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Sixth Form Learn to Negotiate

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sixth Form students from both the Girls' Division and the Boys' Division of Bolton School attended a talk aimed at giving them a better understanding of the negotiation skills needed to cope in a hostage situation. The talk, given by Chartered Forensic Psychologist, Mrs Carol Bond, formed part of the girls' Gifted and Talented Programme, an ongoing Learning Support programme which aims to enrich the students' learning experience and develop their thinking skills.

The title of the lecture was 'Resolving Hostage Situations: Talking Your Way Out of a Crisis"; and was a participative lecture in which students were asked to consider how they would resolve a number of tense hostage situations within a limited amount of time - replicating the pressure of a real hostage situation.

Mrs Carol Bond is a Senior Lecturer in BSc Criminological & Forensic Psychology at the University of Bolton and her talk was adapted from the Forensic Psychology module that makes up part of the degree. Mrs Bond used to work for North-West Prisons, training the hostage negotiators and still spends a lot of time sitting on Parole Board hearings.

The talk revealed how the hijacking of a coach in 1972 (which inspired the film "Speed") and the subsequent efforts to diffuse the situation, set the parameters for future negotiations in hostage scenarios. Mrs Bond spoke of terrorist hostage situations such as the Moscow Theatre and, more recently, the Mumbai hotels. She advised pupils that it can be virtually impossible to resolve a situation if the hijackers are intending to commit suicide, but described how there is often room for negotiation in cases such as robberies that have gone wrong, ransoms, kidnappings in prison or where a personal crisis has escalated, such as in domestic situations where wives, children or neighbours are kidnapped.

The students were taught that the key tactics in negotiation are: containment, in order to bring as much safety as possible to the situation; isolation, to build the hostage taker's dependence on the negotiator; negotiation, in order to find a safe resolution; and playing for time, which will reduce stress levels and bring more rational thought to the situation.

The presentation was thought-provoking and captured the imagination of the students. Lucy Nolan, Head Girl, said: "I found the talk very interesting, Psychology is something that has always interested me and Mrs Bond was very knowledgeable about negotiation skills and how to bring a successful conclusion to crisis situations."

Mrs Richards, Headmistress, said: "This was an excellent presentation from a knowledgeable and dynamic lecturer. Presentations like this help develop important life-skills and prepare our students not just for university but for life beyond it."

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Sixth Form Girls with Mrs Carol Bond

Sixth Form Girls with Mrs Carol Bond, Senior Lecturer in BSc Criminological & Forensic Psychology at the University of Bolton

Sixth Form in Negotiation Skills Presentation

The talk aimed to give students a better understanding of the negotiation skills needed to cope in a hostage situation