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This week’s guest post is from Dr Sue Evans, a Consultant Child Psychologist working as the Lead for Parenting and Children’s Social Competence Programmes at Powys Teaching Health Board. Sue has been leading on work to introduce the KiVa anti-bullying scheme to schools across Powys over the past couple of years. I caught up with her lately to find out more about how it’s going.What is your role as a Consultant Child Psychologist?

My role is very much about working with agencies and schools across Powys, and also across Wales in using evidence based approaches which promote children’s emotional health and well being and social competence. This involves working with parents, teachers and children using complimentary approaches. I feel very privileged to have been able to train staff from a whole range of agencies in evidence based approaches. I have focussed particularly on the Incredible Years® programme but since 2014 my role has also included rolling out and researching the KiVa anti-bullying programme.

I am also an honorary lecturer at Bangor University and through this post have been involved in supporting training and research across Wales.

How can childhood bullying impact on people, not only at the time but also later in life?

Sadly there is a good deal of evidence about the potential negative impact of bullying both in childhood and on into adulthood. Children who have been bullied may experience anxiety, depression, and loneliness and they may not do as well as they could do academically. There are risks into adulthood for depression, low self-esteem & difficulty sustaining relationships. Children who bully others are at risk of criminal offending in adulthood and may learn to use aggression as a means to get what they want. Children who are both bullies and victims carry the highest risk factors. 

Tell us about KiVa. What is it, and how did you find out about it?I found out about KiVa through my work at Bangor University. Kiva was developed and researched in Finland, it has a lot of robust research evidence of its effectiveness. It was great to have the opportunity to train as a KiVa trainer in Finland in 2014. After successfully piloting the programme in 2014 with 10 schools we made a decision to offer it to all primary and special schools in Powys through a rolling programme of training,

KiVa includes:

Actions for all in the form of:

  • A classroom curriculum for Key Stage Two (pupils aged 7 – 11 years). 
  • Whole school assemblies, posters and other material to remind pupils that the school is a KiVa school. 
  • Online resources for teachers. 
  • Online resources for parents. 
  • Online resources for children, including KiVa games, to help pupils build strong and supportive relationships with each other and learn how to deal with bullying. 
  • An annual online survey to measure bullying and well being. Pupils complete the survey anonymously online and the University of Turku provide feedback. 

There is also a structured procedure for schools to use if a case of bullying occurs.

Watch this ITV Wales news item which explains the KiVa approach in Powys. 

Why did you want to bring the KiVa anti-bullying scheme to Powys schools?

KiVa is predominantly a personal social education programme for creating a safe and happy school. It is important to understand that schools don’t have to have a specific problem with bullying to introduce KiVa. All schools in Wales are required to have a policy for dealing with bullying and KiVa is one of the best evidence based programmes for tackling bullying. 

What training do staff and pupils undertake to use the KiVa approach?

KiVa should be used as a whole school approach. The first stage is to train senior school staff, usually the head teacher and another member of the school KiVa team. This training takes place over two days and staff who attend the training are given materials to train their whole school staff and ideas and materials for introducing the programme to parents and children. It’s really a cascade model of training with head teachers being responsible for introducing KiVa to their school.

A multi-agency model is used; I provide training on behalf of Powys Teaching Health Board, funding for the training and equipment needed is provided through the Children and Young People’s Partnership and schools implement the programme themselves and pay a registration fee to access the online resources.

Which schools have already signed up to KiVa so far and how is it working for them?

Since 2014 we have trained 50 schools in Powys. This includes all three special schools and 47 primary schools from across the county. Schools are at different stages with KiVa, some have been delivering for three years, and others have been delivering KiVa for one or two years.

The feedback we have had from schools has been very positive. Teachers really like delivering KiVa and most pupils really enjoy it. Head teachers tell us that KiVa is making a real difference in creating a safe and happy school environment. Teachers also tell us that they feel more confident in dealing with bullying when it occurs.

The general feedback from schools has been excellent but we have also got good evidence from research we have carried out. We have a clinical doctoral student researching KiVa outcomes in Powys and she has found significant reductions in pupil reports of bullying for KiVa schools. The great news is that we have found significant effects after just one year, but bullying continues to reduce year on year for schools who continue to use KiVa. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of rolling out the KiVa programme?

The main challenge has been keeping KiVa alive in schools who have trained. Inevitably key staff members change in some schools and we have needed to provide retraining for some schools to ensure continuity.

We know that KiVa works if it is delivered in the way it was intended, so this is the challenge for all schools.

Tell us about some of the most rewarding work you have done with KiVa so far

It has been very rewarding to have great feedback from children and teachers about the impact of KiVa. Here are some of the comments:

“It complements our whole school values and behaviour programme brilliantly, permeating everything we do, and has been embraced by children, staff and parents alike.�

“We initially introduced the programme to the staff to help them to understand what it would be like to be bullied. It enabled them to see the benefit of working together as a team to develop a positive behavioural approach and to develop a culture of anti-bullying. This was cascaded to pupils through a whole school assembly then through in-class KiVa activities which immediately captured the children’s ability to empathise with others. A parents open evening followed in order to give parents the opportunity to understand this approach.”

Children now feel empowered to deal with a range of social situations:

“KiVa has made us happy.�

“KiVa has brought us together.�

“It has helped me get along with others, in my old school others were hurting me.�

“It has helped me get new friends.�

“There is no calling names now.�

“We have learnt to recognise what bullying is and how to stop it.â€� 

Many thanks to Sue for telling us all about the KiVa anti-bullying scheme in Powys. If you would like to contact her, please email: