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    Personal Story

     Learning-and-Teaching 

    Catherine Scheffer
    Year 12 Siena College, Camberwell

    Along with six other Siena students and two teachers, I embarked on an immersion to South Africa for two weeks last year, living with a host family while learning of the history and culture of the country. 

    I noticed that despite all the hardships of the women of Kopanang, they were some of the happiest people I had ever met. The children stood out in particular for me; happy over the slightest of things. 

    For example, the other students and I brought balloons, pencils and stickers, which had them ecstatic for days on end. 

    This ability to draw happiness from poverty and quite often, hunger and pain, motivated me to produce a series of drawings under the title Happy Sadness which will be featured in the 2015 Visual Arts Display during Catholic Education Week. 

    A young boy named Tyron, who was a member of my host family, personally inspired me as he was always happy despite the conditions he lived in. I grew very close to Tyron, as well as having a strong connection to other children I encountered.

    It was after my time at Kopanang that I realised how much we take for granted; food, water, safety, education and much more. 

    Without knowing the children it is impossible to depict their current state of poverty. These children’s facial expressions show us that money is not the key to happiness. 

    It is my duty to tell my Siena school community that ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’  

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    Student Wellbeing

    General Overview

    The Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Unit is committed to supporting Catholic school communities to create welcoming, safe and inclusive learning environments where student wellbeing is embedded at the core of school life. Highlighting that wellbeing is inherent to the learning process, the CEOM Student Wellbeing Strategy 2011–2015 details three strategic themes:

    1. Leading wellbeing to enhance learning acknowledges the critical role of school leaders in developing a wellbeing culture across the school community, which draws on the links between student wellbeing and improved learning outcomes.
    2. Creating safe and effective learning environments focuses on the wide range of school structures, processes and procedures, including curriculum teaching and learning, which contribute to the provision of a safe and effective learning environment for all.
    3. Promoting school community partnerships for learning acknowledges the role of the school in building community and reaching out to the broader school community and beyond, to build diverse and inclusive partnerships for learning.

    Initiatives delivered through the CEOM Student Wellbeing Strategy 2011–2015 seek to foster student engagement, build resilience, strengthen connectedness to school and community and enhance young people’s sense of belonging.

    Main Activities

    Child Safety

    Initiatives that focus on promoting continuous improvement and innovation in policies and practices, relating to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, are a key priority for the CEOM. In 2014, a Child Safety Working Party was established to review current child-safety policies and practices in Catholic schools. A range of professional learning was delivered to Student Wellbeing Leaders (SWL) and school personnel, addressing issues associated with mandatory reporting and child protection. This training utilised current research, eLearning modules and expert presenters such as Ms Robyn Miller, ‎Director, Office of Professional Practice, Department of Human Services. Legal insights into bullying and anti-bullying policies were addressed through the ‘Promoting Child Safety’ Seminar.

    Wellbeing05 

    Mr Vin McPhee (centre) and Mr Dennis Torpy with Principal Jean Corr of St John's School, Footscray West, at the launch of the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum. 

    Practical strategies for responding to challenging behaviours as part of a whole-school approach for supporting safety and wellbeing were also examined through SWL Cluster meetings. Child Safety was further promoted through the release of the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum in Catholic primary schools. This resource, developed through the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, aims to teach children about personal safety and awareness, including cybersafety and phone safety, by focusing on three key safety messages: Recognise, React and Report. 

    Attendance

    Following amendments to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Cth), new online ‘attendance’ resources were developed to promote the importance of school attendance and assist schools implement legislative changes. The online ‘Every day counts’ resources reinforce the value of daily school attendance as a critical component of educational success and young people’s wellbeing. In 2014, the CEOM partnered with DEECD to jointly facilitate briefings to discuss the latest ‘attendance’ processes, streamline data collection, reporting processes and referrals.

     

    Implementation of recommendations from the Critical Incident Management review

    New guidelines were developed in 2014 to inform the CEOM’s Duty Service, along with improved processes to guide school leaders to prepare and respond to critical incidents in their communities. This work followed the completion of a Critical Incident Management review. A further improvement now planned for 2015 is the development of an online critical incident resource tool for schools.

    Mental Health Promotion

    During 2014, the promotion of student resilience and social, emotional and mental wellbeing was achieved through a range of strategies, including:

    • promoting safe, inclusive and empowering learning environments
    • proactively building connections with families and communities
    • enhancing the capacity of school personnel to promote mental health through the curriculum.

    Professional learning, facilitated in partnership with headspace, explored a suicide postvention toolkit and an online SAFEMinds resource that promoted early intervention and ways to keep young people safe. Workshops enabled participants to examine the needs of students experiencing emotional distress, depression and self-harm behaviours. Student Wellbeing Leaders developed an understanding of the symptoms, causes, early intervention strategies and treatment for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. A highlight of this work was a major seminar, presented to more than 250 CEOM teachers and staff by Professor Ron Rapee from Macquarie University, NSW, in October 2014.

    Out-of-Home Care (OoHC)

    In 2014, an OoHC Working Party developed a new action plan to support latest implementation of agreed statewide protocols for schools. This included the creation of online resources to guide school leaders and teachers in supporting young people living in a range of alternative care arrangements, available for schools on the CEVN website.

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    Wellbeing01Other Initiatives

    • Promotion of National Safe Schools Framework, including cyber safety and responsible use of social media.
    • Continued support of eSmart initiative developed through  The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. eSmart is designed to help schools improve cybersafety and reduce cyberbullying and bullying.
    • Catholic schools engagement in the National Day of Action against Bullying & Violence in March.
    • The Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum Resource was launched and celebrated with a special community event at St John’s School, Footscray, on Friday 21 March.
    • Development of online CEVN digital resources to support SWL explore Child Safety and the management of anxiety.
    • Launch of Restorative Practices in Catholic School Communities DVD featuring students and staff from Siena College Ltd, Camberwell, and St Dominic’s School, Camberwell East.
    • Eleven new schools joined the Restorative Practices in Catholic School Communities initiative.
    • Two schools (St Anne’s School, Park Orchards, and Marian College, Sunshine West) gained Restorative Practices accreditation.
    • Production of online resources to assist schools implement integrated Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum models.
    • The inaugural Wellbeing & Learning: It’s not Rocket Science professional learning was launched. This PL was co-planned and presented with CEOM regional office staff to reflect the requirements associated with the Australian Curriculum General capabilities.
    • Presentation of the seventh annual CEOM Student Wellbeing Drama Festival that included 42 schools (29 primary and 13 secondary) delivering creative performances exploring wellbeing themes.
    • Sponsorship of 50 staff from Catholic primary and secondary schools to commence the Master of Education (Student Wellbeing) at the University of Melbourne.
    • Partnership with the Victorian Catholic Schools Parent Body (VCSPB) to explore parent advocacy and engagement in Catholic school communities.
    • Catholic schools were invited to apply for funding to appoint Chaplains (pastoral care workers) through the National School Chaplaincy Programme (NSCP) 2015–2018 to support the emotional wellbeing of students.
    • Fourteen schools engaged in the 2014 Community Arts to explore how the arts can be used as a vehicle to create greater dialogue between families, their school and the local community to enhance wellbeing outcomes for young people.

    Credentialled learning sponsorship courses offered through the wellbeing & community partnerships unit.

    These courses provide students with a range of units of study including Social Justice, Identity and Curriculum, and Leading Change for Student Wellbeing, focusing on the educator’s role in leading and promoting student wellbeing.

     

    CEOM UNIT COURSE & INSTITUTION PRIMARY SECONDARY OTHER Total
    Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Master of Education Student Wellbeing, the University of Melbourne 35 63 1 99
    Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Master of Education (Wellbeing in Inclusive Schooling), Australian Catholic University 34 4   38

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