BSA Education Officer Cherry Hughes reviews a new bullying-prevention resource.
Any primary school or therapy department which would be interested in trialling the TAB, please get in touch with Cherry, our Education Officer.
The Teasing and Bullying (TAB) Programme is a curriculum-level resource developed in Canada, which aims to change attitudes in schools towards teasing and bullying generally and particularly to children who stammer (CWS). It does not presently include cyber bullying but its material could be adapted to apply to that. According to many research studies, CWS are more likely to be bullied than their fluent peer group¹. TAB's focus on school years 4-6 is due to early research suggesting that younger children did not label dysfluent speech as stammering². TAB was thoroughly tested with 900 children and 37 teachers, and outcomes showed that it was effective in changing attitudes towards victims, bullying and CWS³. Although devised and trialled in Canadian schools, the same terms are used for the year groups there as in England and Wales. The recommended age range is about 9-11, which would equate with curriculum-led approaches over here, so I reviewed the programme with that in mind.
The programme comprises 6 units, containing a variable number of lessons of 20 in total. The last unit is about stammering and its approach could be adapted to move onto other examples of the diverse needs of children. The units have good lesson plans, with photocopiable material for activities for pupils both in the classroom and with parents at home. There is sound information about bullying generally and stammering in particular for the teacher. It is an accessible and well-presented resource with clear text, diagrams and pictures and will easily transfer to a UK classroom, as there is only the occasional different word usage, such as stuttering for stammering.
TAB is unique in my experience in offering information about stammering within a tailor-made universal intervention programme on bullying, so that a means is presented to get stammering into the mainstream agenda. As all schools are obliged to have a policy on bullying, and to teach personal, social and health education (PHSE), this resource could fill an important gap in current resource provision.
It also contains a DVD of about 10 minutes long which is very Canadian in its setting and approach. It is certainly interesting for adults to watch, as it is set in a classroom where bullying behaviour, particularly to a child who stammers, is highlighted, and discussions take place with the teacher and in pupil groups to resolve it. I am less sure about its usefulness for UK pupils though and would ideally like to see a DVD with similar intentions and examples filmed in a British primary school setting, as to my knowledge there is currently no such similar resource available.
Options for use
TAB is mainly intended for primary school teachers to use in schools with the support of any relevant professional, such as a speech and language therapist, for the unit on stammering. However, it also offers a range of options for its delivery depending on time available, goals and audience, and these are explained in detail, which is a boon for the busy professional. It has been successfully used, for instance, in therapy programmes for CWS and their families using selected lessons and the DVD. During therapy, children prepare presentations that explain what stammering is and practise these with a group of parents and volunteers. They then decide whether they want to present to their class, and whether they would like help from a parent or a therapist. The DVD and a selection from TAB may be used to support the presentation. The flexibility of TAB and its comprehensive guidance on its use make this an incredibly helpful resource for the toolkits of both teachers and therapists working with CWS. I particularly liked its provision of accessible material to support any talk about stammering to a class by a child or a professional, and the materials for use at home with a parent.
Setting up a UK pilot project to trial TAB
The BSA would welcome this very much. Any primary school and/or therapy department prepared to do this could borrow a copy of TAB from the BSA for their use. Some simple evaluation of the success of the programme would be needed. This could be constructed by the practitioners and/or assistance with this might be sought from the local authority, a local university or college department to make it a community stammering endeavour!
The Teasing and Bullying: Unacceptable Behaviour Programme was developed by Marilyn Langevin at the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR), affiliated with the University of Alberta, Canada, available at www.tab.ualberta.ca