachers’ written comments reinforced these perceived learnings from the RAB program.
Unlike the other program reports in this series, this evaluation f the RAB program is somewhat constrained by a few methodological limitations. Due to the more limited availability of this program, the current evaluation is based on a relatively small dataset collected from only three schools, with an over-representation of female students (as one participating school was a Ladies’ College). While three-quarters of teachers completed evaluation forms, the student response rate was less optimal, due to the limited session times (especially within the 60-minute sessions) and to younger students having some difficulty completing their surveys. However, although based on a post-only survey (for pragmatic reasons), the consistency of and concordance between participants’ ratings and written comments enhance our confidence in the validity of the findings presented in this report.
Therefore, Interrelate can promote the existing RAB program as an acceptable and effective way of introducing primary students to a range of bullying issues. However, we recommend they consider conducting a larger-scale evaluation with a more diverse range of schools and students, possibly in conjunction with some additional followup to determine the extent and nature of any longer-term impacts associated with participating in the RAB program.