Earlier this year ERO published a report ‘Wellbeing for Children’s Success at Primary School’. Just as background to these reports, as part of their review cycle ERO personnel carry out reviews based on the School Evaluation Indicators. They also gather data for Education Evaluation Reports. These report on national educational issues based on information compiled by ERO through its reviews of individual schools and early childhood services. These reports are particularly relevant to the year in which they are published. ‘Wellbeing for Children’s Success at Primary School’ fits within the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project started in 2012.
On the basis of current research, ERO identified nine key ideas that demonstrated the desired outcomes for student wellbeing. These are:
- Students have a sense of belonging and connection to school, to whanau, to friends and to the community
- Students experience achievement and success
- Students are resilient, have the capacity to bounce back
- Students are socially and emotionally competent, are socially aware, have good relationship skills, are self confident, are able to lead, self manage and are responsible decision makers
- Students are physically active and lead healthy lifestyles
- Students are nurtured and cared for by teachers at school, have adults to turn to who grow their potential, celebrate their successes, discuss options and work through problems
- Students feel safe and secure at school, relationships are valued and expectations are clear
- Students are included, involved, engaged, invited to participate and make positive contributions
- Students understand their place in the world, are confident in their identity and are optimistic about the future
So, why the focus on student wellbeing? According to research, a student’s sense of achievement and success is enhanced by a sense of feeling safe and secure at school and affects their resilience.
The ERO report noted that most primary schools relied on their positive culture and respectful relationships to promote wellbeing. Reminders about values and the valued way of working were evident in the classrooms, around the school, in communications sent home. These values were reflected in the relationships between and among teachers and students. Many schools celebrated good behaviour through classroom and school rewards. Students were clear about the school’s values and the behaviours they represented.
At VAS, we have the approach as noted above. It is timely though, to check in with our children to ensure that what we think is happening around wellbeing is the reality for them. I will let you know what our children think early next term and if we identify any gaps, then I will also let you know what we will put in place to ensure that our children experience a high level of wellbeing.
Teacher Science Professional Development
As part of our schoolwide professional development in science, all teachers attended another session at MindLab in Newmarket after school last Thursday.
This was our second session there and it has challenged our thinking, especially the real concern that we need to have deep scientific knowledge to teach science. It was made very apparent that we don’t need to know all the answers, but what we do need to know is how to use an inquiry approach when teaching science. Rather than give the answers, let the children explore and for them to come up with answers or thinking. This brings in many skills and learning dispositions; problem solving, risk taking, analysing, comparing, evaluating, resilience. We were shown some basic information about the equipment we were given and then were given the task of designing and making a vehicle that moved along the floor. Working in pairs we all had to use the whole range of skills above to get our vehicle moving. It was a fantastic learning opportunity for all of us and we loved it. And of course, the competitive instinct came to the fore when we raced our vehicles.
This was followed by a whole group debrief as to why some worked better / went faster than others which was more powerful learning. The end result? Teachers who now see teaching science as fun and very accessible.