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Transforming school cultures

Start date

July 2020

End date

July 2021

Project website



This project involved a youth-led initiative to change the peer and school cultures and climates that underpin abusive and harmful practices and behaviours in schools.

As an embedded researcher in a Surrey secondary school in November 2018, Dr Emily Setty identified issues relating to bullying; social shaming, policing, judgement and division; gender and sexual inequalities; risky and harmful sexual and relational practices; and an over-arching ‘anti-snitch’ culture that inhibits reporting and positive models of bystander intervention.

This IAA project was awarded in order to generate change through formal interventions, education and informal mechanisms of peer-delivered/involved support and guidance. The aim was for the project to generate self-sustaining tools, resources, models and approaches that can be adopted by all schools in the UK.

Emily held workshops with staff from schools within the Surrey Local Education Authority, parents and young people, to take their insights and contributions at the beginning, middle and end of the project.



Success was to be evidenced by an established high-quality set of resources (the online resource, toolkit, infographic and train-the-trainer model) which will be adaptable for use by other schools.

Through consulting with the School of Sexuality Education and Fumble, Emily hoped to understand how to empower staff to recognise their role in school cultures and climates, and how to generate change in staff attitudes and behaviours that contribute to harm.

The resulting toolkit was to include guidance on how to equip staff with the skills and attributes required to positively contribute to school cultures and climates, and to deliver meaningful Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) and other forms of education and intervention.

Emily collaborated with expert consultants to ensure the solutions were impactful and widely applicable. The project also met wider ESRC strategic aims in terms of stakeholder engagement, co-design and ensuring that research meets the needs of society.

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