Trinity Anglican School – Cairns Profile
- Established in 1983 in Cairns with primary schools at two sites
- P – 7 enrolment at White Rock, south of Cairns is 340 with 48 Kindergarten students, and also a secondary school
- Enrolment at Kewarra Beach to the north is 300 P -7 students
- The school motto is teaching them to observe all things.
Introducing KidsMatter- in two sites
White Rock 2010
In April 2010, Barbara LaCoste, Head of the Junior School at White Rock, attended a Staff and Student Wellbeing Conference and discovered that KidsMatter Primary could support the school focus on social and emotional learning. Barbara thought it would assist teachers to respond to the diverse needs of students. The Action Team has been influential in establishing KidsMatter in the school, and its members are also on the Pastoral Care Committee which meets weekly. Barbara LaCoste, Head, Junior School, White Rock Campus has observed the positive effects of KidsMatter Primary in student interactions. Teachers in the playground do not spend as much time sorting out squabbles between peers. Even the youngest students at White Rock now use language that shows they are more able to solve problems. Students understand that ‘it’s okay to be caring.’
Kewarra Beach 2012
Head of the Junior School, Imelda Spence, has supported staff to work on Component 2 during Term 1 through training in Bounce Back skills. The school has a strong musical focus and within a short time of introducing KidsMatter Primary, a member of the Action Team composed a song with the theme, I matter. White Rock shares information about KidsMatter Primary with Marlin Coast. The school community has been informed about the new directions on social and emotional learning through introductions at assemblies, newsletters with information from KidsMatter Primary and library displays.
At White Rock, communication between the school and families and carers is made simpler through eduKite, a communication hub that allows each student to have a personal webpage. Parents receive daily e-newsletters with information, photos, and resources that focus on classroom programs such as Bounce Back. Teachers can convert almost any content item into a portfolio item, and download homework and notices onto eduKite. A mirror is situated in the playground area at Kewarra Beach to enable students to look at their reflection. The mirror is surrounded by positive and encouraging words.
Some of our assemblies focus on creative ways of reinforcing wellbeing. Different classes explain and present ideas about wellbeing to the rest of the school in a creative way. The lower junior area is a social hub for parents involved in school activities such as assemblies and they can hear information about social and emotional health and wellbeing. Our weekly awards promote KidsMatter qualities: kindness; respect; helpfulness and honesty.
Imelda Spence, Head, Junior School, Kewarra Beach
Knowing about the school community
When the Action Team at White Rock organised the Component 1 parent survey, they did not expect to find that one parent group felt isolated. The findings showed the international community was on the fringes. The school learned there were language barriers. Teachers worked on ways to include parents and carers from non-English speaking backgrounds. The English as a Second Language teacher teaches English classes to adults twice a week. She arranges interpreters for parent-teacher interviews and other meetings.
Another success was the International Camp we held for parents and families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities. Now our Parent Community Group meets fortnightly to assist with the implementation of KidsMatter Primary initiatives. The group welcomes new families and invites guest speakers for coffee mornings.
Barbara LaCoste, Head, Junior School White Rock
Talking about mental health
Both Barbara and Imelda agree that staff at their respective campuses were already aware of mental health. However; they see that they talk about it differently now. Both Heads value the new focus on mental health and wellbeing, and they are building it into the curriculum.
What’s different about KidsMatter? All sorts of materials sit on shelves from previous programs. But the KidsMatter framework allows us to develop an approach to student wellbeing that we can tailor – it is not a one-size fits all. It’s not a program but a ‘framework’ for the purpose of supporting students and their mental health.
Barbara LaCoste, Head, Junior School, White Rock
Weekly Action Team meetings include parent representatives and guide the implementation of KidsMatter. We’ve used Restorative Justice practices for some years, and we expect students to think about solutions for their relationships. We have the ‘I matter’ song, and students know the importance of giving respect. We decided to display photos of everyone in the school to strengthen the message that we are an inclusive community.
Imelda Spence, Head, Junior School, Kewarra Beach