Peace Education was adopted as a major concern of our Area Meeting in 2014 and we have now completed over 57 programmes in schools across our area. We always welcome new volunteers and currently are particularly in need of Welsh speakers. See contact details below.
The Peaceful Schools Project offers to schools a 6-week, 1-hour a week programme. It is an initiative of Mid-Wales Area Quaker Meeting but it is not about Quakerism. It is a response to the culture of violence and hostility in our society, as evidenced in, for example, violent video games, and as expressed in bullying in our schools and on our streets. Its aim is to create a peaceful atmosphere in schools where pupils treat each other with respect, work co-operatively, and resolve problems constructively.
We start with establishing ground rules - listening, respecting, sharing, confidentiality etc and then begin very basic conflict resolution work, starting with the individual and working outwards – feeling OK about ourselves, handling our own anger, being aware of how overlapping and complex are our ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’; then handling bullying and other people’s anger and aggression; awareness of different perceptions of situations, the challenges of decision-making; and progressing to the potential in co-operation and a more pro-active mediation.
Much of the work is done with circle time, plus some work in small groups. We use a mixture of talking, sharing, exercises and games. We use quiet periods and mindful breathing to give pupils the skills to handle their own stresses, and stories to focus attention on particular issues. We work in pairs, and with the form staff present and engaged with the programme.
This is apparently a very minor input into the school week but we know from feedback that the work extends into other parts of the school week, both because teachers pick up on some of the exercises and because the children refer back to it. At the end of a programme we ask for feedback from teachers and pupils (anonymously) as to what has worked best, what has been most (and least) enjoyable, whether they would recommend the work to other classes.
The programme is offered free to schools and initially concentrated on the upper forms of primary (years 4,5, & 6). However it has now been extended to cover both top infants classes and the first year of secondary school. We currently cover schools in north Powys, north Ceredigion and south Gwynedd.