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We should all aspire for a ‘reporting’ culture and acknowledge the important role we all play in this. A reporting culture means cultivating an atmosphere where people have confidence to report concerns without fear of either rebuke or retribution. A simple google search on a ‘reporting culture’ revealed a corporate website stating, ‘Employees must know that confidentiality will be maintained and that the information they submit will be acted upon, otherwise they will decide that there is no benefit in their reporting’. Of course, this is directly transferable to a school setting.

In Staff Briefings this term, I have encouraged staff to ‘report’ freely on student behaviour in order for us to maximise their experience, expertise and insight. Outstanding pastoral care requires a rigorously consistent approach, with frequent input and report from all angles, including yours as parents. We are all part of ‘the team around the child’, and the more we ‘report’ on what we see and hear from them – at home and school – the higher the level of care we can all achieve in their support.

Keystone’s My Actions is a useful reporting mechanism, to recognise and report on student behaviour. Merits are intrinsically and deliberately linked to the values of the School – for best efforts, role-modelling respect and outstanding displays of support for others. Four hundred merits have been issued already this term, which is pretty good going. Staff are equally encouraged to report freely through Notifications, which serve as a means to help track trends in our students that may require support and steering. And then there are Concerns – also linked to the values of the School. It should be reassuring to all that there is appropriate ‘concern’ (and consequence) when a student falls short of our values.

I can recall two excellent examples of students ‘reporting’ in 2020. A Middle Years student was worried about something his friend had posted on social media and so reported this to a teacher. A Senior Years student was concerned about the risk-taking behaviour of his friend on the weekends and reported this to his Mentor. Both boys, at both ends of the School, had the best interests of their friends in mind and at heart. They were certainly not reporting to get their friends into trouble, but because they cared. Reporting shows care.

We still hear the term – ‘snitch’ – now and again, mainly from our least mature students, stating that they do not want to ‘snitch’ on others. Please join me in reinforcing to your son/s that remaining silent on what they see to be unacceptable, hurtful or unsafe is not some form of misplaced loyalty or mateship but is actually harmful to the environment. Please feel free to tell your son that reporting shows he cares about the experience and wellbeing of others, which not only reflects strength of character, but also positions him as a ‘force for good’ and a leader of culture, something we all want to see in our future leaders.

In the Year 12 Muster this week, School Psychologist, Ms Jackman, and I, presented results from the 2020 bullying survey. We deliberately wanted this year group to see the data before others. We allowed silence for them to reflect on the numbers and percentages, and on their own experiences. We then appealed to them to lead responsibly on culture in the year ahead; to set the tone and the standard through their actions and interactions; to be brave in calling out behaviour where necessary, and, overall, to report. We highlighted that all Year 12 students have an important leadership role to play in their Mentor groups this year – checking in with, guiding and supporting the younger boys. Through this, perhaps the greatest legacy the class of 2021 will leave may not just be linked to academic results, but to culture, and a firm commitment to keep ours closer to one that empowers all to ‘report’, responsibly and for the good of others. I believe in them to achieve this, and I invite the same from you and all of our community.

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School