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Peer schemes and SEN/disability

There is very little evidence about the impact of peer support schemes of reducing disablist bullying (i.e. bullying of disabled pupils and/or those with special educational needs). To try to address this we spoke with groups of disabled young people to find out their thoughts about peer support.

Primary school pupils

In the first instance, they were sceptical about the use of these schemes and did not think they worked well. When this was broken down this was due to felling that:

  • their disability / SEN was not well understood by peer supporters 
  • the supporters were often the ‘most popular’ in the school
  • they were unconfident they’d get support from the peer supporters
  • the supporters were not representative of them

To ensure that your support schemes are inclusive we must address these concerns. Key to making this work your school must:

  • Already have inclusive practice in school with positive portrayals of disability and SEN
  • Be clear with peer supporters that disabled children and those with SEN are more likely to experience bullying and that reports must be taken seriously
  • Ensure your peer scheme is not just ‘the popular students’ but is representative of the school population – including SEN/disability
  • Ask all students – and especially disabled students and those with SEN – what they think about the peer scheme. If you have lesser engagement with peer supporters from disabled students, put activity in place to increase this engagement
06 Apr 2018