A world-leading programme that brings school bullies together in teams with classmates who are being bullied will feature at a forum in Auckland today.

The "undercover" approach, developed at South Auckland's Rosehill and Edgewater Colleges, asks students being bullied to nominate their two worst bullies and four non-bullies who are among the leaders in their class to join a secret team to tackle the bullying.

Surprisingly, says Edgewater College school counsellor Mike Williams, the two bullies in the teams always agree to stop the bullying because they are never named as the bullies.

"They get reinforcement and recognition and support from the other team members that have a plan to change things," he said yesterday.

He will tell today's forum, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, that the programme is catching on around the world.

"There are schools in Thailand and the United States that are using it."

He said the process always started with a victim telling his or her story. Mr Williams transcribes the story and helps the student choose other members of the team to deal with it.

He reads the victim's story at the first team meeting, tells team members he will not name the bullies, but says everyone in the team may have seen the bullying or know about it.

"The idea is that there is no blame attached to the people doing the bullying. That's central. It enables them to make the changes they need to make and save face. Saving face is very important to most people, particularly in Asian and Pacific cultures."

He then asks the team to develop a plan to stop the bullying. In one case where a girl was being called "Snoop Dog", the team agreed to stop using that term, stop other students using it and find other ways to support the girl.

Team members are asked to keep the team secret and to keep meeting with the counsellor until the victim says the bullying has stopped.

In 27 teams at Edgewater since 2004, this has never taken longer than three weeks.

"I haven't had any failures."

Mr Williams said the bullies themselves were often outside the mainstream and found it difficult to make friends or cope with schoolwork.

"Most kids that bully - other kids don't like them, they're scared of them," he said.

"So it's an artificially constructed team. It gives bullies an opportunity to be part of a team that would normally have been denied to them. In some cases, they have really become leaders in the senior school."

Mr Williams often follows up afterwards with one-on-one counselling for the bullies.

"Often a boy might have a lot of anger. You might pick it up and say, 'This is not working for you, is it?'

"So we do some programmes and get them working on their relationships with their peers."

Edgewater College, a decile four school in Pakuranga, has a roll that is 30 per cent Asian, 27 per cent Pacific, 24 per cent Pakeha and 19 per cent Maori.

Mr Williams said the programme had helped to make it a very safe school.

Anti-Bullying Plan

Plan developed by a team at Edgewater College for a girl who was being called "Snoop Dog"

* Tell people to stop if they are being mean.

* Don't use the words "Snoop Dog" and stop others doing so.

* Ask her if she is okay, if she is having a bad day.

* Talk to her, give her a hug when she needs it.

* Tell her her hair is fine, buy her lunch.