At Epping Primary School we strive to provide a safe and secure learning environment which promotes mutual respect, trust and relationship building to enable students to reach their full potential
At Epping Primary School we are committed to providing a school environment that prioritises student wellbeing. At Epping Primary School we actively work to provide support and learning for our students, staff and school community to develop positive relationships in a safe, supportive school environment. We follow the National Safe Schools Framework and the Health Promoting School Framework (from the World Health Organisation) to facilitate a whole school approach to student wellbeing and learning.
The promotion of a whole school approach to student learning and wellbeing is supported by the Student Wellbeing Coordinator and the school Counsellor. Implementation of programs that promote positive relationships across all year levels and educate students about health and wellbeing are key elements of this. The explicit teaching of social skills at all levels is enhanced through the whole school Buddies Program which has been identified by parents and students as a great success. At Epping Primary School there is an established behaviour management policy, including an anti-bullying policy. The success of our wellbeing policies is reflected in school survey results with student safety clearly identified as a strength at Epping Primary School. We pride ourselves in being a ‘Restorative Practices School’ and have introduced ‘The Social and Emotional Awareness Program’ throughout both campuses. These processes and practices provide a framework for a broad range of proactive approaches that support social skills teaching, learning and development. They also provide the tools and principles needed to resolve problems, deal with conflict in a positive way and build relationships.
Counselling and support
At Epping Primary School we value our students and therefore a very important aspect of our work is Student Welfare.
A counselling service is available at the school. A qualified Counsellor attends one day a week at each campus . Through this service, students and families are assisted to work through personal issues which cover a wide spectrum. Referrals are made through the class teacher or Principal.
From time to time, particularly as young people approach young adolescents, school can be a challenging time and on occasion, the varying demands of study, friendships and family can make it difficult to cope. In addressing these concerns, students may beneﬁt from accessing the counselling service in order to manage and work through the issues that may be impacting upon their school work and personal life.
The main services offered by the Student Counsellors are:
- Support during or following a crisis;
- Help to deal with loss or grief;
- Help with stress, anxiety or depression;
- Development of self esteem, conﬁdence, and social skills;
- Assistance with relationship – family and friends;
- Assistance with emotional difficulties related to school work.
The Student Counsellors are available to provide students with the necessary support at school and offer ongoing individual and group counselling and where appropriate assist students and families to make contact with community agencies outside the school. Above all, the aim of the Student Counsellors role is to enhance the student’s connectedness to school and improve their health and wellbeing by providing a child centred and family focused service.
The counsellors have links with outside support agencies such as Anglicare Family Services, Orana Family Services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Child First Services, Relationships Australia, Family Works and Family Mediation Services.
Other Student Services
Through a school referral process, students have access to services provided by the D.E.T. (Department of Education and Training). Such services include Speech Pathology, Psychological assessments and Educational assessments
Student Wellbeing Programs and Initiatives
At Epping Primary School we believe that school should be a positive and enjoyable experience for all. We have embedded the Restorative Practices Approach to behaviour management and problem solving conflicts. Restorative practices includes:
- · reaffirming relationships through developing social and emotional skills
- · repairing relationships in the classroom, small groups, individual conferences
Restorative Practices (RP) provides a proactive whole school approach for building a school community based on cooperation, mutual understanding and respect. Restorative Practices provides processes for holding students accountable for their choices, actions and behaviour while at the same time building and repairing relationships within a nurturing school environment. In class the teachers and students have ‘Circle Time’ and class meetings to discuss issues and build positive relationships.
Conflict is a disagreement or argument between two or more individuals where one or both sides may feel their needs are not being met. Conflict occurs in all human relationships and in all school communities. Helping the students to speak up, to have the skills to deal with conflict and to seek assistance is an important aspect of the partnership between home, parents and the school. As part of the Restorative Practices approach, teachers use a common language and ask following ‘ Eight Affective Questions’ to all those involved in a conflict to explore the issue, focus on the relationship, find possible solutions and learning with an ‘Apology of Action’ and a future focus.
- What happened?
- How did it happen?
- Who was involved?
- How did you act in this situation?
- Who do you think was affected?
- How were they affected?
- What needs to happen to make things right? ‘Apology of Action’ – doing something to repair the relationship.
- If the same situation happens again, what would you do?
Come Along Cup
At Epping Primary School we have introduced the Come Along Cup – a Program designed to promote attendance and punctuality throughout the school and rewards class rooms with least absences and latecomers. The class with the least absences and latecomers is rewarded with a class party and celebration of the class rooms choice.
We have introduced the ‘Come Along Cup’ program at the Greenbrook Campus where we present on a weekly basis a trophy to the class with the least amount of absences and latecomers. The aim of the program is to teach children the importance of being at school every day and being on time. We have found that students become enthusiastic about receiving the Cup and encourage each other to come to school on time and be at school every day. We hope that parents also support the program by ensuring that their children are on time and attend every day except for days in which their children are ill.
Regular absences can have a major effect on the students academic potential. It is extremely important that students attend school every day except for the days in which they are ill. As part of our school procedures at At Epping Primary School we:
- Monitor student attendance on a daily basis
- The Student Welfare Officer will phone the students home if there are concerns about your student attendance record.
Similar to absences, being late to school can affect the student in many ways. Latecomers cause disruption to their classroom routine taking time and attention away from other matters. Latecomers miss the important explanation and purpose of the lesson and are sometimes confused and unsure of what to do. Latecomers may be alone when completing their walk to school. Punctuality is a social skill which is to be encouraged.
As part of our school procedures at Epping Primary School Students who are habitually late will be having a conference with the Student Counsellor with the aim of identifying the causes of lateness and strategies for addressing the issue.
You can do it Program
At Epping Primary School use the You Can do it Program throughout the school. The program promotes the four foundations of being a successful learner (persistence, getting along, organisation and confidence). The program is implemented in each class room and focuses on the four foundations.
You Can Do It! Education’s main purpose is to support communities, schools, and homes in a collective effort to optimise the social, emotional, and academic outcomes of all young people.
Its unique contribution is in identifying the social and emotional capabilities that all young people need to acquire in order to be successful in school, experience wellbeing, and have positive relationships including making contributions to others and the community (good citizenship).
YCDI’s mission is to realise, through the following beliefs and actions:
- The building of social, emotional, and motivational capacity of young people rather than on their problems and deficits.
- The encouragement of prevention, promotion, and intervention efforts (school, home and community) in order to build the social and emotional strengths of young people.
- The development of a strength-building approach, where YCDI seeks to build the capabilities of adults (community, school, home) associated with positive outcomes in young people.
The 5 Keys of YCDI! Education Our core purpose is the development of young people’s social and emotional capabilities, including:
- Confidence (academic, social)
- Getting Along, and
Protective Behaviours- A Personal safety program for students
At Epping Primary School we teach students about Protective Behaviours. Protective Behaviours is a personal safety program created by the Children’s Protection Society of Victoria. The program aims to promote resilience in children, and young people using empowerment strategies, clear communication and awareness of “safe” behaviours.
The Protective Behaviours program promotes:
- general well being
- feelings of self-worth
- belief and trust in oneself
- rights and responsibilities
- problems solving
- seeking and providing support
- adaptability and flexibility
The Protective Behaviours Program encourages children to:
- assert the right to feel safe
- listen to what their body tells them
- follow up by talking action to either solve the problem on their own or seek assistance from other people
Throughout this program all students learn the importance of feeling safe and identified body signals and responses to feeling unsafe. Protective Behaviours program provides fundamental skills in addressing ‘unsafe’ feelings and focus on strategies to deal with unsafe situations. One of the key components of Protective Behaviours sessions is the key messages and 2 fundamental phrases:
“we all have the right to be safe all of the time” and “nothing is so awful that we can’t talk about it with someone”
At Epping Primary School, these messages are reinforced throughout our classrooms, yard and throughout the school. The Protective Behaviours Program is conducted once a week to all students in Grade Prep, 1& 2 and facilitated by our Student Counsellor at the school.
Grade 6 Leadership Program
The Leadership Program was introduced at the Greenbrook campus by our Student Counsellor as it was felt that it was important for Grade 6 Students to assist people in their community, to build a positive sense of achievement, and, a positive self worth in all students. It started as a ‘pilot project’ in 2006 and continues because of the outstanding effect it has had on the Grade 6 Students. Our “Student Opinion Survey” from 2006-2010, indicated an increase in students connectedness to school and an increase in the level of satisfaction at school. We feel that this is due to the fact that we have noticed an improvement in the level of enthusiasm from the students and general feelings of connectedness to peers since the launch of the Leadership Program.
All Grade 6 students participate in the ‘Grade 6 Leadership Program’. The program is conducted during school time, taking up two hours per week and runs over 8 sessions. The format of the program consists of, for the most part the participation and involvement in activities that encourage young people to work together collaboratively to achieve their goals. The Leadership Program aims to teach Grade 6 students the following:
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Ethics and responsibilities associated with leadership
- Importance of being involved in their community and assisting the needy
The program uses ideas and concepts from the ‘Australian Young Leadership Program’ developed by Michael Gross, a very well regarded child psychologist. Throughout the 8 week program students will be taught the ‘Five Building Blocks of Leadership’ developed by Michael Gross: Public Speaking, Responsibility, Confidence, Organisation and Team Skills. To make the activities more interesting and exciting for the participants, there will be an element of friendly competitions where teams will receive token rewards for success. Teams will be changed weekly to ensure that there is no dominant team, thus each student will be given an equal chance to succeed at competitions and rewards.
Some comments from the students who participated in the Leadership Program were:
“I have learned a lot about Leadership and it was such a fun program”
“The Leadership program helped me with my confidence and I learned that Leadership skills are so important in life” by Kelsy
Grade 6 Leadership program
Volunteer Program at Nursing Centre
All Grade 6 Students are given the opportunity to participate in an ongoing volunteer program at the local Nursing Centre in Epping as an extension of the Leadership Program. Four students at a time visit the centre over a 4 week period one afternoon a week. Students are transported to the nursing home and supervised at all times by a staff member from Epping Primary School . Orientation is provided to students prior to commencing the volunteer program so that students are fully aware of their obligations, limitations and privacy and confidentiality issues. Students are provided orientation on issues facing the elderly residence, for example, students watch a video on dementia and are given information on other relevant issues affecting elderly residents in Nursing centres.
During the 4 week course students undertake a variety of activities/roles at the Nursing home, some of which can include:
- interacting with the residents in the nursing home
- reading to the residents in the nursing home
- playing games with the residents at the nursing home
- walking the residents outside
- taking part in planed activities set by the nursing staff
Some comments from the students who participated in the Volunteer program at the Nursing Home were:
“For the past two weeks Charlie, Amsavi, Hosna and I have visited the Meadowglen Nursing Cnetre. I enjoyed it very much. On the fist week Charlie and I were kissed by one of the residents at the nursing home. I was a bit nervous at first but then I got the hang of it. We played carpet bingo which required memory and mathematics skills. The second week we had to throw a ball to the presidents to catch which helps them with their coordination and movement. It was a great experience and lots of fun.” By Ali Khalid
“For the past 2 weeks I have been going to the Nursing Home. I have experienced a lot of new things like playing carpet bingo and basketball. I have had so much fun going to the nursing home and would love to go again. I have learned that it is very hard sometimes for the residents who have lost their memory and they may be very confused, but they still have fun and have a go at the activities.”
Grade 6 Leadership program
Volunteer Program at Kindergarten
All Grade 6 Students are given the opportunity to participate in an ongoing volunteer program at Greenbrook Kindergarten as an extension of the Leadership Program. Four students at a time visit the centres over a 4 week period one afternoon a week. Students are transported to the nursing home by a staff member and are supervised at all times by a staff member from Epping Primary School.
During the 4 week volunteer program children undertake a variety of activities/roles at Kinder-garden, some of which can include:
- interacting with the children
- reading to the children
- playing (indoor and outdoor)games with the children
- taking part in planed activities set by the staff at the Kinder
Some comments from the students who participated in the Volunteer program at the Kinder-garden were:
“When I went to the kinder with my group, we had to help out and make sure that the kids were doing their activities. We also taught a group of kinds a new dance and we danced along with the kids. I helped the girls with painting and puzzles. My experience at the kinder was great. I learned to interact with the young people and play and cooperate and make sure they were doing their activities.” By Mary
“The first time I went to the kinder to help out I was excited to see what the little kids would be up to. I went with Brody, Maddison and Zakera. When the kinder teacher was introducing the kids to their activities I was really excited to be looking after the painting activity. I learned that helping can be rewarding and lots of fun. I really enjoyed my time at the kinder.” By Daniel
Our Buddy Program involves the senior students being paired with the Prep students. Planned activities between the classes are held so that the students involved become friends and are there to support each other. This provides a ‘buddy’ for the younger student and gives the older student the opportunity to develop leadership skills and responsibility.
Friendly Schools & Families Program
Schools throughout Australia and worldwide are increasingly recognising the need to address bullying, resilience, social skills and self-esteem. Our school has started to implementing the Friendly Schools & Families Program since 2011 to make our school a ‘Friendly School’.
This program is based on six years of rigorous scientific research with over 6000 school students, their parents and teachers. It is one of a few evidence-based programs designed to improve social skills and reduce bullying in Australian schools. The aim of the program is to help schools and parents prevent bullying. This will include a review of our school bullying policy, introduction of activities to prevent or reduce bullying, strategies to help students cope with bullying and the development of social skills and resiliency factors.
Some of the goals that we will be working towards include:
- Providing all students with opportunities to develop and practice getting along with other children through classroom learning activities;
- Creating a more positive social environment within our school which actively discourages bullying;
- Modification of the school grounds and supervision during recess and lunch times to discourage bullying;
- Continuing to encourage all staff, students and parents to treat all school community members with respect and tolerance;
- Implementing a clearer and more consistent approach to managing reported bullying incidents; and
- Providing parents with resources and strategies to help them communicate more effectively with their children about bullying.
Over the course of Term 2 all students have been participating in the Friendly Schools & Families Program. The focus of the sessions have been to talk about friendly and unfriendly behaviour with students and teaching students about the correct definition of bullying. The definition of bullying as explained below has been provided to the students in all grades.
What is bullying?
Bullying is when these things happen again and again to someone:
Being ignored, left out on purpose, or not allowed to join in;
- Being made afraid of getting hurt;
- Being hit, kicked or pushed around;
- Being made fun of and teased in a mean and hurtful way; or
- Having lies or nasty stories told about them to make other kids not like them.
Parents’ role in Our Friendly School
Research has demonstrated that efforts to change attitudes and behavior of students are more likely to be successful if parents are actively involved and feel a sense of shared ownership of the process.
What can parents do to support activities in the school to reduce bullying?
- Talk regularly with your children about bullying;
- Encourage your children to ‘ask for help’ if they are being bullied at school;
- If your children are fighting at home, help them discuss their problem and come to a mutual solution to the problem;
- Encourage your children to be assertive by helping them practise speaking in a firm but friendly way, making eye contact, looking calm and smiling and feeling good about themselves;
- Encourage your children to play with other children at school, at home and in the neighbourhood; and
- Help your children improve their self-esteem by discussing the things they are good at, encouraging your children to ‘have-a-go’ at new activities, and encouraging your children to develop their own independence by allowing them to care for their belongings or manage their pocket money.
Student Wellbeing Policy
At Epping Primary School, we believe that each person’s well being is nurtured through experiences of belonging, building relationships with others, being accepted and valued and by being positively engaged in the community. We acknowledge the importance of providing opportunities for all members of the school community to develop an awareness of their wellbeing and responsibilities and a commitment to becoming valuable members of the global community. We believe in the importance of implementing prevention and intervention strategies which promote positive behaviour within the school.
We are a Restorative Practice school which aims to develop positive behaviour through critical thinking, active involvement in making choices and taking responsibility for our choices and actions. Restorative measures help the each person to learn from their mistakes, grow in self discipline, take responsibility for their actions, recognise the impact of their actions on other and reconcile and resolve conflict with others.
We actively promote the social and emotional learning of each student so that they:
- · Respect themselves and each other
- · Build positive relationships
- · Positively contribute to maintaining a safe, happy and secure environment
- · Make good choices
- · Accept responsibility for their choices and actions
- · Reflect and learn from their choices and actions
At Epping Primary School:
- Behaviour expectations are explicitly taught
- Common language about behaviour and discipline is used throughout the school
- Positive behaviour expectations are displayed within school community
- The Restorative Practices approach is used for student behaviour management and conflict resolution
- Circle Time is implemented in all grades to develop positive relationships and to model problem solving strategies and reflection
- ‘Start Up’ program is the focus at the beginning of term one each year
- Focus on positive behaviours within class and school settings
- Explicit teaching of social skills
At Epping Primary School we value and promote student voice and engagement in all aspect of school and community life. Students at Epping Primary School have opportunities to take on various roles of leadership within the school community. Student voice is heard and valued through Student School Leader meetings and Student Representative Council (SRC) meetings.
Each year the School Leaders are selected from Year 6 students and their roles are:
- Two School Captains
- Two Vice Captains
- Eight Sports Captains – boy and girl from each Sports House
Role description for School Leaders:
- Form a Student Action Team with the School Captains to address the needs of the school and take action;
- Work with teachers and coordinators in particular areas on projects;
- Meet regularly to share ideas;
- Assist in running school assemblies.
The SRC assist in the promotion and organisation of special school events and fundraising.