Why write a plan?
2015 was to be the first of a new three year plan at school. The principal had already met with the planning team and the Executive to outline the need for three goals and detailed implementation plans.
Writing a plan
In weekly welfare meetings the support of Stage 4 and Stage 6 co-ordinators was enlisted to work towards writing the welfare plan. Early in 2014 I had attended Mind Matters training along with Year 9 Adviser and the Student Support Officer. Mind Matters offered a full day training on writing a welfare plan locally. This training was invaluable in our planning process.
A survey from the Mind Matters website was administered to small groups of students from Years 7 to 11 with their responses recorded from the interviews by the team. Attendance data, behaviour data and suspension data was collected on the participating students and given to the team members. (Names of individual students were deleted from Year 10 student responses.)
From the Mind Matters training the team downloaded onto their laptops a set of planning tools that were provided. From the welfare problems the school was dealing with and attendance data the team identified the need for resilience training.
What was in the plan?
Prior to 2015 we had addressed resilience by the Student Support Officer running Friends groups. Friends is a program that the school used with Year 7 and 8 students who didn’t fit into playground groups. Boys and Girls mentoring groups were also run in the school. Individuals with problems are usually referred to the school counsellor, the Adolescent Mental Health Team run by Public Health Clinical Psychologists or Headspace.
The Boys mentoring selected students in Year 8 who were not on track for success. They were individually mentored by male staff and had group excursions which included an overnight hike where the students had to bring their own food and equipment and cook for themselves.
The female welfare staff ran the Girls mentoring program selecting girls in Years 7 to 10 who were lacking confidence. They had excursions and did community service activities where they examined each other’s strengths.
These programs will continue to run as part of the school culture.
Additions to the plan
The school’s strategic direction for 2015-2017 is School Community Wellbeing. The purpose is to create and inspire a school community that fosters and values holistic wellbeing through the core values of safety, tolerance, achievement and respect. This is achieved by providing a range of initiatives that target the individual needs of staff and students. This results in a happy and caring school environment. (Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts School Plan 2015-2017.)
Specific resilience training will be used with selected individuals. Available training modules, especially on resilience, on the Mind Matters website will be utilised.
School staff have identified a need to know how to cope with students in their classes with mental health issues. The Mind Matters module Helping individual students (http://www.mindmatters.edu.au) has been included in the school’s welfare plan. Parents will be informed of the implementation of the Mind Matters program.