The KidsMatter Primary framework brings together:
- the beliefs that underpin KidsMatter (the guiding principles)
- the areas in which schools can most effectively concentrate their learning, planning and action (the core components)
- the essential elements for working together as a school community (the whole school approach).
Seven principles underpin the KidsMatter Primary framework. They have been informed by research and the experiences of primary schools that successfully implemented KidsMatter.
The seven guiding principles are:
- The best interests of children are paramount
- Respectful relationships are foundational
- Diversity is respected and valued
- Parents and carers are recognised as the most important people in children’s lives
- Parents and teachers support children best by working together
- Students need to be active participants
- Schools, health and community agencies work together with families.
These principles are intended to support schools (like a navigation aid) along the KidsMatter journey.
Structuring KidsMatter Primary into the four component areas is a way of making the task of working to improve student's mental and health and wellbeing in schools more manageable.
It also ensures that schools focus the initiative to be most effective. Their selection has been guided by evidence and expert opinion about the most significant influences on children’s mental health and wellbeing. We have also focused especially on those factors that schools can influence.
The four components are:
- Positive school community
- Social and emotional learning for students
- Working with parents and carers
- Helping children with mental health difficulties.
Each component is unpacked into more specific target areas and goals to help schools with their planning.
Whole school approach
School leaders know that if they want to implement any major new initiative in their schools in a sustainable way, they need to:
- engage with and involve the whole school community
- ensure that action is taken at an individual as well as organisational level.
KidsMatter is no different from any other major new initiative. We now know that the most effective wellbeing interventions in schools occur when all school community members (teachers and school staff, parents and carers, and health and community agencies) are consulted and collaborative partnerships are developed. This is particularly so in the area of children’s mental health because of the significant influences of the family and community, as well as the school.
There are four main features of a whole school approach:
- Planning for whole school change
- Professional learning, shared understanding and focus for staff
- Partnerships with parents and carers, health and community agencies
- Action within and beyond the classroom.
How it works: The journey
The KidsMatter Primary journey is about school improvement. Just as school communities are continually reinventing and renewing themselves as new staff, students and families move through; KidsMatter is also a cyclical process of improvement and renewal. It will take between 18 months and 3 years to complete the first cycle.
Before the journey begins it is important that schools have a shared vision, and the active support of the principal, staff and parents. The school then works through the core components in a planned, strategic way, with a whole school approach. To make this journey purposeful, KidsMatter identifies a number of target areas from the core components. These are:
- A school community that promotes mental health and wellbeing
- Respectful relationships, belonging and inclusion
- Effective social and emotional learning curriculum for all students
- Opportunities for students to practice and transfer their social and emotional skills
- Collaborative working relationships with parents and carers
- Support for parenting
- Parent and carer support networks
- Understanding mental health difficulties and improving help-seeking
- Responding to students experiencing mental health difficulties.
Professional development events
KidsMatter Primary provides professional learning, development and support though a series of targeted events. You can register for these online. The audience and content for each event is described below.
Professional learning in each of the component areas
It is important to understand that KidsMatter works with a 'train-the-trainer' approach to the professional learning in each of the component areas for whole school staff groups.
KidsMatter Primary Briefing
Target audience: School leaders and other interested school, education and health personnel.
This briefing provides information about KidsMatter and how it can support the work of school leaders, school, education and health personnel with a focus on the importance of gaining the support of the school staff and parent body. It provides all the information schools need to make a decision about participating in KidsMatter.
Getting started: Professional learning for Action Team members (1 day)
Target audience: Staff within primary schools who are taking a lead role in the implementation of KidsMatter within their school (known as the Action Team).
This session provides information about the content of KidsMatter, its underpinning mental health concepts and processes and tools for aiding implementation of KidsMatter while supporting school priorities and strategic planning. Schools receive all the resources to begin the KidsMatter journey.
Facilitating Components 1 to 4 (1 day for each component)
- Facilitating Component 1: A positive school community
- Facilitating Component 2: Social and emotional learning for students
- Facilitating Component 3: Working with parents and carers
- Facilitating Component 4: Helping students experiencing mental health difficulties
Target audience: School or external education, health and community agency personnel who will deliver or support the delivery of the 3 – 4 hours of KidsMatter professional learning for each component in school to the school staff.
Each day familiarises participants with the content of each of the four component areas and the whole school staff processes of the professional learning. It also prepares participants to effectively deliver the professional learning to schools. Deliverers will have experience in facilitating professional learning to adults within the primary school sector. It is highly recommended that School Action Teams work in partnership with appropriate parenting support and mental health professionals in the delivery of Components 3 and 4.
Overview of KidsMatter Primary
Target audience: Interested people, including new staff in KidsMatter participating schools and interested education, health and community personnel.
The overview session assists in providing a deeper understanding of the KidsMatter Primary framework, its underpinning mental health concepts, the implementation process and the target areas within the four component areas. Participants will have the opportunity to explore what it can mean for their role working in or with a school.
Implementation support and network meeting (1/2 day)
Target audience: Action Team members from different schools and education, health and community agency personnel working with KidsMatter schools.
These meetings provide an opportunity for sharing of experiences in implementing KidsMatter. In addition to building networks and collegial support. They also provide additional professional learning and support from KidsMatter staff to enhance the implementation process.
Working with KidsMatter Primary: Professional learning for people working with KidsMatter schools (1/2 day)
Target audience: Education, health and community agency personnel who are working with KidsMatter participating schools.
These sessions are designed for education, health and community agency personnel who are working with primary schools that are undertaking KidsMatter. The sessions highlight the capacity of external personnel to work with and support School Action Teams with the implementation of KidsMatter and addressing children’s mental health needs. Education, health and community personnel can act as a critical friend, assist schools to identify resources, supports and referral pathways, create networks and provide opportunities for sharing of experiences and perspectives.