Schools across Leicestershire have started to implement an innovative leadership programme to prevent bullying and violence.
The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Programme, which is funded by Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach through the county’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN), is being implemented in seven secondary schools in the county with a further wave of schools set to undertake training in the New Year.
The programme, which is based on a ‘bystander approach’, involves students in Years 10 and 11 becoming mentors and equipping them with the knowledge, confidence and skills to safely take action to prevent issues from escalating.
Supported by staff, mentors also facilitate sessions with younger students about issues that commonly concern young people and through discussion, promote the values and attitudes which prevent bullying and violence. Mentors also act as a role models and play an active part in creating a safe school environment.
It follows the success of the MVP programme across Scotland, where the programme has been running for 10 years. Schools which implemented the programme have reported greater awareness of violence-related issues, more confidence amongst students to speak out as well as less bullying and increased feelings of safety.
The first seven schools to have received training are The Newbridge School, Judgemeadow Community College, Keyham Lodge School, Redmoor Academy, King Edward VII Science and Sports College, The Castle Rock School and The Winstanley School.
A new taster session is set to take place this month before schools wishing to implement the programme will participate in training in January 2021.
Grace Strong, Director of the VRN, said: “MVP is an excellent example of a programme which seeks to prevent violence from occurring in the first place.
“It places young people centre-stage and gives them the tools they need to play an active role in promoting the values, attitudes and culture which we know prevents violence in all its forms. Not only does MVP hold huge potential within a school environment, the benefits will also be felt more widely as mentors and younger students take their learning into communities and eventually into adulthood.
“I am delighted that we already have seven schools implementing MVP. The enthusiasm and commitment from these schools has been inspiring, particularly at this difficult time. We are now ready to introduce MVP to more secondary schools and I would encourage any school which is interested to get in touch with the team.”
Lord Willy Bach, Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “We know that the causes of violence are complex and to address these young people need to be empowered to play their part. The aim of the MVP programme is to break the continuum of violence, which may start with unkind words but can escalate quickly if left unaddressed. The school environment is an ideal place to encourage young people to understand the values, attitudes and behaviours which can lead to violence and address these within the context of friendships.
“The skills and confidence these young mentors are building will stay with them throughout adult life. Together, they are making a real difference to the safety of their schools and the wider community and helping to transform lives.”
Kevin Curtis, Behaviour Inclusion Manager at Keyham Lodge School, which is already implementing the programme, said: “Keyham Lodge School is a social, emotional and mental health school within the city of Leicester. Our current cohort is made up students who are at most risk of serious criminal behaviours that result in knife crime, violent crimes or being involved within county lines.
“Over the last three years I have been running various projects within the school which have focussed on raising awareness and changing students’ attitudes around violent crime. The introduction of MVP will allow us to go to the next steps in the work we do with our young people.
“By introducing MVP at Keyham Lodge School we hope to unearth great leadership potential and to promote the bystander approach which will support the well-established school culture. In addition to this, we want the training to support in creating an environment where all students feel confident to openly discuss the key challenges they face in life and to understand it’s ok to disagree.”
To find out more information about MVP please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place on a webinar with our MVP programme trainer Graham Goulden.
An MVP Information Webinar will take place on 17th December from 3.30pm to 4.30pm. A briefing can also be found at: https://www.violencereductionnetwork.co.uk/mentors-in-violence-prevention.