Joining KidsMatter Primary has helped Tecoma Primary School bring together its many student wellbeing activities into one strong action plan. School staff members are now more focused on the social and emotional learning (SEL) of their students and confident in promoting mental health and wellbeing of the whole-school community.
As a result, students at Tecoma Primary now feel a stronger sense of community and connection with school staff members.
Benefits of participating in KidsMatter Primary
Before joining KidsMatter, Tecoma Primary was implementing various student wellbeing activities. Lisa Hoskins-Faul, a teacher and KidsMatter Action Team Leader, shared: “we knew how important health and wellbeing was as a part of our job, but many of us were not confident to deliver this is an authentic way. We already had circle time timetabled across the whole school each week but this was not always deemed important in every classroom. In a crowded curriculum it is often the first thing to go. We used restorative practices in both the playground and the classroom but we wanted to create a whole-school community culture.”
School Principal Rohan Thompson reiterates that KidsMatter needs to be a part of a school’s annual implementation plan and strategic plan to ensure accountability across all levels of the school. In 2011, Assistant Principal Di Double introduced KidsMatter Primary to school staff after attending a Leadership Briefing. Lisa says that from their discussion, KidsMatter Primary presented a way to synthesise “the good things we were doing.” It also showed them how to “develop a language and way of dealing with student wellbeing that was consistent across the whole school.”
Collaboration right from the start
The school’s Action Team is composed of the Assistant Principal, representatives from each teaching team and parents. Tecoma Primary also opted to appoint a KidsMatter Coordinator to ensure that the school continued to progress through to Component 2 even when there were changes to the membership of the Action Team.
The Action Team planned a KidsMatter Day in 2012 to launch the framework. Students, school staff, and parents collaborated to produce a music video that showcased Tecoma Primary as a positive place. Senior students were assigned a year level each to choreograph and direct while the parents assisted with filming. Everyone worked cohesively in teams and the video production became a whole community project that reflected the positive vibe in the school and gave the senior students a real sense of ownership.
Since then, the school has held an annual KidsMatter Day. In 2015, the school’s KidsMatter Day was celebrated with the theme Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies and activities focussed on good nutrition, physical exercise, mindfulness, and cybersafety were held.
In a cyclical two-year focus of Component 1, Tecoma Primary also incorporated the popular ‘Cup Song’, the whole school performing en masse to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. This also included past students from Upwey High School filming the performance as a part of the cross-age tutoring program run across the school network.
Embedding a whole-school wellbeing framework
The school has completed Component 2 professional learning and will begin with Component 3 in 2016. A weekly SEL lesson is scheduled and school staff members undergo professional learning in Component 1 every two years. The Action Team also plans to revisit the survey data collected through the KidsMatter framework to pinpoint student concerns and issues, and to streamline the professional learning needs of staff members.
Lisa states that the resources in the KidsMatter Primary portal have made their planning easy and consistent across all year levels. The surveys and resources suggested by KidsMatter provide scope and sequence in teaching SEL. “It is so important to have goals to reach for and a clear vision. The surveys assist in many ways. They give us concrete data to focus on and ensure that we are really listening to our students’ voice. It also shows what we are doing well and where we need to improve.”
Tecoma Primary School is now on track to complete Component 4 within the next 18 months. Lisa advises schools that are starting their KidsMatter journey to take time to carefully plan their implementation. This will enable Action Teams to ingrain SEL in their school culture.