Shelfield Students Launch Anti-Cyberbullying Video

In response to evidence that bullying via social media is an issue that many teenagers have to contend with, a group of Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy students worked alongside a local film maker; they began by gathering anecdotal reports of instances of cyberbullying and spoke to victims about the impact this activity had had on their live within and beyond school.

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Isobel Higgins, a Year 10 student was one of the group involved. She said: "The most shocking thing is that this can take over peoples’ lives, it doesn’t stop when people go home, they can be bullied and picked on 24-7".

The students felt so strongly about the topic that they approached Walsall Council and the Police to raise funding towards the production of a new resource aimed at their peers. A lot of the materials used in schools are dated; they were keen to produce a film which reflected just how quickly things can spin out of control.

As an enrichment programme linked to their Duke of Edinburgh award, the group met weekly to develop ideas. A script was drafted and shared with advisory staff and teachers and professional actors were recruited to take adult roles. In July an eager cast of around thirty students were involved in three days of intensive filming in and around the academy working with a broadcast crew alongside ex Shelfield students who are now undergraduates in media at Birmingham City University.

Locations included local streets and houses to add authenticity and give the film a genuine local identity; the students even approached McDonald’s head office in London to gain permission to film scenes in the Rushall branch where a group of girls gather after school.

The completed film will be launched at the academy today. Copies will then be made available to other schools across the Ormiston network and through the advisory services in Walsall Council. Curriculum Enrichment Leader and PSHE coordinator at the academy Carmel Tatlock is now developing a scheme of work for the whole of year 8, using the film as a starting point for discussion: "To have a home grown resource of this quality is fantastic; I am sure this will have a positive impact on students across the academy.”

Lauren Westwood who plays the victim in the story is really proud of her achievement: "The impact of cyberbullying is underestimated by teachers and adults in general, only our generation understand how social media can become really threatening and even control someone’s life."