Work on bullying needs to happen as children are unsure what actually constitutes as bullying.
We had some parents come into school saying their child was being bullied online but it hadn’t been reported to us. We knew we had to do something different to what was already in place in school. We needed to find a way for the children to report what was happening but in such a way that they felt safe. We use Commando Joe’s and they have links with tootoot, which is how we initially heard of tootoot.
Michael Brennan contacted our Principal - Jennie Westley - to explain a little about tootoot and ask if she was interested in a demonstration. We had a demonstration, really liked what we saw and implemented it as quickly as we could.
Every child in school has their own login - at present we have only distributed logins to KS2, with Y2 ceiving their logins later in the year. They can access tootoot throughout the school day and they also use it at home. The set up was so easy! Tootoot did most of the hard work and we just had to launch it and give the children their logins and show them how it works. This was also a great opportunity to reiterate to our students the importance of being safe online and keeping passwords secure.
To launch to our students we dedicated a small number of assemblies to it and teachers used IT lessons to demonstrate it to the children but these were what we considered to be vital arrangements. The set up was also very quick! The part which took the most time was when a number of children (in their initial excitement) logged on just to say ‘hello’ and there were a number of cases to respond to which weren’t actual cases. This was a natural response to something new being launched in school as we asked our students to do a test case.
There’s always been someone at the end of a phone or an email who has been willing to help as and when we have had questions. The support for set up and on going customer service is excellent.
From our experience, our children are able to report anything that’s happened as soon as they can - without feeling the pressure of peers or potential bullies seeing them talk to an adult. We can see patterns of behaviour - any particular names that crop up - and address them as necessary. It has also resulted in several safeguarding disclosures, which then enabled us to put in place the best courses of action for those children concerned.
Tootoot saves us so much time. Children are able to share their worries much more quickly which means we can deal with them before they develop into a more serious problem. As a result of this we have recommended tootoot to a number of schools already. It’s a really valuable tool for our children to combat bullying. Bullying - by it’s nature - relies on secrecy and often the complicity of others. Tootoot means anyone can expose bullying behaviour in a way that feels safe. The anonymity aspect of it means people speak up when they might not have otherwise.
As a Trust we have been working closely with Michael Brennan and Tootoot for the last 2 years. Our involvement stemmed from seeing the success of the reporting platform for children and young people in one of our primary academies.
The platform gave the children a place to voice their concerns and almost immediately became the system the pupils used to report these concerns. Although reporting levels were high to begin with disclosures could be dealt with swiftly.
The children quickly gained confidence in using Tootoot and it became a very important tool in safeguarding pupils. This success was shared at one of our safeguarding conferences and as a result all academies were given the opportunity to trial Tootoot for a year and all of them signed up!
The support given to our academies was excellent, particularly in setting up the system and the ongoing support in monitoring and tracking the data.
Tootoot has also provided the Trust with a safeguarding dashboard which allow us to have an overview of all disclosures and incidents from our academies. At academy level and at trust level we have used the analysis tool to identify the main issues for children and young people in our academies and act on this by providing training for staff and ensuring the pupils are supported through the curriculum with key safeguarding issues.
Over time Tootoot has become more refined and has responded to the growing requirements of Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2016) and Working Together to Safeguard Children.
It is our aim as a Trust to be at the forefront of safeguarding developments and believe Tootoot provides this. It has become a “one stop shop” for children and young people, staff and parents and of course ATT.
Wigan Council has a clear strategic vision aligned to the Deal for Children and Young People to ensure that Children and Young People of Wigan Borough are confident and resilient individuals who are connected to their community and make an effective contribution as responsible citizens. We also want to ensure that they feel safe and care about their health, education and employment, and their community.
As part of the Deal we have made a commitment to make sure we work with our partners to make sure our Children and Young People are safe, and in return Children and Young People tell us when they don’t feel safe. The implementation and rollout of the Tootoot system (application) to all 131 education settings in the borough is the pivotal tool to ensure we provide a ‘vehicle’ where children and young people can tell us when they don’t feel safe.
Throughout robust consultation with our children and young people strategic management teams were told how bullying and mental health were significant issues and concerns felt amongst young people in our borough. The fact that Tootoot offers a platform for young people ‘to make sure their voice is heard’ whilst remaining anonymous was one of the biggest benefits to the system and the thing we feel our young people value the most.
We are currently undergoing large scale transformation to early intervention and prevention services, making sure that our newly designed delivery model supports and integrated approach and an ability to share information between professionals. The fact that Tootoot collates information that can be collated and shared amongst strategic leadership teams (via an overarching dashboard) allows us to make sound commission decisions for support services for our young people. In addition, the same information can inform the key priorities for the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board in Wigan borough.
Another key benefit includes the ability for information and safeguarding incidents to be recorded by staff that a child/young person has been involved in over a period of time, to inform ‘Early Help’ assessments. Collating this information for professionals in the past was deemed timely however information can be downloaded from Tootoot with the click of a button.
Tootoot developers have been ever present in working alongside the Council and Schools in rolling out the system across the borough – and we see them as a key community partner in delivering the Deal for Children and young people in Wigan. They have been able to offer high level of customer service and support on a school by school basis through one to one sessions with our schools, delivering group demonstrations and going the extra mile in helping some schools launch and set their system up. We have already identified new opportunities to develop the application/system potentially using it with our Nursey/Childcare providers across the borough.
In addition, developers at Tootoot have reacted really positively when discussing opportunities to how we can filter the information collated in the system could be used and scaled us to feed into Single View. Single View provides a holistic view of the child, drawing on information gathered from multiple systems used across different organisations (health and care) in Wigan. This gives practitioners a combined chronology and an overview of the child professional involvements across all involved agencies. Tootoot recognises the Council (and our partners) needs for effective information sharing across organisational boundaries as we move to a more Integrated way of working in Wigan.
How was your overall experience with tootoot?
Tootoot has been very useful for us – it has provided a new communications outlet for our students.
Every school has bullying and safeguarding issues. If they say they don't, they are being untruthful.
We have an excellent history of dealing with safeguarding issues here yet we can't always know about everything. As a Peer Mentor co-ordinator, I believe in tootoot and it's effectiveness. I see how students love to use their phones and tablets to communicate and this provided an easier way to communicate concerns.
I have a team of 4 staff and 8 student Tootoot mentors who have been selected from my Peer Mentor team. I oversee the system and assign cases to people. I have all the Heads of Year uploaded as well so we can work with them on dealing with cases.
We use topics from cases studies as discussion points in my weekly meeting with the full Peer Mentor team and we plan intervention workshops or assemblies to help alleviate some of the problems students are facing. When setting up tootoot I had my ICT support assistant help me with the set-up.
She already had all pupils on an excel spreadsheet and she used that to upload everyone. She said it was very easy and straightforward to do and the continual ongoing support has been fantastic. I have found the video tutorials helpful on the website.
Also, any technical issues have been dealt with very swiftly and efficiently by Tootoot themselves. There was no disruption to school life at all. My senior leadership team thought it was an excellent idea from the outset.
Tootoot is helping us uncover issues before they are left to fester and turn into bigger problems. For example, there is a lot of anxiety around Year 7 transitioning to senior school. Many fret over homework, tests, new friendships. We have seen great success at nipping these in the bud before they develop into full blown anxiety and stress.
Also, cyber bullying has been addressed much quicker before that escalates. As a result of this it has saved us a lot of time dealing with incidents compared to that of face-to-face because a lot of the low level stuff was just not being reported. Witnessing a physical attack can be reported anonymously and dealt with swiftly.
Tootoot, in my opinion, will help schools uncover issues which otherwise may go undetected and, as I said above, allows concerns to be addressed before they become big problems in the mind of the young person.